Saturday, September 4, 2010
Las Vegas Review-Journal Sues Sharron Angle for Copyright Infringement
As I wrote about before, The Las Vegas Review Journal, Vegas' only full-time daily newspaper--the Las Vegas Sun is an insert--has been suing bloggers and websites for excerpting their material. Not warning them, not asking--or even demanding--that site owners remove the material, just literally making a federal case of it. This situation has had me worried for quite some time, and I'll admit, I'm still not sure what to do about it.
I'm basically a one-man show, writing this blog as a hobby for the past three years. In that time, I've probably used the LVRJ as a source 15 times or so. Considering that I've posted nearly 7,000 different posts, and that I live in Las Vegas, that's pretty light. As most bloggers do, I usually write my own opinions on a news story, and then post a small excerpt, possibly a photo, from a variety of sources. I've made every effort to show that these excerpts are not my work, and always provide attribution and live links.
There's a thing called "fair use," and it has always been my assumption (and clearly the assumption of most bloggers) that the conditions above meet fair use. Most of the time, I'll only use the headline, photo and the first paragraph of a story. Occasionally, I'll use a little more, especially if the article is long and the paragraphs are short. I make it a practice not to use so much of an article that there would be no point in clicking through to the original source. I'm trying to "tease" the story, not steal it. The RJ apparently does not see any distinction.
So, what to do? The deed has been done, and has been around on the internet for years. I know there are internet "way-back" machines, and that even changing the original posts or deleting them altogether would likely be of no use. Besides, I haven't made even a penny at this here blog thingy. Sure, there are Google AdSense ads here, added on a whim a couple of years ago. But you need $100 worth of AdSense earnings to get paid anything. And after all this time, I ain't there yet. Supposing that day ever comes, if you divide that $100 by the hours I've spent writing this blog, I'm still making nothing per hour. Fractions of fractions of a cent.
Still, I get the butterflies. So today, I went through my entire archive, and went through each post containing RJ material, and deleted everything but the headline, link and occasional photo. One photo I won't take down is one containing images of my husband, his friends and co-workers shortly after 9/11 that appeared in the RJ and sat on my hard drive for seven years before I used it. It's credited, I'm not making money off of it, that should be enough.
But have my actions in deleting and resaving those posts "flagged" my blog? Possible. I don't know. But that's why I've written this post. Which could also flag me, I suppose. Hopefully, it will serve as an explanation, should any of their lawyers see it. Ugh. Still with the butterflies. But the Las Vegas Review-Journal need not worry. I won't be sourcing them in the future. Not ever. I'll even delete every mention of them from the archives if they want me to. I'm sorry that I may have led some traffic to their site. Sorry if my massive worldwide audience of 50-200 people per day might have stolen that one Las Vegan who might have bought one day's paper from them. And I'm nervous about even hitting "publish post" after writing this. But I'm keeping the 9/11 photo.
Sharron Angle Being Sued For Copyright Infringement
Read it (what, you think I'm going to actually EXCERPT it???) at: Las Vegas Badger
EDITOR'S NOTE: I thought I should add this copy of my disclaimer, which has been a part of the blog for most of its existence under "Mission Statement" at the top left:
© Copyright 2010 James L. Greenlee
All site contents © Copyright James L. Greenlee, except those works previously copyrighted by others. All efforts will be made to properly attribute non-original content. If your work has been improperly attributed in this space, or if you would like your work removed, please contact email@example.com.
Other bloggers are free to use anything from this blog, in whole or in part, as long as attribution and a live link are supplied.