NBC, Defender Of All Things Copyright, Copies Blogger's Post Without Permission; Removes Her Name When She Complains

from the those-poor-corn-farmers dept

We’d love to get an explanation from NBC Universal General Counsel Rick Cotton on the following story. Cotton, of course, is the very, very, very strong defender of copyrights for NBC Universal. He was, of course, the main source for the propaganda “oh no piracy is killing the movie business” segment on 60 Minutes, and as we all know, he’s been quite concerned about the poor, poor (yet, heavily subsidized) corn farmers hurt by “piracy.” He’s come out as a supporter of having ISPs spy on users to block the transmission of copyright works (which should be useful once Comcast takes over). And, finally he’s also been involved in NBC’s attempt to make it more difficult for anyone to watch the Olympics online, even though the evidence showed that the people who watched Olympics content online were more likely to then watch it on TV (ads and all) as well.

So, with all that, you’d have to imagine that if he found out about a company associated with the Olympics copied someone’s blog post without first getting their permission, he’d be pretty upset. But what if that company was NBC Universal? Reader JC points us to the news that NBC Universal’s Olympics website has been caught copying a blog post and then when alerted to it, rather than removing the content, it just removed the writer’s name. It looks like the attention this story has received has resulted in NBC Universal putting her name back on the story, but the story remains on the site. I’m assuming there must be more to this whole situation. According to the link above, the original site, Tourism Vancouver, says this is “an ongoing issue with the NBC Olympic site, and [it] has been battling them for some time over it.” Surely, NBC Universal, as such a strong defender of copyright, wouldn’t be in the business of copying others’ content without permission? Even if it believed it had the right to use her content, removing her name after being alerted to the issue appears really sketchy. Perhaps there’s an explanation that involves helping out those poor corn farmers?

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Comments on “NBC, Defender Of All Things Copyright, Copies Blogger's Post Without Permission; Removes Her Name When She Complains”

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43 Comments
The Anti-Mike says:

Toursim Vancouver terms, interesting!

13. Linking and Framing this Web Site

Links to this Web site without the express written permission of Tourism Vancouver are strictly prohibited. To request permission to link to this Web site, please contact djohner@tourismvancouver.com. Tourism Vancouver reserves the right to cancel and revoke any permission it may give to link to this Web site at any time, for any reason, without any notice, and without any liability.

The framing of this Web site or any of the Content in any form and by any method is strictly prohibited.

14. Postings and Unsolicited Submissions

Posting comments, communications, or any other content of any kind (“Postings”) to or on this Web site is strictly prohibited.

Tourism Vancouver does not accept or consider unsolicited ideas, including ideas for new advertising campaigns, new promotions, new or improved products or technologies, product enhancements, processes, materials, marketing plans, or new product names. The purpose of this policy is to avoid potential future misunderstandings or disputes. Accordingly, please do not send any unsolicited ideas, suggestions or other materials (“Submissions”) to Tourism Vancouver.

If you send Submissions to Tourism Vancouver or this Web site you automatically grant to Tourism Vancouver and its assigns a perpetual, royalty-free, irrevocable, nonexclusive right and license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display the Submissions or any ideas, concepts, know-how or techniques associated with the Submissions for any purpose whatsoever, commercial or otherwise, using any form, media or technology now known or later developed, without providing compensation to you or anyone else, without any liability whatsoever, and free from any obligation of confidence or other duties on the part of Tourism Vancouver or its assigns, and you agree, warrant and represent that all moral rights in the Submissions are waived.

So by the article appearing there, miss604 granted TourismVancouver a license. Tourism Vancouver thinks it can also control who links to their site, very cute.

Now, Tourism Vancouver is running Olympic logos, which means they may be a media partner of the games. Potentially, that means that what is on their site might actually be cross licensed to the Olympics. NBC in turn is a American Olympics partner. So you could see how NBC might have gotten the story to work from.

Miss604 pretty much gave up at least part of her rights to Tourism Vancouver, so she may have no dog in the fight anymore. Tourism Vancouver doesn’t sound overtly upset about it, as a DMCA notice would normally be enough to end the discussion and move it off to the lawyers. I am thinking there are some other connections not being revealed in the story.

Anonymous Poster says:

Re: Toursim Vancouver terms, interesting!

Links to this Web site without the express written permission of Tourism Vancouver are strictly prohibited. To request permission to link to this Web site, please contact djohner@tourismvancouver.com. Tourism Vancouver reserves the right to cancel and revoke any permission it may give to link to this Web site at any time, for any reason, without any notice, and without any liability.

So they’re saying that trying to link to http://www.tourismvancouver.com/ without express written permission of the people running http://www.tourismvancouver.com/ is prohibited?

Well, then, maybe I won’t link to http://www.tourismvancouver.com/ at all. If http://www.tourismvancouver.com/ doesn’t want any traffic, http://www.tourismvancouver.com/ won’t get any traffic.

http://www.tourismvancouver.com/ deserves nothing but scorn and hatred.

KevinJ (profile) says:

Re: Toursim Vancouver terms, interesting!

“Now, Tourism Vancouver is running Olympic logos, which means they may be a media partner of the games. Potentially, that means that what is on their site might actually be cross licensed to the Olympics. NBC in turn is a American Olympics partner. So you could see how NBC might have gotten the story to work from.”

If that is the case then I would imagine a (hopefully) quick explanation of this to the original author would sort this out. But instead of an explanation they removed her name from the article, that seems to imply something else is going on.

:Lobo Santo (profile) says:

Re: Toursim Vancouver terms, interesting!

So… Are you saying her work was a long comment, an unsolicited submission?

Did you even read the stuff you copied from their site??

Was she paid for her story? Were there any contract terms involving who hold the copyright?

Hey, if you’re into leaping without all the facts–I can provide you with an awesome parachuting experience. Just don’t ask me where the parachute is. ;P

The Anti-Mike says:

Re: Re: Toursim Vancouver terms, interesting!

You appear to have failed reading 101, dear Lobo. The first and the second paragraphs are not joined by an “AND”. Thus, they don’t want unsolicied submissions. However, a submission (which would have to be solicited), you grant them a license.

If you check her site, she is happy and letting the matter drop because NBC put her name back on the piece. I am thinking (my opinion only) that it would suggest that the licensing isn’t an issue, just attribution.

mike42 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Toursim Vancouver terms, interesting!

You don’t deserve the name “Mike”.

If you bothered to look at the site, you would see that she wrote an article. She did not submit a comment. She has a contract with Tourism Vancouver, which she says would be violated by handing the article to NBC. (check her comments in the link above.) RTFA, THEN comment.

Johnny Canada says:

[i]”Now, Tourism Vancouver is running Olympic logos, which means they may be a media partner of the games. Potentially, that means that what is on their site might actually be cross licensed to the Olympics. NBC in turn is a American Olympics partner. So you could see how NBC might have gotten the story to work from.”
[/i]

So you are saying that CTV (Canadian TV Network that has the Lic. to broadcast the Olympics) can just use NBC feed to rebroadcast as they are “partners”?

The Anti-Mike says:

Re: Re:

No, what I am saying is that Tourism Vancouver (which we cannot link to) may have signed an agreement to allow their content to be re-used by other Olympic media partners, but failed to mention this to the authors who have provided them content under license. While Tourism Vancouver seems to be somewhat concerned, they obviously aren’t concerned enough to send a simple DMCA, which tells me there is more here than meets the eye.

It’s another nice half story for a Techduh Friday, I guess!

moore850 (profile) says:

Public domain

“Even if it believed it had the right to use her content, removing her name after being alerted to the issue appears really sketchy. Perhaps there’s an explanation that involves helping out those poor corn farmers?”

True, it’s not like her work was released to the public domain. In that case, there’d be no story because she gave them permission to take it, right?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: NBC Olympics

“NBC Olympics did not use any articles without permission. There was a problem with some content not being correctly credited, however that is being addressed.”

Umm, since the credit was there to begin with, and only removed after the complaint…what was the complaint over?

Oh, right, you’re just lying.

raincoaster (user link) says:

It's not all over yet

The issue isn’t public domain…the article has never been in the public domain.

The article was written under exclusive contract to Tourism Vancouver. There was never any question of it being bundled and re-posted anywhere, because that was specifically excluded by contract.

Even if you were going to go by social norms, the social norm is to snippet the post, credit it, link it to the source. But that (again) is not what happened here; it was wholesale theft of copyrighted intellectual property, whether the copyright belongs to Rebecca or to Tourism Vancouver.

The name is back on the article, but it’s not linked, which I think is heinous and again indicative of systematic bad faith.

Alain - Edmonton SEO guy (user link) says:

Links

Looks like typical meaningless website boilerplate terms of use. They’ve got in excess of 13,000 links to their site, not sure how many are unique, but I’m sure next to nobody asked permission to link to the site. Good luck trying to get anyone to unlink to their website though.

Notice how old those terms of use are? From May 2001. The early days of the Intertubes.

I wonder if they do the same courtesy and actually ask those sites they link to if they can have permission to link to them. I somehow doubt it.

They have a nice pagerank of 7, so they don’t need to ask my permission if they want to link off their front page to any site I’m working on! 😀

ken chicago says:

state run news media

The state run news media can do anything it wants as long as they make Obama look good. No matter that the intelligent public knows that NBC is a biase bunch of news morons. Even Leno insults the jerks on his show! You’d think someone would figure out that biased lies don’t sell viewership. But these are news journalists who lack any form of intelligence and are likely to be unemployed in the near term.

DB (profile) says:

Lessons from the Past

ABC did a similar thing 30 or 40 years ago when they had the Olympics. They wanted to do a spot on wrestler Dan Gable and used a college bio documentary done by students at Iowa State. They negotiated a license of a couple of hundred dollars, but then told the students they couldn’t pay because it wasn’t in the budged. They used portions of the documentary anyway. Same attitude different medium?

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