Copying an Entire Article Without Permission – OK in Some Cases?

Judge Finds Full Article Copy to Be Fair Use

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Last month, we asked whether full article-copying could be ruled as fair use. We now know the answer. Yes, it can.

Do you think duplicating an article in its entirety without permission is OK in some cases? Comment here.

Righthaven, a company whose business model relies on copyright lawsuits for newspapers, has essentially lost its second fair use case. The first one was over a partial article sampling, but this most recent one involved the copying of a full 33-paragraph article from the the Las Vegas Review Journal (with credit) by the Center for Intercultural Organizing, a ten-person Portland, Oregon-based nonprofit organization set up to preserve immigrant and refugee rights. The case has not been dismissed yet, but he judge presiding over it says he plans to.

CIO - Nonprofit Wins Fair Use Case
The article in question was directly related to the nonprofit’s cause. It was a story about immigrants and their relationship with police in Las Vegas, and given that CIO is indeed a nonprofit, and is not serving a completely different market than the Las Vegas Review Journal, U.S. District Judge James Mahan found the copying of the article to be within the bounds of fair use.

The Las Vegas Sun, which has a detailed account of the case, quotes Mahan, who also appears to have called out Righthaven itself:

“Here the copyright has been removed from its original context,” Mahan said.

“Righthaven is not using the copyright the same way the R-J used it. Righthaven is using it to support a lawsuit,” Mahan said.

This type of copyright use has a chilling effect on free speech and doesn’t advance a purpose of the federal Copyright Act, which is to encourage and protect creativity, Mahan said.

He also made comments suggesting that if the Las Vegas Review Journal had sued CIO itself, it may have had a stronger case, though he didn’t imply that that they would’ve necessarily won either.

There is talk around the Blogosphere that the outcome of the case could have far-reaching ramifications within the news industry, as publishers will have to put more thought into who is using their content before sending takedown notices out.

Last month, we had a conversation about fair use on the web, with Copyright Clearance Center Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary Frederic Haber, who told us, “In the Copyright Act of 1976, Congress finally enshrined fair use in statute, but did not define it because what is fair use and what is not vary so widely with circumstances. Instead, Congress adopted and refined a test that judges had been developing over the years, directing a court to look at all the circumstances surrounding a use and make a judgment as to the appropriate way that a copyright holder’s rights and a user’s fair use privilege can best be balanced. That’s the famous ‘four factor’ test of Section 107 of the Copyright Act.”

“A fair use, then, is defined for digital content exactly as it’s defined for all other content,” he added. “It’s a use that benefits society generally but does not unreasonably interfere with a copyright holder’s right to exploit and protect its creative output (a right which is itself intended to encourage the creation of more creative output for the ultimate benefit of society). The four factor test is technology-neutral, much as copyright itself is technology-neutral, because it is intended to address the needs and rights of people (and not technologies) in as balanced a fashion as possible.”

“Righthaven appears to be using the courts to test the fair use balance by responding to some users’ use with an allegation that goes beyond that which is reasonable in the circumstances and interferes with the copyright holder’s right to benefit from its own creative output,” Haber said. “Here, the creator of content (the newspaper) is conveying its right to sue to another party – Righthaven – which appears to be more prepared to test the fair use claim (than a newspaper which would rather focus on its core business), but the issue should be the same. Copyright holders have long sought court protection against infringers, including those who allege fair use but are not in fact making fair use.”

Righthaven intends to appeal the ruling, and has already appealed the first one, but is still waiting on the final ruling for that.

Righthaven typically seeks around $150,000 in damages and the forfeiture of the defendant’s domain name. The company has filed over 250 lawsuits in the past year (including a new one, just this past Thursday). After this, maybe they’ll at least stop targeting nonprofits.

Do you think CIO’s re-use of a full article should be considered fair use? Tell us what you think.

Copying an Entire Article Without Permission – OK in Some Cases?
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  • Blzddmzl

    Yes, under certain cases such acts can be okayed, basically when the purpose is not to make a gain but to serve the society.

  • Str82u

    That’s a tough one. We can talk about what’s fair, but without reading all 30+ paragraphs…

    I don’t think anyone should reprint that much of anything. It’s very understandable that, since the article is about them, they would want to repriint or quote it the same as they would a news video, but not 33 paragraphs. That’s rude in any light, SEO or general public.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      It would be nice to see all 33 paragraphs.

      • Str82u

        One of my “protections” was the fine line that you can’t electronically copy material (copy and paste); while some content can’t be protected, you can’t just grab the copy your neighbor wrote.

  • Jason

    Copying an article without permission is stealing the work of the author or copyright holder and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      Apparently the extent of the law was not as far as Righthaven hoped. We’ll see how the appeals process shakes out.

  • http://www.borrower-friendlyloans.com/ TPJaveton

    The only reason I can think of for this judge’s ruling is that CIO is a NPO, and that is not – in my opinion – reason enough to strip the Las Vegas Review of its rights under current copyright laws. Why would anyone bother to create original content just to have it copied by someone else? This ruling doesn’t make any sense!


  • http://www.viewzu.com Doc

    Far-reaching ramifications indeed.
    This will change the lanscape a bit.

  • http://www.pwfs.co.uk John Bloomfield

    I think given how the web works there is no feasible reson to completly copy the article they could have just published the intro with a “read more” button leading to the original publication.

    I used to write a lot of complex informative material for my company website but I’m just sick of finding my stuff being copied and credited to someone else all over the web.

    • Joseph

      … and after a year or so when the site disappears perhaps valeable information would be lost. It would be better to duplicate the article and to provide a link to the original. Both parties benefit this way. The author may have other material on their site which a reader may wish to investigate.

  • http://www.Tycoonalan.co.uk Alan Bozac

    Here is a reply. Util someone can regulate the internet and its user, any unscrupulous means of advertising or total or misleading information regarding any product or situation that leads to profit for an individual and for the I am alright greedy of this world, the internet can only be regarded as a complete let down in regards of the human race. Its process should be that of fairness in business, information, education and help. total abuse thou, seems to be a global project so what is its true benefit?

  • http://blogdefarmacia.com Farmacia

    It’s a shame for all who do not copy anything

  • R. Hiebert

    When one looks up “plagiarize” or just “plagiary” there should be little doubt but the grey areas seem to lie in the purpose or reason for a re-purposed composition or article. In my opinion, a greater part of the issue is, does the at least give credit to the source in some way, which is what I try to do as often as I post anything that reflects information that could not come from myself unless I had read it from the source. My most valued source has given it’s people permission to use whatever is in print. I would say that the basis for such an open-ended permission can only improve sales for those involved.

  • Skyburner

    YOU GOTTA GIVE A CREDIT – I have found 2 of my articles – complete, online and no credit – had to contact the ISP to have them removed.

    I paid for translated pages and I don’t think anybody should get to use FOR FREE, what I worked on and evemtually paid for!

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      I believe the defendant in this case gave credit.

      • Anonymous

        It should not matter if credit was given. At least not for outright copy/past. Ridiculous argument!

  • http://www.internetbillboards.net Tom George

    I feel copying an article in it’s entirety is tricky. I think it is beyond fair use on most occasions without a good reason or permission. I can almost understand the circumstances here. I do think copyright laws are meant to protect creative works, and now that everyone is a publisher, I don’t think someones opinions or commentary, or day dreams in their blog posts is worthy of being copyrighted, especially when they are just almost like giving the news. I do think however content curation would be cool and mutually beneficial to both parties, when you just list a small portion of the article two paragraphs, no more than three with a note saying this was curated and a link to the original source, I do think that is cool. What do you guys think? I would be really interested to get as much public opinion as possible.

  • http://www.goodforthecountry.com Liberty Nut

    Fair Use was crafted for the access of material and to cut through the red tape of obtaining permission for small excerpts, which would have been likely to have been granted as a professional courtesy to other professionals. This was an element in the arrival of the doctrine.

    Howvever, this was bounded by self-restraint in a courteous reciprocity of giving author credit, source publisher credit, date and time, and other reciprocals which ar enot being ignored.

    This takes it out of the realm of Fair Use, because that use is now unfair inthe sense of plagiarism without due credit. Without credit, publishers take the credit themselves. This is a hostility to opposing political views and quite the opposite of being in the public interest as the court had mentioned as the purpose of the use.

    Fair Use is like eating M & M’s at a child’s party: you have a little, and don’t make a hog of yourself.

    Dismissing this case is to give plagiarists a leg up, and that, my felow Americans, interferes withour self-rule.

  • http://NA Copyright Appreciator

    It is not okay to copy the entire article without permission. Why wouldn’t you ask for permission? It’s important to note that most news sources will grant you permission to use their materials and will not charge a fee, as long as you list by-line and copyright. Also important to note in this case is that they did not attribute the article and copyright to it’s author and owner. I don’t think it matters whether a person or institute profits from or intends to profit from the use of the article. This is copyright infringement in the same way as pilfering manuals and materials from a non-profit and using them to benefit your own website would also be an infringement without acknowledgment.

  • http://www.sciencelives.com Suzanne

    Even if they are a not-for-profit association, if they printed it online they should really have given an excerpt and a link to the original – I really can’t see a reason not to do it that way. If they had physically printed copies to include in information folders given to the people they help, that might have been acceptable because they were not doing it to make money but to provide a service to their users. By copying it and printing it online, they are having a negative effect on the original article by taking away search engine ranking, traffic, ad revenue, etc. While I may not mind having a printed copy of one of my articles handed out to students or to some other not-for-profit users, I would certainly be upset if I found an entire copy online, no matter who copied it, non-profit or otherwise.

  • Mick Walsh

    We really must find out who has intellectual property rights to the English Language and all of its components, characters. Until then, individual composers of anything and everything incuding poetry, music lyrics etc should take a hike, in law too. Unless of course they can prove they “own” the English Language.

  • http://leathergloveshop.com eric j

    No it is not ok. That is not right.I hope that does not happen to my articles.

  • http://www.myhawaiifoodfun.com Randy

    I think that it is wrong to copy an article in its entirety AND remove credits. At the very least, when copying someone else’s material, credit should be given to the source of the material.

  • Janice

    I don’t think it is fair. Recently I wrote 2 articles and posted them
    to ezinearticles. One article was stolen by Quickiedivorce.yuinn.com and stripped of my bio and the authors name was changed to someone by
    the name of Eleanor in Quickie Divorce, the other just stripped off my
    bio in yahoo.com. It only goes to show that there are people who have
    less talent and no morals will do anything to appear to be talented. They should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

    • Joseph

      That has happened to me often and unfortunately there is little that we can do about it.

  • http://www.BornToBeMiserable.blogpost.com Kimberly Koerber-Baue-Koerber

    I always thought that it was ok to copy an article to use in another way, IF you gave proper credit. The thing is that articles written really are public domain. I had a bad experience with troubled people and got diverted from my area of Social Work into another area and into using an old skill I had from before – journalism, and piecing things together. NPR and others run articles that are relevant to my Facebook page theme all of the time, or relevant to investigations. I don’t get paid per post on either of these sites, so the article is there to be useful to someone who might be interestd in it also – as it applies ot the subject. If I didn’t write it, I didn’t write it! On Facebook, I am Kimberly Koerber with a cute little cartoon face. Look me up! ;)

  • http://www.vbsondemand.com Serena Carcasole

    As long as credit is given to the author and a link to where they obtained the resource or to the Authors website is ok without consent. However no article shall be copied or used without the authors byline or Author Bio etc.

    Who would give consent to someone else to use their article without a mention of the author anyway? I dont think anyone will do that.

  • Alan Segal

    If the case is dismissed,
    What is the point of having a copyright.
    Why would anyone spend money if they can just wait and get it for free?

    The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) can sue and get money.

    I guess the writing isn’t worth the paper its written on.

  • http://www.hopebuildssuccess.com Ed Rude

    According to the US Copyright Office, Section 107 gives us the four use list that makes certain types of quotes useful both for the holder of the copyright and the person making the quote:
    1. Whether the use is commercial or educational
    2. The nature of the copyrighted material
    3. the substantiality of the portion in relation to the whole
    4. the effect on the potential market value of the copyrighted work.
    Certainly publishing someone else’s whole article would lessen the potential marketability for the writer, and meets the test of substantiality in a way a short well attributed quotation does not.
    In this most recent case the non-profit educational use comes to the fore.
    But then even here the question is whther it has a deleterious effect on the marketability of the article – which after all was already published in a Newspaper. What potential damage was done?

    In the broader scope, however, CIO’s use of the whole articel without requesting permision is inconsiderate of the work done by others.

    It is also a threat to potential marketability of that News Paper insofar as a reader may well believe that CIO is the only place where such materail is published.

    Permission would probably been forthcoming for at least enough of the article to inform their readers of the core issues. But even if not paraphrases awith solid references are not just good manners, but also build up the marketability of the original article. And, of course if you make one of my books into abest seller by using satire, or commentary of well attributed quotes, I promise not to sue. And, I can almost guarantee my publisher won’t sue either.

    But it is difficult to believe a full article re-published without permission from the copyright holder, is an actual “fair use,” as described by the four fator test of Section 107 of the Coyright law.

  • http://www.aboutgemstonesandjewelry.com Sandra

    No, I think if you copy any material it should be referenced back to the writer/site where you found it. Unless you completely rewrite the material.

    Credit should always be given to the originator where possible.

  • http://www.wholesale-t-shirts-club.com Blank Apparel

    I’m not sure how I feel in this case, on one hand I agree with the defendant but on the other I also agree with the plaintiff. I need to think more on this one, before I can truely form my opinion. Though I too would like to see all 33 paragraphs first.

  • kbbbb

    I hope part of the judge’s reasoning was because he hates organisations who make money out of suing those who have none, to hold up a system created by special interests backfeeding a government system that just doesn’t work. I certainty hate these organisations, if he can destroy or at least damage their business model, he’s doing us all a favour. There’s a huge difference with an in-house legal team doing this work, and a for-profit attack dog company suing everything that moves over borrowing of content. The first one has an ability to retain scruples in who it sues, the second relies on the suing and will sue anything that moves.

    I’ll keep this case in mind but given it’s in a US State court, I don’t think the Australian legal system will take much notice.

  • http://prioritycarpetclean.com jimm

    you cannot sue someone for copyright infringement if they purported purpose of copying was not intended for commercial purposes or for monetary gains the law is quite clear on this, especially when credit is given to the actual source. If this was not the case a lot of kids and college students would be sued when writing papers.

    • http://prioritycarpetclean.com jimm

      another example would be protest signs , parody songs , etc etc. When you sue someone for copyright infringements you have to prove three things one is that you suffered some kind of damages punitive or not and two the defendant made some kind of financial benefit directly from your work and three that the use does not interfere with protected speech , please see 1st amendment

      I do not think that any of these were in fact proven.

  • http://einternetmarketingservices.org Rick Samara

    While it’s nice to see the courts weigh in favor of non-profits under fair use, it’s still not clear to me what value there is in copying an entire article… though it was cited.

    Even a non-profit might provide greater value by stressing why the article was important and linking to that article. Let the reader decide if they want to read the entire piece.


    Rick Samara
    Internet Marketing Services for Small Business

  • http://prisoninmatepenpal.com Wayne Ouellette

    The copied work is News which -> news = public information.

    It wasnt a private piece of work.

    It wasnt a news article that was stolen and resold to a competitive news agency under a false or different identity (a for-profit theft).

    There was no intent to defraud.

    To sum it up. It was a news article, which is by its own creation is a public information piece. It was copied by someone who posted it for those who are specifically relative to the news topicm and at no monetary gain. Strictly information purposes.

    This is no different than someone clipping a news story from a newspaper and posting it on a billboard at their workplace. The only real difference is that it was posted electronically. Big deal.

    I dont consider NEWS ITEMS “sensitive intellectual property”. It is intellectual property yes, however it was created for the purpose and intent to be made public.

    “Sharing” the news is just sharing, and nothing more.

  • http://www.simplesdecoracao.com.br Rosana

    No, I don´t thing so. Why autoral rights exists? Why a person copy your post and not say that it is yours? If you like what I do, you must say: “Hello! It´s not mine. But I like this and it´s so important that I must tell you: I copy this from…” Why not ?
    My posts are copied a lot and I had a lot of work for to do that.
    (sorry my very poor English)
    (a simple site in internet, copied a lot! I hate it! rs!)

  • http://www.accessinfohub.com Robert

    In my opinion a web site is not a broadcast, it is an address people visit. Therefore posting a newspaper article on a web site is a single use no different from cutting an article out of the paper and taping it to your cashregister. So long as the article isn’t posted for profit, there is no charge to view the article or visit the site and it isn’t sent out on a rss feed there shouldn’t be a problem or a case.

  • http://www.healthyeatingadvisor.com Christine

    If someone reprints an article and gives full credit to the writer of the article, I don’t see a problem. It would be nice if they linked back to the article.

    However, if they reprint the article and take credit for it themselves, without acknowledging the author, I see that as copyright infringement.

  • http://allfaith.com John of AllFaith

    I believe the ruling is correct.
    There is a difference between using another person’s material as one’s own (which is plagiarism) and for profit and posting it for free discussion in full or in part. As long as the material is properly sourced and provides no profit to the re-poster, I believe it falls within the bounds of fair use.

  • Andrew Carmichael

    I think that it is ok to copy the entire article because for thing the origional writer wrote the article for it to be read and if it is copied this gives others a chance to read it. That is a bonus for the origional writer


  • http://www.ast-incorp.com/free.htm Ron LaVine

    This should answer the USA question…
    § 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use40
    Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include —

    (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;

    (2) the nature of the copyrighted work;

    (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and

    (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

    The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the above factors.

  • https://sites.google.com/site/humanevolution2008/ David West

    It seems that some webiquette is gradually developing.
    Maybe some sensible guidelines can be adopted.
    I would suggest the following:

    Never use non-original work without a reference to the source.
    Attempt to obtain permission from the author, and maybe gain a back-link too.

    Repeating the first few paragraphs from another site and then providing a link seems a fair way to recompense the author, with no permission necessary.

    Best regards

    PS Have a laugh with this weeks Sunday Humour

  • Lasse Martinell

    No, no, no. An article is often a one mans hard work.
    It’s NOT the same as copying music, photos, movies, software or games.

    Or is it?

    Think about that.

    Respect for all producers of copyright material.

  • Randy

    As long as credit is given to the person, and the publication it came from, what’s the harm?

  • http://cca3pst4.wordpress.com Chan Kong Loon

    No, it’s unethical and violates the author’s copyright. You can copy the entire article but you need to rewrite in using some of your won words and phrases. That will do.

  • http://www.datingsimilar.com/ kristie perez

    You must edit at least 1st paragraph..!

  • http://www.lesbiandatingpersonals.co.uk/ alica brobe

    Hey You Right Dude..Its very shameful..

  • http://www.adultfindout.com/ Amleua Edge

    I agree with kristie perez… you must edit at least one paragraph.

  • Alex W

    Copying a complete article without the authors permission for commercial use is a not OK. The original source and the author should always also always be mentioned.This has always been the practice in the academic world.

    The wonderful thing with the web is that it does not take more than a few secs to make a link to a useful resource.

    A certain company had the idea that you can copy 12 million books and sell them online, and that it would be “OK” if you pay peanuts in a settlement compensation without agreeing with individual owners.

    The 12 million books “case” clearly show how dangerous it can become.
    If a complete article is OK, soon you can steel any authors lifetime of work.
    Who on earth will write new books if you are allowed to steal the work, and resell it? It is very dangerous to take weaken IPR rights.

    It is a BIG error to allow complete article copying without permission.
    Just think about it, if it is OK, then a big online company with enough computing power could steal – sorry copy – in other words own everyones website tomorrow including yours and in their own right decide to “sell” the content they stole ..err. “copied with out permission”….

    Ironically the same big “book” case company is crying and pointing fingers at a competitor who found an intelligent way to use click-data, claiming this was “copying results”…


  • http://www.billoconnellphotography.com William O’Connell

    As a copyright holder myself, I feel fair use is any use which does not take income or income potential from the holder, which I don’t see in this case. I believe this is the essence of fair use. They should be flattered that the entire article was considered worthy of reprinting.

  • http://www.bargainhomeuk.com hugh williams

    i wouldn’t be happy if it was my site i suppose. if i had spent hours creating and article for someone just to copy it but if they created a back link saying copied from here etc then i suppose i could accept it

  • Joseph

    I feel that the duplication of articles should be vaid provided peoper credit is given. We have to remember that the internet is fluid and valuable knowledge will be lost if only a link is provided. If the complete article is copied and a reference link back to the original site this should constitute fair use. Now I view the fair use policy is different in hard copy publications as opposed to the internet. Hardcopy pubs can be archived at libraries and book depositories whereas the internet has no such things.

  • http://www.hedgehogdigital.co.uk/ SEO Bedford

    If the website republishing this article is not making any profit with it and it is doing with the sole purpose to “spread the word” even further I don’t why can’t this be done.

  • http://www.kalamatainfo.com Parvateesam

    This is totally information website. You can learn anything related creative subject in our website

  • Jason@eldonrv.com

    I think since accurately quoting a person is fair, and legal, it should also be legal to quote what they print. Be accurate and responsible, give them credit for their work and don’t substantially alter it to say something other than what they originally said. If available, give links back to their original work, so your readers can verify your voracity in citing your sources. Quote them wrongly, and you’ll find yourself at least flamed, and maybe sued. Not any different than it’s ever been really… just on the www now.

  • http://www.nomadrush.com Nomad Rush

    This is a no brainer. No money made = fair use. If you publish and make money, well, you did infringe on someones right to make it. Courts will not entertain a suit that is not commercial in nature. It is blatant that they did not make money from the articles publication. No charges were made, so there is no way a court can find harm.

    The deal is if you sell it, rent it, make money from it, then you will be had.

    I usually ask anyway, even if it is for education, because it is nice and no one has denied me. One time a major UK newspaper had an old article I was linking to go away from age and update of the website. When I asked again if I could publish the article they brought it back online, gave me a new linkback and the okay.

  • http://www.secondhandheaven.co.uk George Laugharne

    Yes it is ok to copy the full content of an article so long as the article has been set to share.

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