Why copyright is important

Matchhamster Product Sheet
3 minute read.

Copyrights matter. Also on the internet

The world has changed greatly since the early twentieth century. Not the least because of the internet. The distinction between producer and consumer, as the Copyright Act makes, is no longer as clear as before. A blogger, influencer and even journalist is both a consumer and a producer of information.

The possibilities of digital copying and distribution of work have increased enormously. This means that checking compliance with the Copyright Act has become a bigger challenge. Nevertheless, I believe that copyright still has a meaningful role for two reasons: personal creativity and social awareness.

Creativity makes the world more beautiful, fun and interesting

Imagine if your favourite writer says: you now what, hell with it. I’m not going to to create that book anymore and go work in the garden for the rest of my life. That sounds far-fetched but it makes sense.

It took several years, but now it is normal to pay for music and movies. When it comes to texts and images, things are different. I know several people who read a free version of an e-book. And in my work I see a lot of content used without permission.

There is a logical explanation for this. Producing valuable content costs a lot of money, which makes it very attractive to take advantage of the creative work done by another. Copying parties improve their own (financial) position without a creative and financial effort.

The abolition of copyrights means that many professions have to stop. How can musicians or filmmakers make that great song or picture if their work is legally distributed on the internet for free? Why would a journalist conduct an in-depth investigation and be at risk?

The willingness to take action against copyright infringement has increased in recent years. Creators see that without enforcement no exploitation is possible. Thanks to copyright law, people can be compensated for the damage suffered, and remain creative. That principle has not changed in all these years.

Copyright lays a foundation for social awareness

Social media has turned us all into publishers. Everyone has the space to develop as an expert with influence on other users. That is very nice, but it has a downside. An opinion is given quickly and free of charge. Because the consequences are limited and the reward is great, it becomes very tempting to shout loudly and without nuance.

The corona crisis once again makes clear to me how difficult it can be to understand and interpret reporting. Many messages have been taken from other sources without proper control. And unfortunately reporting often turns out to be unreliable or even incorrect.

Without copyright, there was no money to conduct investigative journalism. Nor was there any money to disseminate the results of this study. Let alone to check and discuss it. Copyright also contributes to the fact that news cannot be distorted without consequences.

Marcus van de Kerkhof

Do you see the importance of proactive content protection, but you don’t know how to start? I would be happy to help you provide insight. I am also very curious what you want to know more about. Let me know and fill in the form.

Disclaimer

I am not a lawyer by profession.  This article does not constitute legal advice. What is written on this webpage is my personal opinion. It’s based on my experiences with helping journalists and publishers protecting their content.

What to do when you receive a takedown notice

Matchhamster Product Sheet
4 minute read.

Accused of copyright infringement?

You receive a takedown request. It’s about an article on your website. And now you have to remove the duplicate immediately.  Maybe you are even asked to pay compensation for damage caused. The takedown notice is filled with legal jargon, so it all sounds a bit threatening.

And yes, the article is published on your website. But is it really that bad? By your standards the article is not that special at all / the content is whitely spread across the web / hardly anybody visits your website / you know the author personally / you hire others for the content. To be honest: what you think or stand for is in this case not important. Let’s do some checks to decide on how to proceed.

Check the takedown notice

Let’s assume that the takedown request you receive is matching the one below.

Request

We understand that you are unpleasantly surprised by our letter and enclosed invoice. First of all, we want to make it clear that the amount we ask you for is absolutely not a fine or punishment. It is a settlement proposal. We consider this settlement as compensation for the damage that the author / photographer / designer / illustrator has suffered from the illegal copy on your website, according to our calculation.

Procedure

If you do not comply with the settlement, we will bring the infringement to a judge. It is then up to the court to decide whether there is an infringement and how high the damage is. Of course we hope that it does not have to come to that point and you will comply with our settlement proposal.

Opposition

If you think there is no copyright infringement, you can object. You must then submit a copy of the document in which the author gives you permission to publish the work on your website.

Is the sender allowed to act on behalf of the copyright holder?

In the first instance, check whether you are dealing with a real organization that may represent the copyright holder. Is it clear who sent the letter, and on behalf of which copyright holder it was done. You should be able to easily contact this party by email. Research on the internet can help with this.

Which copyrighted work has been copied to what extent?

It matters a lot whether you copy 100 originals in full or 1 text for 25 percent. These are two extremes, to indicate that you yourself need to know which work has been taken over and to what extent it has been done. Also check the urls with the taken over content and the degree of takeover. Therefore, take a good look at the urls on which the copied content is stated and also check whether the number of words per article that is stated in the letter is correct.

Check the law

The starting point of copyright is the protection of the creator. The creator – in this case the author – automatically has the exclusive right to exploit the article. Simply said this means that if you want to use the article, you must first ask permission from the author. In essence, your specific situation is almost never an exception, even if you have your reasons to think otherwise. Nevertheless, there are exceptions in every legal system and it makes sense to look closely at them.

Check what is exactly requested

Legal language can sound threatening. What is actually requested in the takedown notice? Maybe you are only asked to remove the content. Keep in mind that this is usually a proposal, not a fine.

Check the calculation of the settlement proposal

The takedown notice must properly substantiate the compensation requested. Often there are guidelines for this, which you can find online yourself.

Remove the content and inform the copyrightholder

If you are in doubt, always remove the content from the urls. That is not a confession of guilt, but a precaution if you are really wrong. It is also wise to check other urls. Especially if you hire someone else for the content on your website.

After removal, inform the copyright holder. When the content is removed, please inform the (representative of) the copyright holder. It may sound bland, but it doesn’t hurt to mention that you made a mistake. Many copyright holders do not pursue a case if the infringer has committed his mistake and removed the content (that is no guarantee). You are interested in the work of the copyright holder, so it can be the start of a collaboration.

In the event of a claim, find an expert advisor

Proposals can give the impression that an arbitrary amount is required from you. And the reality is that it sometimes goes that way to scare you off. But unfortunately for you, a proposal can also be very high on reasonable grounds. I work with customers where the initial damage is more than 50 cents per word. Obviously this differs per country, and depends on the applicable laws and case law.

If you don’t want to pay what is requested, get in touch with a good lawyer. That must be an experienced intellectual property expert. Representation by an expert lawyer will most certainly lead to a deterioration in your position. A good lawyer costs money, but can also negotiate a better deal for you.

Whatever happens, respect each other

It’s always best to make a deal. Lucally in most cases an agreement is made without the intervention of a court.  And as indicated, it can be a great start for doing business together. That’s how we got our first big customer!

Marcus van de Kerkhof

Do you see the importance of proactive content protection, but you don’t know how to start? I would be happy to help you provide insight. I am also very curious what you want to know more about. Let me know and fill in the form.

Disclaimer

I am not a lawyer by profession.  This article does not constitute legal advice. What is written on this webpage is my personal opinion. It’s based on my experiences with helping journalists and publishers protecting their content.

Content strategies for duplicate content

Matchhamster Product Sheet
5 minute read.

Duplicate content is a business generator

To use content strategies for duplicate content you need to know where duplicates are on the internet. You can detect them with search engines. If you make a lot of articles or images you can use for example our Article Monitor or Image Monitor services.

A 100% match of your content obviously means your content is copied. Part of your content is duplicated when the match is 50-%70%. If a lower percentage is duplicated your content might be copied. But what’s more likely is that you found a website with similar content and therefore a similar interest. This matching content can be considered as a business generator. Check out 5 content strategies for duplicate content: search engine optimisation, sales, sponsoring, partnership and competitor analysis.

Search engine optimisation

When you have a website with online content you want to have quality visitors. How do you get visitors online? The answer is simple: obtaine a high ranking in search engines. Many battles (fortunately no bleeding ones) are fought over ranking positions. Google and Bing indexation algorithms are a mystified topic but there are some very simple and clear logics behind search engines. Unique, non-duplicated content has great value on the internet because the mayor search engines love it. Search engines decrease the value of content when copies are found. 

There are 2 ways in which you can protect your content:

  • Remove duplicate content from other websites, search engines and platforms, preferably in combination with backlink building. My experience is that many duplicates can be exchanged for valuable deep links to your articles).
  • Improve content on your websites, to make it unique again.

Specialised content, meaning original content, meaning non-duplicated content is valued high. By keeping your content unique you will have the ideal starting point to get traffic. When you rank high, when your SEO is optimal, you generate more traffic because the search engines send people your way. From this point of view it makes a lot of sense to protect your content and make sure nobody is duplicating.

Content sales

The basic idea is that the content is yours but it can be used under license. Websites that copy your content show that they are interested in what you create. People are interested in quality niche content for their own website, but they do not have the skills or money to make it. That’s where you come in. An article that only has value for you the day you publish, can be of long term value for another business. It generates traffic and brings credibility.

So what is day to day content for you, might be niche content for somebody else. Think of a real estate agent who collects articles about the housing market or a sports club with its own channel. When you sell the content you best make sure that your original is not indexed by search engines, to avoid competition with your client. 

Content sponsoring

This strategy is interesting if you have found a website with overlapping content on a specific topic. They need to provide its audience with quality content, but do not have the resources to make it. You could provide them with content in exchange for traffic to your website.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you found a blog where people can give their review about the latest movies they have seen. It’s a very interactive place, with people that have a great interest in art-house movies. Your newspaper has a weekly column about movies that are coming into the theatre. You could give away the intro of a new article in exchange for deep links to your website. With this approach you create a new quality traffic channel. By giving away ‘older’ articles and place them next to the reviews you will improve your brand reputation.

As you can see from the example 3 things are relevant, when setting up a partnership:

  • The audience of your potential partner must fit your audience;
  • The content must be highly relevant for your partner’s readers;
  • You only give away what has little value for you (older content) and tease  audience with limited new content.

You can extend your revenue stream by giving (your) advertisers access to the audience of the website you are sponsoring with content. In our example a movie theater could advertise on your website as well as on the sponsored website.

Content partnership

With content partnership you go a step further. Your partner then has access to sources that you are interested in. Your partner takes care of the input and you take care of the processing. You use the output together.

Let’s say you are producing content about the concert halls in the city, and the events they organise. What would be better than to set up partnerships with them. They can provide you with interesting background information and access to artists, to create quality content for your readers. One step further is to exchange content on your and your partners channels, and connect your customers to their booking systems.

Competitor analysis

What content do your competitors create, and how similar or not similar it is to yours? A competitor with matching content is also an interesting opportunity to create more traffic. We have clients that mainly work with us to analyse what content competitors publish:

  • Jeep content original by tweaking it just enough to make the difference;
  • Map out new content developments on competitor websites. The competitor may have discovered an interesting topic to make content about;
  • Determine why the competitors don’t publish specific content.

Other ideas

Do you have examples of other content strategies for duplicate content? Please let me know.

Marcus van de Kerkhof

Do you see the importance of proactive content protection, but you don’t know how to start? I would be happy to help you provide insight. I am also very curious what you want to know more about. Let me know and fill in the form.

Disclaimer

I am not a lawyer by profession.  This article does not constitute legal advice. What is written on this webpage is my personal opinion. It’s based on my experiences with helping journalists and publishers protecting their content.

Copyright explained the easy way

Matchhamster Product Sheet
4 minute read.

Copyright seems complex, and it actually is. There are rules and exceptions. And they are not the same everywhere. In this article we list a number of aspects of copyright. Let’s start with the question what copyright is.

What is copyright?

For starters, you need a creation, and someone who made it. The creation must be unique. A little different from everything else that already exists. Copyright gives the maker the exclusive right to decide what to do with the creation. The maker does not have to record the creation. Copyright applies as soon as the creation is ‘born’. It is automatically assigned to the maker.

Who are the makers anyway? Think for example of journalists, copywriters, musicians, illustrators, designers, artists and software developers. For them, copyright is the basis of their livelihood. They get the opportunity to exploit their work and earn money from it, and they are protected from other changing the work  without their permission.

Where to register copyright?

Nowhere. You do not have to fill in a form or contract to receive copyright. The copyright automatically belongs to the creator. Or, in the event that the latter has transferred his right or failed upon his death, to his successors in title.

A traditional method to file an idea, is deposit a photo or description with the tax authorities or notary. A modern way is using blockchain technology. In the case of a text, photo or other creation that has already been published, this is not necessary. What is essential in all cases: do not confuse a copyright registration with granting copyright.

Does copyright apply to the internet?

Absolutely. There is no difference in copyright protection between the digital and real world. Unfortunately, there are still many fables about this. Many copyright infringers and as well as creators think that if the source is acknowledged on the internet, their copyright has not been infringed. This is totally incorrect. Just as your creation cannot be copied offline without your permission, it cannot be copied online.

Are there any exceptions?

There are a number of exceptions to copyright.

Third parties may copy short pieces of text from an article, provided that the name of the author and the source are mentioned (The right to quote). Under the guise of quotation law, however, entire articles or large parts may not be copied.

A newspaper, news magazine or a medium that performs the same function may take over articles from another press agency. Only non-original articles can be taken over by other press. If a news item is sufficiently original and creative, the article may not be reproduced.

For copyright, a limitation period applies. It ends after 70 years from January 1 of the following year in which the maker died.

In forums, the premise is that a forum holder cannot be held liable if he has not played an active role in the posting of infringing content. A forum holder is obliged to remove the alleged infringement immediately after notification. If he does not do this, he is liable for the published content.

In the case of framing, someone else’s website is displayed through your website. There is a hyperlink in the frame to the original article. Framing is illegal anyway. But it is doubtful whether it is worthwhile to litigate against this. The question is whether the copyright holder actually suffers damage through framing.

Someone you interviewed has no copyright to the article. However, the question is whether you want to sue an interviewee. In such a case, I expect little goodwill at a court, which may reject the claimed damage.

Can copyright be transfered?

Yes, that’s possible. But only in writing. The transfer may also concern part of the copyright. The personality rights, also called moral rights, remain with the author. These mainly have to do with the bond between the maker and his work. Personality rights allow you to object to the use of your items in a way that is detrimental to your honor, name or dignity.

Who has the copyright? The creator or the client?

That depends on the agreements made between the creator and his client. In most cases the creator has copyright. In the case of permanent employment, employees transfer their copyright to the employer, unless contractually stipulated otherwise.

When is a copy a copyright infringement?

In order to determine if a copy is a copyright infringement, the copy needs to be compared with the original creation. That is not as easy as it may seem. For articles, this means examining how many words are the same, whether the structure matches and whether the unique creative elements are copied. It is an infringement if the copy is made public without the permission of the copyright holder. Public can also mean within an intranet environment.

Marcus van de Kerkhof

Do you see the importance of proactive content protection, but you don’t know how to start? I would be happy to help you provide insight. I am also very curious what you want to know more about. Let me know and fill in the form.

Disclaimer

I am not a lawyer by profession.  This article does not constitute legal advice. What is written on this webpage is my personal opinion. It’s based on my experiences with helping journalists and publishers protecting their content.

How to build a paywall that works

Matchhamster Product Sheet
4 minute read.

Content paywall history

The Internet has changed a lot for publishers. Publishers realise they have to adapt to the laws of the internet where the traditional revenue models are bringing in less money on the one hand, but offer plenty of new opportunities on the other.

About 10 years ago, almost every publisher was looking for a solution to generate online income. Publishers choose to implement a paywall on their website, to generate revenue with online publishing. Although paywalls are mainly emerging at that time, the phenomenon is much older. Microsoft had the first paywall in 1996 with “Slate” magazine. A year later, The Wall Street Journal became the first newspaper to charge for access to its articles. While other publishers, including the New York Times, are building paywalls, “Slate” is breaking down its paywall after a few years: the number of paid subscriptions is not in proportion to the total number of readers. And so it goes on and off for a number of years.

This is what you need for a content paywall that works

Content
Audience
Creators
Protection

The software is not a building block, but facilitates the construction process. Unfortunately I have seen many examples where software was first built that was then not usable. That is not the correct order.

Building block: Content

Gabe Weisert, writer at Zuora, identified 5 strategies for ‘newspaper readership growth’.

  • You can’t compete with social media, so bring perspectives, arguments and entertainment readers can’t find anywhere else;
  • Use data scientist to study online reading habits to improve conversion rates;
  • Bundle additional services;
  • Move from advertising to content;
  • Give readers access to live events.

Of course the ideal situation is maintaining offline print subscriptions in combination with online paying user growth. You can get there by generating premium content to insert in the newspaper and put that behind the content paywall. You will meet less competition from other media, and can partner up with events if you make online content local. Give your efforts some time. You will have to learn from your online visitors, to understand their behaviour and needs.

Building block: Audience

Many people see articles not as the outcome of hard work, but as information that has always been there.  It takes time to change the perception. The metered paywall is the result of years of trial and error. Metered paywalls give users the opportunity the read a couple of articles for free (freemium model). Tough readers will have no problem paying the subscription, while casual readers will not pay for content, but bring in the advertising revenue. A hard paywall (all content behind the wall), only works for publishers that produce really unique content, that cannot be found anywhere else. Think of content that is made for niches, such as medical specialists and lawyers.

Building block: Creator

It needs a professional to dig up the info, arrange it and make it into a good story. Sometimes the professional himself seems to forget that. One of the reasons that copyrights are infringed on a massive scale, is that content creators are not careful with it as well. It’s striking to see that a lot of journalists still think copying is allowed when a citation is placed next to the copy. In addition, not every creator can appreciate that his work is locked. Finally, it is important that the content paywall is taken into account in the agreement with the creator. I myself have had a case in which a freelancer took a firm approach to a newspaper and demanded and received additional compensation. It is a good idea to involve the creators in the development of the paywall and explain why it is desired.

Building block: Protection

If you want to build a content paywall that works you need a lock on the door.

Online copies damage the paywall because they decrease the uniqueness of the content. The copy competes with the original article in the search engines and can cause a drop in ranking. For freelancers and publishers illegal copies make it difficult to sell the work again because the content is already available online for free.

Paywalls do need protection. You achieve this by consistently monitoring whether your content is accessible in other places. I know of examples where content has been placed behind a paywall by the infringer! No or insufficient protection cost you money, traffic and credibility.

If you look at it from a commercial perspective, there’s a lot of new business out there!  The people and organisations that steal content behind the wall show product demand. They publish the content to an audience the creator probably wouldn’t have reached otherwise. These infringers are potential new subscribers, advertisers, customers for content licenses, undiscovered competitors or even business partners.

Marcus van de Kerkhof

Do you see the importance of proactive content protection, but you don’t know how to start? I would be happy to help you provide insight. I am also very curious what you want to know more about. Let me know and fill in the form.

Disclaimer

I am not a lawyer by profession.  This article does not constitute legal advice. What is written on this webpage is my personal opinion. It’s based on my experiences with helping journalists and publishers protecting their content.

Why duplicates harm your online business model

Matchhamster Product Sheet
3 minute read.

Content protection is crucial for your site

Your site is a marketing channel for your own organisation, on which you can enable visitors to purchase products or to take out a (trial) subscription. The commercial success of your site is therefore primarily dependent on the number of visitors that you are able to attract with your content. Sites that copy your content without permission do more than free piggyback on the efforts of your organisation. They appropriate traffic and thus income that – if there was no copy available – would have gone to your site. That’s why duplicates harm your online business.

In search engines, original content competes with copies

Internet users are looking for information. It is of secondary importance to them where that information is found. That means that your online content competes with the unauthorised copy for the attention of the consumer. Once the internet user has found the copy of your content, there is little chance that the same article will be viewed on your own website. Because the information is identical, it will not be immediately visible to the user – and to a certain extent irrelevant – whether he will be confronted with the original or the copy.

Almost everyone on the internet uses search engines. It is therefore likely that a high ranking in Bing and Google contributes significantly to the find-ability of a certain site. The way in which ranking is established after a search query on Google is complex. The influence of the search results has meanwhile become the domain of a specialised field, but it is going too far to go into detail now. What is important to you is that Google and Bing do not know for sure the authenticity of the information provided.

Creating the content is no guarantee that you are at the top of the search results

So it may just be that the site with your unauthorised copy on it, scores better in Google than your own site. Is that bad? International research shows that internet users scan the search results page from top left to bottom right. The further away from the “ideal position” at the top right, the less attention the user has to the search result. The statement is therefore obvious: the lower the ranking of a site in the search engine, the smaller the chance that the relevant page will be viewed. It is likely that the percentage of users who actually click on a site with a lower ranking is much lower, certainly if the same information has already been observed on a site with a higher ranking.

A simple calculation example can illustrate what that can mean in practice

Suppose you have 1000 articles of online content. In a world where there are no copies, you will always be at the top of the search engine results. The top search result gets 27 percent of all clicks. If we have one user searched for each article, you will generate 270 clicks on your site.

What now as an average of sixty percent of your content is copied. We assume that 400 articles will not be copied at all, 300 articles only once and 300 articles twice.

For the 400 articles that have not been copied, you generate as many clicks as before, because you are in the first place in the search results. That gives you 27% of the clicks, or 162 clicks.

For the 300 articles that have been copied once, you drop to second place in the search results. That only gives you 12 percent of the clicks, or 36 clicks.

For the 300 articles that have been copied twice, you submit even more clicks. You only have 8 percent left, or 24 clicks.

You could have generated 270 clicks. But because of the higher classification of illegal copies, you now only have 222 left (162 + 36 + 24). You therefore deliver almost 18 percent traffic to your total article file!

The world is of course more complex than the above calculation example. Research, analysis and interpretation of the distribution of online content is tailor-made.

How to get lost traffic back with copyright protection?

You need efficient copyright protection to avoid duplicates to harm your online business. For an efficient copyright protection strategy you first of all need unique content. You must organize that content well, so that you can always demonstrate when it was created. The next step is to monitor your articles and images. Who copies the content, partially or integrally? Finally, you need to remove the duplicated content. You can do that yourself, or with the help of professionals. For example, we have a takedown service for copyright violations.

Marcus van de Kerkhof

Do you see the importance of proactive content protection, but you don’t know how to start? I would be happy to help you provide insight. I am also very curious what you want to know more about. Let me know and fill in the form.

Disclaimer

I am not a lawyer by profession.  This article does not constitute legal advice. What is written on this webpage is my personal opinion. It’s based on my experiences with helping journalists and publishers protecting their content.

How to deal with copyright infringements

Matchhamster Product Sheet
3 minute read.

What to do when content is stolen?

Should you deal with  a copyright infringement? Why bother if you think the violation is not harmful. But before jumping to that conclusion it makes sense to check if you are losing traffic, sales potential or reputation. Eventually, if you decide to tackle the copyright violations, you can take a number of steps. let’s discuss them.

Approach the infringer

It is obvious to start with the person or organisation who has infringed your copyright. You sent a letter and ask to remove the duplicate. In many cases it is an effective method. To give you an idea: 98% of the infringers we approach immediately agree. It’s a good way to get in touch and ask for a backlink. You may even be able to do business. After all, there is interest in the content. Keep in mind that most people have no knowledge of copyright law.

Ask the host to remove the content

You may not get any response. Or you have no idea who manages a website. In that case it makes sense to approach the host. This organisation is responsible for the platform on which the website runs. In most countries the host is required to cooperate with an infringement removal. It’s not to say the procedure is made easy for you. In the end, the host will coorporate, and remove the webpage.

Contact the platform responsible for traffic

Contacting Google, Bing, Instagram or any other platforms is a procedure similar to contacting the host. The result is different. The copyright infringement is not removed, but traffic to it is ended. It is not an easy procedure and it takes time. Platforms are reluctant to remove links. One reason for this is that the procedure is being abused. In this way, the parties try to eliminate competitors. Another reason is that it takes a lot of manual work.

Legal case

A legal case is a serious option if copyright violations seriously harm your business. Always make a reasonable proposal first, in line with the case law in your country. Based on my experience, usually a deal is made before going to court. But sometimes the counterparty refuses a deal. For example because they are convinced that copyright does not apply to their case. You will then have to continue, because other offenders keep an eye on how far you are willing to go. Make sure that your content is unique and that you have captured its origin. If you have your affairs in order you will most likely win the case. Chances are high it never comes that far, because the court will insist that you talk again and settle the matter.

Legal cases can bring in cash and the reward, but it takes time, lawyers are expensive and you might get some negative feedback. Don’t go asking for money if you are dealing with a real person, that had no intention to use your work in a commercial context. Not only collecting the money is hard but it is rather unsympathetic to claim money from a person. You are not making a good impression in the media.

Marcus van de Kerkhof

Do you see the importance of proactive content protection, but you don’t know how to start? I would be happy to help you provide insight. I am also very curious what you want to know more about. Let me know and fill in the form.

Disclaimer

I am not a lawyer by profession.  This article does not constitute legal advice. What is written on this webpage is my personal opinion. It’s based on my experiences with helping journalists and publishers protecting their content.