How do you claim redress against a newspaper for plagiarism?

The Mail on Sunday have apparently been caught plagiarising again (the weekday edition previously ripped off The Policeman’s Blog, a pretty stupid move IMHO). Their excuse was really taking the piss:

This, of course, is simply not true, both in the U.K. and the U.S. - copyright is maintained. To me, this says a lot about the paper, but that’s for another thread.

Now, in this case the author billed them a small amount and they’ve paid, but is there a proper way of handling this? What if he’d billed them a not so small amount and they’d refused to pay?

Bah, the hamsters munched my edit: the quote is, of course, from the Mail on Sunday which is the Sunday edition of the Daily Mail.

No answer to the OP, but, wow, the smugness or whatever it is I’m getting from their explanation, I’m speechless. That’s among the lamest excuses I have ever heard for professional plagiarism. Their attitude seems to be the poor rubes should be thankful we copied their work without attribution and distributed it to a wider audience. I mean, really, the nerve.

If I copy a book at the library and pass copies around, aren’t I doing the same thing?

From the comments:

I agree, I wouldn’t say £200 for less than 400 words is a “small amount”; but then, the copy was taken without permission.

Depending on the amount, small claims court could sort it out. They violated his copyright so they don’t have a leg to stand on. They’re probably banking on people being too intimidated by them to take it to court.

If it happened to me, I’d like to try the Bradbury gambit, which I think shows a little class.

Oh yes.

It’s not that simple (in the US, at least).

Unless the copyright is registered, then the author’s only recourse is to ask that the infringer stop using his image (unless he can prove actual damages – and that’s extremely hard).

You also have a time frame where you must register. It should be before the infringement; however, there’s a three-month window. If you put it up today, and they infringe tomorrow, you can still register in a week because it’s within the three months.

If you register before the time limit, then you have full rights, and you can be awarded statutory damages and court costs. Statutory damages start at $750 and go up, and it’s at the descretion of the court, so there’s a good chance it’ll be more than just small claims.

If the image had just been put up less than three months prior to thso that the author could register, he’s have a strong case and would get some serious payment.

However, it gets more complicated if this is in the UK. I’m not familiar with the details of UK law, but there is no need to register copyright and the author has the same protection as a registered copyright in the US. It doesn’t look like there are statutory damages, but the courts set damages according to the situation. The Mail can argue they didn’t know the work was copyrighted, but I don’t think that would hold much water, since they should know all new works are copyrighted.

Ofcourse, I was talking about them refusing to pay an invoice that he sends, not asking the small claims court to rule on the actual copyright violation. Going through the small claims court would also keep the costs very low, and it would be more likely that the Mail would just pay up rather than waste time in court.

There’s also the recent case of Scott Aaronson (and don’t miss the thrilling conclusion.)

Sorry, I sort of forgot about this thread. So plagiarism is a civil offence and the thing to do is to sue them, right?

This is what blogger Mil Millington did when his blog Things My Girlfriend and I have Argued About was plagiarised by … well, would you look at that! The Mail On Sunday!

At the time the fight was on, there was a rip-roaring fight on in the “Things” page where he called the MoS guy who authorised the plagiarism a thief (in so many words) and then every time he got a letter from their lawyers threatening to sue him for defamation he owuld post another update along the lines of “Look, here’s another email from well-known theif <person’s name> about their theft of my website” and also rip into him in other creative ways. It was a heap of fun, in a nuclear-anihillation sort of way. Unfortunately all those pages seem to have been deleted (possibly in the settlement - he got about a thousand pounds out of them in the end)

I know this is a British case, but just for comparison, in U.S. law, “plagiarism” is neither a civil nor a criminal offense. However, copyright infringement is an offense. Copyright infringement claims can only be heard in federal court, so you wouldn’t be able to take the issue to small claims court, even if you try to characterize it as nonpayment of expenses incurred.

With regard to the registration issue, you can bring an infringement action so long as the work in question is registered. So you can register the day before you sue. However, as RealityChuck says, depending on the timing, you might not be able to recover statutory damages for infringement prior to the registration date. You could still seek damages for any ongoing infringement and any actual damages, though, which might not be as high as statutory damages for past infringement.

I’m unclear on exactly what they did - was it that they printed substantial extracts of the blog and passed them off as their own writing, or did they print excerpts and give full details of the blog URL etc - if the latter (and if it was only small excerpts), doesn’t it fall under fair use? - if the article purports to be a review of blogs, for example.

IIRC, they took the entire blog entry and reprinted it. That goes beyond fair use.

You could read the link in the OP. It’s quite explicit what they did.

The original author’s letter read:

And the newspaper said:

It was not a review of blogs. It was not a short excerpt. It was a lengthy story printed for the value of the story itself, accompanied by a flagrant dismissal of copyright law that would be laughed out of any post made by the most fervent anti-copyright posters on the net.

Imagine the Mail taking one of Sampiro’s stories off the Dope, publishing it whole in the paper as something amusing, doing so without notifying him or the Dope, and justifying it all by saying that as soon as he posted it he made it fair game for anyone to reprint.

Jaw-dropping, mind-boggling, senses-rattling. However strongly I can put it doesn’t begin to convey how astounding this behavior is on the part of a legitimate newspaper.

I did. It’s the ‘blog of the week’ reference that made it unclear (to me) whether it was a review of the blog, or just a snagged copy of a whole article.

Hopefully his doesn’t get classed as resurrecting a zombie thread, but there’s been a particularly egregious example: a blogger I read regularly (she of Attack Cat fame) has been plagiarised by the London Metro and by Sky.

Re Bradbury gambit

I used that in work a few years ago, with out knowing what the “bradbury gambit” was…

I worked out a inventory managment system that tied the incoming stock data base to the sign and price tag computer just for my department. It just seemed like an easy way to avoid duplicating effort. It was no great invention.

When I discovered that my workplace had “used” the system with all its stores, across the country, I gave them the option of giving me a raise, or allowing me to explain the system to our many competitors that use the same data bases and tag/sign printers on a consulting basis.

Sure I used their stuff, but it was my expertise and insight. I got a $3/hr raise (about 10X) the average raise, and an agreement to not share the idea. I responded with a not share with in 6 months of termination of employment and a guarentee that future raises would not be affected (we get a 1.5% bump automatically every 9 months)
Plus I promised the first dibs on any other ideas I came up with

ps… i LOVE making more than my boss…