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Old 07-07-13, 04:50 AM   #1
Walter S
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Fair use of my personal material?

I posted this account of a recent trip on my web site. I just discovered that bikeovernights.org has an account of the same trip, and says it is a write-up that was posted by "Walter Stovall" (me). But I never made a post at bikeovernights.org.

I can only surmise that somebody there decided to lift this stuff from my web site and post it there as though done by me. I'm flattered in some ways. But I also feel an invasion of privacy. The bio at their web site reads like an Q&A interview with me but I was never asked questions and all the answers are quotes lifted from places on my web site.

I get emails (one so far) when people post comments at bikeovernights.org about this trip. The email has a link for admin of the comments but I can't login there. I never created an account there and don't know the login credentials.

My wife says this is not fair use of my material and I should sue them. I don't feel so strongly about it but I do feel a little violated. On the other hand I can't find anything about the bikeovernights.org post that I consider specifically offensive. The bio itself is really what invoked the feelings of unfair use.

I think if somebody at bikeovernights.org had asked permission to do this I would feel totally different about it.

I'm curious what my friends at bikeforums.net would think about this?
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Old 07-07-13, 05:41 AM   #2
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Just email them and have a conversation. That's the first step.
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Old 07-07-13, 05:50 AM   #3
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Are you a member of Adventure Cycling?


"As you may know, BikeOvernights.org is an initiative of Adventure Cycling Association, the premier bicycle-travel organization in North America. I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about some recent happenings at the organization, 46,500 members strong and growing."
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Old 07-07-13, 06:01 AM   #4
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Are you a member of Adventure Cycling?


"As you may know, BikeOvernights.org is an initiative of Adventure Cycling Association, the premier bicycle-travel organization in North America. I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about some recent happenings at the organization, 46,500 members strong and growing."
The ACA is an organisation that has staff. It makes money out of advertising.

It has violated copyright by using the material without consent. I would contact ACA and put the concerns as expressed here. Mention of payment for permission to use might be a good place to start. That use should be limited to that website use only.

I've read some observations in the past couple of days that internet services are looking for material, but aren't willing to pay authors. So they fire their writers if they have them, and seek to source without payment content that is created by authors such as Walter.

People just aren't aware of their rights as authors, photographers and illustrators. It's also led to the media diluting its responsibilities to verify material before it is published as fact. Personally I think it all sucks big time.
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Old 07-07-13, 06:36 AM   #5
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I recollect viewing a People's Court episode in which an author's book was used as the source of material by a blogger without the author's permission. I believe, the judge awarded some money to the author and prohibited further use. I suggest to send a legally worded letter to immediately cease and desist from the use of your material and demand compensation (as you see fit) for the use so far and offer terms of payment for future.
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Old 07-07-13, 06:41 AM   #6
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The ACA is an organisation that has staff. It makes money out of advertising.

It has violated copyright by using the material without consent. I would contact ACA and put the concerns as expressed here. Mention of payment for permission to use might be a good place to start. That use should be limited to that website use only.

I've read some observations in the past couple of days that internet services are looking for material, but aren't willing to pay authors. So they fire their writers if they have them, and seek to source without payment content that is created by authors such as Walter.

People just aren't aware of their rights as authors, photographers and illustrators. It's also led to the media diluting its responsibilities to verify material before it is published as fact. Personally I think it all sucks big time.
Well, it is more likely that they are very well aware of the copyright violation and just brazenly go ahead hoping that the author will not know about it and will not pursue after coming to know. A silly form letter of apology would follow if the author insists on his/her rights. Anyone in web publishing would know that linking a URL is far different from manufacturing an interview with an author.
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Old 07-07-13, 07:06 AM   #7
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That's pretty lame. If you really felt strongly about it you can get a lawyer to write you a cease and desist letter and that might get them to remove the material from their site (and cost you some dough) I wouldn't be surprised that most of the content of that site is just taken from the web. I'd also guess that it wouldn't be hard to program a site that automatically crawls the web for content and just generates posts from its crawls. There are so many scammy blog sites out there that just exist to display a bunch of ads around someone else's content. I block adverts but if they've got ads up on that site it sucks to see other people making money on something you posted for free.

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Old 07-07-13, 08:02 AM   #8
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Most likely an email and a snail mail copy to ACA, explaining your objections and desired action, with link to this thread, will see them removing the stuff they've stolen from you.

Or, as my wife sometimes tell me, 'You're so naive' and nothing will come of the email.
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Old 07-07-13, 08:36 AM   #9
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Send an email to the blog threatening to send a DMCA takedown notice to their service provider. They will comply.

Personally, I'd just insist on their linking to the original content and conspicuously noting that the content was from your blog.
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Old 07-07-13, 03:28 PM   #10
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well, it wouldn't pay to sue them court, but an email or phone call to 406 721-1776 will probably resolve the issue.

And by the way, great journal and considering that's not all that far of a drive, I might do that camping trip myself on a bike.
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Old 07-07-13, 05:14 PM   #11
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Be carful listining to all the sea lawyers . It it worth all the fuss ?

Thom
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Old 07-07-13, 05:18 PM   #12
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My website, a collection of bike paths and trails in the NY area, gets the old cut-and-paste treatment from dozens of sites I have nothing to do with. What's more, I've NEVER been credited by any of them. My attitude is that, once you put it out on the web for "free," people are going to take it for free and treat it like it has no value. Just feel good that you put the info out there and don't waste precious cycling time trying to build a lawsuit.
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Old 07-07-13, 05:28 PM   #13
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My website, a collection of bike paths and trails in the NY area, gets the old cut-and-paste treatment from dozens of sites I have nothing to do with.
Query whether there are any copyrights in something like that.
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Old 07-07-13, 06:12 PM   #14
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Do they Pay Column writers? ask to be given similar compensation.
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Old 07-07-13, 06:27 PM   #15
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My website, a collection of bike paths and trails in the NY area, gets the old cut-and-paste treatment from dozens of sites I have nothing to do with. What's more, I've NEVER been credited by any of them. My attitude is that, once you put it out on the web for "free," people are going to take it for free and treat it like it has no value. Just feel good that you put the info out there and don't waste precious cycling time trying to build a lawsuit.
I am sorry, but people like you are a real problem for legitimate authors. You won't pursue your rights. The trouble is, people aren't treating it like it has no value -- it does have value because, first of all, it has been stolen, then it is attracting readers who may respond to advertisements, and the advertisers then pay through the system to the website owner (which, note, may not be the person who actually stole the work).

This same attitude has led to the huge problem of plagiarism in universities. People claim work as their own material that has been sourced by legitimate researchers and authors. There have been several cases of high-profile managers, politicians and academics who have been found out; there are, I suspect, many many more out there. And we let them get away with it. They steal jobs from honest people.

Then there are the websites that want to take anything you post on their website as their own... in other words, as a condition of using the site, you assign copyright to that owner, so you have no control over it.

How would you like it if I took your bicycle when it's out in the street? I am sure you would regard me as a thief, but by using your own logic, putting your bicycle (work) out there on the street (web), I now have a right to take it for free and treat it like it has no value.

Please rethink your strategy. Study the copyright considerations on the website you use, and if you have to assign exclusive copyright to that site, move somewhere else. And require that either the people who take your original work acknowledge it at the very least, take it down, or pay you for it.
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Old 07-07-13, 06:31 PM   #16
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Be carful listining to all the sea lawyers . It it worth all the fuss ?

Thom
Yep, shrug shoulders.

Now tell me, where can I find your touring bike. I need one, but don't want to pay for it. And you won't pursue me, will you, because it probably won't be worth all the fuss.
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Old 07-07-13, 06:36 PM   #17
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OP, definitely send a letter or email saying that you object to your work being used without permission and without credit. Ask for compensation, which you won't get most likely, or for them to take it down.
Make sure to mention that they really should have asked first, before using your material. They know all this, just trying to get away with it, thinking you'd never know, as mentioned above.

Funny thing it, if they had contacted you saying how they like the article and asked for permission to use it on their site to promote cycling in that area, you would most likely say "yes" and feel pretty good about it. Am I right?
People really need to get some manners, and if you have to remind them of it, so be it.
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Old 07-07-13, 06:41 PM   #18
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First, I would suggest doing the paperwork, paying the fee and filing with the U.S. copyright office. Once done, this allows you to file for statutary damages for such theft. Without having filed the paperwork with the US copyright office would limit damages to those you can show you have suffered. Which is why most companies doing this get away with it. It is unlikely you could demonstrate any fiduciary loss. The statutory damages can be thousands (even tens of thousands).

My above comments relate to unauthorized use of photographs, but I suspect that it would equally apply to the written word.

After filing, then contact the company and demand payment... This is really the only way that we can curtail such theft.
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Old 07-07-13, 07:37 PM   #19
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>>>I am sorry, but people like you are a real problem for legitimate authors<<<

I understand your point. In fact, I AM what you might consider a "legitimate author," with several commercially available local history books under my belt. As you can probably guess, the text in those books gets ripped off all the time. I could spend my life pursuing every guilty author, newspaper writer, school curriculum planner, and student essay writer, but I'd rather be out spending the money I've made on my books and articles to take great bicycle trips.

I suppose the worst thing I have done is to try to sell that attitude to the OP. Absolutely, I think the Internet has killed the journalism profession by giving unqualified writers the opportunity to present themselves as authorities on any subject they choose. But it has also given hobbyists like myself a chance to share my enthusiasm for certain bike routes, trails, and bike paths with people who might not be willing to spend twenty bucks for a book that will likely be outdated within a short time.

I went through the same struggle as a studio drummer in the 1990's. In one case, I was paid $5,000 to play drums on an album for SONY Records during the dawn of the "sampling" era, when the hip hop kids were stealing snippets of songs - or more often, drum beats - and making entirely new songs out of them. During the course of the recording sessions, the producer was fired and two of the most prominent dance record producers were brought in to finish up. The first thing they did was copy all of my drum tracks and re-format them into "loops" that they could trigger from a computer to create entirely new beat sequences (which could then be credited to THEM, rather than to me). The record ended up going gold in Brazil and launching the career of a major Brazilian dance artist who is still recording today. When I got my copy of the CD, I noticed that I was given "special thanks" in the credits, but that I was not listed as the drummer. And when the record started generating residuals, I received none. Rather than pawning my teeth to fight SONY's big-time lawyers, I saw the future of the music industry and got out of it within a year or two. From that point on, I decided that all my future creative efforts, including books, websites, etc., would be free of any stress associated with this new world of "fair use" and the Internet.

Personally, I don't think we can ever turn back and revive the days when an author had to qualify him or herself before getting words into print. If you feel there's still a fight to fight, power to you, man. Still, I choose to smile to myself whenever I see my words printed, verbatim, on someone else's well-intentioned website.
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Old 07-07-13, 09:01 PM   #20
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Kind of creepy they would steal your material and turn it into their own. Post a comment providing a link to the original work and exposing the fraud, and I'm pretty sure they'll take it down out of embarassment. Makes the rest of their website rather questionable. As to legal action, don't waste your time.
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Old 07-07-13, 09:27 PM   #21
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I went through the same struggle as a studio drummer in the 1990's.
Once I got to hear the jazz guitarist Joe Beck, in a small restaurant in Poughkeepsie. I was amazed to see the poster announcing that he'd be performing. I got a few friends to come along with me to hear him. There was one other table with a few people. The audience barely out-numbered the band.

I got to chat a bit with Joe in the intermission. How in the world did he get scheduled there, a place that rarely has any music at all? Joe sure wasn't happy with his booking agent right then!

I told him that one of my favorite albums, Song for Wounded Knee, featured him along with Richard Davis on bass. Joe was amazed - he'd never even seen a copy of that album, never mind getting paid for it! The original agreement had a poet or something to be reading over the music. Somehow all that fell through and the recording got released....

All this was in maybe 1990, before the world wide web. Which surely has not improved the situation re. copyright etc.
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Old 07-08-13, 07:35 AM   #22
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>>>I am sorry, but people like you are a real problem for legitimate authors<<<
... Still, I choose to smile to myself whenever I see my words printed, verbatim, on someone else's well-intentioned website.
This is one of the main reasons I mentioned filing copyright paperwork with the U.S. copyright office. They do charge a fee; however, it makes collection of damages for violations much more likely (and lucrative).

http://copyrightregistry-online-form.com/

I had a photograph taken from my site and used to promote a companies product. All it cost me to obtain a retroactive $750 'fine' and that they remove the photo from their site was a letter from me informing them of the violation and that if my demand for payment for the violation and removal of the photo from their site, I would file a claim for statutory damages (which is also able to be done online). In many ways defending copyright has gotten much easier than it was in pre-internet days.
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Old 07-08-13, 09:57 AM   #23
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It's probably on it's 10th lap around the world by now.....

If you want to keep a secret between 3 people.......you'll have to kill the other two.

Is it fair? Not really,but that's social media.

You can try to contact the powers that be,if it's that important to you.

Personally,I never put anything on the web I care about without protection,which amounts to NOTHING! There is nothing REALLY safe on the internet,it just safe for now.

If you leave your bike on the front lawn,someone's going to take it.....That's the world we live in...sad but true.

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Old 07-08-13, 10:02 AM   #24
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I don't think you have a case,is this copyrighted material? Do people need a password to view it on your website?.........If not,you put it out in the public domain,it's fair game.
You are incorrect, at least in the U.S. One does not need to even have a copyright notice for the material to be copyrighted. In fact, the exact opposite, unless their is a notice placing it in the public domain, the law assumes it is copyrighted by the author...

Simply publishing, which is what placing it on the web is, does not alter the author's copyright, unless they explicitly provide a statement saying they are waiving some or all of their copyright.
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Old 07-08-13, 11:02 AM   #25
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I'd be interested to know how many of the other posts on BikeOvernights are swiped from other websites. Are there that few people writing about their trips that ACA has to swipe from blogs to fill their own content?
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