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Suppose I post a piece of intellectual property (e.g. an essay or picture) to an Internet forum. The forum has no explicit licensing policy; therefore I assume my work is under copyright.

One year later, the forum updates their policy, stating that all existing posts without explicit licenses attached are considered to be public domain. If you do not assent to this, you may add a license or remove your content. I do neither.

When does my work enter public domain, if indeed it does at all?


My guess is that, after a certain point, my content is now public domain (I've voluntarily, implicitly, ceded my copyright, yes?). However, I would also expect that there would be a legally required grace period for me to remove my content before that happens (if so, how long is it)?

  • Your works enter the public domain when the copyrights expire. If they want to assert some sort of license as a defense when/if you sue them, they would have the burden of proving that it applies to the limited license you implicitly grant when you post things. – Upnorth Aug 12 '17 at 23:19
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You would be bound by the new terms when you agree to them - contracts cannot be entered into or changed unilaterally. You may have agreed in the original ToS that they could change them at any time.

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  • Doesn't not removing my content constitute implicit agreement to the new terms? – imallett Aug 11 '17 at 22:29
  • You can agree explicitly or by taking action - inaction is not agreement – Dale M Aug 12 '17 at 0:37
  • Whether the contract applies to specific postings may depend upon how it classifies your content, e.g., any content they currently possess or merely new content that you post after your implicit acceptance. Acceptance may be derived from the fact that you were aware of the terms and accepted the terms by continuing to use their site, as per their terms. – Upnorth Aug 12 '17 at 23:23

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