• October 18, 2019, 08:23 AM
Welcome, guest! Please login or register.
collapse

* RGBD

Author Topic: Is it legal for a forum to start charging for access to user-provided content?  (Read 2822 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline peshwarinaan

  • Trainee Chef
  • *
  • Posts: 9
    • View Profile
Some of you may know that another curry forum, "bircurries", has started to charge for access to user-provided recipes.

Hundreds of recipes and other pieces of knowledge were given freely by members of the forum, and now they cannot be accessed (even by the people who wrote them) without paying the forum administrator.

Putting aside the ethical issues of such a move, is it even legal to do such a thing? The submitters own the copyright to their posts (a fact which is re-affirmed by the website's own T&Cs) and presumably submitted their posts with the knowledge that the forum was a free-to-access, publicly-accessible area in which anyone could read and exchange information.

In my opinion the site is risking potentially huge legal issues by doing this. If they want to charge for access, they should at the very least make all previous posts freely available and only start limiting access to new/future posts.

By the way - I posted two similar messages on the forum itself but they were deleted/not published because the admin wants the comments to be "positive" only:

Quote
Hello

I understand this has now been made mandatory and the donation is no longer optional, despite the reassurances from the admin in this thread?

Is there a place we can provide feedback or discuss this change openly? I made a comment in another thread but it was deleted because the admin wants the thread to be "positive replies only" which is obviously stifling open conversation.

I would like to understand the legal ramifications of placing user-provided content behind a paywall as I believe it's not be legal to do so. This site's own copyright policy actually re-affirms that the content's copyright belongs to the person who posts it. If the admin wishes to place content behind a paywall, they must own that content.

Apart from that, my personal opinion is it is amoral to take hundreds of recipes and other valuable knowledge freely from members and then later restrict access to that content without compensating the authors.

 :thumbsdown:

Offline bhamcurry

  • Chef
  • **
  • Posts: 78
    • View Profile
all in my opinion. I am not a lawyer so my opinion is probably illegal.

Making a forum pay access only is almost certainly legal. There is nothing stopping a forum owner doing so.

Doing that in such as way as to prevent people accessing their own copyright material? I can imagine copyright attorneys beginning to salivate at the mere thought.

If you, or anyone you know, has been prevented access to their own content by the forum owner, contact a copyright lawyer without delay.

Offline peshwarinaan

  • Trainee Chef
  • *
  • Posts: 9
    • View Profile
Update: I've been banned from bircurries for "Bringing this forum into disrepute elsewhere".

Looks like the admin is happy to start charging for access to other people's content, but isn't mature enough to have a civilised discussion about it.

Offline bhamcurry

  • Chef
  • **
  • Posts: 78
    • View Profile
Update: I've been banned from bircurries for "Bringing this forum into disrepute elsewhere".

Looks like the admin is happy to start charging for access to other people's content, but isn't mature enough to have a civilised discussion about it.

if you have content which is now "banned" to you, I would seek legal assistance immediately.

Offline peshwarinaan

  • Trainee Chef
  • *
  • Posts: 9
    • View Profile
Fortunately (or unfortunately?) I had not posted anything substantial on there such as recipes etc. - but what I don't understand is why those who have are not doing anything about it. If I had posted recipes there I would be absolutely incensed that my efforts had been abused in such a way, and indeed I would be seeking legal redress.

The admin of bircurries ("Cory Ander") should reflect very carefully on the fact that his or her forum is only made possible because of the valuable content which users submitted. I understand that they probably want the forum to be filled with high-quality, heavily-engaged members who add real value to the place, but speaking as someone who manages other online communities, charging a fee is absolutely not the way to do that (quite the opposite, in fact).

The admin clearly believes that users who don't engage with the forum - or rather, those who don't pay the fee - are "entitled" or "freeloaders". After all, the admin did all the hard work! *They* set up the forum. *They* pay for the hosting. *They* spend all their spare time moderating and organising and cataloguing the content. So they should get all the rewards, right? Wrong.

He fails to realise the irony and hypocrisy of that attitude. An accessible, open community is the true value of a good forum. Without that, you could have the best-looking most functional forum ever made, but without any meaningful content. The people who generously give their own free time and knowledge are the ones who deserve the reward. The admin should be infinitely grateful to them; not the other way around.

When I set up my own online communities (which are of a similar size to the bircurries forum) I didn't do it so I could build up a website good enough to start charging for. I also didn't expect every member to contribute or "add value". I did it because I love my hobbies and wanted to spread as much knowledge and experience about those hobbies as possible. The people who "hit and run" my websites are not leeches; they're the audience.

YouTube pays its creators. Spotify pays its musicians. And even then, those massive multi-national services can barely convince customers to pay $5 a month for access to unlimited music. What madness has made this admin believe that a niche curry forum will succeed where global corporations have failed?

In addition, the admin is not even attempting to host a dialogue about these controversial changes; any negative posts (no matter how polite) are simply being rejected/deleted/not published. This, in my opinion, will be the death knell of the forum. A good admin should be intelligent enough to realise that when (sensible) people have something to say, there's usually a reason for that, and it's worth listening to them.

If the admin wants to keep his forum locked up, the only moral thing to do would be to make the historical content of the forum available for free and restrict any new content going forward. That way people could choose to pay if they wanted to, and users who have already freely submitted content will not have their work subject to (likely illegal and definitely immoral) profiteering.

Ultimately I feel like the admin doesn't have any respect for either their users or the craft of BIR cooking. If they respected their users, they wouldn't have hidden freely-given content behind a paywall. If they respected the hobby of BIR cooking and actually wanted people to get into it, they would want to share the content with as many people as possible. Instead they've done the complete opposite.

And I think that's what really bothers me. How did Cory Ander get into BIR cooking? How much freely available information did he use to teach himself how to cook? How many people took the time and effort to help him, expecting nothing in return? What if all the resources he used were locked up behind a paywall?

Cory Ander would do well to think about that and reflect on whether he actually cares about BIR cooking.

I've seen it before: this situation will embitter old members (like me) and completely deter new members. Mark my words; the membership of that forum will dwindle and decline within the coming months unless they reverse this horrible decision. Or they'll get sued. Either way I guess.

Anyway, sorry for this rant. The philosophy of online communities is (obviously) a subject very close to my heart.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2019, 02:06 AM by peshwarinaan »

Offline Peripatetic Phil

  • CONTRIBUTING MEMBER
  • Jedi Curry Master
  • **********
  • Posts: 6946
  • Caution: some posts may annoy the anally retentive
    • View Profile
    • The Westberry Hotel / Hoi-An Restaurant
An absolutely splendid post, PWN, with every word of which I profoundly agree.  I have never been a member of "the other place", nor would I have ever wished to be, but I did experience CA when he was a member here.  His early contributions were well-informed and contributed a great deal, evidenced by the fact that they still receive well-deserved praise today, but in his latter years he became ever more confrontational, threatened legal action against others on at least one occasion, and I (amongst many others) was not sorry when he finally left to found his own site.  There are some here who have met CA in person, and they say he is a pleasant enough chap.  I have no way of knowing whether or not that is true, but certainly his latter behaviour here, and reports such as yours of his behaviour elsewhere today, do little to support this hypothesis.

** Phil.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2019, 09:52 AM by Peripatetic Phil »
Ogham's law :  The intellectual content of any message typically varies as the reciprocal of the number of emoticons that it contains..

Offline JonG

  • Chef
  • **
  • Posts: 60
    • View Profile


In addition, the admin is not even attempting to host a dialogue about these controversial changes; any negative posts (no matter how polite) are simply being rejected/deleted/not published. This, in my opinion, will be the death knell of the forum. A good admin should be intelligent enough to realise that when (sensible) people have something to say, there's usually a reason for that, and it's worth listening to them.


CA doesn’t do dialogue. His opinion is right because it’s his opinion and therefore if you have a different opinion you are wrong and must be punished.

Two things amaze me - that there were enough people willing to tolerate CA’s ways that the forum grew at all, and that there is anyone left on that forum who hasn’t been banned already, given how trigger happy he apparently is with the ban button. 

Online mickyp

  • Indian Master Chef
  • ****
  • Posts: 270
    • View Profile
Nice Post PWN, both eloquent and well balanced.
I suspect a majority of contributors really couldnt be bothered to pursue any legal claims, they along with others have just moved on, like a tree without water the forum will slowly wilt and die. As for the owner i feel sorry, he doesnt need people arguing with him, I think he needs help.

Offline Ghoulie

  • CONTRIBUTING MEMBER
  • Indian Master Chef
  • ****
  • Posts: 381
    • View Profile
I suspect CAs motive is down to greed basically, with an arrogant,  twisted view of what people are 'entitled' to see.  He will get the membership he deserves - rest should walk if they want to demonstrate their annoyance at his somewhat high-handed attitude.
nil carborundum illegitimi

Offline spggodd

  • Trainee Chef
  • *
  • Posts: 8
    • View Profile
Just to say I agree, I think its wrong what CA has done and the fact that he deletes or removes any post trying to reason with him.

Good riddance, this forum seems much better and pleasant in my opinion!