Recently, an individual had submitted some articles to a company for use on their website. It appeared that all was well and the articles were published. However, the individual then received an email stating that unless they were to write back to the company within 14 days denying them the use of the articles, they would take the lack of refusal, as an indication of consent to use them. What’s more, they would presume that the individual had given them the “right to use, incorporate and distribute the Content in its Services to its subscribers and to permit such subscribers to use and redistribute the Content.” Now, the last time I checked, this wasn’t the norm under the copyright law. Furthermore, it would seem that if this could legally be done, it would need to be done in some official manner, not in an email.
According to the law, there is some wiggle room in this case. “Certain acts are not to be infringement of copyright: … the reproduction in a newspaper, magazine or other periodical of an article on current economic, political, social or religious topics, unless the author of such article has expressly reserved to himself the right of such reproduction.” Copyright on the web protects the author for 70 years, at which time the work becomes public domain. Once the work is published, it is copyrighted. The owner also has exclusive rights and must give permission should anyone choose to use the information at another time. Finally, and in relation to this situation, the copyright has two main purposes; namely the protection of the author’s right to obtain commercial benefit from valuable work, and more recently the protection of the author’s general right to control how a work is used.
It’s disheartening to know that companies feel so powerful over the small business owner or individuals seeking to contribute their knowledge to a blog and/or website. They feel empowered because they’re the ones with the online business, the audience, the resource, and with that, they can call the shots and tell another person what they will and will not do, even when, as in this case, they don’t own the content.
What would make for a great turn of events would be to send the same letter back to the company stating that unless you heard back from them within 14 days, you could unequivocally utilize their content for your own business ventures. There’s no rules as to who can monopolize upon the scope of reproduction.