Sharing copyright infringing material on metafilter? February 11, 2020 5:12 AM   Subscribe

What is the metafilter opinion on sharing links to material that might be infringing copyright? For example, https://readcomiconline.to/ They have the complete Maus, and several books by Will Eisner among others that I'm pretty sure they don't have the rights to. Am I right about that? I can't see anything on the site that suggests the DO have the rights. I'd love to create a metafilter post sharing these, but it seems wrong, since this is essentially a pirate site, as far as I can tell?
posted by Zumbador to Etiquette/Policy at 5:12 AM (33 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Reading their DMCA info, it looks like they are trying to skirt the copyright issue by saying (paraphrased) "we don't host any material, and we have no knowledge or control of what people post on our site (links to pirated materials elsewhere)." This wouldn't be a site that we be good for Mefi. We don't have explicit copyright guidelines because different things are different, and we don't want to get painted into a "well, actually ..." sort of self-imposed technicality when something is obviously not like pirating, may be for the public good, fair use, or whatever, so we like to evaluate on a case by case basis, but in this case, yeah, the post would get a lot of flags and objections.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:22 AM on February 11 [14 favorites]


Yep that makes sense, taz. I was pretty surprised to find Maus on there, and it does seem really dodgy.
posted by Zumbador at 5:39 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]


Just add "No copyright infringement intended" to any borderline post and you'll instantly be untouchable by all copyright law. It works for YouTube, so it will definitely work here.
posted by SpiffyRob at 6:13 AM on February 11 [18 favorites]


I've had two run-ins with this in posts I've made, both involving YouTube. In one case, I linked to a video that later got taken down. I found another version of the video posted by the copyright holder and asked the mods to substitute a link to the legit version. In the second case, the recording artist's record label had switched to a different digital distributor, so her old videos taken down and then re-posted by the new company which is now running her official YouTube channel.
posted by nangar at 7:21 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]


Just add "No copyright infringement intended" to any borderline post and you'll instantly be untouchable by all copyright law. It works for YouTube, so it will definitely work here.

The gold-fringe around the flag means you're under the jurisdiction of the Admiralty courts, who have notably failed to issue a public statement regarding their position on copyright infringement.

The problem with wisecracks about SovCits is that you never know when your self-evidently-insane parodies might get picked up and used as an earnest new tactic
posted by Mayor West at 9:02 AM on February 11 [29 favorites]


It's something the site doesn't handle very well because there's a number of very vocal pro-infringing people on the site and there's been uneven enforcement of the metafilter rules regarding it.
posted by Candleman at 9:17 AM on February 11 [5 favorites]


Agreed with Candleman. As an example, I find it odd that MeFi allows links to that site that posts NYT articles whole cloth.
posted by girlmightlive at 9:48 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


I am amused that in this MetaTalk we are mostly "Don't link to sites that infringe people's copyright!" and in the next one down, we are mostly "Copy people's tweets directly onto MetaFilter!"
posted by jacquilynne at 10:21 AM on February 11 [12 favorites]


In conclusion, intellectual property is a land of contrasts
posted by solotoro at 10:27 AM on February 11 [14 favorites]


I find it odd that MeFi allows links to that site that posts NYT articles whole cloth.

Which site is that?

Tweets that are publicly posted on a site that allows embedding (Twitter) are a different situation than sites that exist pretty much only to facilitate sharing of copyrighted material. I wouldn't expect a link to Mobilism to go over particularly well, but there are definitely excerpt-y sites (Bored Panda is the one I think of off the top of my head, sometimes Atlas Obscura) that show up a lot here. I trust to mods to generally stay on top of it.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 10:58 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]


The site I’ve seen here is archive.today which looks similar to the Wayback Machine.
posted by girlmightlive at 11:58 AM on February 11


Huh, that is interesting. Thanks for pointing it out, I hadn't been aware of it.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:05 PM on February 11


It's something the site doesn't handle very well because there's a number of very vocal pro-infringing people on the site and there's been uneven enforcement of the metafilter rules regarding it.

Yep.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:23 PM on February 11


I obviously can't speak to the actual titles mentioned above and what their copyright statuses are, but I kind of work with webcomics (specifically Korean webtoons), and in case anyone ever plans on doing a FPP about Korean webtoons, a lot of these "read comics free" sites definitely are illegal. It's been an ongoing problem for the creators because many of them publish their work on for pay platforms, and any scanlations cuts into their income. They also are wary of fan translations. If they're currently being published on any established platforms and if they appear anywhere else, and in any language that is not one the creator is known to officially publish in, the artists do considering it pirating.
posted by kkokkodalk at 1:24 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]


Piracy and porn built the web
posted by klangklangston at 6:55 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]


Capital!
posted by clavdivs at 7:14 PM on February 11


Piracy and porn built the web

...and look where that got us.
posted by Riki tiki at 8:16 PM on February 11 [9 favorites]


To me it seems appropriate to share a short or single piece of a greater work for criticism or discussion even if the owner would be in the right to issue a takedown request. Sharing one NYT article via an archive link or one comic page from an image host seems to be in the right spirit. Sharing archive.today as a way to read unlimited free NYT, or linking to a whole piracy site, doesn’t.
posted by michaelh at 10:04 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


sometimes Atlas Obscura

I don’t think anyone would describe Atlas Obscura as “facilitating sharing of copyrighted material”. Are you mixing it up with something else?
posted by oulipian at 6:13 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]


Thank you for this post; I had no idea archive.today existed as a way to read the NYTimes, and that seems tremendously useful!
posted by Greg Nog at 6:49 AM on February 12 [14 favorites]


There are a range of topics or types of copying being discussed here, and I don't think they should all be considered piracy.

So far, people have mentioned:
- comic book/ manga digitization indexing sites, linking to pirated material, with a fig leaf of DMCA protection -- "The author is not responsible for any contents linked or referred to from his pages."
- YouTube content, which is so broad that it's hard to say anything definitive, as content ranges from clear copyright infringement, to what could be valid sampling or excerpts for discussion/ review, to official content.
- Archived or mirrored web pages, which is also tricky territory; Archive.org respects the robots exclusion standard (Wikipedia), to the point that it'll take previously archived pages offline that were allowed previously permitted when a new robots.txt file restricts archiving now. There are other times where archived content is no longer available online, because some article, story or images have been removed to be made commercially available through other means, though they were once available for free.
- Excerpts from web pages, research articles, and books. I'm definitely no expert here, but so long as the "excerpts" aren't copying significant portions of the original content, it should be OK.
- Mirroring Tweets. This is commonly done by news outlets, either as text copies of the content, with a link back to the original tweet, or posting screen captured images. I think this is akin to quoting a source, and I think that's pretty much A-OK (I'm sure people have tried to sue people to take down copies of tweets that they themselves have deleted, but that feels like they're trying to un-say something they said).


girlmightlive: The site I’ve seen here is archive.today which looks similar to the Wayback Machine.

I use this site more often to provide more readily available archives of news articles. As discussed previously, New York Times and other news outlets, in an effort to increase subscriptions, limit the number of pageviews per month. I try to call out every time I link to the NYT, so people can use their page-views carefully, but I also provide an archive via Archive.is (aka Archive.today - they have a few different URLs). Archive.today is similar to Archive.org, but they don't try to mirror the entire webpage, and strip out pageview limiting scripts.

Yes, I'm facilitating people bypassing NYT's mechanisms, but I personally come to terms with this that 1) the NYT content is available to freely view; 2) Archive.today doesn't add their own ads or banners (that I've seen - I usually use ad blockers); and 3) Archive.today makes it clear that their content is a time-stamped copy of someone else's content.

I was going to say that Archive.today will take down requested content, but I don't see anything to confirm that, and in fact, their FAQ notes that they don't look at robots.txt, "Because it is not a free-walking crawler, it saves only one page acting as a direct agent of the human user." Also, it may be a French-hosted server/ service, and not under U.S. DMCA authority. That gives me a bit of pause in general, but I still think my first point, that NYT is publicly visible information, is a key consideration, for me at least.


jessamyn: there are definitely excerpt-y sites (Bored Panda is the one I think of off the top of my head, sometimes Atlas Obscura)

Can you elaborate on your thoughts and concerns regarding "excerpt-y sites"? I worry I've been operating under some false assumptions regarding copyright and content duplication rights and laws.

With regards to Atlas Obscura, they cite their image sources (which I know doesn't automatically make their images well-sourced), and often interview the original article author or topic experts. Bored Panda cites their image sources, too, so they seem a bit better than image aggregators that grab images and repost them without sources.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:58 AM on February 12 [5 favorites]


Don't forget to tip your local capitalist for no fucking reason.
posted by odinsdream at 10:28 AM on February 12 [5 favorites]


Are you mixing it up with something else?

I don't think so. I think of them sometimes like boingboing where they will sometimes write long original content and sometimes do lazy very-long-excerpting (with tiny credits at the end). I think this is definitely an acceptable way of sharing content, but it's also a small hop from sites that include the whole article instead of 75% of it. It's possible I'm mixing it up with another site.
posted by jessamyn (temp) at 10:46 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


It's interesting to note the large cultural shift around this. The attitudes on MetaFilter (and the internet at large) have shifted radically in terms of copyright law. Anti-copying measures were once widely derided, along with the DMCA. The shift has been subtle and slow, but there used to be a whole lot of positive posts and comments about piracy.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:09 AM on February 12 [6 favorites]


I think of them sometimes like boingboing where they will sometimes write long original content and sometimes do lazy very-long-excerpting (with tiny credits at the end)

Ah, ok. I don't think Atlas Obscura does that kind of lazy blogging anymore – I've only been very familiar with the site for a few years, but I don't think of them as an aggregator like Bored Panda or Boing Boing. They seem to post mostly original longform stories (and the "stories" blog section is just a small part of the site).
posted by oulipian at 11:16 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]


there used to be a whole lot of positive posts and comments about piracy.

I agree.I feel like this is tricky for a few reasons.

- The older you get the more likely you are to be a content creator or to know some and MeFi has an aging population. You also may have more money to spend on content generally.
- Concerns about liability by talking about this stuff out loud
- DRMed stuff is easier to use than it used to be
- The MeFi population skews less techie than it used to
- Fewer people on the internet in general understand copyright nuances, and the tools that support content sharing make this sort of distinction fairly complicated.

Like if you are a full blown site like Tumblr, you've probably got someone who is full-time just dealing with DMCA requests. Whereas MeFi which doesn't host or allow-sharing (almost entirely with the exception of tweets and some poetry) remains relatively immune from this. Sharing links to obviously pirated content has never been a thing MeFi was really here for, but I do feel that people in AskMe have more latitude in offering legal and possibly-not-legal solutions to things.
posted by jessamyn (temp) at 2:17 PM on February 12 [10 favorites]


"...and look where that got us."

Cool you can comment from gopher now
posted by klangklangston at 2:31 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Would that be a bad thing? Using more limited tech because I don't need something that supports proprietary DRM or USB device access in order to read a bunch of text or post a comment with limited styling and markup?

We've been operating under the assumption that The Future of the Web involves these elaborate technologies, and that browsing it requires an application of ever-expanding breadth just in case a site might have an <iframe> using some indispensable feature.

How much of MetaFilter's code is dedicated to sanitizing comments, because every reader is using a browser with such an absurd attack surface?
posted by Riki tiki at 5:32 PM on February 12 [1 favorite]


Piracy and porn built the web

We built this city
We built this city on theft and tits
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:24 PM on February 12 [16 favorites]


girlmightlive: "I find it odd that MeFi allows links to that site that posts NYT articles whole cloth."

jessamyn: "Which site is that?"

I haven't seen any on MeFi yet, but they definitely exist and are super-brazen about it. As an example, I check Drudge Report pretty often to get a sense of what the right-wing spin du jour is, and I've noticed they've stopped linking to NYT articles in favor of shady, seemingly related sites like "DNYUZ.com" and "theworldnews.us" (based in Ukraine) that repost the full text, including pictures. They try to fig-leaf it with a link back to the source and some BS about detecting fake news, but they've already been blocked by authorities in Denmark for serial infringement. I wouldn't be surprised if there are others -- it seems like a racket.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:14 AM on February 14 [2 favorites]


"Would that be a bad thing? Using more limited tech because I don't need something that supports proprietary DRM or USB device access in order to read a bunch of text or post a comment with limited styling and markup?"

Why Must The Children Tik-Tok

In this essay I will
posted by klangklangston at 6:09 PM on February 15


girlmightlive: "I find it odd that MeFi allows links to that site that posts NYT articles whole cloth."

jessamyn: "Which site is that?"


The NYT and WaPo allow their content to be reprinted on websites like MSN, according to the Microsoft News "About Us" page:
Microsoft News keeps people informed across the web, phone and PC, using our long-tested approach of curating news via publishing partnerships, human editors, and AI. We work with more than a thousand premium publishers and more than 3,000 brands in all major global markets – like USA Today, The New York Times, FOX News, The Washington Post, and many more – to aggregate the best news, videos, photos and other content and deliver it, for free, to people all over the world.
I am trying to be in the habit of finding legit reprints to include when I link to the NYT or WaPo, so the information is more accessible. I did just notice that the MSN reprint links I included in my most recent FPP no longer work, but that may be due to the articles being updated (?), because I can still find one of them by googling the title of the article and "MSN."
posted by katra at 10:38 PM on February 15 [3 favorites]


Not to come down either in favor or opposed, it's worth nothing that, if you like those sites, it's a good reason not to link them on Metafilter, since increases in visibility will put them on copyright holders' radar. Even with YouTube, more than once for MST Club, I'd make a Fanfare post of an episode and include a found YouTube link to it, and by the time it came time to watch the episode the next day it had been taken down.
posted by JHarris at 7:09 PM on February 17


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