Did you notice Reddit's going to remove "copyrighted material?"

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Isn’t everything I write copyrighted automatically?


Isn’t everything I write copyrighted automatically? Copyright 2015


The posts are already timestamped. And in the US at least, a big deal has been made about how everything is supposedly copyrighted unless the creator specifies otherwise.

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Don’t sue me…

That’s why they call me The Merry Sue!

Any Berne Convention signatory is obliged(and I think all do, at least in theory) to provide for automatic copyright on creation. It usually tends to be more of a legal uncertainty how, if at all, you can not-copyright something in a given jurisdiction.(Hence the existence of the BSD/MIT-style highly permissive software licenses and the WTFPL; it is considered easier, more reliable, and more likely to work across jurisdictions to not try to shake off the copyright and to simply license it under terms designed to be substantially equivalent to lack of relevant restrictions.)

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I suspect that if the risks of ignoring the Digital Millenium Festering Abhumans Act were as substantial, they’d be worried about those too.


Wait…does this mean no more reaction gifs?!

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Did you notice that they already did? Seriously if you don’t know about reddit, stop posting about it

The point of my earlier remarks was that, if everything we write is automatically copyrighted to us, how can Reddit possibly do without “copyrighted material”? There would be no content.

It’s part of the Berne convention. Which means that it’s affected pretty much every western nation since around the end of the nineteenth century.

When sites say things like “remove copyrighted material”, it’s clear that (1) somebody on their staff understands copyright (and the DMCA safe harbor provision), and (2) the person who wrote the copy sure as hell has no idea. Because everything that can be copyrighted is implicitly copyrighted the moment it is finished, regardless of whether or not it has a date or time stamp or indication of ownership; a copyright suit is the only way to retroactively determine whether or not something was eligible for copyright, and copyright registration is purely a convenience for speeding up the proceedings of future lawsuits.

It really gets my goat, because it implies that copyrights are much more closely tied to traditional power-structures than they really are. In patents and trademarks, registration is necessary and an important part of the process, which makes both of those things the province of large corporations (because the more money you have the more money you can use to file applications for IP protection, and thus the more applications you can file). Copyright bears a much closer resemblance to trade secret law: if you and I start a business based on a soda formula and I tell you to keep the formula a secret, I have formed a trade secret and I can sue you if you spill it – at which point the court will decide retroactively if my trade secret claim is legitimate. Likewise, I can write a poem on some toilet paper and then burn it, and I own the copyright on that poem even though nobody else has ever seen it or can ever see it again. These are extremely egalitarian protections, at least by the standard of things that require you to file a civil suit in order to enforce. Such protections can act against entrenched power structures, and sometimes have; if I write a piece of code and Microsoft pirates it and sticks it into Word in violation of the license, I can sue Microsoft and (at least theoretically) I should win despite never having filed anything.

The DMCA has no provision against false copyright claims, or against copyright trolling. Until you start to go out of business because of copyright trolls overrunning your system (something that’s unlikely because social media companies tend not to be profitable in the first place, and instead get their value from investments), there is no business reason to make any effort to determine whether or not the person posting some content legitimately owns the content or whether or not the person claiming that they don’t has any justification in making that claim. (Automated systems can be even worse with regard to false positives. I had an interesting experience with Scribd, when I posted a cut-up of a fifty-year-old public domain work and they had it taken down; the email contained a link to a mechanism to contact someone about challenging the claim, but the person it contacted told me that he had no ability to challenge the claim or to contact anyone who could – their content ID system was god.)


By submitting User Content, you grant us an unlimited license to use your content in any way we choose. This includes creative uses such as republishing the work on our ad-supported Website, forums, and elsewhere, and practical uses such as copying your content to make back ups of it, displaying it on the website, and distributing and modifying it as needed to make the Site work.

Because our servers are located remotely, and because User Content is retained indefinitely, you grant us these rights worldwide and irrevocably, and agree that we don’t owe you royalties for any use of your content based on these rights.

Further, when you make User Content available on Boing Boing, you grant the world a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License to it. Be mindful of this when you post.

I imagine that Reddit has some similar legalese?


your content

You retain the rights to your copyrighted content or information that you submit to reddit (“user content”) except as described below.
By submitting user content to reddit, you grant us a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive, unrestricted, worldwide license to reproduce, prepare derivative works, distribute copies, perform, or publicly display your user content in any medium and for any purpose, including commercial purposes, and to authorize others to do so.
You agree that you have the right to submit anything you post, and that your user content does not violate the copyright, trademark, trade secret or any other personal or proprietary right of any other party.

That doesn’t clarify anything with regard to this topic. Perhaps they really mean removing material which violates copyrights? But that is quite a distinct category from material which is copyrighted.

Also, so far as the licenses for use you refer to from bOING bOING and Reddit - they say unlimited license to use your work forver, but then also usually acknowledge that the terms of the agreement are subject to change.

Reddit is on a tightrope and should be careful on how it proceeds. It has more in common with 4chan than it does with facebook, and should never be ran like a facebook-type website.

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‘Perhaps’? Ya think?

In the link they actually say that copyrighted material is illegal. Which makes no sense.

But it seems clear from 19 (above) that what they mean is that you can’t post stuff that violates other people’s copyright. Which means stuff that people with lawyers will assert a claim to, but not anything that had ever been written by someone else some time in the past (who owns the copyright on ‘First!’?)



What are you talking about?

Look, they’re right here: https://www.reddit.com/r/reactiongifs

And, as is the current policy, and as has been the policy certainly in the 3+ years I’ve been using the site, if the copyright holder complains, content is removed. This is not a new policy, and it’s the way pretty much all websites operate.

Oh sorry, did I interrupt the anti-reddit circlejerk?

Wait, I’m sorry, the notification thing at the top of boing boing and it being right under my comment about reactiongifs aaaaand the content of your comment made me think you were replying to me. Rechecking now I see you were replying to the thread as a whole. I have no major problems with reddit, in fact I just made the 9 year club on one of my accounts.