Company Fined For Passing News Clips Around Internally

from the there's-this-thing-called-the-world-wide-web... dept

It may be time to add the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA) to the list of ridiculous industry associations who are excessively focused on copyright to the detriment of their own businesses. The group, which includes a number of newspaper publishers as members, began an "anti-piracy" program recently and have announced its first "win." An analyst firm has agreed to pay up a $300,000 settlement after an "insider" informed the SIIA that the firm passed around news clips to employees. This is very typical. Many companies employ news clipping services and receive copies of relevant news articles -- and often they pass those around to the appropriate people. However, it appears that various news publishers think that any company that does this should purchase a separate license. The reporter points out that many, many companies pass around news clips internally all the time, and an SIIA representative insists that's not true -- suggesting he has no idea what goes on in many companies. However, the key point is that this clearly does nothing to benefit these publishers. There are very few companies that will go through the trouble of actually licensing the individual news for the sake of passing them around. Instead, they'll either stop reading the clips altogether, or they'll simply go to the web, where it's free. Now, of course, it's worth pointing out that we at Techdirt provide original news analysis (not clips) to plenty of companies all the time -- and part of our contract is that we encourage the companies to pass our content around to as many people internally as possible. We know that the more people who see our analysis, the more useful and valuable it becomes. So, for firms worried about the SIIA suing you because you pass around news clips, feel free to give us a call.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    The Swiss Cheese Monster, Aug 16th, 2007 @ 11:04pm

    Lawyers are funny creatures. I wonder what their DNA looks like.

    Is a lawyer human? Is there some kind of 'I no nothing if it benefits my bank account' gene?

    Maybe we need to look for the missing link among the ranks of lawyers. Seems like somewhere between animal and human lies the creature we all call lawyer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Just Me, Aug 17th, 2007 @ 5:10am

    re Swiss Cheese

    "somewhere between animal and human lies the creature we all call lawyer."

    That's an insult to animals everywhere!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2007 @ 5:50am

    In Defense of Lawyers ...

    It is a relatively small percentage of lawyers (none i know personally) that have the 'I'll do anything for my bank account' gene, and probably 90% of big business men and women have the gene ... which is who is giving these lawyers their commands.

    Not that I don't appreciate the joke, but it blames the wrong party here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Richard O. Langley, Aug 17th, 2007 @ 6:26am


    OMG news,analysis,comments are now off limits?Has anyone heard of the Information Freedom Act??I guess if you pass a copy of Hustler magazine around the office you will be fined for distribution without a license or maybe theres a hidden message the goverment does'nt want you to see.What the HELL is our country becoming??Stand up America and tell them to KISS YOUR ASS!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Fred, Aug 17th, 2007 @ 8:38am

    Most of the time, these services offer tiered licensing. That is, you can get a cheap license that lets a single user have the information, or you can get a site license for more money that lets you circulate the info internally. Dis the business model all you want (they deserve it), but if you as a customer sign up for the cheap service and then circulate the information internally, knowing that the license you purchased says you're not supposed to do that, I don't have a huge amount of sympathy. Better to either (a) buy the more expensive license or (b) forego the service entirely and pick one with more liberal licensing or just send users to the web for free.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Fred, Aug 17th, 2007 @ 8:41am

    Oh, and making stupid arguments without factual basis doesn't help the cause. The Freedom of Information Act governs obtaining public records from government agencies. It didn't enable the "information wants to be free" mantra.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    J0ker, Aug 17th, 2007 @ 8:51am

    antinewspapersharing groups

    like the riaa and mpaa is after limewire peeps, the news peeps will ferociously put an end to the sharing of news, ever gone to a restaraunt for breakfast and read a paper someone left behind?? thats p2p and usually anoymous, so they will go after the restaraunts for being the p2p client that allows this to happen (similiar to blaming limewire for people sharing copyrighted crap)

    the mighty dollar rules and whats really scary is with all the problems we face in the world today, this is news (ut oh, did i share that!!??)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Matt Bennett, Aug 17th, 2007 @ 8:59am

    "Many companies" How about every company?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Norm, Aug 17th, 2007 @ 9:06am


    Two situations:

    1. I subscribe to a news clipping service and I choose the option that allows one person to see/use the articles and no re-distribution. I redistribute the articles. I assume I am liable for damages. I violated the contract I signed.

    2. I see an interesting article in a magazine and I bring it to work to show others. Is this a violation of copyright?

    I find 1 to be reasonable but 2 shocking.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Lynn, Aug 17th, 2007 @ 10:08am

    More irony

    Back in the old days when I saw these come around, it seems like a lot of them originated as a press release from our own marketing department.

    So, if I understand this correctly, if we send a PR to a publication associated with SIIA and then make copies of it to celebrate the placement SIIA could sue us. This seems to be one of those cases where the upholding the (copyright) law has the side effect of making everybody involved look stupid.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Cem Kaner, Aug 17th, 2007 @ 11:14am

    Re: Company Fined For Passing News Clips Around In

    "Lawyers are funny creatures. I wonder what their DNA looks like."

    SIIA is a group of software publishers, not a group of lawyers. The companies decide on policies that are sometimes absurd and reprehensible, but that might have legal justifiability. The policy choice -- absurd and reprehensible -- is the publisher's.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Jen Larkin, Aug 17th, 2007 @ 1:01pm

    It is illegal to fail to give credit or pay for ne

    The company in question found articles in magazines, made copies of them, and made packets full of copied magazine articles. If you take an article out of a magazine and you fail to give the magazine credit when you show it to someone else, why would that be legal? If you take an article out of a magazine and xerox it and hand it to ten people, why would that be legal? You should buy 10 copies of the magazine if you want to do that-- that would be legal.

    If you use a news clipping service, you are bound by the terms of that service. However, no news clipping service was used in this case. In addition, the article states that the SIAA says that it is rare for companies to do this in the way that is illegal, and then lists ways to do it legally You think your company is giving you copies of articles cut out of magazines? They may have LICENSED them.

    This is just as illegal as making 10 xeroxed copies of a book (minus all pages that list the publisher) and handing a copy to all of your friends. You bought one copy, you get to own or pass around one copy.

    Newspapers pay Associated Press to publish AP articles. Why should a corporation be able to publish AP articles without paying the AP? This attitude about the issue is simply ridiculous.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Rich, Aug 17th, 2007 @ 1:03pm

    News Clips being passed around (maybe yes maybe no

    Some news clipping companies send the subscriber an actual cut out clipping from other news sources. They actually cut it out of a purchased paper and send the clipping to the client. But some clients photocopy this clipping service cutout and that's where the original source news agency has a grip. If a company purchases 10 copies of the local newspaper with a story in it about the company, that is pretty legal to pass around (I think) but photocopying the item from the newspaper is not legal. At least that's what I gather this is all about. Just like subscribing to a newsletter that costs big bucks and then photo copying it for others. Naughty Naughty, unless specifically allowed.

    YMMV and I am not a lawyer..

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 17th, 2007 @ 1:29pm

    Re: Questions

    You can still do #2. But if you make a copy of the article and pass that around, you're in violation, because you don't have the *right to copy* the article.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anon, Aug 17th, 2007 @ 1:50pm

    Blame lawmakers - hate the game not the player

    I really hate hearing what these lawyers were allowed to do. I'm not a lawyer and there are a lot of lawyers that I detest, but unfortunately, lawyers like these are simply doing their job according to how the laws are written. It is the lawmakers that create the framework of laws that require and bind lawyers.

    Perhaps it makes more sense to vote for the lawmakers that are the smartest and most qualified instead of voting for those with affirmative-action titles like "the first disabled-gay-black-Chilean-female" (fill in the blank or chose any combination). Crappy lawmakers that go around punching capitol police instead of doing their job, and the voters who elect them are the ones who are to blame.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon, Aug 17th, 2007 @ 5:20pm

    Company Fined For Passing News Clips

    This is becoming ridiculous.
    In this case companies should stop reading the news clips and just get them from the internet. It is even better getting it that way.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Nick, Aug 17th, 2007 @ 9:23pm

    Too Bad

    Makes me wish the Texaco case wasn't decided the way it was.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Me, Aug 18th, 2007 @ 8:48am

    I don't get it. "We know that the more people who see our analysis, the more useful and valuable it becomes." How does passing around information make it more valuable? Valuable to who? A piece of information that is common knowledge would no longer be valuable to the recipient. Are you saying that it encourages them to visit your site or come back to you, so it's sort of like a PR/advertising?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    MArk Ball, Aug 18th, 2007 @ 5:01pm


    The root of all this is Greed! This will be a major factor in why our republic will fail. I personally hope it goes down in flames. God Curse America. And you bitches in the NSA I hope this comes up on your computer screeen.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    mr p, Aug 19th, 2007 @ 5:42am

    its clear

    this allows the people that control the licensing board alot more power over somthing that no one should have that much power over. its clear the media the massive global entity it has become is very vunerable to corruption and if we dont see it happen and let things go due to ignorance. who knows what it will turn into, we have to assess the motives and possibilities of all decisions regarding media as a whole.

    the age of ignorance is opun us fear not as the war is only beggining

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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