Internet forum problem

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The Internet forum problem refers to the problem that traditional Internet forums are dying rapidly.

Social media sites have been displacing Internet forums.

Reasons include:

  • Social media sites like Reddit and Facebook Groups could aggregate content from multiple discussion groups.
    • People are discouraged from creating "forum aggregators" for traditional forums because of the fear of lawsuits. For example, Facebook sued Power Ventures for creating a social network aggregator. Many forum websites prohibit bots from aggregating its content in their terms of service.
  • Social media sites provide a single log-in.
  • Social media sites already have a larger userbase. It's easier to obtain traffic for a new subforum on a social media site.
  • Traditional Internet forums have software that is often not up-to-date.
  • On social media sites, users are able share material across different areas of the site without worrying about copyright infrigement. Examples:
    • Flickr allows users to repost images from any user account to any of Flickr's groups (which include Flickr's own discussion forums). In contrast, if a third-party discussion forum reposts any of Flickr's images on its own site, then this might be copyright infringement. Third-party forums do not have the benefit of reusing Flickr's images without violating copyright laws.
    • Similarly, users could repost any image found on Facebook to any Facebook Group without worrying about copyright infringement. In contrast, if any third-party forum reuses any image found on Facebook, then this might be copyright infrigement. Unlike Facebook Groups, third-party forums don't have the benefit of reusing any image found on Facebook without violating copyright laws.
  • Non-commercial licensing allows large social media sites to gain an advantage over smaller ones. This is because barge social media sites are still allowed to indirectly profit from material that is under a non-commercial license. Examples:
    • A user republishes an CC-BY-NC (non-commercial) licensed article on Facebook. The reason he republished the article was because he found the article interesting, not because he wanted to make a profit. He did not violate the license because he did not use the article for commercial purposes. However, Facebook is still allowed to indirectly profit from the article from advertisements next to the video.
      • If the same user has his personal blog, republishes the CC-BY-NC licensed article on his blog and places advertisements next to the article, he will violate the license because he would personally profit form the article.
  • Copyright law has a fair use exception on non-commercial use. This non-commercial use exception allows large social media sites to gain an advantage over smaller ones. This is because large social media sites are still allowed to indirectly profit from material that is otherwise unlicensed. Examples:
    • A user includes the unlicensed content in a YouTube video. The user is an activist and does not intend to profit from the channel or the video. This does not infringe on copyright because the user has a fair use defense on noncommercial use. He did not reuse the content for commercial purposes. However, YouTube is still allowed to indirectly profit from the video from the advertisements next to the video.
      • If the same user owns his own video hosting site and places advertisements next to the video, he won't have the fair use defense anymore because he would personally profit form the video.
    • Pinterest does not get sued even though it profits off of copyrighted content. Pinterest does not get sued because fair use allows its users to repost copyrighted material for noncommercial purposes. However, Pinterest is still allowed to indirectly profit from it from advertisements and from selling its userdata.
  • Many image hosting sites, like Imgur and Postimage.org, only allow non-commercial use of their images. They will even delete images which are used commercially. This will have a negative impact against personal blogs that use their images, because the use of their images will be likely considered to be "commercial" if the owner makes any profit from advertisements or donations from his site. Such non-commercial restrictions tend to favor larger sites (like social media sites) at the expense of smaller sites (like personal blogs and traditional forums).

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