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Content, Writing and Copyright Forum

    
Copyright legal question
Is this legal?
Contrarian

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3289429 posted 10:06 am on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Six years ago I put up a small site while I was job searching with my resume, a work portfolio, etc. All of those pages had copyright statements clearly at the bottom (The copyright symbol, a year, and my name).

After finding a job, I removed that information for privacy reasons (it contained address, phone, etc). The contents of my site was replaced with a string of silly emoticon images.

Recently I found archive.org has maintained copies of these pages for several years now. I found this indirectly while googling my name and somebody used archive.org to gather my personal information from those withdrawn web pages to do a background search on me hoping to embarrass and discredit me, believing I was the identity behind one of the forum's posters.

My question is - what legal right does archive.org have for crawling archiving and redistributing copies of my site. How is this not a clear violation of copyright law? They have replicated the entire site on theirs, republishing information without my awareness or consent for several years.

I can't believe that 'fair use' involves a complete copy and redistribution of the entirety of my site and page content.

I also do not accept the argument that I can include a 'robots.txt' file to stop crawling and archiving bots. This places the onus of protecting my rights on me - when in fact it should be the responsibility of the person who wishes to redistribute my material to gain my permission. Is there a law or precedence that says lack of a robots.txt exclusionary statement or similar voids my copyright notification?

[edited by: Contrarian at 10:11 am (utc) on Mar. 22, 2007]

 

farrell

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3289429 posted 10:37 am on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have always thought of archive.org as the equivalent of a public library keeping back issues of a newspaper. It would seem very odd if the newspaper were to go to the librarian and say that, although we published such-and-such an issue in the past, we don't think you should be allowed to keep it in your library any more.

Or suppose you publish a book setting out a particular opinion. Years later you have changed your view and you are embarrassed to think what rubbish you once wrote. You find your book on sale in a secondhand bookshop. Can you stop the shop from selling it? No, of course not.

Surely once something is published, whether on paper or on the web, it is "out there" and for practical purposes it is "in the public domain". It remains copyright of course, and that means you must not reproduce its texts or pictures wholesale or without attribution.

But I feel it would not make sense to say you cannot place the whole thing in an archive (= put it in your library catalogue and make it available to be read on request) and say, this appeared at such-and-such a web address on certain past dates. Otherwise surely you are trying to rewrite history, like Joe Stalin airbrushing people out of photographs when they have fallen from favour.

Just my "common sense" take -- I am not a lawyer!

And of course on the privacy issue, surely the obvious lesson is that if you want something kept private (e.g. your address) don't broadcast it to the whole world by putting it on the web.

simonuk

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3289429 posted 10:52 am on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Welcome to Webmaster World!

There are many ways to stop bots/crawlers accessing pages.
If I have pages I want people and not bots to see I add robtos.txt or a no-cache meta tag.

If I have really personal info I'll created a password protected area so only people I want to see it will see it. This is very easy using many methods including JavaScript or .htaccess

If I don't care who or what sees it I'll just leave it as it is.

I believe there is a test case going through the US courts now about the wayback machine but I'm hoping it fails because the wayback machine shows one and all the history of the internet and how it's progressing.

Once the pages are out in the public domain (search engines) the wayback machine will find you. With so many ways of protecting yourself from being cached or crawled is it really a bots fault because it isn't human and can't read the copyright notices on pages?

Not having a go. It's just how I see it :)

Syzygy

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3289429 posted 5:02 pm on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

If you haven't seen it already, there's a related discussion here:

[webmasterworld.com...]

Syzygy

BigDave

WebmasterWorld Senior Member bigdave us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3289429 posted 6:14 pm on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

I can't believe that 'fair use' involves a complete copy and redistribution of the entirety of my site and page content.

Lots of people think this, but like you, they are wrong. For example, when you record a TV program to watch later, you are copying the entire work and it is legal according to the Supreme Court. There are lots of cases where copies of complete works are allowed, particularly by libraries and archives.

I also do not accept the argument that I can include a 'robots.txt' file to stop crawling and archiving bots. This places the onus of protecting my rights on me - when in fact it should be the responsibility of the person who wishes to redistribute my material to gain my permission. Is there a law or precedence that says lack of a robots.txt exclusionary statement or similar voids my copyright notification?

Actually, contrary to what Brett says in that other thread, robots.txt was mentioned as an important part of the ruling in Field v. Google.

Whether or not you accept the argument has nothing to do with it. The question is whether or not the courts accept it.

The fact is that copyright does not grant you unlimited control over your works. They grant exclusive control over *limited* rights for a *limited* duration. You have licensed some of those limited rights back to the public through an implied license, when you posted to a public website and did not put on any sort of access controls. When you posted it you knew that anyone could access it. The courts would take all this into account.

My guess is that the best you would be able to do in court, is to get an injunction against archive.org, and you can achieve the same results by requesting that they remove the website.

Contrarian

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3289429 posted 5:48 am on Mar 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

Wow, some excellent and well thought out replies. Thank you.

Especially regarding the legality regarding placing access restrictions and the robots.txt, so there is precedence that you have to protect your ownership by enforcing access (via the robots.txt to limit crawling).

Thanks

BigDave

WebmasterWorld Senior Member bigdave us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 3289429 posted 7:34 am on Mar 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

so there is precedence that you have to protect your ownership by enforcing access (via the robots.txt to limit crawling).

First off, you do not own the work, you only own the copyright on the work. Copying your work does not take anything that you own, it violates a right.

Do a search on the case I mentioned, Field v. Google. As far as I know, it is the only case where robots.txt has come up in the ruling. It certainly is not a perfect fit for your situation, but there is enough of it that does apply so you should read and try to understand it. I think it would be an eye opener for most people that are convinced that copyright is always "opt-in".

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