Copyright Flack

Friday, July 24, 2009


Breaking news is now copied and redistributed on thousands of websites across the Internet within minutes - producing a World Wide Web of carbon copies. First Amendment lawyer David Marburger argues that this redistribution is hurting newspapers financially and that the fault lies with the Copyright Act.

Comments [7]

Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

O.K., we can stop beating up the guy. Blame Brooke and Bob, blame the staff, but, come on, he stepped in at the last minute; that's so obvious!

Jul. 31 2009 09:54 AM
alex from Brooklyn

Another crucial problem from Mr. Pesca:

As epiphanius and Scott Burton point out, Pearl Jam or anyone else can cover a Dixie Chicks song. (In fact, if the Dixie Chicks did not *write* the song, they have nothing to do with this.)

It's called a "mechanical license," or a "compulsory mechanical license." Look it up.

That's three obvious mistakes so far, and the show is not even half over. Either there are whole bunch of fact checkers and other off this week, in addition to Mr. Garfield and Ms. Gladstone, or Mr. Pesca himself is the problem.

Jul. 27 2009 09:47 PM
Scott Burton from Los Angeles, CA

Pearl Jam can indeed record a Dixie Chicks song, change anything they want - lyrics included - and release it commercially. There is a compulsory license in US copyright law which compels the copyright holder to allow usage. This is one of the oldest practices in the music business.

It is up to their publishers to collect so-called "performance monies" for any record sales Pearl Jam accumulates, plus any performance (radio, jukebox, restaurant PA system, ballpark usage, etc.) covered by blanket license from the performance rights society (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC) to which the writers of the Dixie Chicks song (who may or may not in fact be actual Dixie Chicks) are signatories.

The Dixie Chicks would not collect royalties at all. While this term is in popular usage, it typically refers to "mechanical royalties" paid to an artist who records and sells a mechanical copy of a song (i.e. a CD, vinyl disk, digital download, wax cylinder). In the above case, The Dixie Chicks are a recording artist, and would collect nothing from Pearl Jam's record label because they didn't perform Pearl Jam's performance.

This is easy stuff, and should have been fact-checked before going out on the air as news. Isn't this show supposed to be a critique of the media?

Jul. 27 2009 06:46 PM
Daniel from Delmar, NY

Sure, these sites use other people's content, stories, even pictures. Sure, in extreme cases, whole stories are being lifted and put on other websites.

But maybe this has more to do with how badly--no, scratch that, terribly, horrendously--they aggregate their own work. In a world where Huffington Post, Daily Beast, and The Drudge Report aggregate news better than the Washington Post, Associated Press, and New York Times, perhaps the the word "parasitic" isn't exactly right; maybe "new model" is better.

Jul. 27 2009 02:35 PM
k0dpw from Ulysses, Kansas

Our current copyright laws were established prior to internet technology, which has/is changing the way the world operates; I still believe in the preservation of intellectual property rights.

If content providers don't want their stories copied and pasted, but linking thereto is OK, then the law should mandate that the original story will REMAIN AVAILABLE at the source link.

I have no problem with just hyperlinking to the original story, so the source gets the credit; but that method runs up against the problem that in the future, the source can delete the original story, then the link goes bad, and the content is lost to the referrer site.

The only way to insure the content remains available for posterity, is to post the content itself within the referrer site.

As long as the original source is credited as being so, with a hyperlink thereto (even though the content in its entirety is copied and pasted onto the local referrer site), I would think they would enjoy the FREE advertisement of their services and content; that way if the original is ever deleted (as sometimes occurs), the content is preserved for the purposes of the referrer site along with the credits to the original authors.

The converse could be that referrer sites start charging advertising fees to link to and promote their content.

Jul. 26 2009 11:50 PM
Patrick from Madison

I listened to this broadcast with interest, but I disagree with Mr. Marburger's assessment that aggregated news is a violation of copyright. To have content included in an aggregate website, a news story's source must have an RSS feed or something similar. When a news agency uses RSS for syndication purposes without charging a fee for access, they implicitly put that content in the public domain. Any story that is put out free of charge is covered by fair use.

I myself have used these feeds to add dynamic content to my websites for various reasons; usually the purpose is to obtain and retain a higher ranking in search engines for keywords relating to my pages. It's a very common practice, and many companies do charge a fee for dynamic content. If a content source does not charge a fee, they have no recourse for complaint when aggregators prefer their services due the obvious cost benefit.

Jul. 26 2009 04:43 PM
epiphanius from Canada

For the record, Pearl Jam can do anything it wants to with any Indigo Girls song and release it, with no regard for the 'Girls feelings on the matter. They do not need permission to do this, though they would pay song royalties on the effort. It is a little disappointing that an item on copyright got this so wrong.

Jul. 26 2009 03:36 PM

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