The Denver Post is apparently trying to prop up its web site traffic by reminding readers of what the legal concept of fair-use really means.
The newspaper’s web site last week updated its terms-of-service agreement to tell its readers that fair-use means copying one or two lines and a headline — not an entire article — to other web sites when readers want to share and comment.
“We have no issue with people who quote a small amount of a Post story so as to comment on it, perhaps even criticize us. That’s the essence of free speech in a vigorous democracy,” says the TOS. “But fair use of our content restricts those who want to reference it to reproduce no more than a headline and up to a couple of paragraphs or a summary of the story. (We also request users provide a link to the entire work on our website). The fair use rule generally does not entitle users to display the whole story or photograph on their website.”
The Denver Post is owned by Media News, which had its lawyers send a cease-and-desist letter to the proprietors of the political blog ColoradoPols.com this May about the practice of cutting and pasting too much of its publications’ articles onto its forums.
Unlike the Righthaven cases, MediaNews’ lawyers’ letter served as a warning to the web site, rather than taking Colorado Pols straight to court.
Righthaven has been criticized for using copyright infringement lawsuits against web sites as a business model.
The Las Vegas-based firm has recently backed down from a few of its suits in the face of such criticism, and in the face of a legal challenge from the digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation.