Content Curation Basics

Andrew WilsonAbout

Long time marketer and infopreneur. I have been making a living online since 2005 and helping others do the same since almost as long.

I trained as an economist with particular interest in the transition economies of the FSU.

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Content curation exists because if the US copyright doctrine of ‘Fair Use’. This concept does not exist in many forms of copyright law, including the UK. So everything written is in respect of the US context.

Under the doctrine of Fair Use there are limited circumstances under which one may use the intellectual property of other people: criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research without automatically infringing upon the content creator’s copyright.

Here are a couple of examples of content, the first of from a site that specializes in content curation, the second is from the vendor of a tool claimed to be a content curation tool:

This is content curation: lifehacker.com/5897623/remains-of-the-day-has-android-only-generated-550m

This is NOT content curation: skincancertreatments.com.au/2012/03/vaccine-for-skin-cancer-on-the-horizon-fox-news/

There is no clear line of demarcation between fair use and infringement but in the examples I showed, the first from Lifehacker clearly adds value to the different sources used and would fall under the heading of comment, news reporting and teaching, if not others as well.

The second, is a link to a web page used, by a software tool’s vendor, as an example of how a tool sold on Warrior Forum produces output claimed to be ‘curated’. It is hard to see how there is any value-add and more than that, I can’t see how it falls under any of the circumstances that make taking of content ‘fair use’.

Attribution is actually NOT a requirement for fair use, clear attribution is generally regarded as being necessary for content curation. After all, without a link how can a person get to the original content to read the rest of the web page?

Images are a thorny topic and there is a fair chunk of lawyering on the topic but as a general rule unless the photo is made available with an appropriate license such as Commercial Commons Commercial Usage then taking and using it will be seen as copyright infringement by the original image owner (often an image licensing body). This can be a very expensive mistake to make.

If you look at much of the recent plethora of stuff about content curation one will see that people are lifting images and being trained to do so without any licensing checks or permissions. The vendors are often telling people that as long as the image is linked back to the original page with a credit that this is adequate – this is simply incorrect.

The Zemanta plugin I referenced upthread keeps bloggers on the side of the angels by using sources where images are likely to be available to webmasters and article writers and in addition the licence can be seen and checked before use.
Links to content are clearly shown and, in many cases, explicit permission has been given to use the material – I, for example, have licensed the content of some of my sites to Zemanta and have ensured that any contributors to my sites have by extension, given their implied consent to this usage.

So, if you are going to do ‘content curation, follow the example of sites like Lifehacker.com not the second example – the second potentially opens you up to DMCA takedown notices and worse.

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