Every day, I see pingbacks to articles I write from websites I’ve never heard of that seem to be made for Adsense news aggregators. Most seem to focus on a specific topic, and because that topic was discussed in my article, the site poached all or part of my article for their benefit.
Although I have yet to file a lawsuit, I have sent plenty of takedown notices to frequent violators and their hosting companies (I bet this article will get picked up because “hosting companies” is a popular term for content thieves). Similar to my situation are newspapers and websites that post daily articles written by professional journalists. This content is often “borrowed” or used by bloggers and other websites without permission. According to an article today in Wired.com, there’s a new company that aims to make money from these copyright violations.
A Las Vegas company called Righthaven apparently has been filing lawsuits for its clients whose rights they believe were violated under US Copyright Laws by content thieves and poachers. The penalties for Copyright Act violations are pretty severe, and many bloggers and websites may prefer to settle them without going to court to save time, stress, and money. With millions of potential targets, this could conceivably be a high-yielding endeavor for the company.
Content providers and publishers need to do as much as they can to protect their content, and lawsuits are a way to show that the copyright owner is serious and isn’t going to mess around. For bloggers and journalists who quote articles and attribute the source of those quotes, it may be a bit dicey if you get caught up in one of these lawsuits.
It’s important that bloggers and writers know the copyright law and be sure to follow it. I know there are plenty of people who think they’re safe posting all or part of an article as long as they link back to the source, but this certainly seems to be a false sense of security.