Ducktape alerted me to a new legal decision of some importance regarding Righthaven:
Well, about that four-paragraph rule, Foggy, and the possibility of Rondeau suing us, there has been a recent development regarding fair use.
ars technica wrote:
Copyright troll Righthaven achieves spectacular "fair use" loss
Whoops—in its bid to sue hundreds of bloggers, commentors, and website operators from posting even a few sentences from newspaper stories, the copyright zealots at Righthaven have just scored an own goal. Last Friday, a federal judge ruled in one of the company's many lawsuits, saying that even the complete republication of copyrighted newspaper content can be "fair use."
As Green noted in a follow-up piece, the result here is almost comical: Righthaven goes to war in the name of tough copyright enforcement and winds up with a ruling that complete republication by some nonprofits falls under the scope of fair use. "Some 250 Righthaven lawsuits later, Righthaven's startling achievement is that newspapers now have less—not more—protection from copyright infringers," Green concluded.
More at the link:http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news ... e-loss.ars
Good for Judge Mahan. I think he made the right ruling (and notice that the defendant didn't even request dismissal, he did the whole thing sua sponte
). And thank you, ducktape, for bringing this to my attention.
On the other hand, I see that Righthaven has said it will appeal the decision, after it becomes final. I also see that the judge asked the defendants and an amicus
(Professor Jason Schultz) to draft the final order. So it's still not what the lawyers would call "the law," such that I can rely on it to protect me from a lawsuit. Still, an important decision.
I think we are on track with all four points of the "fair use" exception. Some discussion of that four-point test is here
and elsewhere. I feel certain that if I were to be sued by some copyright holder, I'd be able to prevail.
However, the original purpose of the "four paragraph" rule was not just for copyright protection. Justin implemented the rule because Politijab was becoming almost a "mirror site" for some of the most hateful content on the Innertubes. I still think that's a valid concern, and we still do that to a large degree today.
There are enormously hateful, ugly, seditious, insane, racist things written on a variety of websites, particularly Post & Email, Dr. Hate's, Citizen Wells, Orly's blog, etc., etc. Really horrible, hateful comments and posts.
And then there's the Fogbow, which collects and republishes all
of them. Or so it seems, sometimes. I know we do it for good reason. I know we're keeping track of the hatriots, and that our purpose for republishing the shit they spew is for educational purposes. But it gets to be a bit much sometimes, too.
I still think there's no need to copy-and-paste long, long selections of insane hateful rants here. I still think it clutters up the board with unnecessary crap. I still think a very brief selection with a link to the offending material is plenty good enough. Links work virtually instantly. If anyone here wants to read a long, ugly post or comment at one of those sites, they can simply click the link and go there.
And even for news or intelligent, important commentary, I think the "four paragraph" rule works well. It's really not hard to select four paragraphs from the source you found, and give us a link to the rest of it. If you think it's really, really, really important that we read the whole thing, tell us so, tell us why, and/or give us a brief summary of what we'll read at the source.
Look up at the top of this post.
Please note that ducktape, in bringing me the news of this important legal decision, was able to convey the gist of it by copying and pasting just 2 of the 13 paragraphs in the original. That was enough to persuade me to follow her link, read the whole thing, and read even some of the additional material that was linked in the article.
Sometimes I click your links and read the whole thing; other times, not. I'd like to have that option, and I think other people would also like that option.
For the preceding reasons, I'm going to keep the "four paragraph" rule for the foreseeable future.
Besides, I never discipline anybody, warn anybody, bark at anybody, or bite anybody over it. If I see more than four paragraphs from some other source quoted in a post here, the worst I ever do is edit it and leave a little "moderator comment" saying what I did. I hope my moderators will do the same thing.