The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Sunday, August 08, 2004

A Bad Omen for Bloggers 

You can join the conversation about this on Slashdot. But here is a sum up. Ziff-Davis is suing PocketPCTools.com for Copyright Infringement:

We are currently being threatened with legal action by a large organization that produces news stories (I am trying to find out if I am "allowed" to post the emails they have sent me). A while back (about a month and 70 posts ago), one of our admins posted a story that introduced you to one of their stories. Needless to say, there was a small editorial about the said story, a short quote from the story, a link to, and full credit given to them for the story.
...
Oh... did we mention that this story was posted over a month ago!?! By the way, they will gladly let us quote the story if we license the rights from them.

Is this the start of a crack down by large media conglomerates against independent web sites and bloggers? I read a lot of Pundit-Type blogs... I make a vain attempt at being one myself sometimes. How much trouble would we all be in if all these sites followed Ziff-Davis's lead?

The other major question to be pondered here is this. What constitutes fair use? The PocketPCTools notice quotes above goes on to describe what they deem to be fair use. Their definition pretty much matches mine, which is that you can include a reasonable quotation, as long as you give full credit to the original publisher, and only quote a small portion of the story. You can find out more about the Fair Use Doctrine here. It's a fact that fair use has come under severe attack in the last few years, starting with the RIAA's efforts at snuffing out all technology that allows you to transfer music that you own, to different formats for your own enjoyment. I guess this was inevitable.

Update: Well... it looks like Ziff-Davis (and eWeek apparently) are backing down from this substantially saying it was a big misunderstanding:

"We're moving to correct the situation now ... PocketPCTools was apparently acting within the appropriate bounds of Web etiquette - actually, doing us a favor by sending us the traffic - and Ziff Davis was apparently mistaken in issuing this warning.

My personal apologies to anyone inconvenienced by this error. We're investigating the situation now and will act accordingly."

Let's hope so.

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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.


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