ISP Threatens To Sue Forum Over Public Information

from the ok,-let's-try-this-one-more-time... dept

Sometimes a legal action is so bizarre for so many reasons that it’s hard to know where to start, so let’s just start with the facts, and then we can pick the case apart. An ISP in Australia has threatened to sue a forum website over a post in the forums it felt was “damaging.” That seems pretty straightforward — as it happens all too often. The details, though, are a bit more complex. The ISP isn’t claiming that the contents of the post were trade secrets or libel or anything… but that they were a violation of copyright. You can understand that if the ISP in question owned the copyright — which they don’t. They claim the forum posted the contents of a public statement from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) concerning a legal matter the ISP was involved in — and that the posting violated ASIC’s copyright. So, first off, this was public information. Second, the ISP was threatening to sue on behalf of the actual copyright owner, ASIC, who didn’t seem all that bothered by the matter. At the same time, the forum owner pointed out that the person who posted the info didn’t even post the full info, but simply the emailed alert from ASIC that pointed to the full info. Of course, on top of all of this, it was a forum posting, and as we’ve seen repeatedly, the owner of an open forum should not be liable for anything posted in the forum. That’s the responsibility of the poster alone. So, we have an angry ISP threatening to sue the wrong person over something that was completely legal by saying it broke someone else’s copyright. Got that? Oh yeah, on top of all of this, by doing this, the company has only triggered the Streisand Effect making sure a lot more people know both about their legal troubles and how they can’t seem to handle completely legal criticism.

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Comments on “ISP Threatens To Sue Forum Over Public Information”

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Jim says:

No Subject Given

An ISP in Australia has sued a forum website…

So, we have an angry ISP suing the wrong person

You are repeatedly claiming that they have sued – this is not true. RTFA. They have threatened to sue.

So, first off, this was public information.

There’s a difference between information and an original representation of said information. You can’t copyright facts, but you can copyright an expression of those facts. Distributing the public statement likely was a copyright violation; the person would have been free to distribute the information expressed in his own way but chose to copy a protected work instead.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: No Subject Given

In other parts of the article (and the title) we made it clear they were only threatening to sue. The two mentions you pointed out were mistakes. No need to curse us out. We fixed them. Thanks for pointing them out — though, you could have been a bit nicer about it.

As for the second point, that’s true, and we make it clear that there is a copyright on the work. However, it is worth noting that the information *IS* publicly available. We never meant to imply that just because something is public it can’t be copyrighted. The point was that the ISP is claiming this info was “damaging” to them when it was public information. Also, of course, since the information was from a government agency, it does seem a little silly to copyright it. Shouldn’t it be open for use?

Anyway, since you so kindly told us to RTFA, if you read the article, you’d notice that the person didn’t actually post the full copyrighted material, but just a link to it with some additional information. On top of that, the point is that it should be the copyright holder to sue anyway. So, this is a very minor point, at best.

Michael Vilain says:

Re: Re: Clarify this for me...

If I post a URL to an article or a copy of an email-ed press release on a public forum, that could be construed as copyright infringement?

This seems to be the “meat” of the case and possibly without merit. But IANAL nor is this in the US courts. Is the copyright law that different in Oz?

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