Thomson Reuters Thinks Not Responding To Their Email Means You've Freely Licensed All Your Content
from the say-what-now? dept
We’ve seen some unique interpretation of copyright law over the years, but generally the really big companies — especially content-driven companies — have semi-decent lawyers. So it’s just bizarre and surprising that media giant Thomson Reuters apparently believes that it can license whatever content it wants by merely sending an email and saying that a refusal to respond will be taken as consent that it can use your content. Here’s the form letter that Thomson Reuters apparently sent to the Indian site MediaNama, and which it has likely sent to others as well:
date: Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 6:19 PM
subject: Thomson Reuters ? use of your website content
August 20, 2014
MixedBag Media Pvt. Ltd.
20 A Rajpur Road,
Civil Lines, Delhi-110054
Thomson Reuters ? use of your website content
Thomson Reuters is a global provider of electronic information, committed to providing our customers with comprehensive, timely and reliable information. Our services include the provision of key financial market content to the largest and most diverse group of financial market participants in the world. Our business customers, who include analysts, fund managers, corporate financiers and traders, watch news and prices on more than 300,000 screens linked to a secure private communications network spanning more than 150 countries.
We are writing to seek your consent to use and redistribute certain content from your website (the ?Content?), in particular, articles that pertains to companies that have received investment funding from Private Equity firms and other Private Equity related articles, within Thomson Reuters services (the ?Services?). For the purpose of this letter Thomson Reuters means the Thomson Reuters Group.1 We may use automated tools in order to identify and obtain such content from your website.
As such the Thomson Reuters group shall have the right to use, incorporate and distribute the Content in its Services to its subscribers and to permit such subscribers to use and redistribute the Content. We are aware that you will be receiving numerous requests of this nature and that asking you to give a response in each case would be burdensome for you. We would ask, therefore, that you respond either to the address or e-mail address given below within 14 days of the date at the head of this letter only if you wish to refuse your consent. Otherwise, Thomson Reuters will presume that your consent has been given for the purposes set out in this letter. Performance by Thomson Reuters under this letter will constitute adequate consideration for the purposes of this letter.
Please do not hesitate to contact us for any further information; for questions and clarifications, you may contact Maria Nikka De Vera, Research Analyst ? Private Equity at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Head of Content Acquisition ? EMEA
1 ?Thomson Reuters Group? shall mean any company from time to time under the control of, controlling or under common control with the entity signing this letter and also includes any third party from time to time authorised by Thomson Reuters. For the avoidance of doubt, Thomson Reuters Group shall also include The Thomson Reuters Corporation and any entity from time to time, that is directly or indirectly controlling, controlled by or under common control with Thomson Reuters Corporation. An entity will be deemed to control another entity if it has the power to direct or cause the direction of the management or policies of an entity, whether through the ownership of voting securities, by contract, or otherwise.
Now, some of us don’t mind when our content is used in this manner — and let others freely share it. And, there are cases where I think there’s a strong fair use case to be made for things like news clippings and the like — but India doesn’t have a broad fair use structure like the US, so that wouldn’t apply here. And, of course, by pushing this bizarre “licensing by failure to respond” setup, it would seem like the company is admitting that it thinks it does need to license the content in question.
So here’s the question: if we send Thomson Reuters a similar letter, and the company fails to respond, and then we start reposting Reuters stories on Techdirt, how quickly do you think their lawyers would nastygram us?
Filed Under: consent, copyright, licensing
Companies: thomson reuters
Comments on “Thomson Reuters Thinks Not Responding To Their Email Means You've Freely Licensed All Your Content”
Approximately 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom.
Now just a second…
So do they try to send the email to a bad email address as well? Then you’ll get no response from the company and have a license to all their stuff!
Maybe I should go patent that idea so Intellectual Ventures won’t be able to hire 140 people to figure it out?
Maybe you could just try the idea on Intellectual Ventures?
I think it would be better to have the e-mail delivered successfully to a valid address, so that there’s no log evidence of a bounce or dead letter…
Best thing might be to tack “(XXX Viagra!!!)” onto the subject, so that the recipient’s client files it in a spam folder.
Nope, nope, nope, that would be demonstratable bad faith™.
Send it to an email address you know exists.
“So here’s the question: if we send Thomson Reuters a similar letter, and the company fails to respond, and then we start reposting Reuters stories on Techdirt, how quickly do you think their lawyers would nastygram us?”
There is only one way to find out.
Seconding this call. Do it.
Re: Re: Re:
Thirding this call. Do it!
All the other cool kids are doing it…
why not try it, Mike and see?
I double dare you
I triple dog dare you!
Talk about passive aggressive!
Rights transfer must be an AFFIRMATIVE act, not a passive one. Who are these people kidding?
A way to deal with trolls?
Dear (insert troll name here),
I intend to view/use/distribute content over which you have rights. If you don’t want me to do this, plesae ensure you respond to this notice within 14 days of the date listed above indicating that you affirmatively deny me this permission. Failure to comply with this request within the time specified will result in you granting me the right to use materials identified above in the manner identified above. It is a sincere pleasure doing business with you and I hope not to hear from you for at least 14 days.
Re: A way to deal with trolls?
If you memorize or even read this you have infringed on my copyright and owe me ten million dollars. Now please pay up.
How long before the nastygrams?
Why not try it and see? Nothing like empirical evidence… 🙂
Dear Larry, I plan to use your private Hawaiian Island for the entire month of December 2014. If I have not recieved an Email explicitly denying me the use of your Island within 14 days I will presume I have the right to do so.
Merry Christmas, Tom
As someone whose job frequently requires him to reproduce and distribute Thomson Reuters copyrighted material, I’m happy to hear that they consider this a valid way of obtaining permission.
If we are dealing with news, 14 days is a pretty long time to delay a story so I can see the convenience in such a notice.
Don’t let copyright get in the way getting the good stories out! I wonder what the Authors Guild would say to that idea?
Tn the case of Reuters material they are usually a tad more specific about who, how and when you can use their material. I guess they have a full-time noticewriter ready for the inevitable flood of such requests they are about to recieve. I am not sure they would stand that well in a lawsuit if what they are complaining about is use of their own “business invention”.
Re: Re: Anon Coward
Nah, they don’t have to hire anyone. CRM software is made for this kind of chore.
Re: Re: Re:
Except that they wouldn’t be delaying publishing someone else’s material by 14 days.
They’re going to wait 14 days and then start republishing things as soon as they are posted.
Let the trolling begin. They can’t respond to all of us!
Sure they can. All they have to do is hit ‘reply to all’.
Where was it sent?
I’m guessing the letter was found on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying ‘Beware of the Leopard’.
Re: Where was it sent?
Where the stairs gone too?
Re: Where was it sent?
Bring a torch!
Ah, we’ve seen the resurrection of the Columbia House model and applied it to IP. If it wasn’t Thompson Reuters issuing the letter, I’d think this was a brilliant move to begin a total overhaul of copyright (for the better.) Does anyone out there got the $$ to take something like this all the way through the courts? We need some good case law so badly.
The charge for reading this comment is $1,000,000. If you do not agree, reply. Otherwise, you must issue a check within 30 days or be subject to prosecution.
Do I make it out to Anonymous Coward?
Oh wait, I replied.
Re: Re: Re:
yeah but presumably you read it first, so you’ll still need to pay up.
By not replying to this comment you implicitly agree to fork over a million dollars.
TR Venn Diagram Logo
“Approximately 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium 133 atom.”
in other words ,the phase coil isnt working LOL
Lack of clue about (1) email (2) contracts
1. Email is delivered by SMTP, which is, by design, a “best-effort” protocol, no more. One should never assume that any message has or will actually reach its intended destination. Mail servers break, DNS fails, and an awful of ill-considered anti-spam measures silently do foolish things with messages.
2. Apparently their legal staff failed Contracts 101. You cannot have a valid contract without a meeting of the minds, and clearly that’s quite impossible here.
Re: Lack of clue about (1) email (2) contracts
Judges are stupid, this would work on some sadly.
Businesses take every advantage they can, and you would be surprised at how effective this shit actually is!!!!
Re: Lack of clue about (1) email (2) contracts
Exactly. The concept of “implied consent” exists for very valid reasons in a few very specific contexts. AFAIK contract law is not one of them.
India Copyright Law
Not to rain on anyone’s parade here, but what is Indian copyright law like in this regard? Is this considered normal?
Re: India Copyright Law
It’s not raining on anyone’s parade to ask a question that you’re too lazy to google, especially when the answer you’ll find doesn’t contradict the comments being made in response to this absurdity.
India is a signatory to the Berne Convention. Thomson-Reuters is an American-based multinational. If it publishes MediaNama’s copyrighted materials online on .com domains without actual permission, it’s violating American copyright laws.
You didn’t get the talking points on this topic on time again, right?
Re: Re: India Copyright Law
Hi there, no reason to attack me personal about it.
I asked because India tends to be an exception to every rule in existence, that is all. I didn’t Google it because honestly, I figure someone here (like the author) would know the answer.
Also many companies having many, many shell companies. So could TR have a TR India, and thus do the copying inside India initially, making it subject to Indian law?
See? It’s called a valid question. Too bad you are in too much of a hurry to insult me to even bother to consider it.
Re: Re: Re: India Copyright Law
You used up the benefit of the doubt a long time ago. Troll less (and maybe even abandon your troll-associated login) and people might give you the benefit of the doubt again. Until there’s a significant change in your behavior, there’s no reason to afford you the respect that you refuse to afford to others.
Re: Re: Re:2 India Copyright Law
Who died and made you god, exactly?
Seriously, the only trolling going on here is you on me. You stop, and suddenly there is no more trolling. Amazing! See, you can fix the problem!
Re: India Copyright Law
Oh this is quite absurd. Nothing like this in Indian law.
Do it. But use their exact letter, wording and all, except for the To and the From.
When you get the nastygram send them back BOTH letters.
I never got your "don't license this" e-mail
It seems like this system of replying to deny a license is way too open to abuse. What’s to stop them from saying they never received the email or it went into a spam folder or whatever else?
Does the other company even have a case to file a lawsuit if their information is used without a license? Or are we talking about companies in India who aren’t likely to sue in the first place?
While it sounds stupid...
Ignorant (or asshole) lawyers do the same thing...
I think it’s amusing and at the pinnacle of irony that law firms—who are the first people on the planet that should know better—think they can impose restrictions on my behavior simply by saying so in some BS boilerplate footer text.
Here’s one that claims if THEY mistakenly send it to me, I need to notify some people and “destroy” the email (however that would possibly work in this digital age where everything on my computer is backed up locally and in the cloud). And “any disclosure… is strictly prohibited.” by what possible law other than the fear that some might believe this pompous law firm must know what they are talking about and telling the truth.
“This is an email from Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP, Attorneys at Law. This email and any attachments hereto may contain information that is confidential and/or protected by the attorney-client privilege and attorney work product doctrine. This email is not intended for transmission to, or receipt by, any unauthorized persons. Inadvertent disclosure of the contents of this email or its attachments to unintended recipients is not intended to and does not constitute a waiver of attorney-client privilege or attorney work product protections. If you have received this email in error, immediately notify the sender of the erroneous receipt and destroy this email, any attachments, and all copies of same, either electronic or printed. Any disclosure, copying, distribution, or use of the contents or information received in error is strictly prohibited.
Federal tax regulations require us to notify you that any tax advice in this electronic message was not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding penalties. “
Re: Ignorant (or asshole) lawyers do the same thing...
Did you just transmit some of the contents of their email to unauthorised persons?
silence vs. acceptance
“silence, without more, can never constitute acceptance”
You can presume whatever you like. But your presumption will be mistaken.
The big thing that strikes me about this letter is that they don’t even try to explain why this would benefit MediaNama. What does MediaNama actually get out of this, were they to consent? Name recognition? The letter doesn’t even guarantee that they’re going to be properly credited. Despite stating that “Performance by Thomson Reuters under this letter will constitute adequate consideration for the purposes of this letter”, the letter does not explain how a unilateral granting of rights could be “consideration” for the side granting the rights. You need two sides for a contract; you can’t just make the bare declaration that one side is getting something when they’re clearly getting nothing. The deal is literally “we get to use your content and distribute it AND all of our parent corporations, child corporations, and customers can do the same. You get nothing.”
Perhaps there are cases, but this doesn’t appear to be one of them. There’s nothing here that says they’re only using part of the article or that they’re adding commentary or that the use is otherwise transformative. Presumably they’re just taking the content, putting it on their private network, and selling access to it, using automated tools so they can get it as soon as possible after it comes out. If this was fair use, there would be no such thing as infringement.
Hmm. I was going to say that American fair use law should apply if they’re an American company (it’s not like an American can’t do a parody of an Indian television show, for example.) But Thomson Reuters does have offices in India, so they probably would have to worry about that. The SPEECH act isn’t going to protect you if they can just seize the assets you have in that country.
I think that’s a mistake in a different way. If they’d kept quiet about consideration they could have tried to make it a gift rather than a contract. Still almost certainly invalid, but with much more interesting opportunities to waste time and rack up costs for MediaNama in the hope they give up and settle.
Companies and politicians don’t even try to hide their lack of ethics and disregard for the law.
This is little better than putting a label warning that cigarettes are bad for you on a cigarette package and thinking that you are an honorable person and have done right by your customers.
Gee you’d think the parent company of MarkMonitor & Dtecnet wouldn’t be so caviler in violating others copyrights.
If I send a random email to an address at Voltage & don’t get a reply does this mean I can get the Expendables 3 online without worry?
Then why do they think it is acceptable when they do it?
Use of Website Content
As we did not reply to your email within the time you specified (14 days) you have now licensed the content of our website.
The fee for this license, as detailed in the document “Fees for Unilateral Content License” we think you will find very reasonable.
This document, as you should know, can be found in the wall safe of our head office, however, as a service to prospective licensees (we know how busy you are!), we have negated the need for you to actually view the said document, or indeed, to even know of its contents.
Accordingly, an invoice has been sent to your accounts department for:
License fee – $1,000,000
per published word – $1,000 (to be determined upon viewing your published works)
As an introductory gift, we will not include the words ‘the’ ‘and’ ‘of’ in our determination of your obligation to us, only copies of other individual words found on our website.
This is not a legally justifiable. Making a claim of license via absense of response and then using the content without permission outside of fair-use would represent fraud. A mass collection of intellectual property in this manner would mean a claim of fraud for each item collected.
This is tangential, but I’ve noticed that, among mainstream news sites that allow comments, Reuters is most likely to remove comments that are critical of Reuters. Even if those comments are entirely civil.
Back in the day, before Thomson bought West Publishing, West aggressively “enforced” its claimed copyright in court opinions it published, including the page numbers in the books. How times have changed.
surely it’s more complicated than this.
My version of the email
Yes, I added a section from the ToS of the New York Times, simply because it’s the grabbiest one I could remember.
Re: My version of the email
Oh, crap. Please could someone edit my email address out of the above post before I get spammed by bots?