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Professor suggests 24-hour delay before aggregators can link to content

Suggestions for changes to copyright law posted on the Business Insider by a US university professor and lawyer have come under fire after proposing that the direct reposting of news content from a weekly title online should be banned for a week following publication.

The article suggests that declines within the newspaper industry could be improved if intellectual property rights were to undergo “rethinking”.

Using aggregators like Google and others, I can access essentially in real time the lead paragraphs of almost any story from the New York Times, the Washington Post, or indeed any other major news service. Not surprisingly, traditional print media publications are dying, and not surprisingly their owners’ online dotcom alternatives are generating far too little revenue to pick up the slack; why pay for any content when the essence of everything is available immediately, and free, elsewhere.

The writers Eric Clemons and Nehal Madhani add that one solution could be to apply a waiting time on articles before they can be reposted online by external aggregators, unless it is only in commentary on the work.

A first suggestion would be to provide newspaper and other journalistic content special protection, so that no part of any story from any daily periodical could be reposted in an online aggregator, or used online for any use other than commentary on the article, for 24 hours; similarly, no part of any story from any weekly publication could be reposted in an online aggregator or for any use purpose other than commentary, for one week.

But these proposals have been strongly opposed by online news sites such as Techdirt.com, who said the issues facing newspapers is not the fault of news aggregators.

Revenue from those publications has been in decline for many years — well before Google and the internet existed. The biggest problem many of the bigger publications faced was taking on ridiculous debt loads. On top of that, most of them failed to provide value to their community, as competitors stepped in to serve those communities. That’s not about aggregators.

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Teacher’s defamation suit against student newspaper dismissed

A music teacher who filed a defamation suit following an article written by a high-school student has had her case dismissed by a county judge.

According to a report by MyNews4, Kathleen Archey, a teacher at Churchill High School in Nevada, claimed student Lauren MacLean’s student newspaper report outlining parental complaints about the way students were selected for a choir competition was defamatory and negligent.

MacLean wrote that she tried to interview Archey to get her side of the story. Archey said MacLean pursued her; even after she refused to talk. Archey claimed defamation and sued MacLean’s faculty advisor, the principal, the superintendent and a local newspaper that picked up the story.

The faculty advisor issued a statement to the news site following the dismissal of the case.

The decision proves what I said the entire time–my reporter Lauren did everything correctly, told the truth, and that’s been proven with the dismissal of the lawsuit on the grounds of frivolity. There were no grounds to it whatsoever. The judge stated there was not a single sentence in the article that was untrue or defamatory.

Hatip: Techdirt

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Nieman: Would dedicated follow-up outlets make for better journalism?

It’s an idea which has been circulating for some time now, but was raised again by Megan Garber on the Nieman Journalism Lab in light of the recent WikiLeaks leak – “what if we had an outlet dedicated to continuity journalism”.

Her idea seems to centre on both the issue of sustaining interest in stories, as well as the importance of journalists continuing to follow-up on topics long after a story is published.

While it may not always be practical in a busy newsroom, she suggests the creation of a separate organisation whose sole practice it is to follow-up on past news stories.

What if we had an outlet dedicated to reporting, aggregating, and analyzing stories that deserve our sustained attention — a team of reporters and researchers and analysts and engagement experts whose entire professional existence is focused on keeping those deserving stories alive in the world? Sure, you could say, bloggers both professional and amateur already do that kind of follow-up work; legacy news outlets themselves do, too. But: they don’t do it often enough, or systematically enough.

It is a debate which has drawn support from both sides – one of Garber’s commenters, Adam O’Kane, who runs the Late Press blog, has already announced he has secured the domain ‘followupstories.org’.

Techdirt’s Mike Masnick says he is “not convinced”. He says that not following through a on a story at a later date may actually be a sign of a good understanding of what makes news.

After all, there are plenty of news stories that live on for a while, if the “follow up” events are considered newsworthy. And certainly, on niche topics, there are plenty of dedicated folks who follow those stories all the time. So an organization that just does follow through doesn’t necessarily make sense, because the problem isn’t necessarily the lack of follow-up, but the lack of newsworthy information to come out of such follow-ups.

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