Originally Posted by MasterAsylum
I'm 99% sure that material posted in a public forum is not copyrighted and linking to it and creating an index is not illegal. If I ever actually saw something really come to meaning from this I'd be 100% content stabbing the moron who sought legal action.
I have anger issues.
There's definitely more to it than that.
First realize that it's not a crime to hyperlink to the URL of a web page, with or without the author's knowledge that you're posting the link... servers don't just decide to host pages on the web on their own, they are specifically set up for this (i.e., no authentication required, any IP can connect via HTTP and receive the page via a GET request). If you voluntarily have it up for the world to see, you can't sue someone for telling the world the URL (but if it's interesting, let's hope you have bandwidth). There is also limited original content copyright on the internet (a drawing I make and save as a JPEG is considered my work, not the JPEG groups for owning the format, or microsoft's for writing the software that encoded it, or Photobucket's for hosting it).
But copyright issues can't be directly imposed upon the forums, because forums typically have end user license agreements when you sign up. You may have agreed, in creating an account on many websites that allow users to broadcast or share original content (from youtube to 2p2), to one of several things, which could range from giving the site complete ownership and effective copyright of your content (rare if not unheard of), to giving the site control over your creation as they deem fit to do (including hosting, not hosting, archiving, or deleting), while still recognizing it as something you made. The fine print's a ***** if you forget about it.
Assuming at one time or another you make content publicly available to anyone who wants to see it (and this goes beyond the scope of just the internet), fair use comes into play. Archival and indexing services are in this category. Google creates a cache/snapshot of almost every web page on the internet, continuously, as it crawls, and sites like the Internet Archive are dedicated to presenting websites as they looked at various times in history. Both of these processes involve the respective company downloading and storing millions of files with no "asking permission".
So yes, anyone can link to any thread in the archives. However, copyright issues occur if any of that content is misattributed, or edited by someone else taking their own initiative... I am not well versed in this, but if 2p2 wants to put these threads in a book and publish/sell it for profit, you can see why the permission of every single post author whose work was used would be required.