Tag Archives: copyright

Database copyright: labour has to be ‘creative’

Posted in full over on the Online Journalism Handbook blog is a summary of a recent judgement in the Court of Justice, which suggests the idea of ‘database copyright’ has to involve creativity and originality – important for those involved in data journalism who are either seeking to establish copyright over their work, or understand the situation regarding the copyright of databases they are using.

Here’s a key quote:

“criterion of originality is satisfied when, through the selection or arrangement of the data which it contains, its author expresses his creative ability in an original manner by making free and creative choices […] and thus stamps his ‘personal touch’”. Therefore, the Court continues, the criterion is “not satisfied when the setting up of the database is dictated by technical considerations, rules or constraints which leave no room for creative freedom”.

More over there

A lesson in UGC, copyright, and the law (again)

Terence Eden filmed the above video demonstrating O2’s phone security flaw. He put it on YouTube with the standard copyright licence. And someone at Sky News ignored that when they used it without permission. But what’s interesting about Terence’s blog post about the experience is the legal position that Sky then negotiated from – an experience that journalism students, journalists and hyperlocal bloggers can learn from.

Here is what Sky came back with after negotiations stalled when Eden invoked copyright law in asking for £1500 for using his video (“£300 for the broadcast of the video [based on NUJ rates …] £400 for them failing to ask permission, another £400 for them infringing my copyright, and then £400 for them violating my moral rights.”):

“After consulting with our Sky lawyers our position is that we believe a £300 settlement is a fair and appropriate sum.
“Our position is:

  • The £300 is in respect of what you describes as “infringement of copyright” rather than any “union rate”;
  • Contrary to what you claim, we did not act as if you had assigned us all rights. Specifically, we did not claim ownership nor seek to profit from it by licensing to others;
  • Criminal liability will not attach in relation to an inadvertent use of footage;
  • English law does not recognise violation of moral rights;
  • There is no authority that an infringement in these circumstances attracts four times the usual licence fee. To the contrary, the usual measure is what the reasonable cost of licensing would have been.”

This sounds largely believable – particularly as Sky were “very quick” to take the infringing content down. That would be a factor in any subsequent legal case.

Notably, the Daily Mail example he quotes – where the newspaper reportedly paid £2000 for 2 images – included an email exchange where the photographer explicitly refuses the website permission to reproduce his photographs, and a period of time when the images remained online after he had complained.

These are all factors to consider whichever side of the situation you end up in.

PS: Part of Eden’s reason for pursuing Sky over their use of his video was the company’s position in pursuing “a copyright maximalist agenda” which Eden believes is damaging to the creative industries. He points out that:

“The Digital Economy Act doesn’t allow me to sue Sky News for distributing my content for free without my permission. An individual can lose their Internet access for sharing a movie, however there don’t seem to be any sanctions against a large company for sharing my copyrighted work without permission.”

An interesting point.

Report: Social Media and News

Report: Social Media and NewsLast year I was commissioned to write a report on ‘Social Media and News’ for the Open Society Media Program, as part of the ‘Mapping Digital Media’ series. The report is now available here (PDF).

As I say in the introduction, I focused on “the areas that are most strongly contested and hold the most importance for the development of news reporting”, namely:

  • competition over copyright between individuals, news organisations, and social media platforms;
  • the move to hyperlocal and international-scope publishing;
  • the tensions between privacy and freedom of speech; and
  • attempts by governments and corporations to control what happens online.

These and other developments (such as the growth of APIs which “connect the information that we consume with the information we increasingly embody”) are then explored with specific reference to issues of editorial independence, public interest and public service, pluralism and diversity, accountability, and freedom of expression.

That’s quite a lot to cover in 4,000 words. So for those who want to explore some of the issues or cases in more detail – or follow recent updates (and a lot has happened even since finishing the report) – I’ve been collecting related links at this Delicious ‘stack’, and on an ongoing basis at this tag.

20 recent hyperlocal developments (June-August 2011)

Ofcom’s Damian Radcliffe produces a regular round-up of developments in hyperlocal publishing. In this guest post he cross-publishes his latest presentation for this summer, as well as the background to the reports.

Ofcom’s 2009 report on Local and Regional Media in the UK identified the increasing role that online hyperlocal media is playing in the local and regional media ecology.

New research in the report identified that

“One in five consumers claimed to use community websites at least monthly, and a third of these said they had increased their use of such websites over the past two years.”

That was two years ago, and since then, this nascent sector has continued to evolve, with the web continuing to offer a space and platform for community expression, engagement and empowerment.

The diversity of these offerings is manifest in the Hyperlocal Voices series found on this website, as well as Talk About Local’s Ten Questions feature, both of which speak to hyperlocal practitioners about their work.

For a wider view of developments in this sector, you may want to look at the bi-monthly series of slides I publish on SlideShare every two months.

Each set of slides typically outlines 20 recent hyperlocal developments; usually 10 from the UK and 10 from the US.

Topics in the current edition include Local TV, hyperlocal coverage of the recent England riots, the rise of location based deals and marketing, as well as the FCC’s report on The Information Needs of Communities.

Feedback and suggestions for future editions – including omissions from current slides – are actively welcomed.

Cooks Source anger moves on to Dairy Goat Journal’s Dave Belanger

Cooks Source fake Facebook page discusses Dairy Goat Journal

UPDATE 2 – from Cathy in the comments (Nov 11): Dave Belanger has now paid the fee.

UPDATE – thanks to Vicki in the comments (Nov 11): Dave Belanger has responded to Suzanne, reinstating the image on their website with a credit and link, and offering to pay. However, he has refused to pay the amount requested by Suzanne, and Suzanne is now planning to take the magazine to court. Her reasoning is admirable, and it’s fair to say that contributions of commenters have helped her to make a well-informed stance:

“Countryside Publications is a five million dollar company. He accused me of being opportunistic by asking for an increased fee for the unauthorized and uncredited use.

“This is not about money. I may never see the $2100. If I do, it will be a long time from now. If I wanted to make a quick buck, I’d take the $500 [offered]. (I could use it.) But if I let him not only steal the photo but pay no penalty for it, there’s no reason for him to not steal again. After all, what did it cost him? He can steal photos all he wants and only pay for them (at a price he sets) if he’s caught. Just who is opportunistic? He published my photo without authorization or credit then says, here, take $500 or NOTHING.”

There’s also some detail about the possible impact on the publishers from Internet users:

“P.S. He mentioned receiving phone calls and emails from my readers and said he was not concerned about it. He admitted there had also been some subscription cancellations, but that people cancelled subscriptions and started subscriptions every day and that he had no reason to believe any subscription cancellations were related to his treatment of my work.”

The original post:

Oh dear. It appears another magazine editor is about to feel the force of a thousand emails following a blogger’s complaint of breach of copyright and – more importantly – said editor’s response to their request for fair payment and acknowledgement of authorship.

The editor in question is Dave Belanger who – apparently – hung up on Suzanne McMinn when she called to ask that her photo – used in Dairy Goat Journal – was properly credited.

With 80 comments already – many of them saying they have called and written to the magazine – and the case also being discussed on the fake Cooks Source Facebook page – you can only hope Dave looks at the Cooks Source and reacts quickly.

*All about this that I can find looks credible, but I’m extra cautious of this being an opportunistic hoax.

via Ulrike in the comments.

Cooks Source magazine gets Facebook backlash for copying material without permission

UPDATE 7: The official Cooks Source webpage now features a rather confusing statement on the saga, apologising to Monica Gaudio and saying they have made the donation asked for. The page claims that their Facebook page was “cancelled” and “since hacked”. It’s not clear what they mean by these terms as the original Facebook page is still up and, clearly, could not be hacked if it had been “cancelled”. They may be referring to the duplicate Facebook page which also claims (falsely) the original was “hacked”. In addition the statement says they have “cancelled” their website – but as the statement is published on their website it may be that by “cancelled” they mean all previous content has been removed. This discussion thread picks out further inconsistencies and omissions.

UPDATE 5: The magazine’s Facebook page has now been updated with a message from editor Judith saying she “did apologise” but “apparently it wasn’t enough for her”, shown below:

Well, here I am with egg on my face! I did apologise to Monica via email, but aparently it wasnt enough for her. To all of you, thank you for your interest in Cooks Source and Again, to Monica, I am sorry -- my bad! You did find a way to get your

UPDATE 2: Reddit users have been digging further into the magazine’s use of copyrighted content. They’ve also identified a planned sister magazine, whose Facebook page has also been the recipient of a few comments.

UPDATE 6: Edward Champion has chased down the copyright holders of both text and images found in Cooks Source which appear to have been used without permission.

UPDATE 4: A list of mainstream media reports on the story is also being maintained on the magazine’s Facebook page.

***ORIGINAL BLOG POST STARTS HERE***

For much of today people have been tweeting and blogging about the magazine editor with 30 years’ experience demonstrating a by now familiar misunderstanding of copyright law and the ‘public domain’.

The blog post on Tweetmeme - shared over 1500 times

Reddit: Website article gets copied without permission by print magazine - website complains - magazine claims website should pay them for the publicity

To the writer whose material they used without permission she apparently responded that “the web is considered “public domain” and you should be happy we just didn’t “lift” your whole article and put someone else’s name on it!”

What makes this of particular interest is how the affair has blown up not just across Twitter and Reddit but on the magazine’s own Facebook page, demonstrating how this sort of mistake can impact very directly on your own readers – and stockists and advertisers:

As an advertiser, we are disappointed in Cook's Source and we are pulling our ads from this publication. Many of us (as is the case with our business) paid several months in  advance for advertising and are unlikely to get any compensation back.  We ask that you please stop emailing our business, we agree that the  publication made a grave error, but the blame should be placed with  them. Please do not make small businesses like mine pay for their error  in judgment

Facebook comment

Jim Cobb Perhaps someone should obtain a recent copy of the magazine and begin contacting any paid advertisers. Y'know, to clue them in on the business practices of Cooks Source Magazine. They might be interested in hearing about it.

Jon F. Merz If I could draw everyone's attention to the photos down below which contain reprints of magazine pages, that include all of their advertisers. Let's start calling these places up and letting these advertisers know that the money they pay goes to keep a rag like this in business. Hurt 'em where it counts!

Kristine Weil In light of your blatant theft of Monica Gaudio's article and the dismissive response of editor Judith Griggs when called on it by the author, I will be personally speaking to the manager of our local grocery store to encourage them to stop carrying your magazine, and I will continue to speak to them every week until

Meanwhile, others were suggesting investigating the magazine further:

It all adds up to a perfect lesson for magazine editors – not just in copyright, but in PR and community management.

UPDATE 1: It seems that users are going through the latest issue and suggesting where the content may have been taken from.

UPDATE 3 On a separate topics page on the Facebook page the details are being collated.

Ofcom "has abrogated its duty to the public" over copyright disconnection powers

A forthright post over at Boing Boing accuses Ofcom of copping out of their responsibility to sort out just where the burden of proof would fall in the Digital Economy Act’s proposals to disconnect people accused of breaking copyright laws. It’s based on an analysis by the Open Rights Group of Ofcom’s draft code.

“Ofcom’s proposal denies us the ability to check whether the methods of collecting of the evidence are trustworthy. Instead, copyright holders and Internet Service Providers will just self-certify that everything’s ok. If they get it wrong, there’s no penalty.

“The Act requires the evidential standards to be defined – but Ofcom are leaving this up the rights holders and ISPs to decide in the future. We ask, how is anyone meant to trust this code if we can’t see how the evidence is gathered or checked?”

More at The Guardian.

Photographers to lose copyright and right to photograph in public (cached)

The following post originally appeared on PhotoActive, but had to be taken down when the site host HostPapa complained about the traffic. I’ve offered to host it here.

With photographers about to lose copyright protection on their images, and the Government to curb their rights to take pictures in public, Philip Dunn looks more closely at these outrageous proposals and how they will affect you.

Photographers to lose copyright protection of their work

Photographers' Rights to be taken away

This startling and outrageous proposal will become UK law if The Digital Economy Bill currently being pushed through Parliament is passed. This Bill is sponsored by the unelected Government Minister, Lord Mandelson.

Let’s look at the way this law will affect your copyright:

The idea that the author of a photograph has total rights over his or her own work – as laid out in International Law and The Copyright Act of 1988 – will be utterly ignored. If future, if you wish to retain any control over your work, you will have to register that work (and each version of it) with a new agency yet to be set up.

Details about how this agency will be set up – and what fees will be charged for each registration – have been kept deliberated vague in Lord Mandelson’s Bill. If ever there was a licence to print money, this is it. You will pay.

If they are not registered with this quango agency, your images can be plundered and used anywhere, by anyone – on the understanding that the thief makes a very minimal effort to find you – the author of the image.

Currently, International Law, through the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, recognises the ownership rights of the creator of the ‘property’. This enables image owners to control how their work is used, and whether it is used at all.

International Law will be ignored by the British Government and this new Act will overturn more than 150 years of UK copyright law.

If ever there was a massive step forward to a police state and suppression of information, this is it. Most of this thieves’ charter is not even going through Parliament as primary legislation. The Digital Economy bill Section 42 sections 16a, 16b, 16c enable ad hoc regulation by Mandelson’s office without further legislation. None of that will never be voted on.

Continue reading

How do I hate thee, Digital Economy Bill? Let me count the ways…

1. It’s the economy, stupid

Last week’s official advice (Word doc) on the bill ‘would effectively “outlaw open Wi-Fi for small businesses”‘ said Lilian Edwards, professor of internet law at Sheffield University.

“This is going to be a very unfortunate measure for small businesses, particularly in a recession, many of whom are using open free Wi-Fi very effectively as a way to get the punters in,” Edwards said.

It also makes it harder and more expensive for the sort of mobile young business people who frequent these shops. In Birmingham, for example, many entrepreneurs meet in places like Urban Coffee Company and Coffee Lounge to network, exchange ideas, and work (often at the same time). Take that away and you’re making it more expensive for those people to do business, it’s as simple as that.

In addition, the likes of Clause 17 (see below) make it difficult for any business to plan and innovate in an environment which can be changed on the whim of the Secretary of State.

2. Death to open access

Last week’s document would also “leave libraries and universities in an uncertain position,” adds Edwards. From ZDNet:

“Universities cannot be exempted, [Lord] Young said [in the document], because some universities already have stringent anti-file-sharing rules for their networks, and “it does not seem sensible to force those universities who already have a system providing very effective action against copyright infringement to abandon it and replace it with an alternative”.”

In fact, the government would do well to look more closely at just how ‘effective’ those university measures have been. I know of students who have had internet access cut off without notice for apparently completely legal activity. I guess you’d call that ‘collateral damage’, and it’s a sign of things to come if we extend the principle throughout the country.

There’s a principle of open access to knowledge here that lies at the heart of what libraries and universities do. Restricting their (already hamstrung) ability to offer that is of real concern.

3. Unchecked power

Clause 17. Backed by the NUJ. Are you insane?

Clause 11. From SamKnows:

“What’s rapidly becoming the textbook example of this is the way that legislation designed to freeze terrorist funds was used against one of Iceland’s banks, Landisbanki, during the country’s recent financial crisis.

“[Francis Davey, a practising barrister and legal advisor, says] “Clause 11 could easily be used to force the blocking of specific sites or group of sites, such as those that have been identified as having unlawful content by an organisation like the Internet Watch Foundation; or the choking of specific forms of P2P protocol,” he told Samknows. “There is not even a requirement that the subscribers to ISP’s are made aware of technical measures which could be imposed by stealth. The fact that there is no need to publish or consult on the use of the power means that there is minimal external quality control, or publicity which might serve in lieu of parliamentary scrutiny.””

4. The logic behind it is flawed, the data is skewed, and most people don’t want it

There’s a great piece by Rory Cellan-Jones that identifies some of the data that is lacking surrounding the bill. Meanwhile, hello everyone from Mark Thomas and Google, Facebook, Yahoo and eBay, to MI5, Talk Talk and, yes, Stephen Fry, the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, Metropolitan Police, Consumer Focus, er, the public according to polls.

What can you do?

You don’t even have to take to the streets…

You can also receive email and RSS updates for the Bill via the Parliament website

Fair use and copyright in the UK – how different is it? (comment call)

There’s a fabulous post over at the Center for Social Media on when using copyrighted material in video comes under fair use. If the work is ‘transformative’ then there’s a strong case for fair use. Examples include:

  1. Adding satirical subtitles, fan tributes, parody, critique
  2. Using copyright material for illustration of example (e.g. stages in a star’s career)
  3. Accidental capture – e.g. music playing in the background while someone dances (if unstaged)
  4. Documenting an event or experience, e.g. presence at a concert
  5. Mashups, remixes or collages that create new meaning from old material

But of course this is all under American law. My question is: how far do these same examples go under UK law? I’d love to know your experiences and interpretations.