When traditional media want copyright for themselves, but violate others' copyright


UPDATE MARCH 4TH, 2010, 20.30 GMT+1: the unauthorized copy mentioned below has been removed by the staff of the Bellunopress website, shortly after I asked them to comply with the terms of use of this website. I am happy to see such a confirmation that this incident was just a temporary slip, without (as I had said since the beginning, cfr below) any intention at all to harm anybody: This page remains online, of course, as useful resource for whoever should have the same problem in the future with other websites.

Newspapers and, in general, all traditional media outlets ran as traditional businesses whine all the time that Internet and digital piracy are slowly killing them, through what is, in the best case, unfair competition. For this reason, such companies regularly ask for severe changes in copyright laws and for their strictest possible application.

Too bad that they themselves tend to forget those rules when the copyright belongs to somebody else. Wanna see an example?

On February 13th 2010 I wrote an article about the fight of an Italian entrepreneur against proprietary file formats in Public Administrations. In that article I tell the real story of a small businessman in Santo Stefano di Cadore, Belluno Province, Northern Italy, who is really unhappy because the local Chamber of Commerce releases documents in file formats that are officially not considered standards by the Italian Government and such practices may also force local citizens and businesses to buy expensive software from foreign companies that don’t even pay the related taxes in Italy.

That article of mine, is protected as any other creative work by the current law on copyright, thanks to which I explicitly declare, at the bottom of every Stop!/Zona-M page that:

_"unauthorized reproduction of the articles of this website without explicit authorization from the autor on other Internet websites, online fora of any kind and magazines, books and so on is not allowed. Of course short excerpts, possibly complete of links to the original article, there is no problem."_

BellunoPress.it is a Belluno online magazine that is a real business with its own stuff, to the point that it is registered in the national Press Register. On March 2010, at 11.06 pm I sent a link to the article to the BellunoPress.it staff in the following email (whose Message-ID is 20100301220614.GD25441@nexaima.net)


  I would like to bring to your attention a case that is
  still open, about the Belluno Chamber of Commerce that
  seems to completely ignore, in spite of repeated complaints
  by one of its members, the regional and local laws about
  open digital standards:

  <a href="/it/2010/02/formati-aperti-la-regione-veneto-li-promuove-la-camera-di-commercio-di-belluno-li-ignora/">/it/node/97</a>

  During the next weeks I will continue to follow this case,
  but thank you in advance if you will do the same and will
  keep me posted.

  Best Regards,
                  Marco Fioretti

On March 3rd, 2010, at3pm I was informed by a friend that (without asking for any permission or answering in any other way to my email) the staff (“Redazione” in Italian) of BellunoPress.it copied without authorization my article, from the first to the last word, but without quoting my name or that of this website and without even including a link to the original page. Congratulations! That’s really a great show of professionalism! Also because their own page of copyright information explicitly says that “we allow personal copies and reproduction of our content as long they are accompanied by the source and name of the autor”.

The BellunoPress.it staff violated copyright and also did it, from a technical point of view, in a shoddy, unprofessional way. As you can see by yourself (link below) or in the screenshots I took on March 3rd, 2010 (top, center and bottom of the page) they just copied and pasted in a brainless way, without any formatting, with the result that the copy is much less readable than the italian original. Even if they copied my article aside much more advertising banners that you can find here. To put it short, Bellunopress.it applied literally my first rule about how to be an online loser.

I am convinced that there was no intention at all to harm in this case, just carelessness and lack of professionalism. Still, it’s about time that every player in the information and communication space (not just the smallest ones or those who started last) begin to seriously behave as if the Web really were this great opportunity for everybody to communicate and work in a leveled field, respecting each other.

I will write again to the staff of BellunoPress.it which, again, being a publisher registered with the National Press Register may also be qualified to receive public funding. I’ll check that as soon as possible. They must at least remove immediately that copy with a link to my original article for the reasons that they could and should have read when they found it. For the record, in other countries incidents like this end up with the magazine apologizing and paying a fee to the autor. I’ll let you know how things turn out. In the meantime, I would like to ask to all my readers to kindly:

Thank you!

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