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Got DMCA notice for rewritten content. HELP!
rewritten news story... isint it fair use?
devil_dog




msg:3912159
 10:36 pm on May 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hi, I run a small news website(for profit - ad supported) hosted within US. We use many accredited (paid for) news agencies as well as publish re-written stories.

Recently we re-wrote a news article from another not-so-huge website. The website has filed a properly formated DMCA notice to my web host and ordering me to take it down within 24 hours.

Some points to note:-

1) The re-writing passes copyscape.com both ways - search for my url doesn't show the source's url and vice-versa
2) I didn't credit/link to the source
3) It is completely rewritten. The views are same, i.e. if source article said abc kicks ass so does our article, but the wording is completely different . In fact i had to read the articles twice after getting the DMCA to realize that the complainant was indeed the source(I didn't write it myself).
4) We have been doing this for a very long time, only for news articles and usually mixing facts from multiple stories.
5) Me and my company are both located outside USA.

I would love to show the 2 versions of the content here, but afaik its against the forum rules, moreover i wouldnt like to identify my site here.

It is clear here, that the source is jealous that we rank higher on the Search Engines for the terms in the content and they are unhappy about it.

What options do I have here? Take down the content? Take a stand?

If it goes to court, any clues on what expenses I incur?

Looking forward for some guidance.

TiA

 

tangor




msg:3912170
 11:10 pm on May 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

We can't give legal advice. You should contact a lawyer. What you will want to do is answer the DCMA with a denial of infringement. Do not delay that response. That is certainly step one in the process!

eventus




msg:3912182
 11:23 pm on May 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

You need to contact a lawyer.

martinibuster




msg:3912185
 11:33 pm on May 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

What you will want to do is answer the DCMA with a denial of infringement.

Doing that is requesting that the other party take the OP to court. If the other party takes them to court the OP is required to show up. If the OP loses they are required to pay all costs and expenses associated with bringing the lawsuit to court as well as any damages awarded by the court.

Denying the infringement claim can prove to be an expensive gamble. Is it easier to take down the content than to spend money fighting it in a U.S. court and possibly losing and going into debt for additional amounts?

Samizdata




msg:3912198
 11:41 pm on May 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

As above regarding legal advice, but consider what you wrote here:

we re-wrote a news article from another not-so-huge website

Are you surprised that you got a DMCA?

I didn't credit/link to the source

Are you surprised that they were not pleased?

We have been doing this for a very long time

Do you think that makes it reasonable?

...

tangor




msg:3912216
 12:06 am on May 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

Again, strongly urge you get a lawyer. Also read up on the provisions of the DCMA (and steps, responses which are integrated into that US law).

Fair Use might apply, but again, a lawyer might be your best bet.

Ultimately it will be the plaintiff who must prove infringement, though defending against that claim might be expensive.

Syzygy




msg:3912427
 8:09 am on May 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

First things first, take the story down, regardless of your position on the DCMA. That's my opinion.

Then discuss what options you have with those qualified to provide the correct advise. There are a couple of aspects to consider.

* is the information provided within the news item unique to the original story (ie, like an 'exclusive'?)

* or, have the events that make up the story been reported on by other sources?

* have you added any additional facts, information or reportage to your 'version' of the story?

* do you attribute journalistically, ie, "...according to 123 news agency...'?

If you've just taken the story from another's site and only reworded it without adding anything new, I - as the content owner - would be somewhat riled by your actions. Perhaps they've been monitoring you for a while and finally decided to act?

On the other hand, if the news event is widely reported and thus the facts are common knowledge (public domain), then the copyright and plagiarism Gods are probably on your side.

Using copyscape as a benchmark tool to define whether you might pass a 'plagiarism test' seems just plain stupid and somewhat disingenuous! To me it says you know it's copying, but hope to disguise your 'work' enough to get away with it!

As for 'Fair Use'. You write a book, or an article. I take it and re-write it in its entirety and claim it as my own. 'Fair Use'? I think not!

I'm sure your intentions and motives are well intentioned, but beware: intention is a major factor in the world of copyright and 'Fair Use' disputes.

Either way, unless you're sure you want to make a legal stand, take the story down (it is just a single news item, right) and learn what can be done to avoid such a thing happening again.

At the same time, use this as an opportunity to find out what you need to do to defend against such claims in future.

Just my tuppence ha'penny' worth of non-legal opinion.

Syzygy

devil_dog




msg:3912437
 9:00 am on May 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

Thanks for your help and guidance.

It was indeed my fault as the story was just a simple rewrite (which we dont usually do). Usually we look at various sources, the exclusive bits are quoted as Syzygy suggested.

This has given me an oppurtunity to research into the matter more..

Ill be meeting with an industry expert to consult on what i can get away with legally and ethically ... ill need to balance them for the future...

Id like to thank the claimant of the DCMA for opening my eyes... ;)

koan




msg:3913215
 4:32 am on May 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

Look into copyrights laws and "derivative works". It's still plagiarism if you rewrite someone else's work. How is that a surprise to any publishers here is the real question. It's clear cut unethical.

StoutFiles




msg:3913224
 4:55 am on May 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

Look into copyrights laws and "derivative works". It's still plagiarism if you rewrite someone else's work. How is that a surprise to any publishers here is the real question. It's clear cut unethical.

Indeed. If you took this to court, the only way you could win is to deny rewriting the article...which you did. The fact that the guy filed for a DMCA is reason enough to think that there's no way you could have come up with the article on your own.

5x54u




msg:3913226
 5:04 am on May 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

The most accurate and free advice was given to you by MB.

vincevincevince




msg:3913295
 7:40 am on May 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

There is no copyright on facts. If all that remains from that article are the facts, then I don't see how it can be a copyright infringement. Can you confidently say that all that remains are the facts?

2clean




msg:3913296
 7:40 am on May 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

If the content's worth copying contact the journalist and get them to write for you instead.

ytswy




msg:3913345
 9:19 am on May 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

Look into copyrights laws and "derivative works". It's still plagiarism if you rewrite someone else's work. How is that a surprise to any publishers here is the real question. It's clear cut unethical.

How accurate is this? I just ask due to reading this article [arstechnica.com] which seems to suggest that copyright does not extend to rewriting news stories.

TinkyWinky




msg:3913387
 10:24 am on May 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

I am not syaing it's right or wrong, but where did this small outfit get the story if it's not exclusive? I assume they don't hire their own journo's etc.

Do a little delving to see what their sources are as you may very well find they have done a similar thing to you in the first instance.

That's not to say I approve - but if all facts and all facts are public domain then virtually every story written could be seen as plagerism of someone's original work - except the originator if it was original work. e.g. scientific discovery, only person to see event etc.

A bit of a wake up call though maybe.

sullen




msg:3913397
 10:27 am on May 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

Ill be meeting with an industry expert to consult on what i can get away with legally and ethically ... ill need to balance them for the future...

Id like to thank the claimant of the DCMA for opening my eyes... ;)

I hope that means you'll credit his / her work then?

eventus




msg:3913404
 10:45 am on May 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

For Vince3:

Not true the Associated Press is asserting property rights on the facts of an item under a nebulous "hot news" claim...

It may not seem like a big deal but the AP's actions are someothing that all webmasters and the public should be fighting..

No one should own the facts..

ytswy




msg:3913428
 11:08 am on May 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

Not true the Associated Press is asserting property rights on the facts of an item under a nebulous "hot news" claim...

But this wouldn't be copyright would it? (serious question)

From the article I linked to above about the original 1918 decision:

Justice Brandeis was also concerned about creating a quasi-property right over facts. "No question of statutory copyright is involved," he said. "The sole question for our consideration is this: was the International News Service properly enjoined from using, or causing to be used gainfully, news of which it acquired knowledge by lawful means (namely, by reading publicly posted bulletins or papers purchased by it in the open market) merely because the news had been originally gathered by the Associated Press and continued to be of value to some of its members, or because it did not reveal the source from which it was acquired?"

"Stripped of all disguises," said the justices, "the process amounts to an unauthorized interference with the normal operation of complainant's legitimate business precisely at the point where the profit is to be reaped, in order to divert a material portion of the profit from those who have earned it to those who have not."

If "No question of statutory copyright is involved," then presumably you cannot use the DMCA to enforce whatever rights you do have.

iwritecontent




msg:3913528
 1:39 pm on May 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

Ill be meeting with an industry expert to consult on what i can get away with legally and ethically ... ill need to balance them for the future...

Not to be too critical or insulting here, but isn't that the wrong way to look at it? Do you really want to be "getting away with" as much as possible? Why not focus on making the content as good as possible, instead of copying as much as you can?

To paraphrase Office Space, would you rather visit a site that only does the bare minimum, or one that tries to make the user experience unique, engaging, and relevant?

hutcheson




msg:3913604
 3:36 pm on May 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

Parts of this are simple. Not attributing sources is not only unethical in anyone's rule book (it harms EVERYONE--not only the journalist whose story has been plagiarized, but the reader who doesn't know he's eating predigested dog food), but it strongly suggests that the plagiarizer knows he's doing something unethical and probably illegal. Attribution is the right thing to do.

As for the "breaking news" and copyright issue, the law is still very much in flux even in the U.S. (as the cited article suggests), and no telling what it's in, elsewhere. You need to talk to a _local_ lawyer.

mcskoufis




msg:3913708
 5:16 pm on May 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

As I have been heavily involved in a news site, what you do is absolutely fine. But if they are the source of this story (i.e.: it was an exclusive) you should at least quote them as the source.

You don't even have to link... Just mention "according to example.com..."

This also makes your news source more credible in case the story is fake.

But generally what I ask of my content writers is to always quote the source they got the story from, nomatter how many other sites have covered it.

Demaestro




msg:3913738
 5:49 pm on May 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

Look into copyrights laws and "derivative works". It's still plagiarism if you rewrite someone else's work. How is that a surprise to any publishers here is the real question. It's clear cut unethical.

Not if the work you re-write is based in fact and it is the facts that you re-write.

If I re-write the "Wizard Of Ox" then I am plagiarizing.

If I re-write a news story about someone who got hit by a car while riding their bike and I only "copy" the facts, but insert my own opinion, point of view, and writing style, and I quote the source, then I am not plagiarizing.

[edited by: Demaestro at 5:50 pm (utc) on May 14, 2009]

rogerd




msg:3913802
 6:58 pm on May 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

The legal hair-splitting is less important than the management time and possible legal expense you will incur from prolonging the argument. Unless this is amazing content that accounts for a large portion of your site's traffic or revenue, I'd suggest you just remove it. I'd notify the complainant and web host that although you are confident that no DMCA violation has occurred, you have removed the content.

If larger amounts of content were involved, it might be worth your while to fight. For one article, though, fighting it is almost certainly a loss whether you win or lose.

farmboy




msg:3913895
 8:40 pm on May 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

If larger amounts of content were involved, it might be worth your while to fight. For one article, though, fighting it is almost certainly a loss whether you win or lose.

Maybe it's not a concern about one article. Maybe it's a worry that more DMCA notices are on the way. The OP wrote:

4) We have been doing this for a very long time, only for news articles and usually mixing facts from multiple stories.

The US Copyright site gives some advise on "Fair Use" that is fairly simple to implement for those who WANT to do things in an ethical and responsible manner:

www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

The safest course is always to get permission from the copyright owner before using copyrighted material.

FarmBoy

nomis5




msg:3914303
 12:01 pm on May 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

What will it cost if you go to court with a lawyer's assistance? Absolutely masses, have you seen the hourly rate for a lawyer recently? Don't go there under any circumstances is my advice. And never trust a lawyer's advice without checking it out independently - even more expense.

eventus




msg:3914636
 7:33 pm on May 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

Please Please Google AP and "Fair Use" or AP and Aggregators ...

greenleaves




msg:3916025
 8:31 pm on May 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

Take your pick:

1- Take the content down
2- Ask a lawyer.

Odds are, it ain't worth it to take it to court... how much will that article make you if you keep it up? versus how much you will pay to not take it down? Seems like a no-brain-er to me.

I once had a punk try to scam me. I posted all his info on a few sites warning others of the a-hole... He ended up sending me a cease and desist order. I took the content down.

I had all the right to warn others of his scamming ways, but it simply isn't worth my time to fight for my right. I like to think I choose my battles wisely.

pagetronic




msg:3923015
 12:08 pm on May 30, 2009 (gmt 0)

I use copyscape for my business,
we do ~100 copyscape query with API per day,
copyscape today isn't sure

Monalisa




msg:3927163
 9:56 am on Jun 5, 2009 (gmt 0)

Go to a lawyer and get suggestions regarding how to deal with this case.

sincraft




msg:3929541
 1:40 pm on Jun 9, 2009 (gmt 0)

If I take you house and keep it for myself would that be ok? If not, what if I rearrange the furniture would it be ok then?

NO?

Sounds like you need lawyer imo.

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