The Denver Post issued “a notice to readers” on Sunday reminding them of copyright laws.
Noting that “everything that appears in a typical edition of the newspaper is copyright protected,” the letter claimed that its “work is illegally” republished on other websites on a daily basis.
The Denver Post acknowledged that sections of its work can be republished under “fair use,” which the Post defined as:
“But fair use of our content restricts those who want to reference it to reproduce no more than a headline and up to a couple of paragraphs or a summary of the story. (We also request users provide a link to the entire work on our website). The fair use rule generally does not entitle users to display the whole story or photograph on their website. “
StinkyJournalism wrote to the Electronic Frontier Foundation asking if the Denver Post’s definition of fair use is accurate.
“They may believe that fair use allows only a couple of paragraphs and a headline, but that’s not actually the rule: in appropriate circumstances, fair use may allow more than that, up to and including the entire article,” the EFF Senior Staff Attorney Corynne McSherry stated to StinkyJournalism.
See the U.S. copyright office’s full explanation of “fair use” here.
The Post’s statement also explained it “will use all legal remedies available to address these infringements” of copyright, which includes republishing an entire story or photograph.
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That statement, worded as a warning to readers, reminded StinkyJournalism of the ongoing copyright battle between the Las Vegas Review-Journal and website users. This summer, the Nevada newspaper employed copyright protection Righthaven and began suing websites across the country for violating copyright. (See StinkyJournalism’s earlier posts on this copyright battle here.)
The lawsuits have caused a bit of a stir as court papers have reportedly been filed before asking content to be removed from websites, a typical courtesy in the online world. The Electronic Frontier Foundation joined in the battle in late September by signing on with website Democratic Underground in a counterclaim against Righthaven and the Review-Journal.
Last Friday, key players of the Review-Journal’s senior staff left their jobs. The newspaper announced in an article on its website that the newspaper’s publisher and its parent company’s CEO Sherman Frederick would be leaving his positions and becoming a consultant and weekly columnist.
The Review-Journal’s editor Thomas Mitchell also left his post to become a senior opinion editor at the newspaper. And, the general manager position was eliminated.
StinkyJournalism wondered if the leadership change would quash any of the lawsuits. EFF’s media relations director told StinkyJournalism via e-mail that “Both of our Righthaven lawsuits are ongoing, still in their preliminary stages.”
Also, according to the Las Vegas Sun, Righthaven has filed 166 lawsuits for copyright infringement. But, “Righthaven CEO Steven Gibson, a Las Vegas attorney, said the changes announced Friday at the R-J ‘in no way diminishes the Righthaven business model.'”
iMediaEthics has also written to the Denver Post – both its general e-mail address and that of online executive producer Rebecca Risch, and to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. We will update with any response.