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  1. #1
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    Techmeme / Blogrunner / ... = copyright infringement?

    Can someone please explain how can news aggregator sites like Techmeme or Blogrunner do not run into copyright infringement issues?

    Aren't they simply taking content from other websites/blogs and publishing it on their own websites? Sure, it brings traffic to those sites and I'm sure none of the smaller blogs will complain. But how about bigger blogs or corporate websites? Could they do anything?

    In fact, thinking about it, it's just like any search engine. Theoretically, Google could be sued for illegaly making copies of copyrighted content to their DB and indexing system, and publishing it on their website. Moreoever they make money from the ads displayed around this content! Isn't this something against the AdSense TOS

    Please someone, enlighten me

  2. #2
    Non-Member Icheb's Avatar
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    Fair Use. Simple as that.

  3. #3
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    Ok, in the case of Google it makes sense.

    But how can it be justified for News Aggregators / Meme-trackers?

    From the Stanford website :

    Unfortunately, the only way to get a definitive answer on whether a particular use is a fair use is to have it resolved in federal court. Judges use four factors in resolving fair use disputes [...]

    The four factors judges consider are:

    1. the purpose and character of your use
    2. the nature of the copyrighted work
    3. the amount and substantiality of the portion taken, and
    4. the effect of the use upon the potential market.
    Sure they only reproduce an excerpt of the article (even though I've seen site other than Blogrunner or Techmeme reproducing FULL articles). But they still steal a good part of the news/blogs readers traffic (giving some back of course). But they make money doing so.

    Here is a case cited on the Stanford website about the 4th factor considered by judges :

    For example, in one case an artist used a copyrighted photograph without permission as the basis for wood sculptures, copying all of the elements of the photo. The artist earned several hundred thousand dollars selling the sculptures. When the photographer sued, the artist claimed his sculptures were a fair use because the photographer would never have considered making sculptures. The court disagreed, stating that it did not matter whether the photographer had considered making sculptures; what mattered was that a potential market for sculptures of the photograph existed. ( Rogers v. Koons, 960 F.2d 301 (2d Cir. 1992).)

  4. #4
    SitePoint Addict ruby-lang's Avatar
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    They don't get sued because it's a win-win situation. Aggregators get content, and blogs get exposure. They also don't show full posts, even when full feeds are available.

  5. #5
    Follow Me On Twitter: @djg gold trophysilver trophybronze trophy Dan Grossman's Avatar
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    Just to be clear, I'm pretty sure that Google's cacheing of entire websites is completely illegal full-blown copyright infringement without question... it's simply that it serves the public interest to such a degree that a court would not stop them from doing so.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Addict ruby-lang's Avatar
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    I think the legality was put in doubt once, but the consensus was that they were in the clean, because site owners can take simple measures to stop them from doing so, namely write and upload a robots.txt file.

  7. #7
    Programming Since 1978 silver trophybronze trophy felgall's Avatar
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    Aggregators mostly work on the basis of RSS feeds and similar from the other sites which means that they are using material that those sites have made available for that purpose. It is the bloggers who copy complete articles rather than just the intro from the feed that are actually breaching copyright. When just the intro from the feed is displayed those reading it need to visit the original site in order to read the rest of the article.

    With something like the cached copies that Google makes available, these too are to the benefit of the original site owner who would otherwise change their site settings to stop Google from making those copies. If the owners were not implicitly giving their permission for the copies and instead were all to commence legal proceedings against Google for copyright infringement then the tens of millions of people involved in such a class action would give the court no choice but to find against Google.
    Stephen J Chapman

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