Thursday, March 04, 2010

First web copyright crackdown coming

A coalition of traditional and digital publishers this month will launch the first-ever concerted crackdown on copyright pirates on the web, initially targeting violators who use large numbers of intact articles.

Details of the crackdown were provided by Jim Pitkow, the chief executive of Attributor, a Silicon Valley start-up that has been selected as the agent for several publishers who want to be compensated by websites that are using their content without paying licensing fees.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Pitkow declined to identify the individual publishers in his coalition, but said they include “about a dozen” organizations representing wire services, traditional print publishers and “top-tier blog networks.”

The first offending sites to be targeted will be those using 80% or more of copyrighted stories more than 10 times per month.

In the first stage of a multi-step process aimed at encouraging copyright compliance instead of punishing scofflaws, Pitkow said online publishers identified by his company will be sent a letter informing them of the violations and urging them to enter into license agreements with the publishers whose content appears on their sites.

If copyright pirates refuse to pay, Attributor will request the major search engines to remove offending pages from search results and will ask banner services to stop serving ads to pages containing unauthorized content. The search engines and ad services are required to immediately honor such requests by the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

If the above efforts fail, Attributor will ask hosting services to take down pirate sites. Because hosting services face legal liability under the DCMA if they do not comply, they will act quickly, said Pitkow.

“We are not going after past damages” from sites running unauthorized content said Pitkow. The emphasis, he said is “to engage with publishers to bring them into compliance” by getting them to agree to pay license fees to copyright holders in the future.

License fees, which are set by each of the individual organizations producing content, may range from token sums for a small publisher to several hundred dollars for yearlong rights to a piece from a major publisher, said Pitkow.

Attributor identifies copyright violators by scraping the web to find copyrighted content on unauthorized sites. A team of investigators will contact violators in an effort to bring them into compliance or, alternatively, begin taking action under DMCA.

Offshore sites will not be immune from the crackdown, said Pitkow, because almost all of them depend on banner ads served by U.S.-based services. Because the DMCA requires the ad service to act against any violator, Attributor says it can interdict the revenue lifeline at any offending site in the world.

Attributor already has been engaged by several major book publishers to get unauthorized eBooks off unauthorized sites. “And we have 99% success rate,” he said.

17 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds fine to me.

Now when will the news media start paying everyone who gives an interview, poses for or provides a photo, or issues a press release? If content is valuable, then journalists should also pay for the content they get.

12:34 PM  
Anonymous bernard zimmermann said...

If is not only financial, it is also annoying.

I have a competitor, that writes a blog similar to mine. Sometimes he just blatantly copies takes my post under his name. It is so annoying.

5:44 PM  
Blogger Bill Burger said...

This is a reasonable approach to dealing with the most egregious infringers--those who regularly post long, verbatim copies of other people's content. However, no one should expect that this will lead to a windfall in licensing revenue. I predict that 90+ percent of the sites contacted will opt to take down the infringing content rather than pay publisher licensing fees, which range from reasonable (sometimes) to ridiculous (often). It will be interesting to see how bloggers price their content once presented with this opportunity.

6:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If is not only financial, it is also annoying.

I have a competitor, that writes a blog similar to mine. Sometimes he just blatantly copies takes my post under his name. It is so annoying."


Sorry, but if your blog isn't written any better than this, it's hard to understand why you'd be plagiarized.

6:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most blog sites will take the down the offending content if you fill out their form. It takes a week or two.

The problem with the law is that if the offender files the counter claim that the content is fair use, then the Organization filing the complaing has 14 days to start legal action.

If the offender files the counter claim, the hosting site is required to put the content back up until the courts decide on the issue.

The smaller organizations won't be able to afford legal fees just to protect their own content.

Once legal process starts, the Org filing the complaint will need to show financial damages to get any money from the offending site.

This "Attributor" will make some money from the Organizations, but not much else will change.

7:11 AM  
Blogger Usage May Vary said...

This isn't even remotely legal. This is an end run around the legal process to try to get more done.

Want to take a "copyright infringer" down? Take him to court. Instead they're going to the ISP, which is not required by law to take down anything on a DMCA request. Just like how youtube's ISP doesn't take down the content, youtube does. They're trying to put 3rd party liability on the ISP, something that doesn't exist via DMCA or in the courts. All they're doing here is hoping that the ISP complies out of fear of legal repercussions (which don't exist).

Maybe you want to look at how Australia has dealt with that as an example. I'll provide you the simple details: it is not the job of the ISP/domain provider to a: take down content or b: follow the DMCA. DMCa is for websites, not domain providers.

Meanwhile, ignoring robots.txt is going to guarantee a lot of ire, and probably get attributor hacked.

This just shows how misguided the industries are. This will fail before it gets off the ground. If it doesn't, they'll get sued into said ground very quickly. It might take 3 years for that to happen, but this isn't remotely reasonable or even effective.

If the industries were smart enough to try sending polite simple letters they would be highly amazed at how much more effective it is at getting things to be taken down.

I've emailed sites like pirate bay asking them politely to remove my identity and/or remove files that were not intended to be up, and guess what? Removed 100% of the time requested.

7:31 AM  
Blogger ian said...

Going after the scummy scrapers sounds great at first, but many of these people are effectively anonymous and/or living overseas. Assuming they can even be reached, does anyone really think they will pay attention to a letter from a lawyer in the U.S.?

I also wonder if the crackdown will turn to aggregators like Google News or Techmeme, or sites like the Huffington Post which sometimes use short excerpts and then link off to the source. Rupert Murdoch has been whining about this for years, but companies that actually try to do something about it can get burned. Remember the AP's Drudge Retort fiasco?

Lastly, I have to draw attention to the music industry's campaign against file sharers. It started off on a reasonable note (shut down the big-league pirates and sites that enable illegal file sharing) but rapidly descended into a farce involving innocent people (including a grandmother) being hauled to court and sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars by the RIAA, and parents being issued DMCA takedown notices for posting videos of their kids dancing to Prince and other pop artists. The music industry gained almost nothing from this except bad publicity. If the news media tries a similar tactic on Joe blogger, I would expect a similar result.

Ian Lamont
Twitter: @ilamont

7:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is your bio written in 3rd person ? Are you narcissistic or is this a PR blog ?

8:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand the problem with people profiting from other people's work. As long as they only target the big violators and not the little people who use pieces of a story and properly credit the author - mainly as a way of discussing it in their blog/forum, it's okay. Unfortunately though, everyone will be a target, eventually.

The problem I see is YET ANOTHER ROBOT sucking down my bandwidth and eating CPU cycles! I spend my life blocking bad bots and here is another one. Will they pay webmasters usage fees for allowing them to crawl their site? No, of course not. Here is another way big business will stick it to the little guy.

Remember webmasters, htaccess is your friend. Allow, Deny. Deny them.

"when will the news media start paying everyone who gives an interview..."

Well said. Ditto.

9:57 AM  
Blogger The Apple Pro said...

"Sorry, but if your blog isn't written any better than this, it's hard to understand why you'd be plagiarized.

waaaahahahaha!

10:13 AM  
Blogger Michael Dare said...

Here's a better idea. Just accept that everything on the internet is effectively in the public domain.

11:00 AM  
Blogger carlos de la parra said...

That comment previous to this one doesn't sound fair.
Why can't we just have copyright by having posted it first in any kind of media.
Internet deserves more respect and everyone should have clear rights and duties according to fair law,as it's supposed to be.

7:09 PM  
Blogger carlos de la parra said...

That comment previous to this one doesn't sound fair.
Why can't we just have copyright by having posted it first in any kind of media.
Internet deserves more respect and everyone should have clear rights and duties according to fair law,as it's supposed to be.

7:09 PM  
Anonymous Dave Creek said...

Anonymous:
The reason the news media should not pay for content is that most people talking to them have an agenda they want to promote. That's their motivation for talking to the media.

Add money, and people come out of the woodwork whose only motivation is to be paid, not to get a message out.

Michael Dare:
Make everything on the Internet public domain, and you kill the opportunity for professional writers to make a living. People sure are pretty eager to keep OTHER PEOPLE from making a living on a rapidly growing print medium.

9:13 PM  
Blogger Tresero said...

Gee, so Google is finally going to get shut down for spidering all my content, even with nofollow, noindex? And who the hell gave them the right to search my site anyway?
I didn't think so.
This is BS, and just like the RIAA, will be a complete PR nightmare for these morons who think the web is like their newspaper.

10:48 PM  
Blogger bulbasaur said...

Michael Dare: Here's a better idea. Just accept that everything on the internet is effectively in the public domain.

Internet nihilism at its best. You can't prevent piracy by 100%? Just accept it as a lost cause! You can't prevent tax evasion by 100%? Just stop collecting taxes!

Of course, the most hardcore piracy activists will do anything to circumvent efforts to enforce copyright. In the real world, this would be called "spite"; online, it's Heroic Vigilantism by Internet Humanitarians against the Evil Big Corporations.

5:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank God!

It's good to hear there is finally an effort to fight back against the sites that steal content from those of us who actually work as journalists.

There are plenty of fair use rights for quotes and such, but maybe this move will be one small step back toward journalism, instead of blogs spouting off their opinion and stealing actual reporting from others.

10:16 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home