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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Posts
    4

    Default Does Selling Online Forum Membership Constitute "Commercial Purposes"

    Hi there,

    I am an entrepreneur currently designing a business model which involves selling online forum memberships to university students looking for secondary resources for their courses.
    I would like to compile both original material of my own and free educational materials available through the internet which "may be distributed and copied" as long as they are for non-commercial purposes.

    What I am wondering is if I can post these resources on my forum without constituting "commercial purposes," where people simply share resources and information anyways. I wouldn't be selling the resources, but rather I'd be selling access to a forum which includes the resources.

    If this is doesn't constitute "commercial purposes," then am I allowed to include the fact that such resources are available on my forum in my advertisements?

    Is this idea legal? If not, then what happens if people who purchase membership chose to provide such free materials? They would clearly be doing for non-commercial purposes.

    Thank you everyone.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    74,849

    Default Re: Does Selling Online Forum Membership Constitute "Commercial Purposes"

    To be clear here, you are talking about posting and sharing pirated copyrighted materials? Because if it's all original and being distributed by virtue of the copyright holder's action or under a license, I'm not sure what your concern is.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Does Selling Online Forum Membership Constitute "Commercial Purposes"

    No, they are not pirated. They are offered for free by the authors as long as they are not used for "commercial purposes."
    My forum would consist of both my own material and the material offered by these authors, if it is legal.

    Here is an example what I am talking about: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

    Here is a passage from the full version of the legal code:
    "You may not exercise any of the rights granted to You in Section 3 above in any manner that is primarily intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation. The exchange of the Work for other copyrighted works by means of digital file-sharing or otherwise shall not be considered to be intended for or directed toward commercial advantage or private monetary compensation, provided there is no payment of any monetary compensation in con-nection with the exchange of copyrighted works."

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Los Angeles
    Posts
    48

    Default Re: Does Selling Online Forum Membership Constitute "Commercial Purposes"

    You will need to have language in your contract that lets your forum users/customers know the materials are are not for commercial purposes (ie, may only be be used for educational purposes. Any use for another purpose is strictly prohibited and may result in...). What it sounds like you should do is contact an IP/Contract lawyer to help you write up something to help protect and indemnify you for any potential misuse by a customer. Of course, if you are feeling cheap you may want to look at the language found on other sites that distribute CC materials and then use something similar. However, I would suggest not being cheap and pay an attorney.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    74,849

    Default Re: Does Selling Online Forum Membership Constitute "Commercial Purposes"

    If you're making money by "selling access" to the materials, that sounds to me like a commercial purpose.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Oklahoma
    Posts
    695

    Default Re: Does Selling Online Forum Membership Constitute "Commercial Purposes"

    Quote Quoting Mr. Knowitall
    View Post
    If you're making money by "selling access" to the materials, that sounds to me like a commercial purpose.
    Agreed. Regarless of if you are selling the material or selling the ability to access it you are creating a commericial enterprise composed, at least in part, of material that has been forbidden by the copyright holder to be used in such a manner.

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