I have a site that I use to store all of my study notes and its behind passwords and all of the security stuff. I somehow just want to get rid of that and let it be a normal site but what Im really concerned of is the copyright issue.
Theres a lot of content on it that I just got from other websites, books and tutorials and theyre all mixed up already and I cant remember where I got them. Yes, theyre pasted content or just styled differently. I have no intention of claiming to have composed all of the sites contents or make money out of it, I mean I will state this fact if I have to but is that enough? Can people sue me or shut my site down if they find their work there?
I want to remove the user authentication so that anyone can just go there without the hassle.
Saying "I did not write all of this" makes you an honest plagiarist, but a plagiarist non the less. My suggestion: Reword it.
To address it from a strictly legal standpoint (only valid in the US):
Originally Posted by US Code Title 17, Chapter 1, § 102
Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. Works of authorship include the following categories:
(1) literary works;
(2) musical works, including any accompanying words;
(3) dramatic works, including any accompanying music;
(4) pantomimes and choreographic works;
(5) pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works;
(6) motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
(7) sound recordings; and
(8) architectural works.
In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.
This means that facts and ideas can not be copyrighted. However, the precise way they word these facts is eligible under the literary portion of section A. This means that as long as you put it in your own words you are not violating any laws, but if you directly copy their works you are violating the law.
Don't forget about the kid who tried to post the code that he wrote for the class and was threatened with failure if he did so.
Not as crazy as it may sound, Title 17, Chapter 2, § 201 B states:
(b) Works Made for Hire.— In the case of a work made for hire, the employer or other person for whom the work was prepared is considered the author for purposes of this title, and, unless the parties have expressly agreed otherwise in a written instrument signed by them, owns all of the rights comprised in the copyright.
What is done in a classroom is very arguably this. He had a legal basis, although it was loose and was ruled against
My suggestion is that if you don't know the source of the material then simply don't include it on the site. I can't cite any legal clauses or documents because I know nothing of US law. So what's below is just personal perspective based on academia.
If you quote remote sources you need to give attribution to them, no matter how small the quote. Even if you're just making reference to someone else's ideas you need to cite that source. If you want to host complete documents which aren't yours then you'll need to get in touch with the copyright owner to get permission since using complete documents (or even significant portions of them) with only citing the source is not enough.
Hosting your own study notes won't fall under the same category since they're your original works. However your school/college may well have an agreement that you will not make public your notes—usually in an effort to squash the problem of plagiarism and to uphold academic integrity (current and future students could just use your work without doing anything themselves!).
Just to summarise, if you don't know the source then don't make it public. You won't get sued or required to have the entire site shut down. At most someone may send you a (legal) request to remove one or more pieces of work if they can lay claim to that work (at least then you know who to talk to with regards to citing the source!). Talk to someone at school/college with regards to hosting your own study notes publicly, don't be surprised if they ask you not to.
Alright, so from what you all are saying, I just cant post these materials unless I reword them or contact the author and get permission which I cant do and i cant quote them too since i dont remember them anymore. But atleast I wont get sued right, just asked to put it down.
I dont go to school actually, my study notes comes from self study.
The school example is interesting, and I guess it is true sometimes, professors just want to recycle their assignments sometimes. But just what Villageidiot said too it is interesting how that law would apply to that.
Alright, from the way it all sounds its best to just keep it behind a door, atleast until I try to reword all of it.