Blogger confronts copyright infringing newspaper publisher on camera, gets paid
By Madison Ruppert
Editor of End the Lie
Duane Lester of All American Blogger recently found out that the Oregon Times Observer of Oregon, Missouri republished an article of his in whole, something which most bloggers even try to steer clear of due to the fact that it would likely never fall under “fair use.”
Here at End the Lie we allow other websites to copy our work – with proper attribution and all links intact – but obviously that would be different if a newspaper picked up one of our articles in its entirety, which is precisely what the Oregon Times Observer did.
Fair use is quite a tricky legal concept here in the United States, as it has never been explicitly defined in terms which can be used as guidelines.
We have no concrete legal definition of how many sentences or words can be copied or if images can be used with proper attribution while still qualifying as fair use.
Personally, I try to play it safe and avoid copying material whenever possible, something which many other alternative news outlets and blogs regularly do.
Lester revealed on his blog that the paper copied an article he originally wrote on May 1, which they published on May 10 with two minor changes: removing “MO” from the headline and adding a small ending paragraph. They didn’t even bother to fix the typos from the original article.
What’s more, they actually published it on their front page!
Lester decided to take matters into his own hands and do some internet research. With the help of some users on Twitter he decided to craft a letter asserting copyright over his article, which he took to the office of the paper.
Along with the letter, he printed an invoice and a copy of his original May 1 blog post as well as the most recent copy of the Oregon Times Observer.
He then hopped into his car, drove to Oregon, Missouri and talked to Bob Ripley, the managing editor and publisher of the Oregon Times Observer.
You can see the exchange in the below YouTube video:
Personally, I see this as a victory not only for Lester but for all bloggers who have their work taken and used for someone else’s personal gain.
While Ripley, the publisher, was clearly far from thrilled about having to pay for the work he stole, he actually ended up paying Lester.
Lester makes it clear that he is not trying to brag by publishing this material, but instead showing that bloggers can, and should, stand up for our rights:
“I have been asked why I’m writing this article. Some think it might be an “IN YOUR FACE!” kind of article.
It’s to demonstrate the importance of standing up for yourself and your rights, regardless. It’s to show how to protect your work from those who would steal it.
It’s not hard when you are right.
Consult with others, get your ducks in a row and demand respect for your work.
If you don’t, who will?”
Carlos Miller did a fantastic job of connecting this case to the hilarious demise of the “copyright troll” Righthaven, which has actually been so badly beaten it has actually threatened to file bankruptcy in order to protect their assets.
In fact, Righthaven has fallen so flat on its face that a federal judge actually ordered the Las Vegas, Nevada-based company to forfeit “all of” their intellectual property and other “intangible property” in order to settle their debts, according to Wired’s Threat Level.
“The copyright registrations to more than 275 works are in Righthaven’s name, can be transferred by this court, and can then be auctioned,” ruled the judge.
Righthaven was forced to auction their domain name in 2011 in order to pay back a defendant who crushed them in a copyright lawsuit.
The aforementioned case left Righthaven with over $60,000 in debt and overall they owe some $200,000 to various defendants.
It appears that the tide is turning against the larger media organizations who are attempting to crush the alternative media through copyright harassment in favor of the constantly growing community of citizen journalists, bloggers and alternative media hounds.
I, for one, am quite thankful. I personally enjoyed reading about Righthaven’s quite humorous downfall as well as this particular incident. Hopefully this case and others like it will embolden others to stand up for themselves in order to get the credit and compensation they deserve.
Did I forget anything or miss any errors? Would you like to make me aware of a story or subject to cover? Or perhaps you want to bring your writing to a wider audience? Feel free to contact me at [email protected] with your concerns, tips, questions, original writings, insults or just about anything that may strike your fancy.