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Are Links on this Forum to Copyrighted Material Illegal?


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#1 John T Roberts

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 02:57 PM

In another thread on this forum monee9696 was going to post a link to a Fort Worth Star-Telegram article, but decided not to do so. Here is what he said.
QUOTE (monee9696 @ Jul 26 2009, 09:08 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Was going to post a link to it but scared off by their copyright infringement notices. (I am in the "Due Diligence" phase of selling my business and have all the attorney interaction I need right now.)


The subject has been mentioned in passing on other threads. Papaw, has asked a moderator's opinion in the post below.
QUOTE (Papaw @ Jul 26 2009, 02:51 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
That brings up something I have wondered about. I have refrained from linking to pictures that were copyrighted (watermarked) but have listed many links of articles etc. Wouldn't it be legal to post a link to an article or even a video if it is published on the web? It would be interesting to maybe get a moderators opinion on this.


I did a little bit of research online here and I honestly think that it is illegal to link to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's (or any other media's material, maybe any site's material) without permission. We have been doing it for years and the paper has never asked this site to remove the links. I'm sure this site does generate some traffic to the S-T site. I also do not make any money from this web site, so I'm definitely not profitting from any link.

It's also interesting that the postings of links also provide a means to discuss the news items, projects, and developments on this forum. If we stopped providing links, I do feel that the board discussion would suffer.

If a TV station, magazine, or newspaper asked the site to stop posting links, then it would be posted to everyone to stop the practice and all of administrators and moderators would have to be on our toes to monitor every thread posted even closer than we do now. If the Star-Telegram asked me to remove all links to their site, I would probably work out something to where it would be done over a period of time. I don't think I could remove every link in a short period of time. I guess if they were not agreeable to that solution, I would literally have to shut the board down until all the links were taken away. This probably won't happen, but you never know.

#2 Owen

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 03:12 PM

A link is the same thing as a source citation. What is illegal is to quote the source without proper attribution and permission.

#3 UncaMikey

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 03:41 PM

QUOTE (John T Roberts @ Jul 26 2009, 03:57 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I did a little bit of research online here and I honestly think that it is illegal to link to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's (or any other media's material, maybe any site's material) without permission.


I always thought that linking was perfectly legal as long as it was explicit and not a hidden or inline link that obscured the real owner.

If linking is illegal, how does Google and every other search/media site stay within the law? Virtually every blog and tweet includes a link to something else. And most large sites -- including the S-T -- include a "share" link that will pass along the URL wherever and however you please.

IANAL, but it would seem that if every link must be explicitly authorized by the owner, the Internet is dead.

#4 John T Roberts

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 04:04 PM

Good point. Whenever I have linked to a site I always quote the publication source and usually the author's name.

#5 djold1

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 04:11 PM

If the link does not prohibit connection then I think it is fine. Even if there is a prohibition, I think it is still legal. You are not violating copyright when you link and display without altering the content. If you alter the content or extract that content and replublish it out of context then it is probably not legal.

Later...

The attempts to prohibit linking by the AP and others is an attempt to keep Google and other "news" aggregators from using their so-called "work product" material. AP wants to limit the use to their subscribers only.

I have some sympathy for this and it used to work back in the pre-Internet days. But now AP is caught in a bind that may not have a solution if they want to try it in the courts. Do you really think AP wantes to take on Goggle or Yahoo?

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#6 Dismuke

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 07:05 PM

I didn't see this particular thread. But I put up the following response in the TRV thread where monee9696 raised the issue.

Bottom line, you do NOT need to request permission to link to another website. And Fair Use provisions in the US Copyright laws allow for EXCERPTS of copyright material to be quoted. The only thing that would violate copyright in postings here would be to reproduce a copyrighted article in its entirety. And so long as John promptly acts on any valid take down requests (the person submitting them DOES need to demonstrate that the work IS covered by copyright and that the person IS the rightful owner), John and fortwortharchitecture.com are protected by the user generated content provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Below is my previous posting - which also explains the most likely source of monee9696's concern:


- - - - - -

There is nothing illegal or unethical about posting a link to web content. It basically amounts to pointing and saying "look." This has been upheld by the courts time and time again. It is also perfectly acceptable to quote brief excerpts of copyrighted material..... that is explicitly allowed under the Fair Use provisions of the copyright laws. It is also a practice that newspapers regularly engage in themselves when referring to news that has been broken by rival news organizations.

What I think monee9696 is referring to is a very bizarre position that the Associated Press has taken that linking to its content is illegal and requires that it be licensed. That is an absurd position and pretty much every commentator from all ends of the political spectrum I have seen agrees that it will never stand up in court. The reason it is causing concern, however, is that most bloggers and such who regularly link to AP articles do not have the money for a court battle. But SOMEBODY will eventually challenge them - perhaps backed by the ACLU or the EFF.

Here are two of many interesting commentaries on the matter:

http://www.inquisitr...s-and-fair-use/

http://www.huffingto...h_b_244640.html

As for the Fort Worth Forum - this Forum is covered by provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for user generated content. Basically, if a copyright owner believes a posting here violates their intellectual property, they are required to send John a take down notice along with proof that they are, in fact, the copyright owner of the work in question. So long as John complies with such a request in a reasonable time frame, he and the website are NOT liable for the infringement. They would only be liable if they failed to remove the offending material after they have been asked to take it down. Now, the person who posted the information COULD potentially be held liable. But the copyright owner would have to get a court order in order to compel John to release the data necessary to link a user name with the poster's real name - and John might not even have enough information to do that requiring them to go to the user's ISP to get such information. That is VERY expensive and most users are not going to have enough assets to even collect if the copyright owner were to win.

Bottom line is the Associate Press does not get to unilaterally determine what is and is not legal according to the copyright laws. There is nothing wrong with linking to another website - indeed, most websites, including those belonging to news organizations will THANK you for doing so. Certainly the Star-Telegram wants people here to link to their stories because that means more impressions for the ads that they sell. And it is perfectly legal to quote brief excerpts and passages from a copyrighted work. What IS a violation of copyright is to reproduce a protected work in its entirety without permission - though most news organizations will probably not consider it to be worth their time to complain about it on non-commercial forums such as this one assuming that they even become aware of it in the first place. But they DO have a right to complain if an entire article is reproduced - and so long as John removes the offending material if and when such complaints are made, he and this website are legally protected by the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
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#7 Dismuke

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 07:40 PM

Something else bizarre that the AP is doing is attempting to bring back an antiquated legal doctrine that is no longer part of federal law called "Hot News." Basically, the doctrine holds that if one news organization puts forth time, effort and money to get a "scoop" it has an intellectual property right in that information itself so long as it has commercial value.

Of course, this goes against what has been standard practice for decades. How many times have you seen a news article start off with something to the effect of: Today's New York Times is reporting that......"? One of the fundamental premises of our copyright laws is that there can be no property right in facts as such - only in the specific form in which those facts are communicated.

There is a very interesting Washington Post article from earlier this year that discusses the issue in greater detail:

http://www.washingto...9022201243.html

Here is an excerpt from the closing of the article which explains just how absurd such a doctrine would be in today's world.

"It also raises some troubling questions. Is the AP going to start suing bloggers or news aggregators who take an AP headline and excerpt and rebroadcast it to the world, even with a proper link and attribution? And what happens when the AP is scooped by bloggers, which happens every day. Should bloggers sue the AP? Will people who break news on Twitter claim scoop status, and sue all the bloggers and news outlets who pile on afterward? It could get pretty messy.

Hot news is a concept best left in the twentieth century. Lawsuits like this one just brings home the point that the AP is more concerned with defending its antiquated business model than with moving forward and adapting to the realities of today's information flows"


That last sentence is especially on the mark. Apparently, the Associated Press is morphing into the publishing version of the RIAA. Like the RIAA, rather than accepting a the Internet as a fact of reality and finding a new business model which will make them relevant in such a world, they have decided to take on the Internet as such. And like the RIAA whose absurd approach and policies basically opened the door to an entire generation of young people who wouldn't consider for a moment shoplifting so much as a stick of gum thinking nothing of downloading and sharing copyrighted music, the AP's approach here is going to blow up in its face big time.

Unlike the RIAA and the record labels, newspapers were early champions and pioneers of the Internet. Remember the Star-Telegram's Star-Text service which came out in the 1980s long before the world wide web? For many people in certain parts of the country, their local newspaper was their first ISP. But, of course, now the Internet is killing the newspapers off - at least it is in the big cities. That the AP is behaving in such a manner shows just how utterly desperate they are. The good news, I guess, is that quite a number of newspapers themselves are opting out of the AP.
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#8 David Love

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 09:47 PM

I think Dismuke is in the ball park.

I think this will go over as well as the "Internet Sales Tax." -IMHO

...does this not remind anyone of the Nixon era but with the tables turned!

I don't think the forum has anything to worry about where copyright is concerned, at least not today anyway. We've covered this subject before and the forum rarely infringes, even into the grey areas of copyright law.

Where the Star-Telegram is concerned, from articles and posts past, I'd say we have a good relationship where news and opinions seem to commingle, the majority of the time, at the City's benefit.

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#9 cbellomy

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Posted 30 July 2009 - 03:37 PM

Links are perfectly legal. Reprinting in entirety, especially without a link, is not.

This is actually a very old subject that's been beaten to death elsewhere on the Internet. I'm surprised to see it pop up here, now.

#10 John T Roberts

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Posted 30 July 2009 - 08:45 PM

The question was posed to the administrators and moderators. I realize it has been beaten to death elsewhere, but it was another opportunity to discuss the subject.

#11 AndyN

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Posted 30 July 2009 - 11:11 PM

I think it is a valid discussion and a good reminder to others to employ fair use by not cut and pasting the entire story. Excerpt a little to give the reader an idea of what the story is about, cite the source, provide the link. I have recently seen articles quoted in entirety so it probably doesn't hurt to refresh members' memories.
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#12 cbellomy

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Posted 30 July 2009 - 11:19 PM

My tone must have been unintentionally harsh. All I meant to express was my surprise that this stuff wasn't universally understood. I'm entirely willing to accept that my assumption was based on my own way-too-much-time-spent-on-the-Internet experiences. happy.gif

#13 Dismuke

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 12:17 AM

QUOTE (cbellomy @ Jul 30 2009, 04:37 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Links are perfectly legal. Reprinting in entirety, especially without a link, is not.

This is actually a very old subject that's been beaten to death elsewhere on the Internet. I'm surprised to see it pop up here, now.



It might have been beaten to death - but that apparently does not stop the Associated Press from attempting to intimidate bloggers and other websites into not linking to its material. So what if the law is on the side of the bloggers - how many bloggers have the finances or the time for a legal battle with an organization as large and deep pocketed as the Associated Press?

Internet venues such as blogs and forums such as this are very powerful, disruptive and increasingly influential in leading public opinion. That makes them threats to a great many with entrenched interests - whether it be corporate interests such as the Associated Press or the RIAA with business models that have been made obsolete overnight or powerful politicians who fear the emergence of a vast army of informed critics and activists they are hardly able to keep track of let alone control.

New potential threats to freedom of online speech are dreamed up all the time. Most of these threats are not open - they are disguised as an alleged "solution" to some real or imagined injustice. One has to be ever vigilant about such things or eventually our freedom of speech will be regulated out of existence.

There is a particularly frightening proposal that is about to be published by a Harvard professor who is to to head the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. You can read about at this link.

This professors' proposal would require that bloggers and forum owners be held liable for any "rumors" or "falsehoods" on their sites - including those posted by readers in blog comments and message boards.

Now, exactly who is to define what does and does not constitute a "falsehood" - especially when it comes to controversial topics or personalities? How easy do you suppose it is to find a consensus on something like that? The answer, apparently, is to be provided by a court of law.

From the article:

Sunstein calls for a "notice and take down" law that would require bloggers and service providers to "take down falsehoods upon notice," even those made by commenters - but without apparent penalty....

Consider how well this nudge would work.... You get a letter claiming that your facts are wrong so you should remove your post. You refuse. If, after a court proceeding proves simply that you are wrong (but not that you committed libel, which when a public figure is the target is almost impossible), you lose, the penalty is . . . you must take down your post.

How long would it take for a court to sort out the truth?.... Nobody will care anymore. But it will give politicians the ability to tie up their online critics in court.

...The legal bill is the scary part, and the reason bloggers already have plenty of reason to be careful about what they say, even if they don't much fear a libel conviction.

If this happened, the blogosphere would turn into Pluto overnight. Comments sections would slam shut. Every writer would work on a leash shorter than a shoelace.


So let's say I post something here on this message board that some local politician doesn't like (which I am sure is the case quite often, assuming that local politicians even follow this Forum). The politician's office sends John Roberts a take down notice claiming that what I have said is a "falsehood" and demanding that my posting be removed. If John does not comply, the politician will take John to court. Maybe John will lose the battle - in which case the court will force John to take it down. John will not have to face any further penalties besides having to remove the posting. But he will be out a lot of time and money as a result of the legal battle. Or maybe John will win - in which case the posting will be allowed to remain. But John will be out a great deal of time and money defending himself. Obviously a forum such as this one could not survive under such a chilling environment.

What is really frightening is not so much that I think such a proposal would stand a snowball's chance in Hades of becoming law - we haven't gone that far down the road to serfdom quite yet that such a proposal wouldn't result in one heck of a backlash and fight. What is frightening, however, is that this little Philosopher King wannabe from Harvard is going to be heading up what is apparently a very powerful office despite its rather obscure title.

Nor is this the only threat. South Korea has already passed a law allegedly designed to combat "cyber bullying" which requires all commentators in blog comments and message board postings and all other user generated content venues with more than 100,000 visitors to reveal and verify their real names before posting online. Here is an article about how Google - a company whose very existence depends on freedom of speech and a vibrant Internet - has basically thrown in the towel on a fundamental free speech issue in order to gain commercial access to the South Korean market. Google is requiring YouTube users in that country to submit to the mandated name verification before being allowed to post content.

Now, I don't know of any civilized person who is in favor of cyber bullying. But think of the chilling implications this would have for free speech. A great many bloggers and online commentators post using pseudonyms simply because they do not wish to subject themselves and their families to harassment by various sorts of thugs who disagree with what they say.

Also, a great many commentators use pseudonyms as a wise precaution to protect their careers. It is increasingly common for employers to do google searches on the names of potential employees to see what turns up as part of pre-employment screening. If you hold strong opinions on controversial issues, do you really want that to be something that might become part of your job screening? I have a scientist friend whose day job is in academia and, in his free time, is the author of a popular blog where he expresses opinions that are very much in line with my own when it comes to issues involving free market economics and individual rights. He blogs under a pseudonym because, let's just say that most people in his particular field are thoroughly indoctrinated in Political Correctness, collectivism and statism. Making his political opinions known at work would basically be career suicide - Politically Correct individuals are not known for their tolerance of dissenting views.

Or what about people who visit and post comments on sites that deal with controversial lifestyles such as nudist or gay/lesbian sites etc? Is that something that most people would want to prospective employers to be looking at before one even lands an interview? And what if your employer was dependent upon government contracts? How likely would you be willing to loudly express opinions that either embarrass or criticize powerful officials and politicians who hold control over whether your employer does or does not get such contracts - and who could potentially make your employer know how much they disapprove of what you are writing?

Like I said, there are a great many people who fear the Internet - especially the potentially vast audiences and impact that ordinary people such as you and I can acquire assuming that we have something worth saying and which other people find of value. It was because of discussion forums similar to this one that Dan Rather no longer has a job at CBS. It was because of discussion forums such as this one that Trent Lott was forced to step down as Senate Majority Leader and his political career was forever shot to hell. What politicians and entrenched Establishments fear most is the dissemination of facts and information that shine light on their real motives and hidden agendas. And for that reason, message boards such as this and the Internet itself will always be under attack by people in powerful places who feel threated by it. They feel threatened by it because they have good reason to feel threatened - which is why we must be ever vigilant in standing up for it.
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#14 cbellomy

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 12:50 AM

Dismuke, I think you greatly overestimate the impact of the Internet on the Rather and Lott stories. Right wing blogs had very little to do with Dan Rather's firing, as his civil suit will make plain. Talking Points Memo broke the Lott story and ran with it when no one else would, but that was more a function of TPM being independent media than being web-based. They break a lot of stories the traditional media can't or won't run.

As for the AP, they're very clearly operating in la-la land. There's an easy way to keep others from linking to your stories, and that's not to print them online where the public can read them for free. They'll get nowhere with their intimidation tactics.

As for the article in the Post... it reads like a typical NY Post tabloid freakout piece to me. The chances of that kind of legislation making its way through Congress is extremely close to nonexistent. The chances of Obama signing it are even worse. I wouldn't lose too much sleep.

#15 Dismuke

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 01:25 AM

QUOTE (cbellomy @ Jul 31 2009, 01:50 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Dismuke, I think you greatly overestimate the impact of the Internet on the Rather and Lott stories. Right wing blogs had very little to do with Dan Rather's firing, as his civil suit will make plain.


Actually, they had everything to do with Rather's firing. Had it not been for the message boards and the blogs, word that the documents used in Rather's story were fake would not have been known to anyone beyond perhaps a small circle of friends known by the obscure typesetting expert who first noticed that something was fishy. Had word not gotten out about the forged documents, the continued employment of Rather and the others associated with the story would never have been called into question.

QUOTE
The chances of that kind of legislation making its way through Congress is extremely close to nonexistent. The chances of Obama signing it are even worse. I wouldn't lose too much sleep.


Yes - and I explicitly stated as much in my posting. But it does reveal how such people's minds work and what those with such mentalities would do in a split second if they thought they had any chance in the world of getting away with it. Which means that we need to be ever vigilant and make darn well sure that they continue to very clearly know that we will not LET them get away with it.
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#16 cbellomy

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Posted 31 July 2009 - 10:42 AM

QUOTE (Dismuke @ Jul 31 2009, 02:25 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
QUOTE (cbellomy @ Jul 31 2009, 01:50 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Dismuke, I think you greatly overestimate the impact of the Internet on the Rather and Lott stories. Right wing blogs had very little to do with Dan Rather's firing, as his civil suit will make plain.


Actually, they had everything to do with Rather's firing. Had it not been for the message boards and the blogs, word that the documents used in Rather's story were fake would not have been known to anyone beyond perhaps a small circle of friends known by the obscure typesetting expert who first noticed that something was fishy. Had word not gotten out about the forged documents, the continued employment of Rather and the others associated with the story would never have been called into question.


There's a lot more to that story, but topic drift is taking us well outside the bounds of this thread so I'll leave it at that. We can chat about it privately if you like.


#17 FortWorthLowrider

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Posted 06 August 2009 - 11:16 AM

Been linking articles for years. Never had an issue
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