Patterico's Pontifications

7/14/2009

Does This Seem Like Copyright Infringement to You?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:25 pm



Seems kind of blatant to me . . . but maybe I’m biased.

UPDATE: Another example from the same site, here. They probably have every single post of mine.

UPDATE x2: Here is another site (“Chatter Box Forum”) that routinely lifts every single word posted on my site. It used to steal my template, like the “t.love.com” site currently does — but now it “only” steals the verbal content. [UPDATE: No, they still steal the template too.]

So if I wanted to sue these people, how hard would it be?

UPDATE x3: Many other sites are being lifted wholesale, as you might expect. One of them: CBS News.

So can I just create a subdomain of patterico.com and lift the entire content of CBS News wholesale via the magic of RSS? Think of the possibilities! I could steal Andrew Sullivan’s entire site and link to his posts by linking a patterico.com subdomain! I could create a subdomain and recreate a porn site to maximize revenue! The theft possibilities are endless!

Incidentally, I see commenters arguing that I get clickthroughs from this. As far as I can tell, I don’t — unless you x out the page. Clicking on the banner for my site takes you back to t.love.com. Also, an odd thing about the site: it updates in real time. If you leave a comment, you will see it appear there immediately.

Kudos to the first commenter who can locate the t.love.com URL for this post. For the irony.

84 Responses to “Does This Seem Like Copyright Infringement to You?”

  1. Imitation is the sincerest form of jackassery?

    JVW (5172e2)

  2. I do believe that’s just one of those “alphainventions” or “stumbleupon” type blog aggregator things. They’re not completely kosher, but they toe a line that’d be damn expensive to refute . . . wait a minute now, I don’t think you’re allowed to get away the with the IANAL posts, are you? Or are there some double-super-secret IANA(blank)L protocols us rubes don’t know about?

    SEK (072055)

  3. I bet he is a big Karaoke fan to.

    Baxter Greene (8035ae)

  4. How weird. Is the domain name love.com?

    DRJ (6f3f43)

  5. Upon further investigation, SEK, I think you are probably right. the homepage love.com appears to compile top rated topics from various blogs. I can’t quite follow how you would get to the mirrored site to which you link above from the love.com homepage. When I enter “Patterico” into the search page it just pulls up some regular hits. I’m not quite sure I see the point of this site.

    JVW (5172e2)

  6. Sent you an email, but it looks like a bot. Further down is how to dispute copyrighted content, which seems rather labor-intensive. At least they have a point-of-contact:

    Regina O’Brien Thomas,
    Assistant General Counsel,
    AOL LLC
    22000 AOL Way
    Dulles, VA 20166
    By fax: (703) 466-9170
    By phone: (703) 265-0094

    Stashiu3 (ed6467)

  7. Here is their FAQ.

    Stashiu3 (ed6467)

  8. Re: Update 2 — The template is still there, too. Scroll down past the verbal content.

    DRJ (6f3f43)

  9. If you want, I can drive down there and give them a talkin to.

    G (58c282)

  10. Look to the RIAA cases for guidance on how damages are calculated against file sharers/plagiarists.

    “Well the price went up from $9250 per song file to $80,000 per song file, as the jury awarded the RIAA statutory damages of $1,920,000.00 for infringement of 24 MP3s, in Capitol Records v. Thomas-Rasset.

    Each copyrighted work is treated separately, so each of your blog posts could be worth statutory damages at some astronomical level, like $80k, if that’s how a jury feels about it. Or it might be valued at a lot less, each.

    – – –

    t.love is a web site hosted by AOL. It appears not to be an official AOL web site, but one hosted through AOL’s hosting services (which means, sadly, that AOL would be entitled to safe harbor, which means you can’t make a massive recovery vs time warner)

    AOL Domain Administration / Email: domains@aol.net

    – – –

    Chatterbox forum (CBF) is hosted by eNom.

    Re: stashiu3’s post, big companies are supposed to have contacts for DMCA takedown notices. He gave you AOL’s contact; here is eNom’s contact info.

    – – –

    You could sue the actual people behind CBF/t.love directly, if you can figure out who they are.

    You can also send DMCA takedown notices to AOL and eNom. AOL and eNom will have to take down your copyrighted material that you claim. As a practical matter, AOL and eNom would deep-six those entire sites until the site owners cleaned them up of the infringing material.

    So you can threaten CBF/t.love with being deep-sixed if they won’t take your stuff down immediately. I.e. no ad revenue for a few hours/days, people stop visiting the site because it isn’t available, and the hosting companies may run out of patience if there are too many DMCA takedown notices (so they have to find a new host).*

    * (you know how frustrating it is when your site goes down and your hosting company won’t help you . . . are you willing to inflict that on another person?)

    If you want to sue these clowns for damages (probably a bad idea, unless you like banging your head against the wall and ripping up $20 bills), be sure to make a record NOW, because it’s easy to delete stuff off the internet, especially in response to a DMCA takedown notice (because you’re supposed to take it off the internet!)

    The only assets you’d probably get in the end would be their domain names. So you’d just end up putting a mirror of Patterico content on t.love, after . . . suing them in order to stop them from mirroring your content.

    – – –

    Be sure you only claim what you actually have a copyright in, i.e. just Patterico.com blog posts. I think you’d be able to protect your co-bloggers’ posts as well without their permission, but that would be a question for a copyright lawyer. You want to be careful about claiming too much copyright b/c you need a good faith belief that you hold the copyright to make a DMCA notice. If you have a written agmt between you and your cobloggers as to who owns the copyrights, that would make things simpler, enforcement-wise.

    – – –

    None of this is legal advice. You are the lawyer, not me.

    Daryl Herbert (a32d30)

  11. You could put folks on notice by incorporating a copyright widget on your home page. See, for example, http://creativecommons.org

    If you do take any action, would you please report it here?

    Harry Phillips (cc3503)

  12. At least they credit you. I have a post I wrote out there that was plagiarized and passed off as another site author’s own. The funny thing is I had linked to a previous post of mine, and they left that link in.

    How do we stop these people?

    Sal (48f931)

  13. It is nothing more than an RSS feed aggregator posting the syndicated web content from your RSS feed.

    We do not claim the content as our own. We do not modify the content in any way. We display it as it is displayed from your RSS feed and from your website.

    Anyone who requests their content be removed is removed immediately without question as has already been done in this case.

    ChatterBox (d31a38)

  14. People have complained that RSS aggregators like bloglines are copyright infringers. Are they re-hosting your site or giving you traffic?

    imdw (c17ce7)

  15. Hmm, aren’t you a lawyer? :)

    Buzz Killington (3da0e1)

  16. It is a very straightforward case of copyright infringement. Proper party defendants(?) would be the first thing to sort out I suppose. Venue. Establishing the number of violations. There are statutory damages, so actual damages would not have to be proven.

    Do I see a trademark violation, too? Maybe under state law? And unfair trade under state law? That could be pendent to the copyright claims?

    nk (5b6872)

  17. The case would probably be resolved by summary judgment if care is taken to obtain admissions from the defendants during discovery.

    nk (5b6872)

  18. Well, the love.com site is not “stealing” your template in the classic sense, as in re-posting your content elsewhere, with the potential to alter it. They’re displaying your postings dynamically within a frame on their site, in essence providing another access point than patterico.com. All the hits & clickthrus will show up in your access logs. I think frames are evil for a number of reasons, but some people like them. There’s a server-side routine to disallow redisplay of your content via frames. I forget what it is, but I’d suggest that would be the best overall approach than a lawsuit or simply requesting this particular aggregator to remove your content.

    sierra (4be1ff)

  19. Do they also show your ads? This may be beneficial.

    imdw (e97992)

  20. Lots of good points made, but the final ones seem most pertinent. If the site is only reflecting your material in a frame and all the access data is preserved, then you don’t even lose any ad revenue. Instead, if anyone actually goes to their site, they are actually increasing readership and potential income to you.

    Naturally I would object to someone stealing my words and passing them off as their own (Sal @#12). But I would be happy for people to mirror my blog postings because I am passionate about the stuff I write, and I write it in the hopes that it will be read by others and be persuasive. We all love to be linked, right? At this point it looks like this is not much different.

    Gesundheit (47b0b8)

  21. Pat- I think this is the clickthru link view as seen from a simple RSS feed aggregator. A user at the aggregator’s site sees an excerpt or a URL link to yours; when they click it, your site opens with a small frame-like header at the top to take the user back to the aggregator.

    This doesn’t count as ‘theft’, as sitemeter, quantcast, etc., still credit you with a pageview and any ads you have are still viewed. Pretty much how StumbleUpon, Digg, Facebook links, etc work. A pretty good proportion of my traffic comes from these kind of links.

    Think of it this way: imagine you are a publisher of a magazine distributed at Wal-Mart, and Wal-Mart insists on putting a 2 inch Wal Mart smiley face sticker on the cover of every copy sold there. You’d grumble, but they move the magazines.

    iowahawk (95c7b7)

  22. Are you sure love.com is doing it that way, Iowahawk? All I saw was the love.com URL no matter what I clicked, the post header or a comment, I went to a love.com address not patterico.com.

    nk (5b6872)

  23. I tend to agree with the more benign interpretation of this – it will only lead to more click – throughs for your site, which directly leads to more ad revenue. It may not be a noticeable increase at first, but if more content aggregators start doing the same, you’ll be quite happy with the end result.

    Dmac (e6d1c2)

  24. Dmac, please help me out, so I can understand it. Click on t.love.com. It should take you to the Patterico copy. The first point to a post header or coment. It will be a Patterico address at the bottom of your screen. But if you click on it you stay at t.love.com according to the URL on the pull-down menu. It seems to me that t.love.com is not redirecting to Patterico but redirecting back to itself.

    nk (5b6872)

  25. *Then* first point ….

    nk (5b6872)

  26. If Iowahawk is correct, then-meh…

    But otherwise, burn those muth-ahz down in court Mr. Patterico…

    Use some of that mad lawyer-fu!

    Bob (99fc1b)

  27. So, “if you wanted to sue” a simple DMCA takedown notice to AOL would suffice. But, do you want to? Can you test the pass-through claim?

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  28. It seems to me that we could add a count for fraud. If I point to a link and it says it will take me to patterico.com but when I click on it it takes me to t.love.com …. (I need to recheck the settings on my phishing filter, too.)

    nk (5b6872)

  29. nk: “All I saw was the love.com URL no matter what I clicked.” Clicking the (x) at the top right removes the frame and directs you to patterico.com. That’s a common interface element on sites that display external pages in frames, true of Facebook & others.

    Here’s a JavaScript one-liner that automatically redirects accesses via frame or iframe to your URL. (Sites like the NYT employ some variant of this approach.)

    BTW: The latest HTML5 spec deprecates frames, mainly because of these various evils. Sites would still be able to display external content via the iframe tag, though.

    sierra (dfb2fa)

  30. “Pat- I think this is the clickthru link view as seen from a simple RSS feed aggregator. A user at the aggregator’s site sees an excerpt or a URL link to yours; when they click it, your site opens with a small frame-like header at the top to take the user back to the aggregator.”

    No. They don’t see an excerpt, they see my whole page. And I don’t get any clickthroughs — any clicks take you straight back to t.love.com.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  31. Look at the page again and try to click through to my site. You can’t.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  32. If Iowahawk is correct, then-meh…

    He’s not. I don’t see how I get any click-throughs whatsoever.

    My only question is whether, by enabling RSS, I somehow implicitly license any other site to appropriate every last pixel of my content, wholesale, in real time. I can’t imagine that’s the case, but I’m willing to hear the contrary argument.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  33. OK, sierra is correct that you can get to my page by x’ing out the t.love.com page. I’m not sure that makes up for the wholesale theft.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  34. I think that Iowahawk is right. You get the clicks, but readers don’t see your domain in their browser unless they click the ‘x’ thingie. Most people don’t notice such stuff – they just want to read the article and go back to see whatever else.

    Probabably someone with better html-fu than I have can tell you how to track what kind of traffic you are seeing via these aggregators. I suspect you want to encourage this, not discourage it.

    carlitos (024936)

  35. My bad – both you and nk are correct in that it’s highly improbable that you’ll receive a substantial increase in click – throughs; there was only one link that produced such a scenario. The others didn’t work – so perhaps it’s another form of subterfuge in order to get more traffic for itself. I’m still trying to figure out the whole backlink/trackbacklink/one – way link thing.

    Dmac (e6d1c2)

  36. Isn’t AOL in financial trouble? Maybe a few lawsuits and bad publicity could help speed their demise. One can at least hope….

    pst314 (672ba2)

  37. I think that Iowahawk is right. You get the clicks, but readers don’t see your domain in their browser unless they click the ‘x’ thingie. Most people don’t notice such stuff – they just want to read the article and go back to see whatever else.

    Probabably someone with better html-fu than I have can tell you how to track what kind of traffic you are seeing via these aggregators. I suspect you want to encourage this, not discourage it.

    I don’t know. If I want to create a subdomain and steal, wholesale and in real time, the full content of another blog, why would that be different and why would it be desirable for that blog?

    I don’t get any clickthroughs unless they x out the page.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  38. It is nothing more than an RSS feed aggregator posting the syndicated web content from your RSS feed.

    We do not claim the content as our own. We do not modify the content in any way. We display it as it is displayed from your RSS feed and from your website.

    Anyone who requests their content be removed is removed immediately without question as has already been done in this case.

    Shorter Chatter Box Forum: yes, we stole from you, but we gave it back when you complained.

    As for the claim that it’s all from the RSS feed: does my blog’s template really go out in the RSS feed? By enabling RSS, do I enable wholesale, real-time stealing of content?

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  39. Don’t ask them to take it down until you have videoed, and saved on your computer, what happens when you point at a patterico.com link and it shows patterico.com but when you click on it it takes you to t.love.com.

    But let’s go back to step 1. Who are these guys? (Step 2. Where are they?)

    nk (5b6872)

  40. By enabling RSS, do I enable wholesale, real-time stealing of content?

    Comment by Patterico — 7/15/2009 @ 8:13 am

    No. There is no such thing as an implicit copyright license. There is an implied copyright license which the act calls “fair use”.

    nk (5b6872)

  41. You know your traffic numbers, and I don’t. However, this blog can’t be much of a for-profit endeavor. If someone is re-posting your content via RSS, and they have a lot of eyeballs, is that a good or bad thing?

    Anyway, it’s a theoretical argument, because they already took all of your stuff down. Here are search results for patterico – you get a bunch of other legal / conservative blogs.

    carlitos (024936)

  42. They are (of course) doing it to many other sites — including CBS News. See UPDATE x3.

    Who are they? AOL. Click the link in DRJ’s comment #4.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  43. Patterico – Is it possible to think that this is both – A) wrong for them to do, and B) a net good for you that it is being done?

    JD (431886)

  44. You know your traffic numbers, and I don’t. However, this blog can’t be much of a for-profit endeavor. If someone is re-posting your content via RSS, and they have a lot of eyeballs, is that a good or bad thing?

    Anyway, it’s a theoretical argument, because they already took all of your stuff down

    No they didn’t. Chatter Box Forum did. t.love.com did not.

    They’re doing it to others. The point is not whether my blog is for profit. The point is whether the actions of t.love.com are a legit endeavor. I don’t think they are.

    If it doesn’t seem to matter that my content is being stolen, then concentrate on CBS News’s content being stolen as noted in UPDATE x3. CBS News is certainly a for-profit endeavor.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  45. Also note that in the example given in the post, it’s actually DRJ’s copyright that is being infringed.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  46. Patterico, as others have mentioned this is a “frame job” — a practice where a site creates a simple page that’s basically a giant frame that hosts your content. Yes, you get the traffic and ad impressions but the practice is very shady as it is an attempt to mislead the visitor.

    Facebook does this; Digg does this; others do it. Doesn’t make it right, though.

    Here’s a link to an explanation on how to stop it, including a handy wordpress plugin.

    If you have any other questions just let me know. I’m a friend of yours on Facebook. 😉

    h2u (81b7bd)

  47. As for the claim that it’s all from the RSS feed: does my blog’s template really go out in the RSS feed?

    The RSS feed contains a summary of the topic and a link directly to the original topic

    The RSS aggregator encloses the link in an iframe essentially displaying the original topic directly from the original website in its entirety

    ChatterBox (d31a38)

  48. When clicking my link, posted above at 8:35 AM, I see zero patterico.com content at patterico.tlove.com. That’s why I called it ‘moot.’ I was wrong.

    <a href=”http://t.love.com/226577852″ target=”_blank”Click this link
    and you see the Perez Hilton post. But when you click the banner at the top, you currently (10:12 Pacific) see this topic as the second one down. I tried to find a direct link and there isn’t one. Mousing over the direct link (at the tlove site) I see http://patterico.com/2009/07/14/does-this-seem-like-copyright-infringement-to-you/

    IMPORTANTLY, when I mouse over the banner at the tlove site, I see “go to http://patterico.com” in my browsers information bar. That’s why I assumed that you were getting the clicks. Not knowing anything about spoofing web addresses, I wonder how that works.

    carlitos (024936)

  49. It’s a frame. Not a feed aggravator.

    Essentially, they put your entire site, lock, stock, and barrel, inside a frame.

    A feed aggravator wouldn’t reproduce your site’s style. because it has no way of drawing in your main and alternate CSS stylesheets.

    So even when someone clicks on Patterico.com internal links, it looks like they’re navigating within Patterico.com, but with the other site’s navbar up top. But they’re not your site. They’re navigating their site.

    Digg does the same thing.

    Why do they do this? Website page view and unique visitor statistics. It cuts the monetary advertising value of YOUR site and increase the advertising revenue they can charge for theirs.

    I have no idea if it’s strictly illegal.

    *** YOU CAN STOP FRAMES QUITE EASILY BY PUTTING IN THE APPROPRIATE WORDPRESS PLUGIN. IF YOU USE MY SOLUTION, CAN YOU AT LEAST CREDIT ME FOR IT? I.e., “Banned commenter, Christoph, said…”

    One of the plugins that works is called “Frame Free”. Search for it. There are several others. They put in a bit of Javascript to stop the framing.

    (For other webmasters reading this, if you aren’t using WordpPress, you can hand code in the Javascript into you site. You’ll have to Google to find the appropriate Javascript and choose the one that works best for you. I use WordPress.)

    Christoph Recommends Frame Free Plugin (105b91)

  50. I just saw your comment, h2u. Well spotted.

    Christoph Recommends Frame Free Plugin (105b91)

  51. Copyright infringement? Fraud? That is a stretch. On the technical merits you may have a point. Another party is using your creative work and you could argue that they are creating a new work incorporating yours by using frames.

    On the other hand one could suggest that Google Cache is copyright infringment and/or fraud using arguments mentioned. If I were to search for patterico.com and select the cached link, the resulting page will have Google cache code on top and stored copy of a webpage of yours. You could argue that this is not the same and my example is fair use doctrine.

    I agree with other comments posted above suggesting you incorporate a copyright notice (although it is not required under the Copyright Act of 1976 and the Berne Convention to maintain rights but it is suggested) to dissuade others from infringement. I also concur with posts suggesting a WordPress plugin to prevent this.

    You are not without options. But I think you may be overreacting if you go legal instead of technical.

    bmfuller78 (63ab34)

  52. Here’s a link at Coding Horror discussing what’s going on here. The key thing to understand is that love.com (much like Digg, Facebook, etc.) is using frames, which essentially split your browser window into several browser windows. In this case, what has happened is that your browser window has been converted into two browsers, one covering the top quarter-inch of your screen and the other covering the rest. The top “browser” is looking at a love.com page, while the rest is viewing patterico.com. The code for the frames themselves also comes from love.com, which is why its URL appears in your address bar. When you click on a link in the lower “browser”, that “browser” only loads the link. (You could get some nice recursion going if you followed links in the lower browser to love.com….)

    DLJessup (d3bf75)

  53. My problem is that I cannot find t.love.com through Google. Has anybody had any better luck?

    nk (5b6872)

  54. My problem is that I cannot find t.love.com through Google. Has anybody had any better luck?
    Comment by nk — 7/15/2009 @ 1:18 pm

    Their main page is love.com and can be found here.

    Stashiu3 (ed6467)

  55. Thanks, Stashiu.

    nk (5b6872)

  56. Is the data being served from your server or theirs? This doens’t look like RSS: your entire site is show, ads and all.

    imdw (b0cc07)

  57. I would be very curious what any of this does to your server load, given the number of times this site has slowed to a crawl.

    carlitos (024936)

  58. I like the idea of linking CBS and andrew, but unfortunately asshats.com is taken.

    Kevin Murphy (805c5b)

  59. Patterico, I think you’re mistaken, and a look at your logs should confirm that, rather than focusing on the superficial matter (at least technically) of what URL happens to display in the browser’s location bar. You should be getting a browser hit, because every time someone loads love.com’s page that displays a frame of your content, the browser accesses your server and loads your content, just as if they had accessed it directly via your own URL. If you create a post, and it then appears as a page on love.com (after a certain polling interval), then delete the post, then refresh love.com’s page, the browser will be unable to display your content. That means love.com is not “mirroring” your content, as in appropriating and hosting the files needed to display it, or depriving you of hits to your server. Hope that makes sense.

    If you don’t want their URL to appear in conjunction with your content, that’s fair enough, and can be a legitimate branding problem. By their indirection, frames cause exactly this sort of head-scratching, and potentially confuse the definition of what exactly a web “page” is. E.g., I’d prefer that, like Facebook, love.com prominently display each post’s original URL up at the top. Running that line of JavaScript I linked globally across your site will cause any attempt to “frame” your content to redirect to your page’s original URL, removing the extra marginal interface elements. I agree with Iowahawk about the potential benefits: more eyes looking at your site, and more opportunities for people to discover your site. That’s certainly what you’re getting from a vastly more popular site that frames linked content: Facebook. I think this temptation to call it “theft” is misguided, on both technical and business fronts.

    sierra (4be1ff)

  60. Kudos to the first commenter who can locate the t.love.com URL for this post. For the irony. Once it becomes available, try embedding an iframe that references its URL. I don’t know if browsers do anything to prevent this, but otherwise I would expect some visual recursion, much like the feedback patterns you get when pointing a video camera at its monitor.

    sierra (4be1ff)

  61. Patterico, I think you’re mistaken, and a look at your logs should confirm that

    I don’t think I get a hit when someone loads the t.love.com version of my page. I just checked.

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  62. “I don’t think I get a hit when someone loads the t.love.com version of my page. I just checked.”

    When I load the love.com website my computer makes requests to patterico.com. These may not show up in your wordpress logs but would show up in hte raw http logs your host keeps.

    imdw (1b1354)

  63. imdw: that’s an interesting variable I didn’t consider. I just tested an iframe referencing a page on a standard Linux-based Apache server, and it’s logged as a hit in the http log. I don’t know how WordPress logs compare, but if that’s the basis for Pat’s monetization, and if it can’t be configured to recognize iframe references, then by all means “break out of frames” JS line should fix the problem neatly & for all future incidences, with no need for legal action and potentially more traffic from them. (Won’t address actual appropriation & unauthorized hosting of content, as chatterboxforum apparently did.)

    sierra (dfb2fa)

  64. Sierra is right: the t.love.com server does not save a copy of patterico’s page. Instead it gets our browsers to fetch the page directly from patterico.com. That’s why comments on the patterico.com page appear immediately on the t.love.com page.

    To be precise, love.com delivers a HTML page containing a internal frame whose content comes from patterico.com. The iframe is created by Javascript code. On Firefox, it looks like:
    <iframe scrolling=”auto” frameborder=”0″ src=”http://patterico.com/2009/07/14/ideas-welcome-but-no-criticism-allowed/” border=”0″ id=”love_site_frame” class=”love_site_hat”/>

    CChittleborough (34e482)

  65. But (I’m not arguing, I just want to learn) if my click on love.com does not register on Patterico’s Site Meter, while love.com has in effect, as I understand it, a hot link to his site (Comment #63 above), isn’t that worse than copyright infringement?

    nk (2fa2d4)

  66. I.e., aren’t they stealing both his content and bandwidth with nothing in return?

    nk (2fa2d4)

  67. CChittleborough:

    What I understand is that you folks are appropriating content from dozens if not hundreds of sites across the Internet, without permission. Anything about that strike you as wrong?

    Patterico (cc3b34)

  68. Since they do not (they say) store your page on their server, they might think they avoid copyright infringement. I don’t think so. If they download your page to their site and then retransmit it to their customer, instead of providing a link to your site, it is copying, even if it is for only a millisecond.

    nk (2fa2d4)

  69. I know next to nothing about legal issues. I did look at their FAQ which goes into some detail about copyright and user responsibilities. Not sure if that is sufficient in a legal sense.
    One other factor would be where the server is located. Some countries don’t enforce the copyright laws.

    http://www.love.com/faq/

    What I do know is that sites like this are awfully hard to keep up with. One goes down and another appears.

    voiceofreason2 (590c85)

  70. “But (I’m not arguing, I just want to learn) if my click on love.com does not register on Patterico’s Site Meter, while love.com has in effect, as I understand it, a hot link to his site (Comment #63 above), isn’t that worse than copyright infringement?”

    Are they even making a copy?

    imdw (423488)

  71. That’s my question but if there’s no click-through to Patterico, what else would you call it? It sounds to me like if I were running a newstand, but instead of having a stack of LATs, I have a printer with a link to their site and I print out a copy for each customer who asks for one.

    nk (2fa2d4)

  72. nk, #67: To be clear on exactly what’s happening, they are not “downloading” and “retransmitting” Patterico’s content via their server, even for a millisecond as you suggest. They are providing a window for the user’s browser to view the site directly.

    sierra (4be1ff)

  73. Thank you, Sierra. Please be patient with me, I am in no way trying to litigate the case here. Patterico said that he does not get the clickthrough i.e. traffic. How is what they are doing different from a hot link which, in my opinion, is copyright infringement and bad internet etiquette to boot* as well?

    * 😉

    nk (2fa2d4)

  74. The best argument for copyright infringement is that the site creates a derivative work in violation of the exclusive right to create derivatives.

    Given current precedent, I think its a decent argument.

    SPQR (5811e9)

  75. SPQR, you are one step ahead of me.

    nk (2fa2d4)

  76. Oh, you know, nk …. just writing the complaint out in my head … 😉

    SPQR (5811e9)

  77. nk: I understand you’re not litigating it, and likewise neither am I endorsing all instances of framing. I just wanted to clarify that what’s happening, at the technical level, is not at all like what chatterbox was apparently doing. (I can’t find Patterico’s content at the chatterbox link, but I assume it was there at some point.)

    Re: the issue of clickthrough traffic. As I said, I tested an iframe (the mechanism on which love.com relies) on a standard apache server, and it results in a proper http hit (typically found in files within /var/log/httpd/ on Linux). I don’t know why such hits would not show up in Patterico’s logs, but my test reveals that problem is due to some variable on the server side, and can’t be attributed to anything love.com is doing wrong.

    Re: “How is what they are doing different from a hot link”? I understand the term “hot link” to refer to the practice of links displaying a site’s component resources (typically images) in an entirely different presentational context, one that typically fails to provide proper credit. It’s thus not just stealing possibly copyrighted components, it’s also stealing the bandwidth needed to present them. I’d argue that what love.com is doing is different because it is presenting Patterico’s site in full, its entire page and set of interface elements unaltered. The only differences are love.com’s own marginal interface elements added to the top, and the different URL, both of which are extraneous to the core content. (Granted, those additions might be considered significant in their own right.) And while both practices result in a hit to the server, a hot link to this image file cannot be accurately counted as a pageview the way this page can.

    BTW, one thing about love.com’s site, quite aside from the debate over framing. Even for a site so closely associated with AOL, it’s inexplicably lame. Searching for “patterico.com” is interpreted as a search for “pattericocom”. And if it aggregates content via the RSS feed, it sure does a poor job of it. If they were regularly polling Patterico’s feed, a search for “patterico copyright infringement” should certainly turn up this page, which is over two days old now.

    sierra (4be1ff)

  78. I just wanted to clarify that what’s happening, at the technical level, is not at all like what chatterbox was apparently doing. (I can’t find Patterico’s content at the chatterbox link, but I assume it was there at some point.)

    The RSS aggregator at The Chatter Box was displaying the link from the RSS feed in an iframe just as you have been explaining.

    The topics showing the syndicated content from the RSS feed were removed as soon as the issue was raised.

    ChatterBox (d31a38)

  79. Thank you, again, sierra.

    nk (2fa2d4)

  80. ChatterBox: Thanks for the correction. Got there too late to see what was actually occurring. Obviously my comparison doesn’t apply here. A better example would be a link like this hosting AP content, but one not authorized by the AP.

    sierra (4be1ff)

  81. Patterico said (7/17/2009 @ 12:36 am):

    What I understand is that you folks are appropriating content from dozens if not hundreds of sites across the Internet, without permission.

    Woops, pronoun trouble. By “our” in “our browsers” I meant those of us who visit the t.love.com website. I have no connection to whoever runs that site. (I’m an Australian computer nerd, currently unemployed.)

    Anything about that strike you as wrong?

    Pretty much everything about that site deeply offends me, on many levels: technical, legal and (especially) moral.

    Let me highlight a point nk and sierra have already made: these people are using Patterico’s bandwidth for their own profit. I have no idea whether what they are doing is legal or not, but I’m quite sure it is immoral.

    CChittleborough (34e482)

  82. Pretty much everything about that site deeply offends me…. These people are using Patterico’s bandwidth for their own profit. That this should be considered a sign of immorality is a misguided impulse. Consider that both love.com and google are search-based aggregation services whose primary usefulness centers around sending people to your page, which you can say “uses your bandwidth.” The only real difference is that love.com’s clickthru page retains an extra interface element allowing you to make subsequent searches using their service, not unlike the search field that’s built into many browsers’ UIs. That, and the page displays with their URL & title bar. I agree, based on what I’ve seen of the site so far, that it sucks, but not for its attempt to make money by serving as a useful content aggregation portal.

    sierra (4be1ff)

  83. Hmmm. Good point, sierra. I guess they’re collecting interesting web pages and just giving people access to those pages (and the ads on them) while presumably selling ads on their own index pages, in which case they’re not villains after all. But their website still sucks.

    Aside: I predict that good aggregation services (like Instapundit, but for different topics) are going to become increasingly important on the web. I also predict that most people who try to create aggregation websites will find it far, far harder than it looks.

    CChittleborough (34e482)


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