Over the past few days, a controversy over copyrights erupted between AVEN and many bloggers of the asexual community, much of it documented here, because as of the past few weeks, several posts from blogs have been copied, and reposted in their entirety on AVEN’s World Watch archives.
I’m late to this issue because real life life has been getting in the way over the past few days as this issue was erupting, but I’ve been catching up. Being part of AVEN’s Project Team, but also a blogger myself, I don’t want to pick sides. This isn’t anything official, and I’m just speaking for myself here, although an official announcement from AVEN was released earlier today, and AVEN wants to work with content creators to come to a solution to this issue.
I greatly appreciate AVEN’s efforts at archiving asexual history, and I appreciate the enthusiasm of some members to find articles and posts to add. When AVEN posts articles and copies them into the WW archives, it is a good faith effort to preserve them for educational and historical purposes, because much of the asexual community’s history is online and changes so quickly. Many websites have come and gone, and copying articles is to preserve them if the article’s website goes defunct or changes URL. However, there are two more immediate concerns:
- The impact this has on bloggers, including control over one’s own content, and how this impacts their ability to retain readers.
- Copyright infringement, and whether AVEN’s archiving efforts fall under fair use or not.
Under the first clause of fair use, AVEN’s status as a nonprofit that archives information for nonprofit educational purposes is in its favor.
On this page that that further elaborates on what counts as fair use, it says that a project that non-commercial, and has a benefit to the public, are two points that fall in favor towards fair use, but there are limitations.
One of the points mentioned is “Nonprofit educational uses — for example, photocopying of limited portions of written works by teachers for classroom use.” This ties right into the third clause of fair use, which is “the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole…”, which places a limitation on how much information can be copied. The guideline is usually quoting one or two paragraphs.
The fourth clause “…the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.“, may or may not apply. Few, if any of us ace bloggers get any revenue from our blogs, but if people can just read the whole article on AVEN, then they have no incentive to click the original link, which diverts traffic away from the original blog. I haven’t been impacted by this myself, but other bloggers have. Redbeardace explained that he, and some other bloggers are dependent on traffic and visitor stats to guide them, and what they write.
Another concern is bloggers’ control over their content, especially since some of the blog posts that were reposted on AVEN were personal stories written for the author’s blog, being re-posted to a much wider audience than they may have intended, or if the blogger removed their post for whatever reason.
Personally, I think it’s fair if a couple of paragraphs are quoted, the post summarized, and linked to. That still gives someone the incentive to click the link to see the rest, and give the original blog traffic. It is also important to consider the nature of the post, respecting the difference between posts that are more about general information vs. more personal posts. Privacy should be respected.
In light of all of this, will other bloggers be stating their stances on their posts being reposted on AVEN so that this incident doesn’t happen in the future? I’d like for a balance to be struck, so that AVEN’s archives can continue to grow, while respecting bloggers’ wishes.