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Old 03-21-2005   #1
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Conference Reports - Copyright Violations?

As we all know, not everyone has the ability to go to all (or any) search related conferences such as SES.

Thus, reporters (like our own RustyBrick) provide a valuable service in reporting what goes on in these events.

But what happens when you take it to the next step and start charging for that information? What if you attend an SES, take a bunch of notes, then charge people for it?

You could argue that the time and effort put into collecting the information and presenting it makes it valuable and therefore charging for it is appropriate.

You could also argue that copying down someone elses work and repackaging it for sale is a copyright violation.

There is a site (not Rusty's, BTW - just want to make that clear) that is currently offering to sell an 11 page report on the information and seminars given at the recent NY SES for $15.

The site mentions that there were "1500 people who paid $1700 each" and implies you can get the essential parts of it for only $15 - a great deal, unless you happen to be one of the speakers whose work and research are being reprinted for profit, or Jupiter Media, whose $1700 seminar is being repackaged and sold without permission for $15.

I've spoken before at SES conferences, and although I did not speak at this one, I know all my presentations include a copyright notification for a reason. This would annoy me to no end.

It's one thing to contribute to the general knowledge of the SEO community, but quite another to have your contribution taken and used for someone elses commercial purposes without permission.

Any thoughts? While you are thinking about this, what (if any) difference would there be between this and (for example) news reporting like Rusty, news reporting for a paid subscription site (like a newspaper) or other types of reporting or condensed news such as forums like SEW or High Rankings, blog sites like threadwatch, and so forth?

Is there a difference? Is this a wrong thing to do? Is there any harm done? Does it even matter? I'm also interested in what other speakers think of this, as well as the opinions of SES attendees who paid their money, and people who did not go.

Useful report or copyright infringment? At what point does one become the other?

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Old 03-21-2005   #2
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I guess I should chime in.

(1) I would not feel comfortable charging a fee for my reports simply because they are unedited and probably are very hard to read. So they are unprofessional and thus "priceless."

(2) On the other hand, I do have a blog, I do have advertiser's at the blog, and indirectly, people come to the blog for that coverage, and also forum coverage. So I am making money off of it indirectly. Still, the ad revenue minus the travel expenses, hotel, etc. probably come out to be even or so. But I don't look at it that way, I enjoy it - so I do it.

(3) If I was Jupiter, I would be upset.

(4) If I was quoted or copied in that coverage (the one charging the $) I would be upset.

(5) If a speaker was upset about it, I would be upset. If I was the speaker, I doubt I would be upset.

Overall, it is a bit disturbing.
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Old 03-21-2005   #3
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Exclamation

Quote:
Originally Posted by mcanerin
There is a site (not Rusty's, BTW - just want to make that clear) that is currently offering to sell an 11 page report on the information and seminars given at the recent NY SES for $15.
This reminds me a problem I faced back in the early 90's while working on my PhD and lecturing. Planted students were attending my and other colleagues lectures, taping them or taking notes for the intended purpose of selling these to outside companies. The problem was so widespread that even regular students soon were selling their own notes.

The university took action and pass guidelines in the sense that planted writers or reporters infringe on the copyright of both, lecturers and the university. After that, the problem ended as a legal dispute. The problem ended but I'm sure is still resurficing from time to time across state univs.

I'm sure Jupiter Media and SES speakers may want to have a say on this matter. This is not good.

Orion

PS. BTW, Ian did you get my emails? We need to chat a bit.

Last edited by orion : 03-21-2005 at 01:15 PM.
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Old 03-21-2005   #4
WilliamC
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I agree that this could easily become an issue quickly. But what are you going to do when someone does not use any of your own exact phrasing? They distribute the facts and the knowledge without quoting you in any fashion. I would care more about these people as they are giving your information and ability away for a fraction of the cost the seminar would charge, and you get no compensation at all. Yet at the same time, they are not breaking any copyright laws in existance.
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Old 03-21-2005   #5
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If this company/site owner :

1.) Did not get Jupiter Media's permission to sell a product that is related to their event,

and

2.) Is not somehow sharing the profits earned with Jupiter,

then I think they are going to be in a bit of hot water.

Besides that, did each SES speaker have an understanding that the information they presented could be packaged and sold by someone else besides Jupiter Media? Most likely that wasn't disclosed because it wasn't expected that a third party unrelated to Jupiter would re-package and sell the info for profit. It is then up to Jupiter to protect each speaker and the info they presented as well as its own rights.

I don't see this as any different than someone taping a broadcast of an NBA game, a NASCAR event, etc. and then reselling their edited version for a profit. A person that did that would surely invite a lawsuit by the original owner of the program or product.
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Old 03-21-2005   #6
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Like Barry, I wrote my own write-up of every session I attended. I'm also of the opinion that selling that material would constitute a violation of the spirit if not the letter of copyright law - and US judges do consider both!

If someone were to re-package that information and simply noted that one source for the information was the SES conferences, I believe that would be legal - after all, that knowledge has now become their intellectual property and they have created the text/graphics/etc. There's a fuzzy line here, but it's one that shouldn't be crossed by anyone who wants to stay reputable in this industry.
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Old 03-21-2005   #7
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Exclamation

Well put randfish and posters.

Revisiting my own experience at the university -if I recall well- one question that surfaced was if it would be ok if students tape or repack lecture materials and give them away for free.

The university made clear they will take the very same position even if the broadcasting/distribution of lecture material or any sort of college's copyrighted material or lecturer's copyrighted material was done for free or for monetary gain.

Their position was that when student register for a course, registration is a contract agreeement between the university and students. The students were obligued to all terms and conditions and university policies. Consequently, students not using lecture material for the intended purpose, that is, to be prepared for classes were violating the TOS.

I found many similarities with the broadcasting or distribution of Jupiter Media' SES. Ultimately JM may need to revisit any TOS and take care of these issues before this practice becomes symptomatic with other SES or conferences in the industry.

On a different note, I often receive anonymous material from many sources, including lectures and exams from universities and always my position is not to broadcast these by any mean. Why would anyone running a company would want to extend an invitation to troubles?

My advice to others is that if in doubt, always ask the original source of the material before making it available to anyone. So if you receive any repacked material from a SES (but from not from JM), a university or a search engine (Google), you may want to rethink the whole distribution/broadcasting thing before making it available on the Web.


Orion

Last edited by orion : 03-21-2005 at 02:57 PM.
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Old 03-21-2005   #8
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Ian, thanks for bringing this up - I wasen't aware of it taking place like this. You ask a lot of valid questions.

Let me start by saying that I definately do not like if the content I have prepared as a speaker for the attendies of SES are abused and sold in detail, in whatever form, to others. I haven't read all the small print of Jupiter terms for the events but I am quite sure Jupiter agree with me that it is unacceptable behaviour for attendies to collect information for resale during the event. To me, it is much like bringing a video cam to a concert or sports event and reselling your recordings. Off course you are not allowed to do that.

Many people missunderstand the idea behind copyright and what it is you actually buy when you are grantaed a license to the work. When you buy a ticket for a concert you have the right to see that concert - nothing else. You are not allowed to record it, film it or sell anything off the event. The same logic applies when you buy a CD. I would think that goes for a conference like SES too.

I think there is a huge difference between reporting on an event and collecting detailed information for resale. It looks like the product you mention, Ian, is in the last category. To be allowed to report you still need the permission by the owner of the event - in this case Jupiter but we all - speakers and Jupiter alike, want the good PR printed media, online magazines and bloggers can bring. Media coverage in general is a "fair deal" but reselling detailed information is not.

> Useful report or copyright infringment?

As a lawyer, you probably know that in order to get copyright on any creative work, that work has to meet a certain level of originality. Collecting others information is not enough. That would be like compiling a CD of music I like - that dosen't make it my copyright

As far as I can tell from what I see this product does not meet the requirements for original work and therefore violates the original copyright owners rights.

Another thing to note is that the copyright of the work of the speakers belong to them and are protected by the law in their own country - not by the country in which they present. So anyone that reuse such information should be aware that they have to comply not only with US copyright law but also other. In my case, my work is protected by Danish copyright law so even if the US law dosn't cover US speakers in this event it may cover me.

I hope that Jupiter take actions on this. After all, it's not too hard to find out the name behind this publication.
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Old 03-21-2005   #9
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wow

I cannot believe that this company is doing this. I hope they aren't using any of our free write-ups in their "for sale" material. That would be a copywriting violation in its own right. I would bet that Jupiter Media will likely put a stop to this practice soon.
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Old 03-21-2005   #10
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As a speaker from the conference, I am appalled. However, I'm having a hard time thinking that what she's doing is illegal in anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mikkel
To me, it is much like bringing a video cam to a concert or sports event and reselling your recordings.
No it's not. If she taped it, or videoed it and sold those recordings, then it would be just like that.

But it seems she just took notes and is selling her notes, no?

I don't even like it when people take notes on my session and then basically write an article that provides every exact detail of what I said in my session, and do it for free. I don't mind articles that summarize what was said, but it troubles me when everything I've said at a conference is made public. It completely devalues the conference, imo.

A few years ago, Ms. Ochman (the person selling her notes) did that with my session, for free and I wasn't very happy about it. I figured there wasn't anything I could do about it though, and I'm not sure that there's anything that can be done about her selling her notes now.

I'm sure Jupiter's lawyers will look into it, as they should, and who knows, maybe they'll find that she is violating something.
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Old 03-21-2005   #11
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But like was mentioned, what if they give credit where credit is due?

So let's say (forgive me Rusty ) mentions in his sessions that "Keywords are good" and in this person's package he uses that quote such as "Keywords are good" - Rusty or "Rusty says Keywords are good" and in addition has a credit page at the end of this package...would that still make it illegal?

Ethical or not is another issue I suppose?
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Old 03-21-2005   #12
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Jill, it all depends on what is actually inculded in the PDF on sale. I interpret "Resources" as something more than just notes. She don't have to video film us, record our voices or directly use our power points to violate our rights. What about if she was just writing off what the slides said and redraw the images?

I don't know what is in that PDF but I sure don't like the whole idea - for many of the additional reasons that you mention too, Jill.
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Old 03-21-2005   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jill Whalen
A few years ago, Ms. Ochman (the person selling her notes) did that with my session, for free and I wasn't very happy about it. I figured there wasn't anything I could do about it though, and I'm not sure that there's anything that can be done about her selling her notes now.
Barry and I both have fairly detailed reviews of each SES session we were attending, including what I would call a fair repetition of many if not most of the important points that were discussed.

Jill - I can understand your perspective, but disagree on the result. It was Barry's write-ups that made me so interested in SES at first and it was the detail and coverage he provided that convinced me it was worthwhile (along with the influence and suggestions of others). I really believe that in-depth point-by-poin coverage of the sessions is a great way of promoting the conferences and doesn't devalue them at all. If I thought that my write-ups were hurting SES attendence I would take them down.
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Old 03-21-2005   #14
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so someone go buy it already and tell the rest of us in the peanut gallery what's in it
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Old 03-21-2005   #15
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I tried, but the buy links just lead me to a blank page ... maybe it has already been taken down?
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Old 03-21-2005   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jill Whalen
I don't even like it when people take notes on my session and then basically write an article that provides every exact detail of what I said in my session, and do it for free. I don't mind articles that summarize what was said, but it troubles me when everything I've said at a conference is made public. It completely devalues the conference, imo.
Interesting, I had no idea.
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Old 03-21-2005   #17
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I think a couple of points need to be clarified about how this works, though I'm wondering if there is a clear answer.

First, it's my understanding that for something to be copyrighted it has to be some sort of tangible, original, creative work. Sure, that covers articles, web pages, ebooks, books, etc. (and forum posts, BTW). But does it apply to the concepts and ideas contained in the creation, or does it apply just to the means of expressing them?

For example, if someone says that breadcrumb navigation is helpful for optimization and "publishes" it, whether in a book, paper or at a speaking venue, does that mean no one else can ever say breadcrumb navigation is good? Or does it just mean that other people can't make a copy or a derivative work of a particular article, etc.? It's my understanding that it's the medium of expression or specific instance of a given work that's protected by copyright.

Part of the point is that ideas can be held by many people at the same time, but each would express them differently. There can be an idea presented, for example, either orally or written, that wasn't even the person's own findings or idea in the first place. They may have learned it from someone else - like by reading forum posts, for example. Yep, I've seen someone obviously *not* know something, then read it in a forum post (obviously, because they replied) and go on to post what they read a dayor so later as though it were their knowledge - when it was not their own knowledge that they had, but had only learned it a day before. So in that case, does the person have the right to copyright the "concept" - or just their specific expression of it?

It also gets into fair use, as well as how much can be quoted verbatim (4 or 5 sentences, for example) or paraphrasing and attribution.

Added:
Now that I think of it - can someone grab a bunch of forum posts, re-write them some or condense them, and publish them in a book, calling it their own knowledge and claiming copyrighted ownership?

Another after-thought: Whether or not it's violating copyright (which is on shaky ground I'd think, unless concepts can be proven to be original or transcripts are too close), I believe in this instance there's a clear-cut case of TRADEMARK infringement by the woman selling a tangible product for profit using any of Jupiter's marks as a selling point without express prior written permission.

Last edited by Marcia : 03-21-2005 at 09:37 PM.
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Old 03-21-2005   #18
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It seems to be my day for swimming upstream, so here goes...

It seems to me that the only difference between reporting what is said for free, as Barry & Co. do, and selling reports of what is said, is the money - and that's no real difference at all, because they are both providing the same reports about the seminars. Do the terms of attending the seminars expressly forbid "unofficial" reporting? And does everybody who writes reports in the various forums have express permission to do so? Unless "unofficial" reporting is expressly forbidden, I don't see how there can be any complaints when what is said in the sessions is made public, whether the reports are sold or given away. I imagine that most of the speakers, especially those from the engines, actually want what they say from the platforms to be spread far and wide. That is surely why they are there. I can't imagine Jill not wanting that.

So it seems to me that this discussion is just about money, and I don't see that as making any moral difference at all.
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Old 03-21-2005   #19
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Thumbs down

The links still work and the pages advertising the "special report" are still up.

I went ahead and purchased a copy of the "special report" and if anyone wants a short and not-so-sweet opinion of it's contents, pm me. This person has legal disclaimers all over the document asking the work not be reproduced in any fashion so I'll honor that request.

Will say that the "special report" doesn't mention anyone by name, or a session by title. I don't see this as any kind of copyright issue after reading what's in there but then I am NOT a lawyer.

Personally, I think it's a crummy way to make a buck. I know that's not a very eloquent comment and no where near as insightful as what the rest of you have written but it' how I feel.

I also think Jupiter has some thinkin' to do....

Last edited by debraM : 03-21-2005 at 10:10 PM.
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Old 03-21-2005   #20
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Just to clarify...

I do not want to cause trouble, I really didn't think anyone would have an issue with my coverage. I know Jupiter does not have an issue with it.

Anyway, if any speaker does not want me to cover their sessions or specifically quote them, feel free to PM me and I will not.

Again, I am deeply sorry if I caused any trouble.
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