RonAmok!

The adventures of an analog engineer and digital storyteller who studies emerging networks and their impact on the great game of business.

Readers of this blog know that I’m not a big fan of copyright law as it stands, preferring the likes of Creative Commons instead. But at the same time,  I’m still an ardent supporter of author rights. Simply put, there are right and wrong ways of using Other People’s Content (OPC).

As your company takes on the role of “publisher” through the use of blogs, podcasts, and online video, it’s important to educate your content creators as to the proper use of OPC.

This morning, my good friend Harry, the author of Harry…The ASIC Guy blog, asked me about a post he found on an EDA vendor’s community page. Evidently, the author had cut and pasted a large percentage of Harry’s most recent post into the company’s community user forums.

I’m not lawyer, so I’ll leave the finer points of “fair use” and the risks associated with OPC to your corporate counsel. Instead, I want to address the problem from the perspective of being a good netizen.

Rather than copying and pasting large portions of OPC, it’s normal and customary to write original commentary about an article, perhaps pulling a small quote or two to make a point, but leaving the vast majority of the OPC on the original website. If readers want to learn more from the original source, they can follow the hyperlink provided. Such a practice creates the best of both worlds: you’re company enjoys the benefits of a conversation-starter and the original author enjoys the benefits of an inbound link for potential new readers.

I believe that the person who posted Harry’s article did so with the best of  intentions. He did in fact offer hyperlinks to Harry’s original content, as he also did with articles that were cut & pasted from sources such as  EETimes and The Wall Street Journal! Unfortunately, the law doesn’t take into account good intentions, so rather than taking unnecessary risks, a little corporate education in the proper use of OPC can go a long way to avoiding potential legal headaches in the future.

And of course, your New Media Evangelist is available to help with that process:-)

What about your company? How are members of your online communities handling other people’s content?

Photo Credit: Chief Trent

Tags: 

Filed under: Content Development

Comments

I agree with you Ron. Typically, I’ll provide a sentence referencing the source along with hyperlink tagged to a few of the descriptive words. If I quote anyone word-for-word then I try to both indent and italicize to make sure its clear that those words are credited to another author.

Bob Williams
May 1, 2009

I agree with you Ron. Typically, I’ll provide a sentence referencing the source along with hyperlink tagged to a few of the descriptive words. If I quote anyone word-for-word then I try to both indent and italicize to make sure its clear that those words are credited to another author.

Bob Williams
April 30, 2009

Hi Ron,

For the record, and as you know from our conversation, I was not as much concerned as I was curious about the legalities and etiquette of this re-posting of about half of my original post. In fact, I’m rather flattered that someone found it of such interest that they felt they wanted to take the time to re-post it. And the person who did this was certainly not being malicious (he and I have even exchanged our favorite microbrew selections).

This does, however, bring up a very interesting point that you touch on and which I’d like to expand upon. These “Web 2.0” tools, that we have access to, allow anybody and everybody to be a publisher of content. But very few of us are actually trained as to what is permissible to publish. It’s not just copyright, but also potential slander, trademark infringement, disclosure of confidential information, etc. There are many potential legal pitfalls that could befall us if we are not careful.

We’ve spoken on this before and so I feel comfortable recommending a podcast that you have recommended to me which is This Week in Law (http://twit.tv/twil) which covers many of the legal issues in a Web 2.0 world.

Harry

Harry Gries
May 1, 2009

Hi Ron,

For the record, and as you know from our conversation, I was not as much concerned as I was curious about the legalities and etiquette of this re-posting of about half of my original post. In fact, I’m rather flattered that someone found it of such interest that they felt they wanted to take the time to re-post it. And the person who did this was certainly not being malicious (he and I have even exchanged our favorite microbrew selections).

This does, however, bring up a very interesting point that you touch on and which I’d like to expand upon. These “Web 2.0” tools, that we have access to, allow anybody and everybody to be a publisher of content. But very few of us are actually trained as to what is permissible to publish. It’s not just copyright, but also potential slander, trademark infringement, disclosure of confidential information, etc. There are many potential legal pitfalls that could befall us if we are not careful.

We’ve spoken on this before and so I feel comfortable recommending a podcast that you have recommended to me which is This Week in Law (http://twit.tv/twil) which covers many of the legal issues in a Web 2.0 world.

Harry

Harry Gries
May 1, 2009

Thanks Bob and Harry,
As with anything “new,” this New Media stuff requires education. This Week in Law with Denise Howell is a great podcast. Another resource you may want to checkout is the Legal Guide for Bloggers from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

R~

ronploof
May 1, 2009

Thanks Bob and Harry,
As with anything “new,” this New Media stuff requires education. This Week in Law with Denise Howell is a great podcast. Another resource you may want to checkout is the Legal Guide for Bloggers from the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

R~

Ron Ploof
May 1, 2009

Ron,

I’m curious what your opinion is of a site like AllTop, of which the sole purpose seems to be lifting content to display in one spot. The site gives no relevant commentary or opinion, just aggregates. I’m personally not a fan of my content being used in such a way but let it slide in the spirit of fair use.

See: bacon.alltop.com (no, I won’t give them a legitimate link back – hehehe)

Corey James
May 4, 2009

Ron,

I’m curious what your opinion is of a site like AllTop, of which the sole purpose seems to be lifting content to display in one spot. The site gives no relevant commentary or opinion, just aggregates. I’m personally not a fan of my content being used in such a way but let it slide in the spirit of fair use.

See: bacon.alltop.com (no, I won’t give them a legitimate link back – hehehe)

Corey James
May 3, 2009

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.