Click-accepting online terms sufficient to transfer copyright ownership

In order to transfer copyright ownership, the US Copyright Act requires that the transfer be evidenced by a signed writing. 17 USC 204 (a transfer of one or more of the exclusive rights of copyright by assignment or exclusive license “is not valid unless an instrument of conveyance, or a note or memorandum of the transfer, is in writing and signed by the owner of the rights conveyed or such owner’s duly authorized agent."). A recent decision by the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has now established that online terms of use purporting to assign copyright ownership of user generated content are sufficient to effectuate such a transfer. Metropolitan Regional Information Systems, Inc. v. American Home Realty Network, Inc. (4th Cir. July 17, 2013). 

I wonder if we can now expect to see more social network sites transferring ownership of user-generated content to the owners of such sites. Establishing ownership in favor of the site owner makes it considerably easier to go after infringers, but this must be weighed against the significant user dissatisfaction resulting from such terms.

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