The New York Times yesterday reported that a company from Nevada, Righthaven LLC, has entered into an arrangement with Media News Group (the owner of the Lowell Sun and many other newspapers) whereby Righthaven scours the internet for people using copyrighted articles and photographs from Media News Group papers and, when they find such an instance, they get an assignment of certain rights from Media News Group and then immediately file suit against the blogger. A suit against a 20 year old young man with a severe disability who lives with his mother in North Carolina who had used a photo that had originally appeared in the Denver Post (a Media News Group paper) brought this practice into the national spotlight.
I'm not surprised by this episode; I'm just surprised it didn't occur sooner. I don't know if Righthaven's tactics will survive judicial scrutiny if put to the test but it will have a chilling effect on blogging. If anything, this situation underscores the importance of blogs/bloggers developing original content for themselves & the audience they cultivate. What say you, O denizens of Red Mass Group?
(There are a lot of new users lately. Here is our fair use policy. Please follow it. If you don't you will be banned. It is I that will be sued by the copyright holders not you. - promoted by Rob "EaBo Clipper" Eno)
Just a quick housekeeping item. I've seen posts lately that are just wholesale postings of other people's work with no blockquoting, and no linking. That's not blogging that's stealing content. It's happened enough that I wanted to make a statement to clarify our policy.
Fair use is a doctrine in United States copyright law that allows limited use of copyrighted material without requiring permission from the rights holders, such as use for scholarship or review. It provides for the legal, non-licensed citation or incorporation of copyrighted material in another author's work under a four-factor balancing test. The term "fair use" originated in the United States, but has been added to Israeli law as well; a similar principle, fair dealing, exists in some other common law jurisdictions. Civil law jurisdictions have other limitations and exceptions to copyright.
In blogging and especially at this blog it will mean that you must link to the source article, and you may only use at most four paragraphs of the linked article. This will give you plenty of copy to wet our appetite for the article.
Now of course there are exceptions. If you want to counter an article or blog post point for point, you may break the article up and comment on each section. That is fair use. The Angelic One often does this.
If you have formatting questions I refer you to our handy dandy html tag guide or better yet our differently winged friends at BMG have a really good soapblox tutorial on their site. I would also appreciate it if we would standardize on the blockquote standard for quoting, instead of italics, this is more a style guide and less of a requirment.
This post will be linked to in the posting instruction dialogue and in the About Us box. I and the other editors are serious about enforcement. It's me that will get sued not you.