Everybody's talking about the Missouri newspaper paying a blogger $500 after the blogger, Duane Lester, brought the newspaper, The Oregon Times Observer, "a $500 invoice," but who's calling to check?
The person who answered the phone at the newspaper's office today said he didn't know of any other media outlets calling the newspaper about the incident.
The blogger in question, Duane Lester, wrote a May 14 blogpost, "How to Assert Copyright over your Work when it's been Plagiarized," about his work being lifted. He explained that his May 1 article was lifted by the Times Observer May 10 and provided screenshots of both his original blog and the Times Observer's print edition. (The Oregon Times Observer is a weekly local newspaper with a circulation of about 1,100 copies, according to the Missouri Press Association. It doesn't appear to have a website.)
"The only differences I see is the removal of 'MO' from the headline and someone added a paragraph to the end of the article, blaming the sheriff for the downgrading of the county’s rating. Other than that, the scraping of the article was so complete, it included my sub-heading and my typos."
According to Lester, tweeter @AskaCyberLawyer advised he "send a letter with an assertion of copyright, and a bill." Lester published the "final copy" of his copyright claim. In the claim, Lester, who identifies himself as All American Blogger's "Editor and Lead Writer," notes he "was not asked for permission to reprint the article, nor was I given attribution in the newspaper for the creation of the article." Further, he wrote:
"Due to the article being used in its entirety, Fair Use does not apply."
He also provided a video of his in-person request of the newspaper, in which Times Observer's publisher Bob Ripley said "it's not re-printed 100% like you had it." Lester repeated that he wanted to be paid for his blog being re-published without credit. Ripley said he wanted to ask his lawyer about the invoice but ultimately gave Lester a check.
Lester wrote that he detailed his case on his blog to help others learn "how to protect your work" and show "the importance of standing up for self and your rights."
We wrote to Lester asking for more information about this incident. He told us that "there isn't really much more to say about the incident itself, other than to say it didn't have to go down that way." Lester said that he would have been willing to let the Oregon Times Observer publish his story with his byline on it or even charged less on the invoice if Ripley "had called me before publishing" or shown "contrition." According to Lester, he and Ripley "have not had contact with each other" since the video-taped encounter. Lester added:
"I was very surprised at the reaction to the video. I never expected it to reach as far as it did, or be viewed as often. I am irritated by the people who say what I did was wrong, or that I was picking on two old folks. If those two had stolen my car, would I not have the same right to compensation?Theft is theft. This was theft for profit. It's not that different."
iMediaEthics called the Times Observer yesterday and today seeking comment about this incident. The person who answered the phone both days declined to give his name, said he wasn't the person to speak on behalf of the newspaper, but that the newspaper had no comment about the incident. He declined to say when the appropriate newspaper representative would be available. We asked him in a follow-up call if any other media outlets have contacted the newspaper for comment about this incident, and he said "not to my knowledge."
Hat Tip: Editor & Publisher and Romenesko