Article tools can help pirates

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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. This is the conclusion of a new study by iCopyright. Article Tools 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 the tools grant them licence to take and use the content without any restrictions.

‘The good news about this study is that most piracy is benign, meaning that most people don’t intentionally set out to scrape, post or 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.’