Monday, July 28, 2008

BPN 1172 The old, analogue world is back

Last month the news wire organisation Asociated Press (AP) demanded from the owner of the Drudge Retort, that he would correct seven contributions as they contained more than 39 words of a quote from the AP service. The blog community started to comment on this measure. They hated the fact that AP demanded corrections in blogs and the fact that AP thought that a quote of 39 words from an article is enough fair use. The whole discussion blew over, but I guess only for the time being.

There is an analogy with the music business. Many people download music illegally and a ten per cent upload the music illegally. After many fights it looks now that the ten per cent of uploaders will get a letter from their ISP, telling them to stop uploading or face being cut off. So also with the official press and the bloggers. When bloggers copy full articles or a excessive long quote, AP wanted to tell the bloggers what is fair use and what is not. The old, analogue world is coming back!

The Dutch journalists trade union NVJ is now also preparing a mechanism of control. It will start a service for member-journalists. The service intends to chase website owners and bloggers who copy articles from the member-journalists with or without their name and without permission. The service has already been dubbed in many blogs as a plagiarism and a anti-plagiarism service at the same time. The objective of the service appears to cover copying without permission, but mentioning the name of the author; copying the article without permission and without the name of the author.

The software which is going to be used bears the name of Ephorus and is the product of a Utrecht based SME company. It looks like the NVJ is piloting the service in practice. It looks like the college and university software which tells the teachers that the presented material is from internet or particular books. In the case of the journalist, he/she uploads an article and the robot will travel around the Dutch language web to find the website owners and perpetrating web loggers, which copied the article. I wonder whether also parts of the article will be recognised. After that, a train of administration can be expected of sending letters and invoices.

In the Netherlands there are already companies writing web site owners and bloggers about the illegal copying. And they are not very much loved. On the one hand it is naturally that web site owners and web loggers will be annoyed telling them that they are illegally copying. On the other hand it is by the aggressive way of the handling. One of the companies is Cozzmoss; on their site they claim that they act on behalf of authors. (It looks almost like a collecting society, except that they are commercial and acting in a legally grey terrain). A web site owner or a web logger directly receive an invoice; there is no correspondence telling them that they have copied articles illegally. And the invoice is three times the original fee. This legal stupidity still dates from the early days of internet, when the NVJ started a court case, asking the judge to attribute 300 per cent for every re-use claim. Presently the NVJ uses a fee of 20 per cent per copying with a minimum.

So far the claims of Cozzmoss and other companies have not been fought in court. It is about time that a judge let his light shine on the claims which can be made on the ground of illegal copying and about the height of the fee. In the meantime a bureau Stichting Copyright & Nieuwe Media (Foundation for Copyright and New media) has been founded in The Netherlands; it will have a helpdesk for amateur authors/bloggerswho will have legal problems. It will also promote Creative Commons.

Blog Posting Number: 1170

Tags: pircy, copying, anti-plagiarism, plagiarism, , ,

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