Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Newspaper May Have Given Implicit License To Copy

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the this-way-to-the-lawsuit dept.

The Courts 175

An anonymous reader writes "Following up on the story of Righthaven, the 'copyright troll' that is working with the Las Vegas Journal Review to sue lots of websites (including one of Nevada's Senate candidates) for reposting articles from the LVRJ, a judge in one of the cases appears to be quite sympathetic to the argument that the LVRJ offered an 'implied license' to copy by not just putting their content online for free, but including tools on every story that say 'share this' with links to various sharing services (including one tool to 'share' via Slashdot!)."

cancel ×

175 comments

Common Sense? (5, Funny)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 2 years ago | (#33660592)

If common sense finally wins in one of these cases, it'll be the end of the world as we know it.

Until they file an appeal.

Re:Common Sense? (3, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 2 years ago | (#33660822)

The fact that common sense usually doesn't win out in these types of cases should be proof enough for anyone that the justice system provides anything but.

The end of the world as we know it? (3, Funny)

Chas (5144) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661404)

But I feel fine!

Re:Common Sense? (2, Interesting)

mea37 (1201159) | more than 2 years ago | (#33662086)

In what world do you live?

Are you not aware that the high-profile RIAA/MPAA cases are a tiny fraction of the copyright litigation that occurs? Have you failed to notice that even in those cases, while the industry groups are pushing for outrageous outcomes, the trend has been toward moderation (or, one might say, "common sense") for a long time now?

It is not shocking news that the court is hearing this argument, and it will not be shocking news if this argument prevails.

Law is not code. Not exactly. (3, Informative)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 2 years ago | (#33662316)

Judges are human, and Righthaven is a bag of dicks. Righthaven sues their own sources for posting stories that the sources gave to the paper for free. It's entirely likely the judge stayed up late looking for ways to get these people off the hook. Law is not code. It is a human institution subject to human anti-dickhead prejudices.

This usually works in the other direction: Internet freedoms are frequently tested in the court on behalf of creepy child abusers. Maybe we should try to avoid that?

Reform is needed. (2)

fat bastard of doom (1187649) | more than 2 years ago | (#33660598)

Do not feed the copyright troll. This is interesting. I have a feeling that very soon, the court system is going to start getting sick of the abuses of the copyright system, which may spur some changes. Of course, this has been said many times before.

Re:Reform is needed. (2, Insightful)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 2 years ago | (#33660618)

The Court system may be sick of it, but the lobbyists sure as hell aren't.

Not going to happen.

Re:Reform is needed. (4, Insightful)

dfm3 (830843) | more than 2 years ago | (#33660672)

The Court system may be sick of it, but the lawyers sure as hell aren't.

Not going to happen.

Fixed that for you.

We know who always wins these cases, and it's not always the plaintiff or defendant...

Re:Reform is needed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33661342)

dammit i hate lawyers.

there is nothing noble about their profession anymore. They leech off society by targeting anyone and everyone. Divorce rates through the roof, and who profits, scumbag lawyers, America is crumbing from the bottom up, who profits, scumbag lawyers.

I don't know how they sleep at night!!

Re:Reform is needed. (3, Funny)

trum4n (982031) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661410)

They can afford SleepNumber beds.

Re:Reform is needed. (2, Funny)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661846)

I like that argument technique - make up a fact, for example, divorce rates are going through the roof, and blame it on a group that you don't like.

Seriously, I like that technique.

Re:Reform is needed. (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 2 years ago | (#33662142)

I like that argument technique - make up a fact, for example, divorce rates are going through the roof, and blame it on a group that you don't like.

Seriously, I like that technique.

OK, let's try it.
(1) Make up a fact.
Buddhists are torturers, forcing people sign contracts to donate their homes.
(2) Blame it on a group you don't like.
Oil companies in Texas are behind it all, they want the oil under the properties, and are collecting profit.

Hmm I don't think that works. There seems to be a requirement for some minimal logical association and credibility on the part of the reader. You can't just blame anyone for anything and have it stick. You can manipulate the facts, twist the terms, words, and phrase construction, and make them more believable, but people's education and information level and social context imposes some limitation on how much you can get them to believe.

Re:Reform is needed. (3, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#33660774)

There are two kinds of copyright troll: the ones who abuse copyright itself, like filing takedown notices on websites that aren't infringing copyright but the troll wants closed for other reasons (like it said something bad about them), and the industry shills who come to slashdot equating copyright infringemet to theft and terrorism with their "think of the artists" and "it's MY property" twisted logic.

Sometimes you have to fight the trolls.

Re:Reform is needed. (2, Informative)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 2 years ago | (#33660820)

And the people who come to slashdot and think they have the right to any non-physical copyrightted work, even without paying for it.

Re:Reform is needed. (4, Insightful)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 2 years ago | (#33660884)

"And the people who come to slashdot and think they have the right to any non-physical copyrightted work, even without paying for it."

Not any. Only what the author already decided to make *public*.

Re:Reform is needed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33662502)

Thank goodness then that most artists don't make their works public, just available for private sale between a third-party retailer and the individuals who decide to pay.

Re:Reform is needed. (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 2 years ago | (#33662640)

"Thank goodness then that most artists don't make their works public"

Most? Tune up your radio.

Re:Reform is needed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33661046)

I have the right to any PHYSICAL copyrighted work as well. So long as when i make my copy the original object isn't taken.

No?

Wait till we can have the nano-machines build us a BMW for example.

Re:Reform is needed. (1)

Jawnn (445279) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661610)

And the people who come to slashdot and think they have the right to any non-physical copyrightted work, even without paying for it.

Ya' know, we hear this often enough, but it's mostly bullshit. Sure, there might be the odd miscreant that honestly believes that he is entitled to others' works without paying what is asked for those works, but they are truly an exception, so tiny in number as to be insignificant. So WTF are you on about?

Re:Reform is needed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33662254)

And the people who confuse people who want stuff for free with those who have legitimate complaints about copyright [and do so on purpose]... and those who assume copyright has to do with payment or lack therefore when it only has to do with controls and permissions, payment being a VICE in the thing.

Re:Reform is needed. (4, Insightful)

gsslay (807818) | more than 2 years ago | (#33662058)

You appear to be confusing 'troll' with "someone who disagrees with my perfectly correct opinions and therefore must be silenced".

Trolls are generally not welcome, as they are not interested in discussion, just provoking reaction. They may not even care about the topic discussed one way or another. It's just a way of getting attention for their favorite topic; themselves.

People who disagree, however, are essential for any good discussion forum. Informed and considered opinion rarely forms from people sitting around congratulating each other on how right they all are and how much they are in agreement. I can't imagine why anyone would want to hang out in any forum like that. Ideas need challenged to prove their worth. Calling those who provide the challenge 'trolls' or 'shills' are just ad hominen attacks that avoid the real issues.

Re:Reform is needed. (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#33662324)

Sometimes you have to fight the trolls... with fire. cause, you know, they regenerate. Acid works as well.

Re:Reform is needed. (3, Funny)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 2 years ago | (#33660802)

Just wait for lawyers to start patenting their particular model of "lawyering" and then the fun REALLY starts. :p

Re:Reform is needed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33662016)

I fear you have awakened a sleeping giant

Re:Reform is needed. (2, Interesting)

Lloyd_Bryant (73136) | more than 2 years ago | (#33662202)

Just wait for lawyers to start patenting their particular model of "lawyering" and then the fun REALLY starts. :p

You mean like a trial lawyer patenting a method for making jury selections [wikipatents.com] ? Sorry, it's already happened, and I haven't seen any *fun* resulting...

They need help (2, Interesting)

h00manist (800926) | more than 2 years ago | (#33660608)

Their articles need posting to a few hundred websites more... that way they can become partners with the **AA gang in the mass-mail lawsuits business. It's all part of a plan for a DOS attack on the justice system.

Re:They need help (2, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661614)

At which point, all court rooms can be issued with a small PA system and a button on their desk. Every case of "RIAA Vs. " or "MPAA Vs. " etc which they encounter, they can press the button. In a big booming voice, the PA system will play "DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE. and that'll be that.

Trapdoor to shark pit underneath the plaintiff's lawyers is optional.

Re:They need help (1)

Yer Mom (78107) | more than 2 years ago | (#33662100)

Trapdoor to shark pit underneath the plaintiff's lawyers is optional.

Isn't that a bit cruel to the sharks?

Re:They need help (1)

Lloyd_Bryant (73136) | more than 2 years ago | (#33662256)

Trapdoor to shark pit underneath the plaintiff's lawyers is optional.

Sorry, sharks won't eat lawyers. It's a matter of "professional courtesy"...

Re:They need help (1)

Almost-Retired (637760) | more than 2 years ago | (#33662412)

Trapdoor to shark pit underneath the plaintiff's lawyers is optional.

But it should not be. Get rid of the lawyers that file this frivolous stuff and eventually we'll run out of anything for a buck lawyers. That cannot be anything but desirable.

Then we'll maybe have some common sense in the American justice system again.

--
Cheers, Gene
"There are four boxes to be used in defense of liberty:
  soap, ballot, jury, and ammo. Please use in that order."
-Ed Howdershelt (Author)
Hubbard's Law:
                Don't take life too seriously; you won't get out of it alive.

CopyRight Law (2)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 2 years ago | (#33660610)

It's a double-edged sword. Lets see how the trolls like being sliced with it.

Um... (5, Insightful)

omglolbah (731566) | more than 2 years ago | (#33660612)

Wouldnt this mean that any sharing of a link to your content would also give an implied license to copy?

How exactly is this going to work? Does this mean that all newspaper stories are freely usable by anyone?... That will sure break a lot of things... :p

Re:Um... (5, Funny)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 2 years ago | (#33660680)

How exactly is this going to work?

How concisely you sum up years of interrogations about this whole "intellectual property" thing !

Re:Um... (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 2 years ago | (#33662310)

How exactly is this going to work?

How concisely you sum up years of interrogations about this whole "intellectual property" thing !

Well, I'd propose modifying the property law. Private property is limited to what you can carry on your person, or keep within one 12ft x 12ft space. Everything else is public property, and you may join various associations to use and manage and care for it. As to private intellectual property, you may author it and keep it locked in there if you wish.

Re:Um... (1)

Mikkeles (698461) | more than 2 years ago | (#33662464)

Dibs on your back yard!

Re:Um... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33660698)

No. It wouldn't. Link -> content remains on the author's web page.

Re:Um... (2)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | more than 2 years ago | (#33660786)

No. It wouldn't. Link -> content remains on the author's web page.

No content is sent to your computer. One could even put forth the argument that it is copied to your computer.

Re:Um... (2)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 2 years ago | (#33660910)

If the content is going through the Internet then you could easily argue it is copied MANY times along the route from the source to you.

Re:Um... (2, Interesting)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661542)

And the counter to that is that the website author grants an implied license to copy the work for display on your machine so you can read it, but not a blanket license to copy for anything you want to do with it. In this particular case, however, the author(s) of the website placed "share this" links to /. and others, thus implying that they wanted to make the pages available to all for copying.
-nB

Re:Um... (3, Interesting)

Spad (470073) | more than 2 years ago | (#33660798)

It is, as they always say in the lawsuits against P2P operators, all about how you advertise your services.

If you say "Here is my article, come read it" then you're not implying anything beyond that, but if you say "Here is my article, come read it and share it with all your friends" then the implication is that you're happy for people to take that article and spread it around.

Now there may be an issue of attribution, but that's an entirely separate issue from claiming that people are violating your copyrights by doing what you invited them to do.

Re:Um... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33661192)

How different is this from the free newspapers I see around the city that tries to propagate itself through free distribution? Just because it's passed around as much as possible, it doesn't necessarily mean you (the end-user) can take the articles and publish it in a book form compilation and sell it.

As a photographer, I pass out postcards and other marketing materials. It doesn't mean the *potential* art buyers can use my image for their designs and advertising projects. I am the copyright holder.

What about the software company that distributes shareware versions of their program - are they free to be modified and re-sold at profit? Or should I simply cripple my images with a watermark? Should the news site install a paywall to tone down this "implicitiveness?"

I think the problem is not necessarily spreading the content, per se, but who's hosting. In this age of pay-per-click advertising, if the user is not visiting the original online publication with ads (News Site), but instead going to another domain with copied content (Copy Site), the Copy Site is generating revenue at the cost of News Site (editors, reporters, photographers ain't free).

I would hinge this case as 'fair use' based on Copy Site's amount of articles copied; how much is copied (whole articles or quotes); and if any revenue is generated through ads or other financial incentive.

Re:Um... (3, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#33662628)

It is, as they always say in the lawsuits against P2P operators, all about how you advertise your services.

Correct, and from the responses here on Slashdot, I suspect virtually none have actually gone and checked out the 'advertising'. It doesn't say what you think it says.
 

If you say "Here is my article, come read it" then you're not implying anything beyond that, but if you say "Here is my article, come read it and share it with all your friends" then the implication is that you're happy for people to take that article and spread it around.

However, the LVRJ is not saying "here's the article, share it with all your friends", they're saying "here's a link, share it with all your friends". There's a huge and important difference there.

Re:Um... (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#33660976)

Does this mean that all newspaper stories are freely usable by anyone?...

They already were... well, the newspapers might have thought otherwise... they are just waking up to reality.

Re:Um... (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 2 years ago | (#33662382)

Does this mean that all newspaper stories are freely usable by anyone?...

No. You may only use them for reading and when the regular toilet paper ends. For any other purpose such as lining bird cages and cleaning windows, etc, you must get special permits.

Re:Um... (2, Informative)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661160)

No, it means that if you put a button on your site saying "Click here to copy part of this story to your website!", you can't then sue people for copying parts of the story. It would be like YouTube suing people for using the embed links they post.

Re:Um... (2, Interesting)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#33662516)

No, it means that if you put a button on your site saying "Click here to copy part of this story to your website!", you can't then sue people for copying parts of the story. It would be like YouTube suing people for using the embed links they post.

Not quite - there's different kinds of 'copying'. Putting a button on your site does give implicit permission to copy that portion of the story provided by the button - it does not give implicit permission to cut-and-paste the entire story. (Usually such buttons only provide a teaser and a link, and the LVJR's buttons adhere to this custom.) I'm hoping the judge recognizes the difference.
 
Fair use plays into this as well. Unless it falls under one of the exemptions, then by copying the entire article to your website (whether or not you provide a link) you've violated the LVJR's copyrights.

I would argue that... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33661506)

...their providing of "tools" on their website to help facilitate sharing content even goes so far as to constitute the granting explicit permission/license to copy.

A limited reading (5, Interesting)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 2 years ago | (#33660670)

I just want to note that the Righthaven v. Klerks decision linked to in the article should actually be read on fairly narrow grounds. The whole issue of Righthaven is whether to vacate a default judgment entered against Righthaven. In order to vacate the default judgment, the defendant had to show that they 1) weren't culpable in defaulting, 2) they had a meritorious defense to the original case, and 3) not vacating the default judgment will prejudice the defendant.

The whole part about the implicit license to copy and fair use was applied only to the question of whether Righthaven had a meritorious defense. However, it does not mean that the defense is a winning defense, merely that it wouldn't be laughed out of court if they asserted it. I don't think this really offers that much precedent beyond the narrow scope of the motion.

In any case, while I disagree with Righthaven (and I agree with the judge on the matter of fair use), something doesn't exactly sit right with me with the Judge's argument that the newspaper gave an implied consent to copy the newspaper. Part of the reasoning is that the newspaper permitted the user to "'right-click' and copy the article". This seems like a dog of an argument to me. Practically all websites allow users to right click (except for Dr. Ann de Wees Allen) and copy the content from their webpages - that doesn't seem like it means that everything is offered on the web with an implied license to copy. Rather, the fact that the newspaper had links to share a link to the content on facebook or twitter or whatever - and thus should only really be read to have given implied consent to link, not to copy.

Re:A limited reading (1)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 2 years ago | (#33660706)

Sorry, I confused the parties. I meant that the question is whether Klerks had a meritorious defense, not Righthaven (the copyright troll in question).

Re:A limited reading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33660794)

I don't see the difference between "share this article" and sharing a link to the article. I mean if I can share the article on facebook or else where, why can't I share it on my server. I mean sharing is sharing, or isn't it?

Re:A limited reading (4, Interesting)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 2 years ago | (#33660852)

It's an interesting issue to bring up. Because of technology advancing so quickly, these issues are still yet unresolved. You gotta remember, a lot of judges aren't tech-savvy and there's a gap between the technological knowledge of a court and the issues that pop up nowadays. (For instance, a few years ago, no websites would have links to share on social networking sites like facebook or twitter.) Case in point, judicial districts still use antiquated technology to function. The New York Judicial Courts, for instance, still mandate the use of WordPerfect as its preferred format.

As far as the difference between sharing the article and sharing a link to the article, I think the most appropriate slashdot appropriate analogy would be the difference between a memory location and a pointer to a memory location.

Re:A limited reading (1, Offtopic)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661206)

Case in point, judicial districts still use antiquated technology to function. The New York Judicial Courts, for instance, still mandate the use of WordPerfect as its preferred format.

I have both Word Perfect and MS Word on my work computer, and there's nothing I can do in Word I can't do in Word Perfect, even though Word is the 1997 version.

A word processor is a word processor. Word Perfect circa 1990 is still as useful as it was when it was new. Replacing a perfectly useable tool when a newer tool offers no advantage over the old tool is fiscally irresponsible.

If you'd have said "they're still mandating Netscape" or "still using IE6" or "still using DOS" or "still using 486 computers" you might have had a point, but note they're not using typewriters. Why would anyone "upgrade" a word processor? Word processing was pretty much perfected two decades ago; there has been no true innovation that would increase productivity or usefulness whatever since.

Re:A limited reading (1)

jackbird (721605) | more than 2 years ago | (#33662664)

Also, Wordperfect's lack of embedded change tracking data is EXTREMELY important to law firms.

Re:A limited reading (1)

index0 (1868500) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661836)

It is not up to the Judge to be an expert on all things, its up to the lawyers on either side to get experts to explain or debunk the other expert.

Re:A limited reading (2, Informative)

sangreal66 (740295) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661288)

That isn't how the 'share' functionality on news sites work. It shares a link to the story with the headline and the first few sentences, not the entire article.

Re:A limited reading (2)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661350)

It depresses me that, on Slashdot of all places, this even needs to be said.

Re:A limited reading (2, Interesting)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661484)

There's a difference between placing a link (not covered by copyright) and a summary (covered by fair use in the US) on your site, and copying the entire article.

The link and summary are actually a net benefit to the website being linked, as it may help drive traffic and increase advertising revenue.

By copying the entire article, you're allowing others to read the article without being shown the advertising that would go with it.

Even if the 'share' feature of the website did allow you to copy the entire text of the article, it's to a limited number of sites. It's reasonable to assume that the newspaper has given permission to copy to those sites, but that's no reason to assume that that permission is extended to your own web server.

I think the judge is right to stop and question the wording used with the share function, but otherwise this seems like an open and shut case of copyright infringement and not at all an abuse of copyright law.

Re:A limited reading (2, Interesting)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661522)

Righthaven's business model is that it finds people who copied a particular newspaper article, then track down the copyright owners of the article, purchase the rights to it and then turn around and sue the person they found. That seems like an abuse. In any case, copying a newspaper article (as noted by the judge here) for non-commercial and informational use may be a fair use under the multi-part fair use factor test.

Re:A limited reading (2, Interesting)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661734)

In any case, copying a newspaper article (as noted by the judge here) for non-commercial and informational use may be a fair use under the multi-part fair use factor test.

I'd question that, under the amount and substantiality test. And given the existence and ubiquity of hyperlinking, it's not necessary to copy an entire article for informational use.

As for the business model, I agree it's not a particularly nice one, but the problem is with the large statutory damages that US copyright law allows. Reduce those, and allow the judge to set common-sense damages on a case-by-case basis, and this business model rapidly becomes uneconomic. Trying to allow exceptions where you don't like the business model just makes copyright law more broken.

Lets do it? (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 2 years ago | (#33662574)

Immoral, but I think not illegal. It's a kind of legal baiting. Perhaps the best thing to do is to starts hundreds of thousands of these cases, until some courts press legislators to change the law and stop the nonsense. Perhaps we could raise some money to pay salaries for a couple hundred open source programmers.

Re:A limited reading (1)

davev2.0 (1873518) | more than 2 years ago | (#33662704)

An article is to a link to said article as a house is to an address for said house.

When you share on facebook, etc., you are sharing the address, not the house itself as you do not own the house.

When you click on "Share this article" you are sharing a link to the article and not the actual text of the article. The article remains available only from the server pointed to by the link and any income generated by individuals viewing the article remains with the copyright holder.

When you host a copy of the article, you are creating an unauthorized copy of the article and any income generated does not go to the copyright holder, but rather to you. You are profiting from someone else's work without compensating them, which is both immoral and unethical. And, if you are hosting the article without advertising, your traffic decreases the income from the original article.

Re:A limited reading (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#33660826)

something doesn't exactly sit right with me with the Judge's argument that the newspaper gave an implied consent to copy the newspaper. Part of the reasoning is that the newspaper permitted the user to "'right-click' and copy the article". This seems like a dog of an argument to me. Practically all websites allow users to right click

Just to be clear, browsers allow users to right-click. That's not the website. That's the difference upon which I would focus when attempting to undermine that argument. Website operators can take additional means to prevent stupid people from saving their content, but the law doesn't require them to do so in order to gain copyright protection.

Re:A limited reading (2, Funny)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 2 years ago | (#33660838)

Just to be clear, browsers allow users to right-click.

They've been suing the wrong people all this time.

Mozilla, Google and Microsoft are the culprits!

Re:A limited reading (2, Insightful)

paziek (1329929) | more than 2 years ago | (#33660942)

Not really. This way you could say, that it was the one who made this kitchen knife - used to stab someone - is to blame for it.

Re:A limited reading (2, Interesting)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661016)

Same way you could say people who offer torrent tracking, torrent searches, and torrent programs are to blame for the data which passes through them.

I was being sarcastic, in light of the fact that this sort of thing has been tried once too many times.

Re:A limited reading (1)

standbypowerguy (698339) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661780)

Just to be clear, browsers allow users to right-click. That's not the website.

Disagree, the problem is not with the browser, but with the website. Browsers have a feature that allows users to right-click and copy content, but that feature can be switched off by the server-side code. I'm not a web programmer so I can't explain precisely how it's done, but I've run across several web sites over the years which restrict right-clicking. This works in both IE (work machine) and Firefox on both Linux and Windows (home machines).

Website operators can take additional means to prevent stupid people from saving their content, but the law doesn't require them to do so in order to gain copyright protection.

Agree. Just because you can do something doesn't make it legal, or even right. Don't they teach the concepts of copyright, plagiarism and theft in schools anymore. Or in the home, for that matter? Linking to the article with a description or short excerpt is protected as as fair use, but copying the entire article is a specific form of theft known as copyright infringement, which is punishable under civil law.

Re:A limited reading (1)

jackal40 (1119853) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661876)

And using something like No Script for Firefox will disable your script and the ability to prevent the "right click copy". That doesn't change the fact that the web site owner tried to prevent you from right clicking.

That said, I've always disliked that script as I use right clicking to go back to the previous page. I could go to the back button, but I find right clicking more convenient. YMMV

Re:A limited reading (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#33662334)

No "feature" can prevent me from copying any content I receive from the Web. Nothing can stop me from 1) disabling JS, 2) Use "View Source" 3) Use wget.
But I agree webmasters shouldn't have to do such gimmicks to "state" they don't want verbatim copies of their content on other websites.

Agree. Just because you can do something doesn't make it legal, or even right. Don't they teach the concepts of copyright, plagiarism and theft in schools anymore. Or in the home, for that matter? Linking to the article with a description or short excerpt is protected as as fair use, but copying the entire article is a specific form of theft known as copyright infringement, which is punishable under civil law.

Did the article disappear from the original website? No? Then it's NOT theft. Copying an article to another website it's illegal and wrong, but it's not theft.

Re:A limited reading (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#33662396)

Disagree, the problem is not with the browser, but with the website. Browsers have a feature that allows users to right-click and copy content, but that feature can be switched off by the server-side code.

It's not a problem at all. It's a feature. The data is coming to your browser and being rendered as text even if it begins as Javascript and is delivered in small pieces so clearly the data is on the user's computer. There is only one way to avoid this and this is prerendering all text as a raster graphic (because outlines are too damned easy to recognize) with both functionality and quality compromised. The user has a legal right to use portions of the text under fair use law. The website operator has a right to attempt to prevent them from exercising them, apparently; the same strategy has been applied to all forms of media in one way or another, through various forms of DRM.

but copying the entire article is a specific form of theft known as copyright infringement,

No, it is not a form of theft, if it was then copyright law would fall under existing theft law, instead it's its own separate branch of law. Theft requires that someone be deprived of something. Copying data does not deprive them of the data, ergo it is not theft. Stop this nonsense at once.

Re:A limited reading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33662108)

Indeed. Also, I've occasionally circumvented webmaster protections against 'right-click, save-as' by just hitting the Print Screen key (which I have yet to see anyone protect against). If the user's ability to duplicat/share the content is at issue, then the newpaper would be forced to restrict access to registered users... which probably wouldn't win them any brownie points with their readers.
I think it's nuts for the paper to go on a suing spree like this, but I also disagree with the notion that failing to implement special protections against saving their articles constitutes an "implied consent to copy".

An insult to dogs (3, Interesting)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 2 years ago | (#33660972)

something doesn't exactly sit right with me with the Judge's argument that the newspaper gave an implied consent to copy the newspaper. Part of the reasoning is that the newspaper permitted the user to "'right-click' and copy the article". This seems like a dog of an argument to me.

As a dog owner, I take umbrage with that statement. It's a terrible argument on a few grounds, including those you mention as well as:

1) The right click thing is ludicrous, as you state and more. The site doesn't provide right-click functionality, the browser does. The site in question would have had to take extreme measures (like the de Wees Allen gambit) to prevent it, which never ends up working anyway. Besides, there are fair uses for newspaper articles (which would presumably be killed by effective copy protection) - just not necessarily this one.

2) Didn't we have this whole link vs. content thing before with sites that link to pirated works, CSS keys, things like that? Aren't "we" on the side that sharing a link is completely different than providing content? So they should be able to provide a *link* without that being interpreted as providing the content, right?

3) I really, really don't like the "it was freely (as in beer) available, so now there's an implicit license. Sounds a lot like the whole 'GPL software is in the public domain

Re:An insult to dogs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33662306)

3) I really, really don't like the "it was freely (as in beer) available, so now there's an implicit license. Sounds a lot like the whole 'GPL software is in the public domain

I was thinking about this, but I don't think so: The implicit license is to copy and I don't think it would go so far as to allow modification. Obviously the newspaper is not implying that you can add a couple of sentences in the middle of the story about how John Kerry won three purple hearts or whatever you like, merely that you can share the story as written. So then we have the GPL which really only cares about modification -- the license already allows you to reproduce unmodified to your heart's content, it's just that if you make changes you have to disclose source.

Nice straw man there, Sonny (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661080)

It has nothing to do with the "ability" to copy by not disallowing the right click; that's indeed ludicrous, but has no bearing on reality. The reality is the newspaper invited copying with a "copy this article" link and "share via digg" link.

Having a "copy this article link" then suing because somebody copied it is as ludicrous as Google suing someone who used their "copy url" in one of thier Google Maps or Google streetviews.

You can't give someone a present then try to get them arrested for stealing.

Re:Nice straw man there, Sonny (1)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661230)

The people that Righthaven are suing are people who copied and pasted an entire Las Vegas Review-Journal article onto their own website. One of the defendants was Sharon Angle, the Republican nominee who copied and rehosted a copy of the LVR-J's article about herself on her campaign website. Righthaven isn't suing people for merely copying an article link, but the whole article itself, that's the difference.

I think the point has been made, by myself and others, that what the newspaper actually invited was sharing a link to the article, and not the actual contents of the article itself.

Re:Nice straw man there, Sonny (2, Interesting)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661362)

I was wondering about the "copy this article" claim, so I went to the LVJ website. I went to the first news article which was

http://www.lvrj.com/news/bill-scott-anticipates-attempt-to-clear-police-in-costco-slaying--trash-his-dead-son-s-name-103510074.html [lvrj.com]

There you can see, at the bottom of the article, a whole slew of "share on some other website" links, including Digg and Slashdot. The last icon is a heart, which I think is a way of adding the article to some kind of personal LVJ list of favorite articles.

I don't see a link making it trivial to copy the text of the article, though of course it's no harder than selecting it and copying it. So, if that's right, I think that would be a hindrance to this defense, because the "implied license" would be to share a link to the article on aggregation sites which exist for the purpose of sharing links, not full articles. Moreover, the implied license would probably only apply to the listed sites.

Also, there are two separate conspicuous copyright notices on the page. Of course, I can't say whether those notices were present in the past at the time of the alleged infringement.

Disclaimers:

  • Fuck Rightshaven
  • I am not a lawyer
  • Your mileage may vary
  • Reform copyright now

Re:A limited reading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33661190)

are they suing people for hosting snippets of their article? Because when you share via facebook, usually the default shared content is the title, a brief intro or snippet from the article, and the link. If they consent to the Share function, I'll agree that they imply consent to websites having a bit of the article (the lead in or snippet) on their page. I would not agree that it gives consent to the entire article being reposted on the other site, as the Share function does not act that way.

Re:A limited reading (2, Interesting)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661200)

the fact that the newspaper had links to share a link to the content on facebook or twitter or whatever - and thus should only really be read to have given implied consent to link, not to copy.

Except 90% of the time, when you share a link on Facebook, it copies a fairly large portion of the article into your news feed as well. I'm not sure if there's a way to turn that if, but if there is, I would say the validity of the argument rests of if that was enabled. And if that feature can't be or wasn't disabled, then I would say they most definitely gave a licence to copy at least on or two paragraphs from an article.

Re:A limited reading (2, Interesting)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661266)

Remember, one factor for the fair use doctrine is the amount that was copied. For example, if only a small portion is copied (as would be when links are shared via facebook), then that tends to support a finding of fair use. On the other hand, if the entire article is copied, then that factor tends to weigh against the defendant when making a case for fair use (as noted in the judge's decision here, actually).

Re:A limited reading (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 2 years ago | (#33662696)

the fact that the newspaper had links to share a link to the content on facebook or twitter or whatever - and thus should only really be read to have given implied consent to link, not to copy.

Except 90% of the time, when you share a link on Facebook, it copies a fairly large portion of the article into your news feed as well.

Huh? My experience is quite the opposite - 99.99999% of the time you get the article title and maybe four or five sentences maximum worth of content. (And that is in fact what the LVRJ's 'share this' buttons provide.)

Sudden Outbreak of Common Sense (5, Interesting)

koterica (981373) | more than 2 years ago | (#33660874)

As others have explained above, this judgment isn't so much a precedent as it is a judge saying that the argument *might* work. However- it shows remarkable reasonableness on the part of the judge. After all, if I put a fruit bowl on a table with a note that said "Take one and have a nice day!", I could hardly turn around and sue you for banana-theft.

Re:Sudden Outbreak of Common Sense (3, Insightful)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661086)

After all, if I put a fruit bowl on a table with a note that said "Take one and have a nice day!", I could hardly turn around and sue you for banana-theft.

If you put a note on the table that said "tell all your friends to come over here and look at this fruit" and one of them stole a banana then you might have a stronger case, which I think better describes what's going on in TFA.

AFAICT, 'Share this' doesn't copy the entire article, it just copies the blurb and gets people to go visit the news site if they want to know more. IMO that is not an implicit or explicit license to copy anything. I think it's good that the judge isn't just handwaving away the idea that it might be, but I think common sense in this case says that the defendant is in the wrong if they have indeed copied a large chunk of data.

Re:Sudden Outbreak of Common Sense (2, Interesting)

FallinWithStyle (1474217) | more than 2 years ago | (#33662216)

After all, if I put a fruit bowl on a table with a note that said "Take one and have a nice day!", I could hardly turn around and sue you for banana-theft.

If you put a note on the table that said "tell all your friends to come over here and look at this fruit" and one of them stole a banana then you might have a stronger case, which I think better describes what's going on in TFA.

You've both got the analogy wrong. Copyright violation != theft. A more appropriate version of your analogy:
If you put a note on the table that said "tell all your friends to come over here and look at this fruit", and one of them took a picture of the fruit and showed it to others then you might have a stronger case.

Re:Sudden Outbreak of Common Sense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33661316)

The analogy is more like:

you record a show on network tv (say Lost), went to the public access channel and started broadcasting Lost with ads you sold in the local community (Local Baptist Church, Joe's Quick Transmission Change, and Moe's Cantina). Since you didn't license the show from the network, you're essentially stealing.

The fruit bowl analogy would work if 1) you could make a copy of the banana, and 2) the room where the fruit bowl was situated would earn money for every visitor. Whether that visitor sees the ads plastered on the wall is another thing, because the point is, the visitor inside the room is valuable. The fruit is there to attract the visitor.

Re:Sudden Outbreak of Common Sense (1)

h00manist (800926) | more than 2 years ago | (#33662712)

The problem is copyright laws don't serve their original purpose anymore, and continuing to interpret them the same way just leads to all sorts of ridiculous situations, and injustice. Intellectual property trolls are the best example, they are applying copyright law exactly, but they never author anything, not even representing authors, just try to take IP user's money.

Uh-oh (1)

airfoobar (1853132) | more than 2 years ago | (#33660890)

If they had a "Share via Slashdot!" tool, then a few paragraphs from their articles may be on Slashdot... which means unless those bastards are stopped, there's a good chance they might sue geeknet for copywrong infringement at some point.

enough (2, Insightful)

Jeek Elemental (976426) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661034)

I think Ive been patient enough, you are starting to bore me now.
While I dont like to, I will put my foot down now;

The following commandments should be chiseled in stone, engraved by laser in a meteorite, embedded in the standard neck-chip or other method suitable for your preferred epoch:

NO TRADEMARKS
No string of characters, numbers or symbols may be claimed as property.
Products may be labeled with, in addition to name, manufacturers address, which it is a sin to falsify.

NO PATENTS
If you are first with an idea, you may use that to your advantage or not.

NO COPYRIGHT
No restraints may be put on sharing of information and ideas.

Re:enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33661164)

I think Ive been patient enough, you are starting to bore me now.
While I dont like to, I will put my foot down now;

The following commandments should be chiseled in stone, engraved by laser in a meteorite, embedded in the standard neck-chip or other method suitable for your preferred epoch:

NO TRADEMARKS
No string of characters, numbers or symbols may be claimed as property.
Products may be labeled with, in addition to name, manufacturers address, which it is a sin to falsify.

NO PATENTS
If you are first with an idea, you may use that to your advantage or not.

NO COPYRIGHT
No restraints may be put on sharing of information and ideas.

You talk as if these things were part of some natural law. They're not. You can either have a world in which people can make a living from content (news, software, music, whatever) or you can't. The people make the rules here.

The imaginary property argument is a good one though. Unless you count money as imaginary property.

Re:enough (1)

airfoobar (1853132) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661526)

Boo hoo, save the starving artists. Because, as we all know, IP is totally about the artists, right? Without IP none of them would ever make a cent, huh? If they aren't able to sell recordings of their work, they'll put down their guitars and keyboards and go work at McDonalds.

Instead of repeating industry propaganda, how about you give some EVIDENCE that content creation would suffer without government-mandated monopolies, and without an army of lawyers and advertisers leeching off the artists' revenues?

Re:enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33662410)

Instead of repeating industry propaganda, how about you give some EVIDENCE that content creation would suffer without government-mandated monopolies, and without an army of lawyers and advertisers leeching off the artists' revenues?

The presumption should be that harm would come without the protection. Following your logic, it should be OK for me to come to into your house to hang out while you're not home. Can you prove that your ability to use your home the rest of the time would suffer?

Re:enough (1)

Sonny Yatsen (603655) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661352)

There is no property rights to trademarks. The purpose of Trademarks is to prevent consumers from being mislead or confused.

Agreed, trademarks are 'good' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#33662050)

The purpose of Trademark is not to ensure profit, but to prevent the public being misled into thinking something is what it is not.

The hoodwinkers used to sell placibo (or worse) as the current BrandName medicine, even with FDA labeling, how many people today would question whether something marked Tylenol or Bayer actually work, if the back of the box says 'no active ingredients' how many people will notice?

Trademark law allows BrandName places to sue those that use their BrandName thus helping to ensure that if anyone is making poor quality goods and selling it under their BrandName it is the Brand itself doing so, and people will (hopefully) come to realize that the Brand isn't good anymore and will stop buying. However, a Brand that actually makes good things can get a following of people and those people can trust that if it has that Brand on it then it probably is good (at least as good as they are used to).

Preventing people from marketing knockoffs as the real thing is good for consumers (free market requires buyers to make informed decisions), as people can quickly see who is selling the item.

Re:enough (2, Interesting)

Myopic (18616) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661540)

Hmmm. I don't know. That sounds like an ideological over-reaction to the current ideological over-reaction. I would prefer a balance, because I understand the arguments at both ends of this spectrum, and sympathize with them both.

Re:enough (3, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661566)

You do realize that copyright law doesn't actually cover the sharing of information and ideas, but merely the particular expressive form that entails. If people were to have taken all of these stories and put them into their own words, the newspaper wouldn't have a copyright claim because the information contained therein is not copyrightable. But they didn't, they plagerized to some degree or another.

Also, your description of "No Trademarks" quickly wanders back into the "oh, it's a tradmark" territory. You acknowledge the need for consumers to be able to reliably source the origins of the products they buy, and put a non-falsifiable identifier in there which discriminates manufacturers. Except, of course, that the address of a company doesn't really have any meaning in this day and age, as Apple for example has headquarters and manufacturing all over the world. So you have to fall back to some non-falsifiable unique identifier.

For trademarks, I feel like the system needs to give legal costs+ punative damages against tradmark abusers who sue for opportunistic inactive tradmarks. But that overall the trademark system is OK.
The patent system is badly, badly underfunded. If patent clerks had enough time to actually investigate patents, we might see a dropoff in false patents being granted. Bringing in a network of secret outside consultants might help.
Copyright is getting to be a bit of a mess, but that's mainly due to stupid legislation pushed through by artists groups that don't actually represent the artists. Cut back mandatory damages for small-time personal infringement to something similar to physical theft, modify the DMCA to allow for ANY content protection bypassing so long as it is for things which are within the user's rights, and require the RIAA to sign up each damned artist individually and send each of them a statement every month with the money that they owe that particular artist.

Re:enough (3, Insightful)

Migraineman (632203) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661616)

Look, if you're going to publish your "manifesto," it's gotta have more verbage. Folks won't take the outline version seriously. And posting it to Slashdot just won't do. You'll need to hijack a schoolbus full of nuns and kittens, hold them at gunpoint at the public library, and put on a hell of a show for the local media, lest they preempt you for the latest episode of "Big Brother: Who's Watching the Watchers?."

Oh, and body armor. Definitely.

On a more serious note, chucking the entire copyright and patent systems is swinging to the opposite still-busted extreme from what we have now. Instead of pseudo-permanent ownership of IP elements, you'll end up breeding a pack of predatory IP-stealers who are well funded, and who are capable of getting your product to market faster and cheaper than you can.

Might I make a suggestion? Push copyright and patent durations back to something more sane - 10-20 years maybe? Make them inalienable - they're stuck to the original creators, and corporations don't qualify as "creators." People create; corporations are simply collections of people who agree to work for a common goal. When the work's creator dies, the IP immediately reverts to the Public, regardless of who it's licensed to. (Note: you can't motivate a corpse into creating additional works.) Finally, bring back the copyright registration requirement. If it's worth the protection, it's worth some effort on your part. The registration should include posting a source master to the Library of Congress, such that the escrowed copy may be presented to the People at the expiry of the copyright term, regardless of your ability to make that happen.

Re:enough (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#33662420)

So I can own my work, but I can never license anyone to use it? Why can't I lisences it to a corporation?

14 years, I can do whate ver I want with it, then it's everyones. That's fair and reasonable.

Re:enough (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661790)

I'll be sure to vote for you in the next deity-election.

Re:enough (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#33662384)

Your an idiot... or you want entrenched large entities to control every thing.

Editors? (1)

Known Nutter (988758) | more than 2 years ago | (#33661424)

The paper is called the Las Vegas Review-Journal, not Journal Review. http://www.lvrj.com/ [lvrj.com]

check your copy much? oh, yeah...

TFA = False Logic (1)

Revotron (1115029) | more than 2 years ago | (#33662394)

Sharing an article on Slashdot or Facebook only shares an abstract and a *link* to the article. You're still viewing the article in full from the original source.

Saying that the "Share" button is a license to copy the entire article is like saying that musicians and record labels give you a license to copy by letting you hear a 30-second preview.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...