I composed a hiring post and sent it to a group chat. Can group members (NOT the messaging app) forward the post to others who are not in the group, without my permission or re-post it in others places, when such act will bring monetary or non-monetary benefits (like more followers on Facebook page) to them?

Suppose I'm in California, using WhatsApp.

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    Yes they can. You could then sue them for copyright infringement, but whether you would prevail is perhaps uncertain. – phoog Mar 18 at 4:24
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    Is "hiring post" just a post that says you wish to hire someone, or is it jargon for something else? – Nate Eldredge Mar 19 at 3:03
  • It is just a few sentences stating our requirements and job description. – Ryan Mar 19 at 5:40
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    You'd probably have a really hard time proving that your hiring post is a "novel idea" and not just a generic straightforward statement. If in the post you had some kind of logo, joke, or company motto that you owned. Maybe then you'd still have a hard time claiming copyright, but it's more possible. – LateralTerminal Mar 20 at 20:41
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Copyright protection applies to "original works of authorship", as defined in 17 USC 101. You'd have to argue that your post was a "literary work". If it's just a straightforward statement that you are hiring, accompanied by your contact info, that might be hard to do. But if so, then in principle you could sue people for distributing unauthorized copies of your work. You would have to register your copyright first. If you won, they'd be liable for damages.

However, this only protects your "literary work" itself. The information contained in your post has no protection; only your specific expression of that information. Someone could express that information in their own words ("I heard that Ryan is hiring; his contact info is XXX") and share it with whomever they wanted, on whatever terms they choose; this would be perfectly legal and protected by the First Amendment.

The only way to prevent it would be to get all recipients of your post to agree to a nondisclosure agreement in advance.

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