Today, Times Newspapers Ltd (TNL), the company that owns the Sunday Times, issued a copyright infringement notice to the legal owners of First Look/The Intercept, the online news magazine. The ostensible reason for this is that TNL believe that The Intercept infringed copyright by publishing an image of the front page of the Sunday Times (see above). Of course, millions of people do just that, every day, from articles of a range of newspapers and other news media, around the world. However, the real reason the infringement notice was issued was because The Intercept published an article that showed how the Sunday Times’ article ‘British spies betrayed to Russians and Chinese’ was full of falsehoods. The article was basically an attempted hatchet job on Edward Snowden, but was clearly based on material written by the intelligence services (see below). Nor was it a coincidence that the article was published only days after the Anderson Report was published (and which the UK Government regards as too liberal).
A. Background to article
Some background… On June 5th Vice News published an article about ‘briefings’ from the US Defense Intelligence Agency on Snowden and how he could be rubbished. Then, last week, it was announced that all the documents held by Snowden were being made available online; they would also be searchable via a database. So perhaps it was no coincidence that the Sunday Times – aka, the voice of the Tory Party – then decided to run a story on Snowden.
Here (thanks to Cryptome) is the text of the Sunday Times article as first published (before they made some corrections).
But a badly written article (before and after the corrections) required due response: and, so, here are critiques by Glenn Greenwald (The Intercept), Ryan Gallagher and Clive Murray (former UK ambassador). Also, a useful summary in ArsTecnica.
In the end the Sunday Times article was damned by its own author. Here is part of an interview by CNN with Tom Harper, who was the lead reporter of the article (Harper basically admits that the article is nonsense and a regurgitation of intelligence briefings).
C. That ‘copyright infringement’ notice
Finally… regarding the Sunday Times’ assertion that The Intercept infringed copyright by publishing an image of the front page of the ST June 14th edition. This image was already in the public domain – published by ST on their Twitter account on June 13. By doing so it can be argued that ST automatically relinquished any copyright to that image. There are also, of course, the arguments about ‘fair use’ and purpose (educational, factual, limited, etc). Click here to see a useful flowchart explaining copyright – check out in particular the blue box on the right. (Note: the often reported case of AFP vs. Morel was specifically about original photographs posted on Twitter – not an image of a newspaper page – that were used, unattributed, by AFP.)
Here’s a simply guide to copyright and publishing an image.
Part of the text of the infringement notice issued by TNL is given below. Here, also, is a pdf version of the full notice.)
We write on behalf of Times Newspapers Limited (TNL) the publisher of The Times and The Sunday Times. TNL owns the copyright in the typographical arrangement of the front page of The Sunday Times published on 14 June 2015 (Material). The Material is an original work created by employees of TNL. A copy of the Material is enclosed. A copy of the Material appears at 5: rod01-cdn01.cdn.firstlook.or - and worst-also-filled-falsehoods/ (Website) under the headline: SUNDAY SNOWDEN STORY I5 JOURNALISM ATITS WORST AND FILLED WITH FALSEHOOD (Infringing Content). The Infringing Content has been reproduced, communicated to the public and published onto the Website without permission and as such infringes the intellectual property rights of TNL. A copy of the Infringing Content is enclosed. We state: 1) that we have a good?faith belief that the use is not authorized by the copyright or other intellectual property rights owner, by its agent, or by law; under penalty of perjury that the information in our notice is accurate and that News UK Ireland Limited is the copyright or intellectual property owner or is authorized to act on the owner's behalf.