Blogger Confronts Newspaper That Stole His Work

copyright symbolEvery day, authoritative bloggers work hard to research stories, craft interesting posts, and communicate with their readers. Unfortunately, bloggers’ see their hard work republished without permission or attribution across the web. Copyright violations are out of control in the wild west of the web, but did you know offline media organizations violate copyright laws, too?

It’s time-consuming and expensive to assert copyrights, and most bloggers have neither of those in abundance. Therefore, the violators keep on violating, and bloggers don’t get paid for the work they do but unscrupulous publishers are profiting from that work either directly or indirectly.

One Blogger’s Copyright Confrontation

Duane Lester of All American Blogger is one victim of copyright violation who refused to ignore a specific instance of copyright violation. When a local newspaper printed a story on May 10, 2102, Duane realized the text was copied verbatim from a blog post he wrote on May 1, 2012 — right down to the typos. A word was deleted from the headline, and an extra paragraph was tacked on at the end of the printed article, but aside from those edits, it was his exact article. One that he spent time and effort researching, writing, and publishing.

Had the newspaper hired someone to write an article on the piece of news, a fee would certainly have been paid. Not only were Duane’s rights violated, but the newspaper made money selling that paper with his stolen article in it and they didn’t have to pay anyone to write it. You can see his original post and the newspaper article on All American Blogger.

Tired of seeing his work stolen, Duane tweeted his story to @AskACyberLawyer, who told Duane to give the newspaper a letter of copyright assertion and a bill. You can see the letter below.

Assertion of Copyright

Duane followed the instructions and took the letter and a bill for $500 (a reasonable fee) to the newspaper’s editor. He brought a video camera and recorded the confrontation to demonstrate what writers have to go through to protect their work. You can see the video below. The newspaper editor, Bill, isn’t surprised by the accusation at all, but he’s not happy about paying $500 for Duane’s work. Notice at the end of the video where he writes an expletive describing his feelings in the memo section of the check. The woman in the video goes so far as to say at the 5:20 mark, “You’re gonna make a fast $500.”

It truly is appalling how little people think of copyright laws. It’s painful to watch others benefit from your hard work, knowledge, creativity, talent, and so on. This isn’t isolated to small publications either. Large online and offline media organizations do it, too. Sadly, this is a type of pain that bloggers know well and face too often. Cheers to Duane for standing up for himself!

You can see Duane’s full story on All American Blogger, and check out some of the articles on other sites that picked up Duane’s story such as Gizmodo, Gawker, The Daily Beast, and Boing Boing.

Image: Gabriel de Urioste

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