Due to recent events, I feel I need to address some issues concerning ownership of T&T's content. I apologize that I have to write this entry.
There are some people who don't understand the concept of intellectual property and copyright law. Maybe they have the misconception that it is just words on the Internet and therefore it must be free. But that's far from the truth.
In T&T's "footer" that appears on every page of the blog (and just added recently to the top right corner) is our copyright © statement. It clearly states:
All rights reserved, do not reproduce in whole or in part without the express written consent of Trials & Tribulations.
"..written consent.." That's pretty clear, right? I mean, even a fifth grader could understand that. Before you use T&T's content, you need to write and ask for permission, first.
What is copyright, represented by this symbol © specifically? Here is an excerpt, from Black's Law Dictionary, 8th Edition:
Copyright: The right to copy; specif. A property right in an original work of authorship…fixed in any tangible medium of expression, giving the holder the exclusive right to reproduce, adapt, distribute, perform and display the work.
Copyright infringement: The act of violating any of a copyright owner’s exclusive rights granted by the federal Copyright Act, 17 USCA §§ 106, 602. A copyright holder has several exclusive rights in copyrighted works, including the rights (1) to reproduce the work; (2) to prepare derivative works based on the work; (3) to distribute copies of the work; (4) for certain kinds of works, to perform the work publicly; (5) for certain kinds of work, to display the work publicly; (6) for sound recording, to perform the work publicly; and (7) to import into the United States copies acquired elsewhere.
Criminal infringement: The statutory criminal offense of either (1) willfully infringing on a copyright to obtain a commercial advantage or financial gain (17 USCA § 2319)…
Direct infringement: … 3. Copyright. The unauthorized copying, distributing, or displaying of — or the adapting of a derivative work from — a copyrighted work.
Intellectual property: 1. A category of intangible rights protecting commercial valuable products of the human intellect. • The category comprises primarily trademark, copyright and patent rights, but also includes trade-secret rights, publicity rights, moral rights, and rights under unfair competition.
T&T is a different type of criminal justice blog. We don't just read stories about horrific crimes in the mainstream media (MSM) and regurgitate them. We create our own content. We perform research on crime stories. We either watch a complete trial online or in my case and CaliGirl9's, personally attend a trial and report on it.
All of us at T&T have a deep interest in the criminal justice system. That's where our passion lies. Our participation in various crime forums goes back almost nine years. For myself, I'm well known in that community for my trial attendance and reporting. Although T&T is not affiliated with any MSM, the Los Angeles County Superior Court's Public Information Office has now recognized me as a member of the media. This is a huge honor for myself and T&T.
In all my years of following crime stories, attending trials and reporting on them, I've never experienced blatant copyright violation. Never. That is, I never experienced it until I reported on the Dr. Conrad Murray preliminary hearing. In the crime forum community, there are strict, understood rules about taking MSM and blog content and posting it. For MSM stories, you are allowed to post a "fair use" snippet from the story and then post the link where individuals can read the full story. For crime blogs, unless it is an accredited source, usually you are not even allowed to post the link, much less the gist of the story. Because of T&T's hard earned reputation, the big crime forums like WebSleuths and In Session now recognize T&T as an accredited crime reporting source and links to T&T can be posted there.
T&T is not a Michael Jackson Fan web site. T&T writers are not fans of the decedent. I did not attended the Dr. Conrad Murray prelim because of who the decedent was. I attended because of the whole concept of someone hiring a doctor to put them to sleep~~something so reckless, so beyond what a normal, thinking rational person would ever do. I did not attend this prelim for the specific benefit of Michael Jackson's fans.
To track how well we are doing, T&T has a visible stat counter. To date, T&T has over 1.4 million viewers. Behind the scenes, T&T can see where the the links are coming from. After the second day of covering the Dr. Conrad Murray prelim, imagine our surprise to see our web hits noticeably increased. When I went to these web sites and twitter accounts, a troubling picture emerged. My entire Dr. Conrad Murray prelim content was being re posted, without obtaining written consent; essentially violating the copyright. The unpaid time, energy and personal sacrifice I put into my trial coverage was being copied in its entirety without my permission. I went to many of these twitter accounts and web sites. I even took the time to translate foreign language sites to see what they said. Everyone should note that near the bottom of the right column, right above the LABELS listing, there already is a language translator link on T&T.
On January 5th and 6th, I did receive some written requests to use T&T's content. I responded to every single person who took the time to comply with the copyright. I also posted an entry, directed to the readers of the Dr. Conrad Murray prelim coverage. The instructions in that post are very clear about link-backs and unedited draft entries. However, there is nothing in that post that states you can build an entire web site dedicated to T&T's content, present it as your own and not even give credit on the front page of that web site to T&T or me, Betsy A. Ross, aka "Sprocket." Although I write under a moniker, I've not been "anonymous" since the first Phil Spector trial in 2007, when the late Dominick Dunne mentioned my real name in one of his Vanity Fair articles. In fact, my real name is clearly posted on my blogger profile page. I would never send someone my content and remain anonymous. I remind readers again, that there already is a translator link on T&T.
Any web site or twitter type account that posted T&T's content without contacting T&T first violated T&T's copyright. Any web site or twitter account that posted T&T's content without the correct link-backs to specific entries violated T&T's copyright. Any web site or twitter account that posted T&T's content in draft form without the exact wording of the unedited draft entry statement at the top violated T&T's copyright. In our book, that's criminal infringement. That's theft.