Forum Copyright infringement: Is this infringement?

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alexmark
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Forum Copyright infringement: Is this infringement?

Post by alexmark » Fri Feb 26, 2016 8:14 am

If you copied someone else's work on a forum, and the author was using just a nickname, can he or she file Copyright infringement on you? Can he claim his work as his by just using a nickname all the time? example: his username is ohmygod. What if you copied a few of his posts. How much will this Copyright infringement cost if you found guilty? whats the legal fee for hiring a lawyer. Must of his work is just excerpts and redirect link if not all.

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Post by Lumberjack » Fri Feb 26, 2016 10:31 am

Speaking with a mind "unclouded by facts" :lol:
I am just about 100% certain that that would be copyright infringement! At the same time, I doubt if he would be crazy enough to do anything about it, although you would gain an enemy, who might well "filch" some of your own material in return!
How would you like that?
My advice is simple - this is clear cut - do not do it, even if you think you can get away with it!!!!!!
Al

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Post by AndyJ » Fri Feb 26, 2016 11:27 am

Hi alexmark,

Just to add to Lumberjack's succinct advice, it doesn't matter if someone uses a nickname or pseudonym, or indeed if they wish to remain anonymous, they still retain copyright in what they have written, provided it meets the originality test. That means, effectively that they have exercised sufficient creativity and originality of thinking.

The second thing to note is that copyright infringement is a civil matter so you can't be found 'guilty' (at least not over the sort of issue you are talking about). If the other poster took offence at your action in copying (or re-tweeting) his words without acknowledging that he was the author of them, he could, in theory, bring a claim, but firstly this would cost him quite a lot in court fees and possibly lawyers fees, and secondly if the infringement was trivial there is a high likelihood that the court would decline to hear the claim on the basis that it was not a good use of the court's time. This is sometimes given the latin tag de minimus standing for de minimis non curat praetor usually translated as 'The court does not concern itself with trifles'.

If the court did accept the claim, and found against you, the other person might be awarded damages in respect of what he had lost, financially speaking, by your actions. Since that would effectively be nil, the likely outcome would be that you might just have to pay his costs and court fees. However, that is entirely theoretical because the case would have been stopped at a very early stage, once it became clear that a claim for damages was unrealistic, in order that it wasn't just about costs.

If you wanted legal asistance to fight a claim you could be looking at a bill for several hundred to over a thousand pounds. Just to get a rebuttal letter written on your behalf could cost around £200-300. However most solicitors would provide a 20 minute free consultation, during which they should tell you not to waste your money, and that the other person has no real claim against you, and his prospect of getting the court to award anything other than nominal damages is close to zero.

Next time you want to do this, just make sure you add something like 'ohmygod says ...' and then you should be covered by the exception to copyright for the purposes of quotation.
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Post by alexmark » Fri Feb 26, 2016 1:10 pm

AndyJ wrote:Hi alexmark,

Just to add to Lumberjack's succinct advice, it doesn't matter if someone uses a nickname or pseudonym, or indeed if they wish to remain anonymous, they still retain copyright in what they have written, provided it meets the originality test. That means, effectively that they have exercised sufficient creativity and originality of thinking.

The second thing to note is that copyright infringement is a civil matter so you can't be found 'guilty' (at least not over the sort of issue you are talking about). If the other poster took offence at your action in copying (or re-tweeting) his words without acknowledging that he was the author of them, he could, in theory, bring a claim, but firstly this would cost him quite a lot in court fees and possibly lawyers fees, and secondly if the infringement was trivial there is a high likelihood that the court would decline to hear the claim on the basis that it was not a good use of the court's time. This is sometimes given the latin tag de minimus standing for de minimis non curat praetor usually translated as 'The court does not concern itself with trifles'.

If the court did accept the claim, and found against you, the other person might be awarded damages in respect of what he had lost, financially speaking, by your actions. Since that would effectively be nil, the likely outcome would be that you might just have to pay his costs and court fees. However, that is entirely theoretical because the case would have been stopped at a very early stage, once it became clear that a claim for damages was unrealistic, in order that it wasn't just about costs.

If you wanted legal asistance to fight a claim you could be looking at a bill for several hundred to over a thousand pounds. Just to get a rebuttal letter written on your behalf could cost around £200-300. However most solicitors would provide a 20 minute free consultation, during which they should tell you not to waste your money, and that the other person has no real claim against you, and his prospect of getting the court to award anything other than nominal damages is close to zero.

Next time you want to do this, just make sure you add something like 'ohmygod says ...' and then you should be covered by the .


Thanks for your advice! What should you ask during the 30 mins free consultation? Should you ask him to negotiable with the person who sues you? IF you did copied dozen of posts of his works, but most of them is just sharing a news stories or youtube video, just few has his little input, how should you settle this and negotiate?

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Post by AndyJ » Fri Feb 26, 2016 3:01 pm

Hi again alexmark,

You will probably only get 20 minutes at best, and many solicitors may not provide even that for free, although you could also try your local Citizens Advice Bureau. You will need to set out as clearly as possible what has taken place, and what the other person is alleging, and what he wants from you. Your solicitor should then be in a position to advise you on what action you need to take. Sometimes a stiff rebuttal can be enough to defuse the situation. The next level might include a public apology, and then comes the possibility of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). This falls into two broad categories: arbitration, which you mentioned, involves an independent arbitrator assessing both sides' claims before making a ruling. The second is mediation, which is generally conducted with the two sides in different rooms, and the mediator shuttling between them trying to thrash out a compromise solution. There is a third category called adjudication, but that is deigned for resolving disagreements over things like formal business agreements or contracts.

However it is only worth going to ADR (which still costs money) if both parties agree to engage with the process and abide by the outcome. If there is a disagreement by both parties as to the basic facts, it makes ADR more difficult. So for instance, if the other person's postings are not original, or barely so, it may be that no copyright exists. Secondly even if copyright exists, it may fall into the de minimis category I spoke about. And then it may be arguable that your re-using this material falls under one of the fair dealing exceptions. If any of those apply - your solicitor can give an opinion on that - it could be that most of the time is spent on that fundamental issue, and if so there is little point in trying mediation which invariably leads to a compromise position which would be to your detriment. And even arbitration can sometimes amount to finding some common ground on which to decide the issue, rather than the sort of detached ruling on the facts and the law which you might expect from a court. But as I mentioned, whichever kind of ADR you contemplate, it can still be expensive, perhaps around £250-300 +VAT per person for a 4 hour session, so not something you want embark on if there is no real underlying claim.

Finally it worth pointing out that some people have completely unrealistic expectations and just want 'justice' as a matter of principle. They can be the most difficult to deal with because any sensible argument about the economics of continuing to pursue a meritless claim generally fall on deaf ears.
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Post by Lumberjack » Fri Feb 26, 2016 7:48 pm

Reading all this makes my realise what a shambles copyright is in! :?
So, if I found a 100-year-old image on the internet in an Australian library, that clearly said "No Known Copyright Restrictions - you are free to use this image for any purpose without asking permission," It would be pretty safe to do so! If anyone complained, the law would not be interested, (being a civil matter") so I couldn't get deported :D - no passport anyway! And the legal fees accrued by pursuing me across the world with no guaranteed result would no doubt put an end to any proceedings before they began.

The point of all this is that although No Known Copyright statements seem clear enough, they usually manage to stick in a "get out" clause, saying something like "but if you do use it, and it turns out that it is in copyright, it is nothing to do with us!

These days, very few are prepared to take responsibility for what they say!
Al

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Post by alexmark » Fri Feb 26, 2016 10:40 pm

AndyJ wrote:Hi again alexmark,

You will probably only get 20 minutes at best, and many solicitors may not provide even that for free, although you could also try your local Citizens Advice Bureau. You will need to set out as clearly as possible what has taken place, and what the other person is alleging, and what he wants from you. Your solicitor should then be in a position to advise you on what action you need to take. Sometimes a stiff rebuttal can be enough to defuse the situation. The next level might include a public apology, and then comes the possibility of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). This falls into two broad categories: arbitration, which you mentioned, involves an independent arbitrator assessing both sides' claims before making a ruling. The second is mediation, which is generally conducted with the two sides in different rooms, and the mediator shuttling between them trying to thrash out a compromise solution. There is a third category called adjudication, but that is deigned for resolving disagreements over things like formal business agreements or contracts.

However it is only worth going to ADR (which still costs money) if both parties agree to engage with the process and abide by the outcome. If there is a disagreement by both parties as to the basic facts, it makes ADR more difficult. So for instance, if the other person's postings are not original, or barely so, it may be that no copyright exists. Secondly even if copyright exists, it may fall into the de minimis category I spoke about. And then it may be arguable that your re-using this material falls under one of the fair dealing exceptions. If any of those apply - your solicitor can give an opinion on that - it could be that most of the time is spent on that fundamental issue, and if so there is little point in trying mediation which invariably leads to a compromise position which would be to your detriment. And even arbitration can sometimes amount to finding some common ground on which to decide the issue, rather than the sort of detached ruling on the facts and the law which you might expect from a court. But as I mentioned, whichever kind of ADR you contemplate, it can still be expensive, perhaps around £250-300 +VAT per person for a 4 hour session, so not something you want embark on if there is no real underlying claim.

Finally it worth pointing out that some people have completely unrealistic expectations and just want 'justice' as a matter of principle. They can be the most difficult to deal with because any sensible argument about the economics of continuing to pursue a meritless claim generally fall on deaf ears.

Most of his work is someone else's copyrighted materials, can he really get more than he expect by filing a lawsuit against me?

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Post by Lumberjack » Sat Feb 27, 2016 10:26 am

Well - if you go ahead, you increase your chance of getting sued for copyright by the number of copyrights he has infringed on the forum :shock:
Putting it simply. If he has infringed the copyright of ten people on the forum, and then you copy it all again. You may have the ten that he infringed on your back, as well as himself for copying his material!
What is the material that you want to infringe copyright on anyway?

Suppose someone stole ten watches from a jeweller's shop, and was seen by someone of the same ilk, who then grabbed him, took the ten watches off him and ran off, only to get caught by a policeman who observed the whole affair! I could just see it in court with the defence saying "I put it to you, that my client only took ten watches that had been stolen in the first place, so the jeweller has no right to have him prosecuted!" :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
Al

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Post by alexmark » Sun Feb 28, 2016 11:06 am

Lumberjack wrote:Well - if you go ahead, you increase your chance of getting sued for copyright by the number of copyrights he has infringed on the forum :shock:
Putting it simply. If he has infringed the copyright of ten people on the forum, and then you copy it all again. You may have the ten that he infringed on your back, as well as himself for copying his material!
What is the material that you want to infringe copyright on anyway?

Suppose someone stole ten watches from a jeweller's shop, and was seen by someone of the same ilk, who then grabbed him, took the ten watches off him and ran off, only to get caught by a policeman who observed the whole affair! I could just see it in court with the defence saying "I put it to you, that my client only took ten watches that had been stolen in the first place, so the jeweller has no right to have him prosecuted!" :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
It was all about one thread anyway. He did quote the articles he used. What I meant is that while 95% of his thread is someone else work he quoted, would that be crazy for him to sue me? I'm not planning to do it again, just wondering.

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Post by Lumberjack » Sun Feb 28, 2016 12:29 pm

It is unlikely.
But if you are not going to do it, it doesn't matter anyway! :D
My material has been used without permission on numerous occasions, but I have the sense not to try and sue anyone, because I don't really have a great deal of confidence in the outcome even if I am in the right! I am probably wrong, but I have a strong feeling that whoever has the best lawyer wins! I am more concerned about material that is over 100 years old being surpressed because companies or individuals are claiming that it is theirs, when it is probabaly out of copyright anyway!
With modern material, why not simply ask permission. I have asked permission to use a few images and most of the time, it has been granted, although most British museums are not very co-perative in this unless you part with loads of £! :cry:

Someone on here was under the threat of legal action for using a picture of a baked jacket potato! :roll: If I wanted a picture of a baked jacket potato, I would bake one myself, and take the picture myself! :lol:

Just think about things before you do anything, and you will probabaly be OK!
Al

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Post by alexmark » Mon Mar 07, 2016 10:33 am

One more question:

If this news outlet indicate their Fair Use and Copyright Policy below, is that mean I can copy and paste entirely on my site as long as credit back to their site/author?

The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of scientific, environmental, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc. It is believed that this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal or technical advice.

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Post by AndyJ » Mon Mar 07, 2016 6:28 pm

Hi Alex,

The short answer is no.

Fair Use is an American doctrine which would not apply in the UK, which is where I assume you are based. The nearest equivalent under UK law (and very similar under EU law) is known as Fair Dealing and is restricted to a narrower range of exceptions, which you can read about here.

And in any case, the website is only putting this forward as a possible defence, and frankly I'm not that sure it would stand up in a US court. Much would depend on the nature of the original material which is being quoted. You can read more about Fair Use here. Under Fair Use the original source of the material does not need to be cited, unlike under Fair Dealing, where acknowledgement of sources is nearly always required.
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