Why Is It So Difficult To Opt-Out Of Copyright?
from the no-easy-way-to-get-into-the-public-domain dept
Every so often, when someone new shows up on Techdirt, reading a post about our complaints about overly aggressive copyright holders, they’ll make a comment along the lines of “well, you wouldn’t be saying that if someone took Techdirt’s content, copied it and started making money from ads! I’m going to do just that, and I bet you’ll be just as angry!” And, every time someone posts this, we end up linking back to the fact that a bunch of folks already do this, and we’re perfectly fine with it. Here’s the explanation I gave for why it’s fine with us a while back:
We have no problem with people taking our content and reposting it. It’s funny how many people come here, like yourself, and assume you’ve found some “gotcha.” You haven’t. There already are about 10 sites that copy Techdirt, post for post. Some of them give us credit. Some of them don’t. We don’t go after any of them.
1. None of those sites get any traffic. By themselves, they offer nothing special.
2. If anything, it doesn’t take people long to read those sites and figure out that the content is really from Techdirt. Then they just come here to the original source. So, it tends to help drive more traffic to us. That’s cool.
3. As soon as the people realize the other sites are simply copying us, it makes those sites look really, really bad. If you want to risk your reputation like that, go ahead, but it’s a big risk.
4. A big part of the value of Techdirt is the community here. You can’t just replicate that.
5. Another big part of the value of Techdirt is that we, the writers, engage in the comments. You absolutely cannot fake that on your own site.
So, really, what’s the purpose of copying our content in the manner you describe, other than maybe driving a little traffic our way?
So, if you really want to, I’d suggest it’s pretty dumb, but go ahead.
I should note, by the way, that by ignoring these copycat sites, most go away. There’s one (relatively nicely designed one) that’s managed to stick around for a while, but most fade away pretty quickly. Still, we’re perfectly fine with people taking and repurposing our content. We hope they give us attribution, but we don’t worry too much if they don’t (actually, it would be even cooler if sites added more value to our content). There’s really no reason to spend much time thinking about it. Yet, we still get people emailing us all the time to ask for “permission” to reuse our content — and of course, we always “grant” the permission, even though they don’t need it at all.
Sometimes people ask us why we don’t put Techdirt under a Creative Commons license. The answer is that while CC-licenses are certainly a good overall concept and I think it’s great when people use a CC license, they still rely on copyright to function, and we believe that content creators should experiment with getting by entirely without copyright to see what happens — and we try to live up to what we promote. Of course, it’s actually a lot harder to do that then you might think. As Stephen Kinsella recently discovered putting your content into the public domain is incredibly difficult. In some cases, it’s not even possible. Thanks to (relatively recent) copyright law that grants a copyright the instant content is put into a fixed medium. And, while you can put a “public domain declaration” on content, it won’t apply in many countries. Effectively it’s nearly impossible to legally make your content public domain. So, as for us, we just leave things alone, and figure that most people will figure out sooner or later that they’re free to help promote our content by reusing it however they want.