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Attribution on Message Boards/Blogs

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Junior Member
What is the name of your state? NC

My question is regarding attribution that is added by message boards or blogs and if there is any legal precedence regarding the removal of such. If this should be posted in a different area please let me know.

To explain further, when posting to a message board somewhat similar to this one your username is attached to the messages when you are logged in and posting. For example the message may read Authored By: John Smith, this is added automatically, you are not manually typing it in, but it is unique, chosen by the user and applied as a result of you being logged in and posting. Sometimes this name was the person's actually first and last name.

Now to the problem, the owner of the board decides that some people are no longer welcome there and deletes the users. Unfortunately the way the blog software works this doesn't remove the posts but rather results in the posts that previously read Authored By: John Smith to now read Authored By: Anonymous.

Needless to say the affected people were quite upset, in some cases over 400 posts for a single user were affected and though some of the posts were short and of little importance, many were several pages long and represented a fair amount of work by the poster. These deletions continued after the owner was made aware of what it was doing to the posts and persons had publicly posted suggestions for how to avoid it.

Currently the site owner is not fixing the posts that were already "anonymized", but has taken steps to prevent it happening in the future (i.e. accounts are locked vs. deleted). Several people have requested that their now anonymous posts be deleted, but they have not been. The owner has apparently received legal advice that this is not an issue and does not appear likely to make any further effort to straighten out the posts or remove them.

I am wondering if the affected people have any recourse under USC 17, the DMCA, etc and if anyone can point to any similar cases and how they were resolved.

Thanks for reading all the way through and I will appreaciate any information anyone has.



Junior Member
No Responses So Far

Starting to feel a bit like the Maytag Repairman here... I see 15 or so people have read the parent, is it just that no one has info to add or should this have been to a different area here?



Senior Member
I am wondering if the affected people have any recourse under USC 17, the DMCA, etc and if anyone can point to any similar cases and how they were resolved.
There is no general right to attribution under title 17 (of which the DMCA is part) -- there is a limited right to attribution for visual works, but that its. There are some rights to attribution that are found in trademark law, but there are no general rights to attribution anywhere in U.S. law.

So no, the affected people really don't have any recourse, other than to not use that particular website anymore.

BTW, if you are interested, here's an article on attribution written by a leading scholar in IP law: http://www.wm.edu/law/publications/jol/95_96/lemley.html

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