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Copyright Policy

Discussion in 'News & Announcements' started by Devor, Jun 25, 2017.

  1. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Hey Scribes,

    Every once in a while we have an issue that comes up with members posting illegal links to copyrighted material. We know that this kind of thing is too easy and common and "harmless" to think that everyone here is going to be a copyright saint. But when it comes to written works, to anything in the fantasy genre, to sharing writing tips, or to anything else that's in our industry here at Mythic Scribes, we have to have a zero tolerance policy for copyright infringement.

    If you see something that violates copyright law on our site, please help us by reporting it so we can take it down.

    The most recent episode involved somebody linking how-to-write materials from an author that has in fact contributed guest articles to the Mythic Scribes home page. Nothing happened and we took down the links, but it's not hard to understand how it could have become an issue for us if we had let them stand. As we continue to build our reputation, we need to respect the works and rights of others in the industry.

    We're not going to get fussed about something like a music video on youtube, or a piece of art turned into a meme. And we're okay with links to fanfiction so long as it isn't hosted here. But if you see a copyright issue affecting written works, please hit the report button because we need to take it off our site.
     
  2. Viorp

    Viorp Minstrel

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    I deffinetly respect the fact that you don't target mems.
     
    J Q Kaiser likes this.
  3. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Maester

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    How is it a copyright violation to post a link?

    Posting the copyrighted material itself, without attribution, without consent of the copyright holder, and/or in excess of the limited amount fair use laws allow, would be a copyright violation. But it sounds like what you're describing is just someone posting a link to something published elsewhere on the internet. All that does is drive traffic to the original work.
     
  4. FifthView

    FifthView Vala

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    I was curious about this as well. I don't recall the original instance referenced by the OP, but I do seem to remember being confused by at least one implementation of this policy.

    Here's a link, safe I think, to a discussion of linking and copyright issues: Linking to Copyrighted Materials | Digital Media Law Project

    Basic summary: Linking to another site that contains infringing material may itself constitute an infringement.

    For instance, if site XYZ posts a PDF file of the entire first book of Harry Potter, and I link to that infringing PDF or to the page on which that PDF link is being offered, I would be in violation of copyright laws.

    If I quote a paragraph of Harry Potter and in my citation I link that illegal PDF or link to the page on which the PDF link appears, I'd be infringing copyright. EVEN IF my quote was for educational purposes or any other purposes allowed by copyright law*, the link itself, in my citation, to that illegal source would constitute a violation.

    If I link to a site that offers technology or instructions for circumventing copyright protection measures used by the original, authorized content providers, or content creators, I'd be in violation. (Example: Various music file technologies include measures to prevent copying and illegal distribution. Even if I don't create and distribute technology to work around those protections, I'd be in violation for linking to another's site offering such technology or instructions.)

    Anywho. My summary is just from that link. I'm a quick research artist, heh, and so maybe need a double-check.

    I would guess that admins of this site may sometimes err on the side of caution, because researching every link to every site would be tedious. I know I've posted quoted material in various conversations/discussions....but I typically just cite the original book in which it appears. I don't link to some other site. For less known material, I might link to a Goodreads page for the novel just so those reading whatever I've said about it can get a broader idea and track down context if they wish. (But this isn't a link to pirated text of the source material of my quote, heh.)

    *Incidentally, copyright law is different in different places, and this complicates things.

    Edit: Going out on a limb, here, but I think one of the first violations of this policy that I vaguely remember ... might have been a quotation of a "how-to" writer's work and a link to some other website that had posted that quoted material. It wasn't a link to the author's or publisher's website; and, perhaps the site in question had posted that material in a way unfair to the original author, infringing copyright?

    Less clear to me would be a case of serial linking of a quotation in which all individual examples were fair use. I.e., I quote a paragraph, linking to someone else's blog page in which that same paragraph was used in a fair use manner—and that person had linked to another person's blog post....etc., all of them fair use situations. My gut says this is probably okay from a legal standpoint, but it may be another example of complication for site admins who have limited time. What if the very first case in that long chain of linking was indeed a violation of copyright law, say an illegal PDF file? Any irl jurists here?
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2021
    Rosemary Tea likes this.
  5. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Maester

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    What a wonderfully clear summary!

    But that doesn't cover links to copyrighted material, just links to infringed copyrighted material. But DevorDevor 's post doesn't make the distinction.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2021
  6. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Yes, I'm sorry if it wasn't clear, but obviously you can post a link to material that's posted legally, otherwise you couldn't really link to anything. The original issue was a writing resources book that was copied into a pdf and being distributed illegally. Even though it was only a link that was posted here, we had to remove it out of respect for others in the industry.

    Sometimes youtube videos and memes break copyrights, especially when there's music involved, but that's not the kind of thing that really concerns us. Nor do we mean to judge or police everyone who's ever run a torrent. We just want to maintain an upright reputation within the industry.
     
    Rosemary Tea and FifthView like this.
  7. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    I'm not sure what issue you're referring to. We have a separate policy against quotes that are too lengthy, but that's an SEO issue, not a copyright one. Repeating too much content from other sites is frowned upon by the Google.
     
  8. FifthView

    FifthView Vala

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    That bit was an idle curiosity for me, given what little info I have on the topic. A thought experiment, I suppose.

    If it's a copyright violation to link to illegally distributed material, what happens if the original occurrence of that illegal distribution is several sites removed?

    A clearer example might be to assume the quoted material is from a novel that has not yet been published.* The original source stole a paper manuscript from the author's desk and posted a salacious paragraph from it on his own blog. Everyone thereafter quotes the paragraph; but, not everyone is linking back to that original thief. No, they are linking each other, perhaps without even knowing that the paragraph was originally stolen.

    My gut would say that I, even if I were 15 sites removed from the original publication of ill-gotten materials, am breaking copyright law if I also quote the paragraph, linking back to anyone on the chain. Even if I don't know the material was originally stolen. But—here's the kicker—would admins of Mythic Scribes or any forum or web site take the time to track all links back 15 steps to determine that? A lot of work, heh. Of course, the original author or her authorized agents might send a request to have it removed, thus alerting admins.

    Anywho. None of the above was meant to refer to any real occurrence on Mythic Scribes. It was a thought experiment.

    *Edit: But....a stolen manuscript is an easy example. What if the material can be had legally in many ways, but in the case of the 15-site linking example, the original source was an illegal pdf copy of something already published? But don't mind me; this is probably not germane. :sneaky:
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2021
  9. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    I am surprised anyone noticed but just means MS has gained attention. Not anyone can trace things back. That task seem onerous. But we can do our best to be good net and writer community citizens.
     
  10. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Archmage

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    I think you missed 2 very important parts:
    The situation changes when you knowingly link to works that clearly infringe somebody's copyright, like pirated music files or video clips of commercially distributed movies and music videos. In this situation, you might be liable for what is known as "contributory copyright infringement."​
    and
    As long as you do not know that a work infringes someone's copyright, then you cannot be held liable for contributory infringement for directing users to that work.
    Where the important parts are "knowingly link to work that clearly infringes copyright", "you might be liable", and "As long as you do not know...". So if you link to a blog posts who posts something which seems like fair use then you're fine. If on the other hand you link to a torrent site where you can download a copy of Harry Potter for free then you're probably not. You don't have to go check through pages 15 links deep to see if you're accidentally violating copyright. You just have to use common sense.

    In general I agree with the principle. It's hard enough to make money from writing. We shouldn't promote others using our work for free and without permission.
     
    FifthView likes this.
  11. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    I think the standard is 'knew or should have known,' with actual knowledge only required in certain cases. Liability for infringement itself is strict liability, with no knowledge requirement.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2021
  12. FifthView

    FifthView Vala

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    Either way, when considering moderation duties, I'm guessing that moderators of forums like the one we are currently using don't have time to research every link, let alone research in depth every link—and what the "linker" knew about the source being linked.
     
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