The above is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should NOT be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.
It depends on many factors, including fair use doctrine.
Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States title 17, U. S. Code) to the authors of “original works of authorship,” including literary, dramatic, musical, artistic, and certain other intellectual works. This protection is available to both published and unpublished works. Section 106 of the 1976 Copyright Act generally gives the owner of copyright the exclusive right to do and to authorize others to do the following:
• reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords
• prepare derivative works based upon the work
• distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending
• perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works
• display the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work
• perform the work publicly (in the case of sound recordings*) by means of a digital audio transmission
You need an attorney's assistance.
This is not a legal advice or solicitation, and does not create an attorney-client relationship. Consult with an attorney.
I work for Cardinal Risk Mangement and Cardinal Intellectual Property, IP service companies, but not law firms. I also am the president of Vepachedu Educational Foundation Inc., which is a non profit educational foundation. I also write cultural and scientific compliations for the foundation. I also teach at Northwestern university as a guest lecturer. I also provide some pro-bono guidance on immigration and other issues through Indian American Bar Association. I also have a contract with Cardinal Law Group, a law firm, for IP projects. All this information is on my profile at Avvo and also at Linkedin.
Any views/opinions expressed in any context are my personal views in individual capacity only, and do not represent the views and opinions of any firm, client, or anyone else, and is not sponsored or endorsed by them in any way.
I agree with my colleagues on most of what is said, but believe that there needs to be a touch of clarification.
Attorney Schrafel is correct that you would likely end up with an implied license, but the scope of the implied license is dependent on how the user submits the information to your site. If the user's submission automatically appears published on the site, and the user is aware of this fact, then you would have a strong argument for an implied license to publish the work on your website; the thing to be wary of in this case is that the implied license would only cover publishing of the work on your website, not in a book or even on another website. If the user submitted the information with the belief that the information would be private (ie. not published on your website) and it is not apparent that the submissions are automatically posted, there most likely would not be an implied license for publishing the material on your website. You would need to discuss your website with an intellectual property attorney to determine if you have an implied license for the work and what the scope of that implied license is.
Answering of your question is merely general advice and does not constitute legal advice. None of the statements or implications made by this answer creates an attorney-client relationship with the attorney answering the question. The statements made in this answer are not to be solely relied upon and you should meet with a competent attorney to discuss any concerns you may have regarding this answer.