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PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 7:06 am 
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Ducktape alerted me to a new legal decision of some importance regarding Righthaven:
ducktape wrote:
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. Image 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.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 7:53 am 
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Good question. Lemme think about it. I have to get ready and go in to my shop.

Suggestions are welcome. Maybe take a screenshot but don't post it, and then if it IS scrubbed later, you'll still have a record.

As far as dangerous sites, I hope everyone here has a free copy of Malwarebytes installed.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 8:01 am 
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Does the headline of a post or article count as a paragraph? - I've always been a little unclear on that and now might be a good time to resolve it.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 3:40 pm 
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Welsh Dragon wrote:
Does the headline of a post or article count as a paragraph?

No. I'm anal, but not that anal. :P

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 5:21 pm 
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Foggy wrote:
Welsh Dragon wrote:
Does the headline of a post or article count as a paragraph?

No. I'm anal, but not that anal. :P


You never know with the concentration of legal professionals around here.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 6:13 pm 
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Foggy wrote:
Welsh Dragon wrote:
Does the headline of a post or article count as a paragraph?

No. I'm anal, but not that anal. :P


I think it's "cloacal."

But, I'm fine with the four paragraph rule.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 8:51 pm 
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Foggy wrote:
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.


I am suspicious about whether Mahan made a correct ruling. Don't get me wrong. He made the ruling I would make if I had it to make. I just suspect he is out of line with modern fair use doctrine, and the copying of an entire article is rarely, if ever, found to be fair use. I can think of just one exception offhand: Belmore v. City Pages, 880 F. Supp. 673 (D. Minn. 1995). There are probably others. Most of the other cases involving wholesale copying of an entire piece of work have involved things like time-shifting (i.e. recording a TV show to watch it later) and other uses in which the defendant had the legitimate right to use the work in its entirety by watching or reading it but somehow moved that in time or space.

I suspect Righthaven, scum and vermin that they are, has a reasonably good argument to make. However, having watched their Orly-like incompetence today in suing a journalist for a blatant, screaming fair use, then attempting to dismiss the lawsuit after realizing their bungle, then having failed to dismiss it correctly, then finally managing to dismiss it after correcting the caption on the document from "Motion to Dismiss Without Prejudice" to "Motion to Dismiss With Prejudice," I suspect they're incompetent to make a winning argument even if there is one.

However, the "four-paragraph rule" will not protect you from frivolous lawsuits from the Righthaven filth. These sniveling little worms actually sued someone for quoting four paragraphs of a 34 paragraph article, even though the poster quoted the scumbag operation known as the Las Vegas Review-Journal and linked to it after the quote.

This is despite the fact that Democratic Underground has a registered DMCA agent.

My opinion is that the best way to get revenge on these parasitic scum is to do exactly what they claim to want. Never quote them, never refer to them, treat them as if they don't exist. Here's a list of these worthless toads, the alleged clients of Righthaven. Not only will it save you from being sued, it will also deprive these cretins of any attention.

In any event, to the extent the "four-paragraph rule" is intended to protect against copyright infringement lawsuits, it is utterly silly. Some articles are four paragraphs in their entirety.

To the extent that it keeps lengthy pastings of abject stupidity from dominating the forums, it has at least minimal functionality.

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