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Posts Tagged ‘Aggregation’

Judge Rules that Reposting an Entire Article Without Permission Is ‘Fair Use’

A federal judge ruled in favor of a defendant who reposted an entire article in a copyright case on Monday, Wired reports. The lawsuit was brought by Righthaven, a Las Vegas-based “copyright litigation factory,” according to Wired, that has sued more than 200 websites, bloggers, and commenters for copyright infringement. This particular lawsuit targeted Wayne Hoehn, who posted an entire editorial from the Las Vegas Review-Journal and its headline, “Public Employee Pensions: We Can’t Afford Them” on a website medjacksports.com. Hoehn was not an employee of the site.

The “fair use” doctrine can be used as a copyright infringement defense in a situation where a defendant has used a copyrighted work without permission. In short, it provides a defense where the work has been used for limited, noncommecial purposes, including commentary, criticism, news reporting, research, and scholarship.  Whether or not “fair use” applies is based on a balancing test. Let’s (roughly) go over the elements as applied to this case.

For one, the doctrine looks at the effect of the reproduction on the monetary value of the original piece. While Righthaven argued that Hoehn’s reposting had cost the article’s original website some eyeballs, the judge found that no evidence was presented that “the market for the work was harmed.”

Second, the doctrine considers whether the reproduction itself is intended to make money off of using the original work. In this case, the judge found that Hahn’s use was “noncommercial,” and just for the purposes of “online discussion.”

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How Slate First Came Up with the Idea of Aggregation

If you want someone to blame for aggregation, it might be Slate. As editor David Plotz has discussed in the past, Slate “actually pioneered” the aggregation type of web journalism with its Today’s Papers, which has since morphed into The Slatest. So this is all Slate’s fault! (Also, as FishbowlNY is itself an aggregation site, thank you!)

Plotz gives an interview to Columbia Journalism Review where he explains a bit about how the whole aggro-craze got started. Interesting fact: Slate’s first aggregator was almost the most successful traffic-driver in the business, Matt Drudge.

“Today’s Papers” started, I believe, a year after we launched, in 1997… We actually asked Matt Drudge to do it, but Drudge recommended Scott [Shuger]. But in fact, in our very first issue, the very first thing we did was, we had a column called “In Other Magazines,” which I wrote. That was an aggregation of what was in the main print magazines. The notion was, we would read Time and Newsweek and all the others so you wouldn’t have to bother…

So we were doing aggregation right from the very first day of Slate… But “Today’s Papers” became the most important and best version of that in the first years of Slate… It was never simply an act of finding the one story on the front page of the Times and summarizing it; it was about contrasting how news coverage was happening in different papers.

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