A blogger wrote an article about an item of local news and published it. Several days later, a local newspaper—a mom and pop-style organization, from the look of things—reprinted his article in full. As the blog’s author, Duane Lester, puts it: “The only differences I see is the removal of “MO” from the headline and someone added a paragraph to the end of the article, blaming the sheriff for the downgrading of the county’s rating. Other than that, the scraping of the article was so complete, it included my sub-heading and my typos.”
In response, he went to the newspaper, showed them where the original story came from, and demanded payment ($500) from the proprietors who basically just kind of looked surprised that what they were doing is wrong. A video of the encounter is below:
Well done, sir! I salute you for your efforts. His intellectual property was stolen without renumeration and he demanded, and received, satisfaction.
I’d like to shift away from Lester, however, and ask a few questions of the pro-piracy* crowd.
- Given that the marginal cost of reproducing Lester’s piece was essentially zero, he shouldn’t really expect any payment higher than that, right?
- If the clueless proprietors of this newspaper had known that he’d want payment for the piece they probably wouldn’t have run it, so Lester wasn’t actually losing out on any money when they ran it anyway, right?
- Really, Lester’s biggest crime is expecting too much money in payment; if he charged a more reasonable fee (say, $25), then local newspapers would be flocking to him in droves, would they not?
- They changed the subhed and added their own paragraph to Lester’s piece; is this not fair use and a “remix” of the original article?
- Lester suffered no loss—he still had the original blog post!—so this isn’t “stealing” or “theft,” right?**
*”We’re not ‘pro-piracy,’ we just understand the economic rationale behind piracy, excuse the behavior of pirates, bolster their misdeeds with our intellectual efforts, fight to keep open the peer-to-peer sites used predominantly for piracy, blame the victim for suffering piracy by charging unreasonable prices, don’t want to ‘break‘ the Internet to stop piracy, etc.” Spare me.
**Tip of the homburg to Victor Morton for that one.