Citizen Media Law Project: The laws of news aggregation

The Nieman Journalism Lab has posted an interesting report on the legality of different forms of news aggregation based on a white paper created by Kimberley Isbell of the Citizen Media Law Project.

While the paper is based on US copyright law, it is likely to be a useful point of reference for anyone dealing in online content.

In the paper Isbell offers context by discussing recent cases and the impact on the legal environment, including the licensing agreement between Google News and Associated Press announced at the end of last month. In a wider context, she adds, news aggregators can often argue a fair use policy.

(…) news aggregators could argue that the type of consumer that would only skim the headlines and ledes on the news aggregators’ website is not the type of consumer that is likely to visit individual news websites and read full articles, and thus would be unlikely to be a source of traffic for the newspapers’ websites if the news aggregators did not exist.

Her work concludes with some useful bullet points of best practice, reproduced in summary below:

  • reproduce only necessary portions of the story, not in its entirety;
  • try not to focus on a single source;
  • prominently identify the source;
  • link to the original source of the article;
  • provide context or commentary where possible.

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