Could social news aggregators such as Digg, Techmeme & Technorati be sued for copyright infringement because the frequently used lead for a story often encompasses the core story?
Larger concerns will no doubt have their own team of lawyers, but do bloggers need Blogging Insurance?
The idea of specific insurance policies for bloggers, as a form of liability insurance to cover defamation cases has been around for some time.
It seems even Jason Calacanis at one time was thinking of entering the market
Domain Name: BLOGGINGINSURANCE.COM
Registrar: AOL, LLC
Whois Server: whois.registrar.aol.com
Referral URL: http://www.registrar.aol.com
Name Server: NS1.WEBLOGSINC.COM
Name Server: NS3.WEBLOGSINC.COM
Updated Date: 26-mar-2007
Creation Date: 01-aug-2004
Expiration Date: 01-aug-2008
Whilst Michael Arrington has been throwing a little scorn on the Media Bloggers Association it does seem to have some long standing (3 years) roots and some pedigree.
In an announcement today covering some of the back story of the legal complaint the Associated Press raised with the Drudge Retort, there were some interesting things revealed.
That vital opening paragraph in any article or news item.
- Encourages continued reading when above the fold
- Might be used as a custom excerpt on landing pages (before the jump) to encourage clicks
- Appears in excerpts on socail media aggregators such as Techmeme and Technorati
- If used in a meta description, part of it might appear in search engine results
- It makes an obvious choice for use with social media submissions
Apparently the Associated Press look on their Headline + Story lead as being a core part of their news articles, and reproducing them either exactly or paraphrased might make you liable of copyright infringement.
Creating a news summary based on their coverage containing all the facts might also land you in hot water.
Scott Rosenberg puts it differently
The trouble is that fair use law does not, apparently by intention, draw a simple line. It sets up a bunch of criteria that you have to weigh. And so the nightmare reposted-feed site is almost certainly not a fair use. A Digg home page with lots of AP stories? Well, on the one hand Digg is a business that conceivably is taking business value from AP; on the other hand, Digg users rate and discuss stories, so theyâ€™re adding them. And AP accounts for only a little bit of Diggâ€™s total volume of stories.
Note: I would have already proposed an “Associated Press Nofollow Plugin” but that is near on impossible – their news stories are syndicated to other sites, and it could be one of 1000s of sites where you first see a story and might give a link. Should bloggers nofollow all newspaper sites? They never or very rarely link to us.
Also included in the article by Robert Cox is the introduction of blogging insurance for members of the Media Bloggers Association.
- $25 to join the Media Bloggers Association
- 45 minutes to complete an online course
- $540 for “media Pro” insurance for bloggers earning less than $10,000 per year.
Hang on a second, that isn’t workable
It is impossible to determine earnings from a blog:-
- Direct Advertising
- Affiliate programs
- Membership programs with attached blog or vice versa
- Branding and speaking gigs
- Links to other web properties not related to blogging
Robert Scoble, Seth Godin, Jason Calacanis, Matt Mullenweg, Jeff Jarvis and many other top tier bloggers most certainly gain more financial benefit from their personal blogs than I do, yet don’t overtly monetize. Fred at A VC has advertising, and the money is donated to charity.
It was mentioned being “impossible” coming up with $2,000,000 to fund a dedicated service, yet so many VCs benefit from the honest feedback from the blogosphere, and their investments gain so much free coverage, $2,000,000 is just a drop in the ocean, and it would be a viable business, even if it needed to be subsidized a little.
Maybe look on it from the reverse angle – startups looking for coverage by bloggers should contribute to a blogger immunity fund that waives prosecution of bloggers writing about them. That fund could be used to help protect bloggers on all topics, or at least seed such a fund.
If bloggers have strong legal protection from such an organization, big business trying to use SLAPP tactics would be heavily reduced.
Without adequate protection, the whole blogosphere effectively become shills, because they can’t write negative (though constructive) reviews of services for fear of legal action, and even comments on blogs become a legal liability.
Paid review blogging services should also be contributors or offer their own protection
Vlad Is Still Being Sued By ePerks
This isn’t my first mention of Vlad’s ePerks defamation case, I certainly don’t intend to stop.
It is interesting that the EFF have made statements regarding the AP vs Drudge Retort case – surely Vlad’s case deserves some airtime too.
Greg at the Bloodhound Real Estate Blog has been updating on contributions to the legal fund so far – on 16th June is was less than $2000
Thanks to all the contributors, and I am not sure where they have come from as I have personally seen over 30 blog posts.
However my opinion so far – that is pathetic
I encourage people to grab a donation button, and don’t forget to donate (the fund is being run / controlled by Greg Swann at the Bloodhound blog)
I know Vlad is grateful for every contribution – I received a personal thank you email from Vlad showing his appreciation after my donation
It is great to think that all bloggers should already have some kind of business liability insurance, but if you are barely covering hosting costs, or your earnings from blogging are not much more than national minimum wages, the thought of having to hire a lawyer on retainer just doesn’t enter into it.
Your chances of being sued are just as likely on a small blog as one with 100K+ subscribers
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