Gartner Tells Reporter: You're Not Allowed To Mention Gartner Research Without Our Permission

from the copyright-gone-insane dept

Rich Kulawiec alerts us to the news that Gartner (which absolutely should know better) sent a legal nastygram to a Network World blogger, Larry Chaffin, for the mortal sin of mentioning Gartner without Gartner’s permission. Specifically, Gartner is claiming full control over its research reports, and saying that a reporter cannot quote them. Gartner is almost certainly wrong about this. If the information is newsworthy (and it sounds like it was), then a reporter absolutely has the right to post it. Also, Gartner seems confused about how all of this works. It first claims that posting such info was a violation of its own policy… but it’s a policy that Chaffin had not agreed to. Perhaps Gartner had a claim against the vendor who gave Chaffin the report, but that doesn’t preclude posting the information. On top of that (of course) Gartner is pulling a bit of copyfraud, by claiming that copyright gives it many more rights than it really does:

Gartner’s published research is proprietary intellectual property of Gartner, Inc., and is protected by the copyright laws of the United States and other countries. Your company’s mention of our research in your material does not comply with our Copyright and Quote Policy (available at the link below) and so this is an infringement of our copyrights. I ask that you take immediate and effective steps to remove this blog posting and also any other unauthorized mention of Gartner’s research in any other venue which you control.

There’s just one (big) problem with that. Copyright law doesn’t really give a hoot what Gartner’s own “Quote Policy” is. Copyright law has built in exceptions that can’t just be written away like that.

Chaffin actually did take down the posts after being threatened, claiming that in doing so he’s showing how meaningless Gartner is. He also promises never to post about any Gartner reports ever again in the future — but did talk up Gartner’s ridiculous policies and demands (amusingly referring to the company as Gar-ner).

Beyond just being of questionable legality, Gartner’s actions also seem incredibly short-sighted (especially for a firm that’s supposed to be known for being forward looking). Everyone knows the real value in a Gartner report is not in any actual analysis, but in the PR it might generate for companies that find their way into the infamous (and silly) “magic quadrant.” By forcing reporters not to talk about who’s in that magic quadrant, Gartner has just made its reports significantly less valuable. Now that’s foresight.

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Comments on “Gartner Tells Reporter: You're Not Allowed To Mention Gartner Research Without Our Permission”

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20 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Fair Use or Bullying?

As long as the NEW work (the blog article) is at least 5% new, the NEW work could fall under fair-use. I’d say even MIT Guidelines are a bit intrusive at 5%, but is a starting point no less, for the often subjective interpretation of Section 107 of the Copyright Act (Fair Use). So long as Larry didn’t post the complete work, I tend to think Gar-ner is standing on shaky grounds, but that would be for the court to decide.

A new work will be considered to be within the bounds of fair use if:

1. It reproduces not more than 1,000 words, in the aggregate, from a given Source Work;
2. It reproduces not more than 5 percent, in the aggregate, of the Source Work, and no complete poems or other self-contained literary works;

These guidelines are cumulative. A use must comply with all of them to be considered fair. Thus, when quoting from a book, the author of a new work may quote no more than a total of 1000 words from that book; in addition, the quoted words must not constitute more than 5 percent of the Source Work or more than 5 percent of the new work.

Source:
http://mitpress.mit.edu/mitpress/copyright/MITCopyrightGuidelines_and_FairUse.pdf
Section IV: Quantitative Guidelines

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Fair Use or Bullying?

That’s MIT’s rules on fair use not the US government. The copyright law is a little less clear. It douse not limit how many words can be used or how much can be copied. It only limits on how it can be used, must be transformative, or commentary or a few other things. An article about the works would qualify as transformative and commentary.

But I’m with you on the other parts, Gar-ner has no legal grounds to stand on and it is for the courts to decide if Gar-ner desires to push it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Fair Use or Bullying?

>> That’s MIT’s rules on fair use not the US government.

Good catch Chrono. Technically, I was wrong, it’s University of Chicago, and was adopted by MIT. But you’re right. I guess the point is that as more illustrations about the mis-aligned usage of copyright law comes to light, perhaps a more transparent version of the copyright law will come forward. Fair use is incredibly subjective, but MIT/Chicago guidelines at minimum offer a starting point.

It appears that Larry Chaffin seems like a well-educated person. He purports to have a PH.d. Yet in this situation, there seems to be disparity between what constitutes fair use between Gar-ner and others. Copyright needs to be exponentially more understandable. As it stands now, it’s hindering many in the non-legal community, and actions against reform seem quite deliberate.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Fair Use or Bullying?

“Technically, I was wrong, it’s University of Chicago”

Pshh, no wonder it’s vague and used to the benefit of the elite.

“but MIT/Chicago guidelines at minimum offer a starting point”

Can’t judge for sure w/o seeing funding for the research or department that went into creating those guidelines, but if it was paid for by Rockefeller endowments, then no thanks.

Anonymous Poster says:

Re: Re:

This is probably because those businesses probably paid licensing fees (or some other form of copyright compensation) to avoid having Gar-ner do this sort of thing to them, despite not need to pay them.

It’s easier to pay a small fee to avoid having to defend yourself in court in a drawn-out legal battle, even if you have the law on your side.

fogbugzd says:

Re: protest?

>>So in what Chaffin calls, “an act of protest,” he did exactly what they asked of him

Except that I doubt that they wanted him to mock them, or have the story cast in terms of pettiness and backward thinking. They probably also did not intend for it to get picked up by other bloggers and spread.

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