Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Who Owns Volunteer's Website Content?

Dear Rich: I wrote for a website for many years. It was on a volunteer basis - I wasn't paid. I am now starting up my own website. I would like to repost many of my stories on my own site. Can I do that? Do I own the copyright for the material I wrote for the other site? Do I have the right to request that the other site take down my material? Assuming (1) you never executed any agreements with the website, (2) you weren't an employee of the other site, and (3) you didn't co-write any of the articles with someone else, then you would own the copyright in the material you created. That gives you the right to reproduce your stories wherever you wanted.
The other site. We don't know what your arrangement was with the other site but you may have created an implied license based on your behavior. That is, the fact that you posted at the other site, implies you granted them a right to display the material. If there is no implied license (and no evidence granting rights to the other side), you can ask to have your copyrighted materials removed.