Going Legit

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szsori
Site Admin
Posts: 1911
Joined: Fri Nov 03, 2006 5:23 pm

Going Legit

Postby szsori » Tue Apr 14, 2009 1:32 am

You'll probably all notice the DMCA takedown links across the site. They'll be a little less visible in the new site, but we wanted to get them up ASAP on recommendation from another very large community project. These are the first in a series of moves designed to protect the developers of the site and the site itself. You'll notice additional steps taken within the next few weeks, including:

1. Proper TOS and disclaimers on the site.
2. User copyright release agreement required for all users trying to modify content.
3. Massive community-driven project to rewrite series/episode overviews, in an attempt to replace content that may be copyrighted.
4. Wiki page describing what's allowed and what isn't.
5. The formation of a LLC or non-profit to shield the developers from actions related to the site.

A side benefit of many of these things is that the content can be licensed to large commercial applications to help pay for the site. We've had inquiries about this before, but haven't been able to take advantage because there's a lot of gray area with the content. Another benefit is that we can take advantage of possible donated hosting from a few major projects/providers.

In the long run these moves are intended to keep the site up and running and as fast/stable as possible. If anyone is a copyright lawyer and would like to do some pro bono (or cheap) work, please contact me at [email protected]. If anyone has any comments/questions about this, fire away. :)

c4ho
Posts: 160
Joined: Wed Apr 18, 2007 3:23 am

Re: Going Legit

Postby c4ho » Tue Apr 14, 2009 3:31 pm

Do you log IPs for user accounts?

szsori
Site Admin
Posts: 1911
Joined: Fri Nov 03, 2006 5:23 pm

Re: Going Legit

Postby szsori » Tue Apr 14, 2009 6:44 pm

We do store Apache logs, but only for a week or two. We also have a database field to hold the IP address, but I'm pretty sure we're not populating it. There are two sides to this... I want to keep the site as anonymous as possible, but we also need to guard against vandalism since we make editing the content so easy. So there's a trade-off there. It really doesn't have anything to do with my original post in this thread, though, since logging IP addresses isn't required by law.

c4ho
Posts: 160
Joined: Wed Apr 18, 2007 3:23 am

Re: Going Legit

Postby c4ho » Wed Apr 15, 2009 3:11 am

szsori wrote:... It really doesn't have anything to do with my original post in this thread, though, since logging IP addresses isn't required by law.


Do be so sure. Essentially DMCA compliance is two fold:

1. A simple means by and/or having a DMCA policy with simple means of reporting material or a dedicated DMCA named agent
2. The ability to report against whom distributed the copyrighted material.

You are in a very tricky position here and I will not salt the water by being too opinionated but if you receive a subpoena or other serious request to supply a list of whom uploaded and downloaded the copyrighted material all bets could be off.

DMCA is seen by many as a means of offloading legal responsibility from the site to the end users. At the same time end users are the very people whom do have a clue about copyright in real legal terms as the "fair use policy" of images and "copyrighted text" satements of websites are almost always impossible to undersatnd or just plain made up. (people seem to think you can stick a "copyright me" on their website and instantly they own it all. Not true as we all know)

Also DMCA is USA based. Many or maybe even most of your customers arent bound by your laws.

So IP tracking is important. If you have it they can ask for it. If you don't have it and a strong policy in place stating legally you wont ever have it, they can request you implement it.


Good luck with the venture.

szsori
Site Admin
Posts: 1911
Joined: Fri Nov 03, 2006 5:23 pm

Re: Going Legit

Postby szsori » Wed Apr 15, 2009 3:34 am

You're wrong on a handful of counts.
  1. Yes, the DMCA is US-based, but so are we, meaning it's the law we have to adhere to even if our users do not. Additionally, most of the countries we get visitors from have their own versions of the DMCA.
  2. Of course we're offloading the legal responsibility. It's the only choice we have, other than just sitting on our hands and waiting to be sued. Since we don't have the manpower nor desire to review the copyright of all content, requiring users to verify the copyright before uploading is our only option. This is the way almost every online site works, including many free speech proponents like Wikipedia, Slashdot, etc.
  3. True that end users don't know much about copyright, but that's even more of a reason to make them read a disclaimer before being able to post anything. We'll also have a section on the wiki describing what people can/cannot do (it'll be non-specific to start, but hopefully over time we can add more specifics to it).
  4. We're severely limited in what we can do with the site without having a DMCA takedown procedure. We were in discussions with another large project that could potentially solve all of our hosting and bandwidth issues, but we couldn't (yet) take advantage because of copyright concerns. They're very closely related to what our site does and they strongly recommended that we immediately add a DMCA takedown form, and that we address the other copyright concerns with the site. In a nutshell, another organization that knows far more about this than us (they have a copyright lawyer) suggested that we do this. I'm taking their word whether it's something we need to do or not.
While I think the DMCA is crap, I also know that we're bound by the current laws. I know that we, and me specifically, are liable until we do these things and until we form a LLC or non-profit organization. As it stands now, if one of the major copyright holders decided to sue me because of this site, it'd go down immediately and I would not bring it back online again. I love this site and have put a ton of work into it, but I'm not risking my own finances for this project.

So, the result is that we're making these changes in an attempt to do things as they should be done. I'd much rather go through the trouble of taking care of these things than risking my own ass or the future of the site just because people don't like the DMCA. Things still need to be modified (adding a physical address to the DMCA page, etc) but it's a start.

EDIT: We'll handle the IP address stuff in the rewrite. I'm guessing we'll track it for submissions of possible copyrighted data on the site (banners, overviews), but not for anything else. That would protect us while still allowing our general API users full anonymity. I think you'll find this is less intrusive than the other TV sites.

DeeV
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Mar 18, 2009 1:27 pm

Re: Going Legit

Postby DeeV » Tue Apr 21, 2009 2:49 pm

This is complete ridicules.
What if FOX demands the removal of series like House, 24 or Bones?.
Would you just remove these series from the site?.

If this is your idea then the users here should be thinking about finding/making a new site.
Your "most of the countries we get visitors from have their own versions of the DMCA" is true but the .US one is KNOWN for its stupidity,
and most counties uses the DMCA as proof on how to not make a Copyright Law.

If your scared then there are other ways of doing it then selling your site/us out if the future brings DMCA issues.

sexybobo
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:24 am

Re: Going Legit

Postby sexybobo » Tue Apr 21, 2009 3:56 pm

I believe they are just talking about images being removed since the title of the episode and the name of the series can hardly be considered copyright.

emigrating
Site Admin
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Joined: Mon Aug 27, 2007 4:38 pm
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Re: Going Legit

Postby emigrating » Tue Apr 21, 2009 4:16 pm

@DeeV: No-one can demand that we remove a series listing as such, what they can ask is that we remove certain artwork and/or verbiage if copied verbatim from, in this case, Fox's website/material.

Also, it has nothing to do with being scared - it has to do with the fact that the site is getting so big that supporting its existance is becoming more than a "few hours a week" hobby-type project. This in turn means we are looking at corporate sponsorship type deals for server space / hosting - something that requires the site to be "clean".

If you have such a problem about being law abiding, then there is nothing stopping you from setting up your own site.

szsori
Site Admin
Posts: 1911
Joined: Fri Nov 03, 2006 5:23 pm

Re: Going Legit

Postby szsori » Wed Apr 22, 2009 12:47 am

In addition to what emigrating said, keep in mind that if you do create another site you'll deal with the exact same stuff once you get enough users to make it a worthwhile effort. Feel free, though... the site code is on Sourceforge and the database is linked in another thread.

DeeV
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Mar 18, 2009 1:27 pm

Re: Going Legit

Postby DeeV » Wed Apr 22, 2009 3:43 pm

oh, i see. My bad.

Anyway keep up the great work, and i can't wait for the new designe.
:D