View Thread > Internet & Society > Editing Blogs > Copyright does not apply
This question was stolen (with permission!) from the blog of John Palfrey, Executive Director of the Berkman Center.
Blogger #1 posts frequently during the course of most days to his publicly accessible web site. Blogger #1 syndicates his work via an RSS feed to anyone who wishes to pick up that feed. Blogger #1 retains full copyright in his written work. Though it's not strictly required that he do so under copyright law, Blogger #1 has made clear in various places, including the footer of each page of his blog and in the text of his RSS feeds, that he retains full (c).
Blogger #2 receives the RSS feed from Blogger #1. Blogger #2, in fact, configures a computer program to receive this RSS feed quite frequently from Blogger #1's site over the course of several days. Blogger #2 reposts the relevant content from Blogger #1's RSS feeds (i.e., not including XML tags in the reposting) verbatim. In fact, Blogger #2 reposts every version of every blog posting to the republication site, apparently to highlight edits made to Blogger #1's postings over the course of each day. Blogger #2 uses color to highlight the edits that Blogger #1 has made.
Blogger #1 objects to Blogger #2's verbatim republication of Blogger #1's feeds.
What recourse does Blogger #1 have? Has Blogger #2 violated the copyright of Blogger #1 by copying the text verbatim? Has Blogger #2 created a derivative work of Blogger #1's posts by highlighting the changes? Can Blogger #2 rely upon a fair use exception? Consider carefully the impact of the *entirety* of the copying in the 4-factor test (http://www.utsystem.edu/ogc/intellectualproperty/copypol2.htm#test). Or, perhaps, can he rely on an implied license to republish in the manner that he has?
Given the nature of the internet, the process of supplying Web pages
violates the principle of copyright. That is, to view a page a copy
of the document must be made, it must be transmitted electronically and it must
be stored on the receivers computer. All of these actions are blatent copyright
infringements under the act.
Also the Web server accepts public access so it is a defacto library.
If you put information on the Web, it should be considered as being in the public domain.
Copyright applies to any original work "fixed in a tangible medium of expression," including a web page. However we could argue that supplying an RSS feed gives an implied license to syndicate (copy) that feed -- after all, what else is "really simple syndication" for? We then have to ask also whether the implied license extends to all copying, or just to some copying as contemplated the original poster.
Hi, Wowbagger: I like the concept of a defacto library, but am not sure what that means. To the point, though, when speaking of "process of supplying web pages", there is some who believe that holding content in memory on a computer may not rise to unequivocal copying as intended within the copyright law. Your certainty about the blatancy of violation of copyright law as it pertains to cyberspace law, if-you-will, has a lot of exciting times ahead, before we can all agree that the original intent of the copyright law over some 200 years, even applies in the Digital Age.
Putting "information on the Web", might not necessarily need to be in the public domain, if your copyright "rights" are trimmed and fine-tuned to permit use of the information in accordance with the "rights" you reserve.
I consider posting a blog on the net as a type of public communication, which is generally covered by copyright. Assuming that Blogger Blogger 1's blogs are original works, I think he could claim copyright protection, and besides the fair use issue, paternity of the work (which is a moral right), shall always be respected.
I agree with Cristina's post and would also like to emphasize what I feel is an important goal of Copyright: to provide the POSSIBILITY of some gain for the creator, hence encouraging the creation and sharing of ideas/works. As I understand it, the expiration of copyright was initially conceived as a way to balance the rights of the Creator to exclusive ownership with Society's need to have free use of ideas/works that become commonly used and a part of our intellectual and social vernacular. (Again, I am not a lawyer...)
This is why I think that expansion of the term for copyright and other issues such as works for hire and the rights of college professors to their course materials are hotly debated when they come up.