iCopyright Study Finds Publisher Article Tools Fuel Piracy

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Revenue and rights lost to poor practices by online sites

The bad news is that many publishers fuel piracy by not giving users clear guidelines on what they can and cannot do with the content. In fact, many publishers perpetuate confusion about where fair use stops and copyright permission begins, by telling people they infringed after-the-fact, rather than giving them a quick and easy way to know and comply upfront.

A new study by iCopyright found that online publishers are losing significant revenue and, in many cases, the rights to their material, because of the way they implement 'Article Tools' on their web pages. Article Tools are common on almost every news and information website. They appear as links and/or icons that allow readers to print, email, save, share, post, and do other things with the articles.

The study found that users have become accustomed to using these tools to repurpose and redistribute articles, often for commercial purposes. Many users believe that Article Tools grant them license to take and use the content without any restrictions. Usability testing of some of the most trafficked news and B2B content sites on the Internet found serious flaws in how their Article Tools are implemented, including:

  • No limits on quantity that can be printed or emailed.
  • No clarification on where or how the content may be used.
  • No distinction between personal use and commercial use.
  • No branding (or poor branding) of publisher.
  • No copyright notice or links back to the publisher's site.
  • No messaging on print-friendly formats or e-mails that expressly state what rights the user has obtained.
  • No upgrade path to commercial reuse options.
  • No way to instantly obtain permissions.

The majority of users who participated in the study said they use Article Tools frequently to copy, post and redistribute articles via email. Most said they would honor the publisher's copyrights and use the content within acceptable guidelines, if publishers clearly communicated the guidelines. Those who regularly use content for commercial purposes said they would pay for the rights if they were priced right and could be transacted and delivered instantly.

"The good news about this study is that most piracy is benign, meaning that most people don't intentionally set out to scrape, post and redistribute content in violation of the publisher's copyrights," said Mike O'Donnell, iCopyright CEO. "The bad news is that many publishers fuel piracy by not giving users clear guidelines on what they can and cannot do with the content. In fact, many publishers perpetuate confusion about where fair use stops and copyright permission begins, by telling people they infringed after-the-fact, rather than giving them a quick and easy way to know and comply upfront."

The study findings and recommendations are outlined in a white paper that can be downloaded at:

info.icopyright.com/article-tools-whitepaper.asp

The white paper makes the case for a best practices implementation of Article Tools. iCopyright's user-tested best practices implementation promises to eliminate most piracy and to maximize revenue for publishers when their content is used or shared.

Media Inquiries to iCopyright: Mike O'Donnell, CEO; +1-206-484-8561.

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MICHAEL ODONNELL
iCopyright, Inc.
206-484-8561 ext. 1
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