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Bloggers flout copyright

By Steven | February 20, 2008

I’m not a copyright Nazi. I think copyright laws could stand to be loosened. This is just an observation: some bloggers routinely breach other people’s copyright by posting large chunks of stories, columns and editorials. Where they exceed a reasonable extract for fair dealing purposes, these posts are infringing copies. But where they can be said to be posting “in the course of business”, it may even be a crime (see section 131 of the Copyright Act). Ironically, some of those bloggers are usually law-and-order table-thumpers. Occasionally, they’ll genuflect a little toward the copyright owner (“I hope they don’t mind…”). And I’m sure many copyright owners don’t mind. Others realise it’s not worth the candle to enforce their rights. Still, the point is that such copying is unlawful. That’s all.

Topics: Copyright, Internet issues | 4 Comments »

4 Responses to “Bloggers flout copyright”

  1. poneke1 Says:
    February 21st, 2008 at 11:07 am

    What about a case such as the NZ Herald lifting an entire story from my blog, using most of the quotes in it, getting comment about it, and publishing it as their page two lead, without ever coming to me to check its accuracy, or going to the Otago professor I was quoting to see if she really said what I claimed she had said?

    This actually happened in December with this story from my blog. Much of my blog is based on original research or original work, so I am not just lifting stories someone else has written and adding a line of comment. With the article concerned, I attended a conference as a journalist, wrote up the research that was presented, and published it as a news story.

    The online version of the Herald story attributes it to NZPA (which also lifted the story from my blog, but at least did check its accuracy with a Vic lecturer who was also at the conference). The print version of the Herald story (not online) is a little different and has comments from other people, and no attribution to NZPA or my blog.

    While I suppose I should be chuffed that my blog is regarded as so reliable that our biggest newspaper is happy to lift stories from it without checking or attribution, it did make me wonder how many other stories are lifted straight from blogs.

    Now you have made me wonder about copyright as well.

  2. poneke1 Says:
    February 26th, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Has nobody any comment on the issue I raise?

    There is a wider matter of journalists lifting material from blogs, I would have thought.

    Various political journalists frequently lift stuff from David Farrar’s blog, sometimes with, and sometimes without attribution.

    What is good journalistic practice as regards this?

  3. Steven Says:
    February 26th, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    No comments. I know that Radio NZ gets pissed off at newspapers who quote from their interviews without crediting them, and most newspapers are terrible at acknowledging other papers’ stories. Isn’t this much the same? I would have thought that the ethical thing to do is to credit the person/organisation whenever they had some significant role in the original reporting. But it’s certainly not current practice.

  4. lyndon Says:
    February 27th, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Having finally signed on…

    I was going to say that, while it doesn’t effect the legalities, breach of copyright is something of a built-in feature of the web. Especially if you’re on RSS you can find your content stripped and cropping up in the oddest places. That may contribute to something of a culture of presumed permission.

    It’s a bit like privacy – all those stat counters taking a potentially alarming amount of information every time you load a page.


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