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Announcement: Nightly and Copyright Laws


34 replies to this topic

#1
Destiny Skywalker

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From perfectsim in Politics and World Events:

I just want to let you all know that we will be more heavily enforcing copyright infringement and potential copyright infringement. Recently some entrepreneurs have begun to "copyright troll" by buying up the rights to a publication, surfing the internet for infringements and then suing the pants off of the offenders.

http://www.wired.com...tag/righthaven/


We are not particularly worried about something like this happening to Nightly, but in order to prevent things from straying too far from fair use we are instituting a bright line policy designed to prevent anything but fair use with copyrighted materials.

So now,
when quoting a news article in the creation of a topic, use only the headline and the portion of the article directly below which is in italics or bold. When quoting an article becomes necessary in subsequent posts, keep the quote short and to the point.

This rule will no doubt prevent things from being posted which are within the realm of fair use. However this policy is being enforced in order to make things easier for both mods and posters in determining fair use. If everybody had to go through a four point test with each quote to determine compliance with fair use requirements things would become needlessly subjective.

If there is an article that is released under the creative commons please follow whatever rules which need to be in order for the entire article to be posted. Obviously items in the public domain can be posted without problem.


Many thanks to perfectsim, Ryn, and the other moderators who weighed in on this issue and helped us develop this policy. We posted this first in P&WE since that forum gets the majority of news articles posted, but we're going to try and enforce this across Nightly, since obviously we'd like to avoid being sued.

#2
Antilla

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So. Okay. This was confusing to me when I first read Perfectsim's post as well. As I understand it, this policy only applies to text, but what about posted photographs? Throwing an image you don't have the rights to in a conversation is equally injurious as far as copyright law is concerned--even if I make a duplicate of the image and host it from a private Internet file hosting account.

Or do we not care about that because, unlike text, it would be difficult for someone to trace? In other words: is this new policy a legitimate concern about the whole of Nightly's content staying well in the realm of fair use, or a quick reaction because someone stumbled upon this bit of "copyright troll" news?

Not that I think being proactive and taking steps to avoid litigation are bad things at all. I'm just curious. I'm just asking.

#3
Destiny Skywalker

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I would say that this is probably the very start of a fair use policy on Nightly. That's why we posted this in Feedback. Suggestions about things like photos are excellent, so we'll have to evaluate where those fall. But as of right now, I would say text is our primary concern just because of the nature of this website. I would say we're all very good about citing sources (especially for arguing a point!), but it seems like even that can get you in trouble now. In terms of photos, we've usually just gotten cease and desist orders, with no threat of suing unless we don't comply. We try to do our best, but I think the primary issue is that we tend not to "host" photos, but we do host text. It seems that usually these companies go after the host with the hard copy, and just ask us politely to take it down if they see it.

#4
EwoksSuck

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Are we not allowed to post images any more because of this? I've noticed some of my posts were edited and somebody replaced my picture with just "Posted Image"? I'm not complaining, I just want to know what is/is not allowed.

#5
NumberSix

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I don't think that's an edit, that's a browser issue. Firefox does that to me from time to time. I think that's what it does instead of the old-school red X's. Refreshing sometimes helps.

#6
EwoksSuck

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Haha okay I guess I never got that before with Firefox. Thanks.

#7
Bethany

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Uhm, no Six. It's me. I'm following ES around and removing images from his posts. It's a tiresome job, but somebody's got to do it.

Damn, I've been caught.

#8
D-Ray Kenobi

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I'm okay with this policy as long as we make it clear that users can still quote from articles. Pulling the entire text of an article isn't kosher within Fair Use, but using even as much of half of it is. I just don't want Nightly to get strongarmed out of something that we're well within our rights to do.

#9
Destiny Skywalker

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I don't want to put them on the spot, but Ryn and perfectsim thought differently. From what I remember of that discussion, they thought the safest thing to do was to only quote the byline. It might be conservative, but we really don't have a lot of resources to spend on a legal battle, so I think we have to play it safer.

#10
Undome Telcontar

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i think a reasonable compromise would be to set a reasonable word limit, say 25 to 30%, that can be checked with word count in a word processor, and a no picture policy (since the images are licenced from elsewhere like getty and AP, who might have opinions on their photos being used randomly). enforcing the word limit might take a little work, though, since every post/quote/article would have to be checked.

#11
D-Ray Kenobi

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Gotta disagree on this one. Half is what we can do, and half is what we should do. I may be overly principaled on this one, but I think we're giving up far more than a section of an article if we get bullied out of what we have every right to do.
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#12
Undome Telcontar

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i would usually militantly agree with you, but when we're unable to fight any unreasonable suits (which aren't too infrequent these days), i think it's best to err on the side of caution. plus, it's much easier to tell that it's within fair usage limits if only 30% is taken. if exactly 50% is taken, then it's possible that lawyers could spin it so that it actually calculates as more. there is no margin of ambiguity with 30%. maybe when we have the same funding as gizmodo or another major news/blog site, then it could be different. but right now, we're a small fish in a big pond with ever increasing numbers of sharks.

#13
D-Ray Kenobi

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Net Nuetrality is an issue I'm passionate about, and it doesn't just pertain to equal access. It's going to take more precident to make it accepted, but in reality we're within our rights to use all of an article if we're using it in the context of journalism or discourse. And even outside of that, Fair Use also includes parody.

I understand that we want to be careful, but this is just giving up far more principal than I'm comfortable with.
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#14
D-Ray Kenobi

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Edit: Double Post

#15
Jaycie

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Stuff like this is just tricky dude. Like UT, I kinda think it's better to be safe than sorry. I deal with DMCA on a daily basis and we pretty much have a no tolerance policy so when there's a complaint there's really no evaluation on what context it's posted in. If it's copyrighted material and you didn't get permission to re-post it you're going to get your account suspended at the very least if not removed from the server. Now it's very likely nightly will never have issues with it as hosts often completely ignore it (or don't know it's happening) unless the person who owns the rights to the content freaks out and submits a complaint. If nightly is with a reasonable host and the infraction is minor, they'll probably just ask us to take it down.

#16
D-Ray Kenobi

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While I still vehemently disagree, I understand your point. But in reply, I have to ask .. does it go both ways?

We have a lot of users here who put in a lot of time, research, self-editing and thought into some in depth pieces that should more or less qualify as articles, and are sometimes just as good as anything you'd see published in a high profile blog or even print publication. What are we doing to ensure that these aren't being ripped off without due accreditation? Those pieces represent a lot of work from those who author them, and are also quality content that brings in eyeballs and Google AdSense dollars to Nightly as a whole.

Take a look at this article which details a similar situation which cropped up a few weeks ago. A lady had written a well researched article on apple pie on her blog and later discovered that it had been taken word for word and put in a half assed print publication without her permission and without giving her credit. That publisher wrongly assumed that "the internet is public domain," and now they've been ridiculed in social media and the actual author has been vindicated through it. It took her and her friends through social media a good deal of legwork to bring the print publication to task over all of that.

Now that Nightly admins are taking up the role of copyright Enforcers, are they going to acting as such only on the side of these lawsuit happy publishers? Or will they be on our side too? Now that you're assuming the role of copyright mercenaries, surely you'd do it on our own behalf as well, right? If you're going to decide to throw principal aside and continue to participate in the compartmentalization of the web, it can't just be a one way street.

I don't mean to be overly critical, all of you guys that are admins are good friends. I just want to ensure that you've considered all angles of this.

Edited by D-Ray Kenobi, 19 November 2010 - 11:12 PM.

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#17
D-Ray Kenobi

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On a separate, but obviously related note. If this is indeed a set in stone policy from now on, I think the language of the rules / terms of service document needs to be updated. Currently, the only section that's remotely applicable here is Impermanence of content:

Although Nightly.net is not responsible for the content of any of these messages, we do reserve the right to edit or delete any message for any or no reason whatsoever. You remain solely responsible for the content of your messages, and you agree to indemnify and hold harmless this message board, IPS, Inc. (the makers of the message board software), and their agents with respect to any claim based upon transmission of your message(s).


In the (hopefully unlikely) scenario in which one of those rouge publishers come after us, who is ultimately responsible for what may or may not be infringement? If that were to happen, does Nightly itself take full responsibility, or does the user themselves get thrown under the bus? If a company comes after us because someone posted a full article that may have been previously missed, who is the onus on? If we're now saying that Nightly Admins are playing the role of editor in terms of enforcing copyright, I think it's reasonable to assume that some of the responsibility of content has changed hands to some degree.

Edited by D-Ray Kenobi, 19 November 2010 - 11:35 PM.


#18
Jaycie

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All I know is that as the host (at my work I mean, not nightly necessarily) we're held responsible when the content isn't taken down within a couple days because it's on our network. This even applies to clients who own dedicated servers. So as a hosting company the first action to avoid any legal entanglements is to ask your client (the "offending" website) to take it down or we take it down (by suspension or deletion).

#19
Brando

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In answer to your first posts, the admins are probably going to take the advice of the attorney, not the idealistic junior IT guy.

In answer to the last post, Nightly has always maintained editorial control over any posts. Using your argument, we should have changed that before giving anyone the authority to edit posts.

#20
D-Ray Kenobi

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I get the feeling I may be the only one taking it this seriously.

In the event that we have contacted an attorney, what specifically did they say? Just curious.

#21
D-Ray Kenobi

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You know, I sincerely promise that I'm not trying to be a thorn in anyone's side. This is just kind of my area, and I think that these are valid questions. It'd be great to have an actual discussion on this instead of having a two sentence bone thrown my way.

If it's because you don't want this to be a public discussion, by all means any Nightly Admin is welcome to send me a PM.

#22
Ryn

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Gotta disagree on this one. Half is what we can do, and half is what we should do. I may be overly principaled on this one, but I think we're giving up far more than a section of an article if we get bullied out of what we have every right to do.

What's the matter with pulling less than half of an article? It's still linked and there's opportunity for relevant quotation. Mostly, this is to err on the side of caution. We're a message board, not a journalistic institution.

#23
Ryn

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You know, I sincerely promise that I'm not trying to be a thorn in anyone's side.

I don't think you are at all.

edit: the "thorn" part, not the "promise" part. Any way I wrote the reply it could've read wrong.

#24
D-Ray Kenobi

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What's the matter with pulling less than half of an article? It's still linked and there's opportunity for relevant quotation. Mostly, this is to err on the side of caution. We're a message board, not a journalistic institution.


For me personally, it's just a matter of principal if we set rules that disallow what we're legally able to do. I realize that such principal can sometimes be a luxury that's unaffordable, I just wish it weren't in this case.

But can I please get some type of discussion going around my other points? I'm still curious to know about what our policies will be regarding ownership of content. Both in the context of who is responsible for it, as well as what are plans are if other sites rip it off? I won't lie, it kind annoys me that this is being relatively blown off.

#25
Destiny Skywalker

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We do not have the means to pursue litigation if someone takes your content from this site, nor do I think its our duty to do so because we are not claiming ownership. If you choose to pursue it, we are glad to support you in terms of verifying that the content was published here and anything else we can do to help your case, but we're not hiring lawyers.



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