[WikiEN-l] Baidupedia (the downside to free content?)

Ray Saintonge saintonge at telus.net
Tue May 16 17:33:47 UTC 2006

Anthony DiPierro wrote:

>On 5/15/06, Ray Saintonge <saintonge at telus.net> wrote:
>>geni wrote:
>>>I don't know how chinese copyright law works and international
>>>copyright law tends to get very complex very fast.
>>Answers.com is an American company.  If Baidu is listed on nasdaq that
>>may be enough for US jurisdiction and US copyright law to apply.  If the
>>individual authors are left to their own devices than individual authors
>>should start peppering these unrepentant violators with large quantities
>>of DMCA takedown orders.  If you are a significant author in 1,000
>>articles you could send them 1,000 takedown orders.
>So you send 1000 takedown orders, and they ignore them all, then what?
At that point they open themselves to whatever penalties are associated 
with violating the order rather than an infringement of copyright.  
There is a separate legal process available to them if they want to 
question the copyright.

>>This could be more
>>easily done by US Wikipedians because of their easier access to US
>>courts in every judicial district if it ever gets to that.  Proving
>>damages would be difficult, but accepting the minimum statutory penalty
>>of $200 for each separate violation could have an interesting effect.
>Don't you have to register the copyright in order to get statutory
>damages?  If so, then you're out $30 a pop.  (I looked it up, not only
>do you have to register to get statutory damages, you have to register
>within 3 months of publication or before the infringement takes
>place.)  http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode17/usc_sec_17_00000412----000-.html
I think that the Foundation has been negligent in failing to register 
copyrights.  Although it is not itself the owner of most of the 
copyrights, it should be protecting the rights of its authors in a way 
similar to what a magazine publisher would.  This should involve 
registering the entire database every month or two.  Failing this, 
what's to prevent any contributor from registring the entire database, 
citing himself "and others" as authors?  This would involve a single 
payment of $30 for the whole thing. 

While damages might not be recoverable for the time before registration, 
they should be recoverable if they continue after registration.  
Copyrights do not depend on registration by virtue of treaty 
obligations.  If the word "commencement" in that section is taken too 
strictly that would be inconsistent with that treaty obligation, and it 
would open a gaping hole in US copyright law because it would amount to 
effectively condoning almost any copyright infringement that took place 
before registration and continued after registration.

>Then you get your judgement, for $200 a pop.  Now how exactly do you
>plan on collecting that $200 per violation?
Without looking more deeply into the offenders' particular situation, I 
could not at this stage even begin to answer that question.  Until we 
have an actual judgement the question is moot.

>In my opinion copyleft licenses are most useful when used defensively.
> If Baidu sues me, you can be sure I'll countersue.  But short of
That makes copyleft licences useless.  Wikipedia as a whole has shown 
great (some would say excessive) dilligence in avoiding copyvios.  It 
also maintains copious data to trace the origins of anything in an 
article.  This makes the likelihood of such a suit remote.  It means 
that there is no realistic protection whatsoever for copyleft material.  
It means that any downstream user, particularly a commercial one, can 
take anything from Wikipedia, and republish it under his own copyright 
without any fear that it will be seriously challenged.  I accept the 
GFDL position to allow the material to be re-used by commercial 
interests, but any commercial interest that uses it needs to acknowledge 
its viral nature.  Who defends that?  Who defends it 20 years from now?


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