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Quoting from magazines

 
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Arjay12345
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 9:43 am    Post subject: Quoting from magazines Reply with quote

Hi.

I own a website that brings together product reviews shown in popular magazines such as What Hi-Fi, Stuff, PC Pro, etc. Can I quote a limited amount of words of the product review (say 30 words) directly from the magazine on my website? The quote can be in speech marks if required and I can add pre-text showing the names of the magazine so it reads something like: What Hi-Fi says: “The product is great, but battery usage is poor”.

I can add a link after any text that allows the visitor to click back to What Hi-Fi’s own website if that helps, thereby becoming a reciprocal arrangement.

Secondly, I have an email from 2005 in which a publisher specifically states: “The size of a quotation should generally be a sentence, and should not exceed 30 words. This is the general rule for quotation usage from Stuff and What Hi Fi? Sound and Vision magazine”. Some years have passed since then, but is there any reason why I could not still rely on this authorisation?

Thanks
Rajesh
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AndyJ
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 12:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Arjay,
The exemption under which you would be operating is Section 30 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 which says:
Quote:
30 Criticism, review and news reporting.
(1) Fair dealing with a work for the purpose of criticism or review, of that or another work or of a performance of a work, does not infringe any copyright in the work provided that it is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement and provided that the work has been made available to the public.
(1A) For the purposes of subsection (1) a work has been made available to the public if it has been made available by any means, including—
    (a) the issue of copies to the public;
    (b) making the work available by means of an electronic retrieval system;
    (c) the rental or lending of copies of the work to the public;
    (d) the performance, exhibition, playing or showing of the work in public;
    (e) the communication to the public of the work,

but in determining generally for the purposes of that subsection whether a work has been made available to the public no account shall be taken of any unauthorised act.
(2) Fair dealing with a work (other than a photograph) for the purpose of reporting current events does not infringe any copyright in the work provided that (subject to subsection (3)) it is accompanied by a sufficient acknowledgement.
(3) No acknowledgement is required in connection with the reporting of current events by means of a sound recording, film or broadcast where this would be impossible for reasons of practicality or otherwise
From this you can see that you do need to acknowledge your sources, but the law does not specify how much you may quote. The emphasis is on the word 'fair'. Bearing in mind that you are using someone else's hard work for your own benefit, if your postings effectively just consist of other people's work, with no real value added by you, then that would not be acceptable. However if your aim is contrast and compare all the available reviews about a product, such that you provide a wider and more balanced picture for potential consumers of the product, then clearly that is more likely to fall within the spirit of Section 30.
The statement you cite about the acceptable length of a quotation has no legal validity and just represents the opinion of that particular publisher about what they might find acceptable. The courts tend not to base their decisions on mere quantity, but on the quality of what is quoted. Thus one sentence from a 5,000 word review would hardly amount to a substantial part of the original work, so it is a fairly meaningless measurement. Moreover if your purpose was to point out some significant deficiencies (ie negative criticism) in a particular review, then it might be necessary to quote from it extensively in order to make clear to the reader how poor the journalism or methodology etc was. On that basis a court would be far more likely to find the greater use of the quoted words was entirely justified by the critical purpose, which is after all what this exemption is designed to permit.
A good guide to what constitutes 'too much' would be to look at the proportion words in your posting which are original to you, compared to the number which you have taken from other sources. Another way to approach the subject is to consider how you would feel if another site started copying your postings, and how much they would have to copy before you felt it was unfair.
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Arjay12345
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 06, 2013 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Andy

I think my challenge will be that I'm not planning on wrapping the snippets of text that I want to use into any of my own text. The aim of the site is simply to gather all of the reviews into a single location so that visitors can evaluate the product based on these expert, not personal, reviews (hence my web tagline being "reputable reviews, all in one place"). I have loaded an example page with real data: go to ratingswinner. com, and search for Canon 650D, then click on the search results until you get to the Product Details page - this shows the two review snippets

How does this then change your previous advice?

I've also taken the step of sending an email to other publishers asking if they mind if I use their text. I've included 3 sub-requirements: 1) Text will be preceded with wording such as "T3 says..." thus giving full credit to the magazine; 2) it will contain a link back to the magazine's website this creating reciprocated traffic back to their sites; 3) I will use a max of 30 words so not to dissuade people from buying their magazines, but instead hopefully creating a leader which should facilitate users to visit the magazine's site or buy their magazines. I'll let you know how they respond to your info.

Last point: if the magazines do agree to my request, how binding does that agreement become? If they agree, I'll be putting a lot of money and effort to upload the info onto my site, and I'd be distraught if x months/years down the line they simply say to stop. Does the fact that they haven't raised an issue for the interim period play a part in a judge's decision to get me to stop adding new snippets or even take down old text?

Thanks for all your advice

Rajesh
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AndyJ
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 07, 2013 1:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Rajesh,
If you aren't intending to comment or embellish upon the quotes you use, then Section 30 will not really apply, and so you fall back to the basic definition of what constitutes infringement, namely, copying the whole or a substantial part of another work without the rights owner's permission.

On that basis, if you can get the publishers to agree an amount which may be quoted, then that amounts to permission and so you would not be infringing. If they subsequently rescind that permission then if you publish anything of theirs after that point, that would possibly make you liable. This would be when the word 'substantial' would become important. As I indicated in the earlier post, the courts tend to look at this factor in terms of the quality of what is copied, ie how central it is to the ideas expressed in the original work. It will depend much more on the importance of the words, rather than the quantity of them. In a fairly recent decision by the Court of Justice of the European Union it was held that copying as few as 11 words could sometimes infringe, although this was not intended to be a general guidance in all such cases.

As for how a court might decide in your case, I doubt if most publishers would wish to start litigation straight away. You are more likely to receive a cease and desist letter, or the company which hosts your site moght be approached under Article 14 of the EU Directive on E commerce to remove the part which the publisher claimed was an infringement of their copyright. You may be familiar with this procedure as it is pretty much the same as the DMCA takedown system.
However, persistent and flagrant copying after receiving a warning might lead to litigation.
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