“IMGroup Kindle Blog”: please ask permission first

“IMGroup Kindle Blog”: please ask permission first

I would not normally take this sort of thing public, but I don’t see a good way to contact this group.

The IMGroup Kindle Blog has begun reproducing posts from this blog without my permission.

This is defined as copyright infringement, and it is a federal crime. 

I think I’m pretty generous about giving permission to reprint when people ask me for it (I usually just ask for attribution and a link).  If someone wanted to use significant material from me in a commercial book, though, I might ask for compensation.

It appears to me that this is being done as a promotional tool.  The other posts appear to just be ads with referrer links.  They are using my posts to lend value to their blog so they can sell products.

They do attribute the posts to my blog and me, but that doesn’t make it okay.  I don’t do ads in this blog (although I do use referrer links).  This is not a way I approve of my posts being used.

If I could simply e-mail and ask them to cease and desist, I would do that, but I didn’t see contact information.

Clearly, they read this blog.  The choices appear to be intentional…they aren’t appearing in the same order they are in this blog, which suggests a human selection process (as opposed to software “skimming” every post).

So, this is my cease and desist letter to them:

  I hereby alert IMGroup Kindle Blog (http://imgroupkindle.wordpress.com/ that I do not authorize this copying and distribution of my copyrighted material.  I am asking you to stop adding more of my posts to your blog without obtaining permission first, and to remove those of my posts you have already distributed.  In the event that you do not comply, additional action may be taken.

For all my regular readers…I hope you find this at least interesting.  In this case, there are a few other things I can do…but I’d prefer they just stop.

I do like to take things to the broader issue.  First, works in the US are automatically copyrighted.  Registration of the work is important for certain legal actions, but reproducing copyrighted work on the web, outside of the Fair Use provision, is illegal.  Since this specific use reproduces the entire work for commercial purposes, it would not fall under Fair Use.

The first time I saw that they had done it, they reproduced a post that I had done with public domain material.  I can not control use of that material, so I didn’t say anything then.  The second one I saw was one of my Freebie Flashes, and it happened to be one where I hadn’t written much about the books (that happens most typically when there are many books at once and time is short).  I didn’t try to address them at that point, because it’s difficult to defend that simple information like that establishes a copyright.

However, they have since published a review I wrote, a Round Up, and one of my popular tip posts (the one on Daylight Savings Time and your Kindle).  Since these are original material, copyright is established.

It’s possible they don’t realize what they have done is illegal.  It may be that when they see this post, they’ll stop and remove the earlier posts.  That would be my favorite resolution.  What other actions could I take?  I don’t want to be entirely specific here…I’d like to give them a chance to comply voluntarily.  I know who hosts the blog: that’s one avenue.  Legal authorities are another one, but that’s much more complicated for both of us. 

If you’d like to reproduce something of mine, feel free to ask.  That’s happened a few times…I don’t think I’ve said no so far, even when the reproduction was in a commercial enterprise.  Those requests were reasonable, and even appreciated.

If you have a website (including a blog), I’d suggest you read the appropriate copyright law.  Fair Use can be tricky, but it’s worth reading the copyright office document on Fair Use:

http://www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html

There are four elements cited in that document, which actually come from Section 107 of Title 17. 

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work

It’s legal for me to reproduce, by the way, because it is a government document.  That’s generally true.

So, when you are considering the use of something, you think about:

  • What is my use of it?  Am I using it to make money or for educational non-profit use?  Using in a classroom is different from including it in a commercially-marketed book
  • What is the copyrighted material?  Is it something which the person would want to protect? 
  • How much of the work am I using?  There isn’t a set number of words.  For example, using a paragraph from a full-length book in a review should be fine.  Using a stanza of the same length from a poem is probably not
  • Will my use potentially hurt the commercial use of the copyrighted material?  That means, in part, that it matters what you reproduce.  If you reproduce the end of a mystery, that can have a bigger commercial impact on the original work than if you reproduce an introductory character description

The copyright office also specifically says, “Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.”

It’s always better to ask for permission first, although that can be difficult.  In many cases, though, it’s not hard to find the copyright holder.  If they say yes, that makes everything much simpler.

UPDATE: The blog has been deleted.  Thanks to one of my regular readers, Dave, for alerting me to this.  When I follow the link, it says,

“imgroupkindle.wordpress.com is no longer available.  The authors have deleted this blog.” 

That’s a reasonable resolution.  If the authors do have something to say, I hope they come back with another blog with original material.  If the blog was only set up to use other people’s work to help them sell items, it’s just as well.  I’m very happy this was resolved without any stronger action than a notification.  That’s better for both parties.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

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8 Responses to ““IMGroup Kindle Blog”: please ask permission first”

  1. Richard Orlin Says:

    Check WordPress.com’s terms of service:

    “Copyright Infringement and DMCA Policy. As Automattic asks others to respect its intellectual property rights, it respects the intellectual property rights of others. If you believe that material located on or linked to by WordPress.com violates your copyright, you are encouraged to notify Automattic in accordance with Automattic’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) Policy. Automattic will respond to all such notices, including as required or appropriate by removing the infringing material or disabling all links to the infringing material. In the case of a visitor who may infringe or repeatedly infringes the copyrights or other intellectual property rights of Automattic or others, Automattic may, in its discretion, terminate or deny access to and use of the Website. In the case of such termination, Automattic will have no obligation to provide a refund of any amounts previously paid to Automattic.”

    http://en.wordpress.com/tos/

    Contact WordPress.com directly and they will take down the site.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Richard!

      I’m familiar with that…it was one of the other options. However, I want to give the bloggers a chance to just change the behavior. They may have legitimate things to say, and I hate to get somebody shutdown who just didn’t realize the mistake. I’d have other options in this case as well…but I’ll give them a chance first.

      I appreciate you linking and taking the time to explain it. :)

  2. Dave Says:

    A blog with no contact information anywhere to be found? That’s unheard of!! Oh, wait… :)

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Dave!

      If you are talking about this blog, I always let people know they can leave a comment, tell me it’s confidential, and I’ll leave it that way. I should update that on the About page…and I’ll do that.

      I do think I’m very easy to find, though. A simple search for me will give people ways to reach me. For example, on the blog I link to my Twitter feed (a private message can be sent that way) and to my Amazon Author Central page, where I have a public forum.

      I searched for the publishers of that blog…I could find an IM Group, but couldn’t tell if it was the same…the site I found didn’t mention the blog.

      I could leave a comment on that site…but I didn’t see any rules about it. I didn’t want to leave a public comment there if it was unmoderated, because it would make the bloggers look bad on their own site. That’s a little “in your face” to me. Of course, this could be seen as “behind their backs”, I suppose.

      Thanks for pointing that out. I’ll make it explict on the About page. Edited to add: I did double-check, and I do have a way to contact me in the comments on the About page, but I’ll move the information to the top.

  3. Kathy Says:

    Hi: Sounds pretty rude – not to mention illegal and immoral. You work awfully hard on this blog – like any creator, you deserve control over your work. It is fine putting it up on the blog here – yet another interesting creative control issue…. Kathy

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Kathy!

      Thanks for letting me know you think it is okay! The issue of unauthorized reposting does affect a lot of people.

  4. Dave Says:

    The problem seems to have solved itself. :)

    “imgroupkindle.wordpress.com is no longer available.

    The authors have deleted this blog.”

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Dave!

      That’s a good resolution to the situation, thanks for letting me know! If they do have something to say, I hope they come back as another blog that writes original material. If it was just for the sake of other people’s material selling stuff for them, it’s just as well. :)

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