If I created a tech site just like this one and had the same forum layout structure:

meaning, I used the

-Microsoft Windows
- Windows NT/2000/XP/2003
- Windows 9x/Me
- Web Browsers
- Windows Software
- Viruses, Spyware & Other Nasties
- Windows tips 'n' tweaks

Does that break the copyright law even if the content of the forums is different? Can you legally use the same forum structure of other websites?

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You can only use other peoples ideas with there permission, to a certain extent.

It is very tricky area of Intellectual Property law, because there are so many variables that need to be considered in how closely your site would copy this site, especially when using generic wording, or styling. For example, you could easily create a Tech Talk forum, because that is a generic phrase, as well as a Windows forum, and a Virus Forum.

The thing is, that these ideas, work as a way for you to prove that you came up with the ideas yourself, and not just come to this site to get ideas, so the number of similarities would be taken into consideration.

The bottom line in this case, is that because you have posted on this site, asking if you can legally rip it off for your own site, would make an easy argument in a prosecution against your site, that the ideas you used were not your own.

My advice, would be to just have a single forum, such as a Tech Forum, or maybe just a few, Windows, Mac, Other OS, Security, and judge on how the forums were used, what items deserve a specific sub forum, such as splitting down Windows problems. The problem with creating one big forum layout from the off, means that you have empty looking sub-forums, that detract from the look of the site.

You can copy as many words as you want until they start to form phrases and sentences that are unique. Words you can copy, phrases you can't. For example, I would think you would be able to copy our forum structure because we don't hold the copyrights to any of those words ... Microsoft, Windows XP, etc. But if you were to copy our slogan, "Where cool techies unite" you are starting to put enough words together to form a phrase unique enough to be associated with us.

For example, suppose you're writing a book. Every word in an existing book is freely available for you to use in your own book. However, once you start putting those words together to form sentences and paragraphs in the exact same way as that existing book does, you're copying them.

Take my Microsoft Windows forum. I was not the first one to invent the idea of separating it into Windows 9x and Windows XP. Lots of sites do that and you are free to as well. But once you start separating forums and subforums enough that it is blatantly obvious to anyone that DaniWeb is the only other site in existance that has that forum structure, then that is where it starts to cross the line.

None of this is legal advice / legally sound. It's just my own opinion :)

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