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Many Web site owners and Internet service providers offer users the opportunity to participate in online forums such as bulletin boards, chat rooms and listserves. While most users understand that the information they post or make available through these services will be viewed by others using the same forum, a question arises concerning the rights, if any, that the provider of the forum may have in the content posted by users of the forum. This issue arose recently when an online service provider published a book that included, among other things, comments posted by users in the provider’s public forums. A service provider that offers these types of forums for general use should consider including in its terms of use or other notice governing the use of the forum, a notice that by using the service, the user is granting the service provider an unrestricted license to use the content posted by the user for any purpose, in any medium. The following clause may be used for this purpose. SAMPLE CLAUSE: User’s Grant of Limited License By submitting, sending or otherwise making available information or other material on or through the service (“Content”), you grant Company the royalty-free, unrestricted, worldwide, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive and fully sub-licensable right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such Content (in whole or part) worldwide and/or to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed and warrant that the Content is original to you and that you have all necessary rights to submit, send or otherwise make available the Content and grant such right and license to the Company. You also warrant that any “moral rights” you have in such Content have been waived. This sample clause is intended to serve solely as an exemplar and may need to be modified to conform to the legal requirements of your jurisdiction. It in no way constitutes legal advice. Marc Roth is a senior associate in the New York office of Brown Raysman Millstein Felder & Steiner.

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