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Do I have ownership over an online forum account?

Denver, CO |

I have registered an account in an online forum but now I want it removed, the administrator has refused on account of "not feeling like it". What I want to know is do I have ownership of my account and can I force him to remove it and can or should I go to court for it?

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

Whether you have ownership would need to be stated in the TOS of the site.

You could go to court over a breach of contract (if that is the case) but do you really want to spend thousands of dollars in legal fees to accomplish this goal?

This post is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice specific to you. This general information is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney in your jurisdiction. The attorney client relationship is not established by this post.

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5 comments

Asker

Posted

Sorry, I forgot to include the terms, that I have agreed to when registering: Whilst we attempt to edit or remove any messages containing inappropriate, sexually orientated, abusive, hateful, slanderous, or threatening material that could be considered invasive of a persons privacy, or which otherwise violate any kind of law, it is impossible for us to review every message posted on this discussion system. For this reason you acknowledge that all messages posted on this discussion system express the views and opinions of the original message author and not necessarily the views of this bulletin board. Therefore we take no responsibility and cannot be held liable for any messages posted. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy and completeness of every message. By registering on this discussion system you agree that you will not post any material which is knowingly false, inaccurate, abusive, hateful, harassing, sexually orientated, threatening or invasive of a person's privacy, or any other material which may violate any applicable laws. Failure to comply with these rules may result in the termination of your account, account suspension, or permanent ban of access to these forums. Your IP Address is recorded with each post you make on this discussion system and is retrievable by the forum staff if need-be. You agree that we have the ability and right to remove, edit, or lock any account or message at any time should it be seen fit. You also agree that any information you enter on this discussion system is stored in a database, and that "cookies" are stored on your computer to save your login information. Any information you provide on these forums will not be disclosed to any third party without your complete consent, although the staff cannot be held liable for any hacking attempt in which your data is compromised. By continuing with the sign up process you agree to the above rules and any others that the Administrator specifies. I hope the threat of court will make the administrator reconsider but I would like to know for sure and also if I could quote the law in particular.

Andrew Mark Jaffe

Andrew Mark Jaffe

Posted

You could hire a lawyer to write a Cease and Desist letter for you. It has little legal force, but informs the recidient that you are serious enough to hire a lawyer.

Asker

Posted

Apart from that, do the terms make it clear if I own my account?

Andrew Mark Jaffe

Andrew Mark Jaffe

Posted

If I were there lawyer I would point to the paragraph which says they can terminate, lock, etc. your account and say that is what they have done - and that you had agreed to it. This argument would be hard to overcome, but not impossible. You are probably looking at 40/60 in their favor.

Andrew Mark Jaffe

Andrew Mark Jaffe

Posted

As noted in another answer below, how they had you agree to their terms is an area worth examining.

Posted

As noted by Mr. Jaffe, your rights depend on the TOS. That said, absent some extraordinary and frankly incredibly stupid terms, you don't legally own anything in an account. An account is essentially a license to use the services. That means you just have limited rights and a license, by definition, does not confer ownership.

You, as always, can sue anyone for anything. The question is if you will win and based on your limited facts, I would find that doubtful.

This answer is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice regarding your question and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

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Posted

While my colleagues are, of course, correct that the terms of service control the ownership of the account, along with any content you posted, it has been my experience that many website operators do not properly implement their legal terms, in order to form a binding contract with their users. The shoe company, Zappo's, learned the hard way recently, when a court invalidated its online terms due to failure to properly gain assent of its website users. You may have an argument on ownership if the forum did not legally implement its online terms. A lawyer will be able to answer that question for you.

Disclaimer: The foregoing does not constitute legal advice or form an attorney/client relationship. Please contact an attorney for formal legal advice on any specific matter.

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