I think that is aimed at potential clients using the site; I think the relevant section for things like legal guides and answers and such would be in the next section:
"If you post User Content to the Site, unless we indicate otherwise, you grant Company and its affiliates a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable and fully sublicensable right to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such User Content throughout the world in any media."
In fact, I know so - Section 18 refers to "questions and answers" and "guides" specifically.
This would mean that you retain the copyright in what you've created and can do with it as you like, but that Avvo has a license to do just about anything with what you've posted, as well.
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It seems that under AVVO's terms, you agree that all of your submissions are the property of AVVO. Frankly its a strange statement. AVOOS position will be that it has the copyright to your submission and that you do not have any licensing rights to repost them elsewhere. Obviously, using a tool provided by AVOO for reposting (like Facebook connect) would be permissible. From a liability standpoint, AVVO would be better off getting an unlimited worldwide license to the submissions and leaving the ownership with the attorney submitting the work, but this is not the case here.
I agree with my colleague regards to the approach. This really should be drafted differently and framed as a license. I am greatly skeptical as to whether a court would uphold an exclusive transfer here. I would probably look into it much more carefully if you intend on posting anything of commercial value or have meaningful plans for that content.
Obviously, it is not the intention of Avvo to exploit us or our postings but I don't like that language either.
I'm sure some of our other IP colleagues will chime in and offer some insights as well.
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Fascinatng question. I am glad you raised the point. As attorney's, we all have no excuse or defense as we understand AVVO's intent, offer, and the attorney's consent making a binding contract (offer, consideration, and acceptance) but for what means and to what enforceable end?
Obviously, re-posting poses no issues (in fact, I also suspect many attorney's have seen the same question so many times, that they have stock answers they re-post).
In the case of AVVO publishing your answers, they clearly have the right. For example, if AVVO wanted to publish a book "Answers to Common Copyright Questions" they could use posts made by you and other attormey's. (Although I this does not give them the right to use your name/reputation.)
Now, if you wanted to publish a book, "My Answers to Common Copyright Questions" and used answers you had written before and posted on AVVO, is this legal? It would be a difficult case to claim the words you had written before would not be the same words you would use again? Did your knowledge change?
On the other hand, if you post a complex legal theory, flow chart or other "valuable" intellectual property, then you have not only published the information to AVVO's benefit and potential future use of, but you have diluted your rights by making that information public knowledge in the first place. In response to this, many attorney's provide links to their legal guides or information sources independent and outside of AVVO (thereby not relinquishing any rights to AVVO).
Welcome to AVVO!
My disclaimer is simply that Avvo already has an adequate disclaimer.
Let us not confuse assignment of copyright with giving license to use content. Assignment of copyright means parting with ownership to the works altogether. Licensing your work means giving permission while retaining copyright ownership. All you’re doing here is licensing, so of course you can repost and publish them. The question is whether you can stop AVVO from publishing your answers and guides even when it looks like you granted them an irrevocable license. There may be some arguments on that point.
If you want to take your Avvo answers and repost them (a better way, certainly easier, might be to just link to them), I would suggest you just do it and not worry about Avvo. It's your language and it's your content. I will might have a implied license or actual license to use it, but it is highly unlikely they can obtain and enforceable license to prevent you from using your own words. It's also unlikely they would ever try to enforce such an exclusive right, even if they thought they had it, as the backlash would be a sight to behold.
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