Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lawsuit Targets New Yorker Story And Everyone Who Picked It Up

Bloggers might think they are protected from libel when they use someone else's news story as the basis for their posts. 'News Curation' as it's called is nothing new. It's a relatively common practice that entails taking a news story and adding your own thoughts or perspective to it.

It's the method I use for many of my blogs.

Done correctly, with proper attribution and an emphasis on adding something new to the discussion, news curation is a great blogging technique. However, it is not automatically a license to write anything you want. The laws against libel still apply, even when you are using someone else's story as the basis of your post.

It is imperative that bloggers understand they do not have free rein to write whatever they want about whomever they want. Just as newspapers, magazines and other traditional forms of print media have to follow specific laws concerning the content they publish, so do bloggers.

Some view this as a form of censorship, but I consider it more a move toward full legitimacy. When bloggers are held fully accountable for their actions, made to play on the same field as traditional media outlets, they are being treated as equals. And in the final analysis that's what bloggers have wanted all along.

A strange libel lawsuit that reads like a pulp version of the The Da Vinci Code just became a bit stranger—the controversial art world figure who is suing the New Yorker is now taking aim at other media outlets that repeated the venerable magazine’s allegations.

The case involves a Canadian man, Peter Paul Biro, who became famous for using fingerprint technology to allegedly revealed undiscovered works by the likes of Jackson Pollack and Leonardo Da Vinci. Biro sued the New Yorker this summer over a 2010 story that cast doubt on the “man who keeps finding famous fingerprints on uncelebrated works of art.”

Last week, Biro expanded his defamation complaint to include a slew of new defendants. They include Gizmodo (a site owned by Gawker), Business Insider and the International Council of Museums. Biro says the new defendants defamed him by writing articles based on the New Yorker story and now he wants money from everyone involved for the “enormous damage” to his reputation, business and health.

Click here to read more about this case.


KRose said...

Jerry, can you go into more detail about what is the appropriate way to give attribution? and how much has to be "new" content. Also, if a blog or news outlet allows rss feeds, aren't they allowing people to repost their content?

Jerry Battiste said...

KRose: The fact is, everyone views fair use of their content differently. My personal rules are to use just a few key graphs which illustrate my point, carefully set that information in italics and block quotes so there is no doubt what is their content and what is mine, and to include a link directly to their entire article.
An RSS feed is for readers to have easy access to their content, it is not a license to repost this content as your own.
Each of us creates content in order for people to visit our site. If someone is using someone else's content in order to attract visitors to their own site, that is not fair use.