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