Reposting Articles - Fair Use

Discussion in 'Site and Forum Feedback' started by vrDrew, Sep 6, 2016.

  1. vrDrew macrumors 65816

    Jan 31, 2010
    Midlife, Midwest
    I have noticed a trend of people cutting and pasting large sections of copyrighted online articles verbatim in several of the forums.

    The forum rules contain the following:

    Emphasis mine. A phrase such as "a bit of it" seems so vague as to invite misuse, and potentially trouble.

    The legality of what constitutes "Fair Use" of copyrighted material is a somewhat complicated issue, there is no set percentage of a copyrighted work that can be copied without infringing copyright.

    But I am reasonably certain that copying and posting verbatim whole paragraphs, amounting to a majority (if not the totality) of the original work constitutes copyright infringement. Reposting in this manner robs the original creator of the work of potential advertising revenue and page views.
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Please report any thread/post that does not adhere to our rules.

    The rules are such that we require the link back to the source, a quoted portion of the article, along with the OP's thoughts to help start the discussion.
  3. vrDrew thread starter macrumors 65816

    Jan 31, 2010
    Midlife, Midwest
    This one, for starters

    A link and a quoted source are one thing. But they don't relieve a person quoting or otherwise re-using copyrighted material from the obligations of "Fair Use" under copyright law. Nor does the fact that the person posting the material doesn't believe he/she is not "personally profiting".

    I did for the record, report this post.

    As I alluded to earlier, what constitutes "Fair Use" of copyright material is complicated. But, in essence, the law requires that the person reusing copyrighted material do so in a manner that preserves the commercial and artistic interests of the original creator. If someone cuts and pastes so much of an article from the New York Times or Politico that there is no reason a person would subsequently need to visit their website, then their commercial interests are compromised: They don't get advertising dollars or website impressions.

    But beyond the legal issue, there is the inevitable harm to the community. If I want to read the New York Times or Politico or CNN or People Magazine, I'm very well capable of doing so on my own. Its one thing to have someone mention "I saw this story online about XXX, here's a link" - along with a short quotation, (a sentence or two, maybe a paragraph) - it's another thing entirely to see whole paragraphs cut and pasted verbatim, with virtually no content created by the OP.

    Which brings us to the issue of formating. In the instance I cited (and many others) the material is cut and pasted in such a way that it is difficult to see what has been reposted, and what is the contribution of the OP. vBulletin provides a quotation tool that presents quotes (from many sources) in a clearly identifiable format.

    It also truncates long quotations so that the reader has to click on the box to see a long quotation in its entirety. I think that, at a minimum, it should be a requirement that quoted copyright material be put into an appropriate quotation box. I personally use the vBulletin quotation tool as a guide to how long portions of cut-and-pasted text should be: If the quote is so long that it's not all immediately visible, it's a hint that I'm getting close to quoting too much of it.

    Cutting and pasting huge blocks of copyrighted material in a discussion forum is disrespectful to the rights of the people that created it. It is also disrespectful of the many people who participate in these forums by expressing their own thoughts and ideas, and in their own words.
  4. vrDrew, Sep 7, 2016
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2016

    vrDrew thread starter macrumors 65816

    Jan 31, 2010
    Midlife, Midwest
  5. grahamperrin macrumors 601


    Jun 8, 2007
    One of the posts does (at least) begin with attribution.

    That approach is far less annoying to me (the reader) than articles that make attribution an afterthought, near the foot of the page. But still annoying, no doubt, to some authors.

    I know it's not for everyone, but for writers who bother me and whose content is not moderated to my liking, I simply use the ignore feature.
  6. rshrugged macrumors 6502a

    Oct 11, 2015
    The Fair Use issue and its relationship to the Forum Rules is a worthy topic of discussion. Respecting people's property rights, their words, is important. Respecting the Forum Rules and the volunteers who enforce them (and manage the day-to-day forum activity), as well as other fellow members, is also important.

    Beyond this violation of quoting a potentially rule breaking post (in the view of the reporter) is the forum-wide guiding spirit of the rules -- basic courtesy.

    Again, the interpretation of Fair Use is a worthy subject. But at times, whatever the intent, this thread has veered from that subject matter. Because of the times it's been discourteous toward fellow members and member/moderators by 'calling them out', a reader could honestly infer that part of its purpose has been to be intentionally inflammatory. Is this partially about an axe to grind?

    There's many ways
    to work with, and respectfully contact, forum management about honest concerns. As far as I know, those type of concerns are welcomed.
  7. annk Administrator


    Staff Member

    Apr 18, 2004
    Somewhere over the rainbow
    This is also a pet peeve of mine, and I agree that the best way to deal with commenting on an article is to quote at most a very few sentences using the quote function, include a link to the source, and add your opinion. Why do you think it's worthy of bringing it to members' attention? What is your opinion?

    Giving up on reporting doesn't help us, and we're interested in fixing the problem when people quote entire - or more than a few sentences of - an article. The correct way to report is via the post report function.
  8. Robisan macrumors 6502

    Jan 19, 2014
    I endorse your comments on Fair Use but must disagree on this point. I hate, hate, hate the new quotation boxes, which essentially hide anything beyond a few lines behind a click-through. If I'm quoting something, I do so because I think it's important to the point I'm making and for the reader to understand. Hiding the full quote behind a click-through effectively inhibits my ability to communicate. If someone made me King of this place I'd bring back quote boxes that show the full quote.

    I do agree that quoted material needs to be clearly identifiable. As such, I hope TPTB here will allow indents as an alternative to the quote box. That's my preferred method of clearly indicating quoted material while still ensuring all of the quote is visible to the reader.

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