Practical Copyright & Trademark Guidance for Webmasters and SEMs

Feb 28, 2006 - 3:04 pm 0 by

They moved this session from the big room upstairs the the small room. Duplicate Content session is the one to be at, and I am not there, but the rest of the conference is. I am glad Ben will be covering it.

Jeffery Rohrs moderator, David Adler, Peter Raymond and Deborah Wilcox are the speakers.

David Adler has his own practice, he focuses on working with smaller SEMs, Web design firms and so on, getting them through basic contracts and IP issues. He has been doing this for about 8 years now, and taught a class on it at Columbia.

Deborah Wilcox, Partner of Baker & Hostetler LLP. She focuses on trademark and copyright areas of law. She is always surprised of how things develop in the SEM world and the law is so far behind.

Peter Raymond, Partner at Reed Smith. He specialized in IP, copyright, trademark, and he is a litigator. There is not black and white line in what you can and cannot do.

Jeffery adds that the law is very slow. The legal process requires letters being sent back and forth, but can get as far as litigation.

Situation #1: Trademarks and PPC Ads - Competitors (and others) using your trademark as the keyword trigger for their PPC ads - Competitors and others using your TM in their PPC copy - He uses the pontiac ad example, with mazda advertising on the TM of pontiac

Peter said comparative ads is legal as long as the claims are truthful. The bigger issue is of trademark infringement. And this can be construed as a TM issue.

- Deborah said that Yahoo! in the past always allowed comparative advertising, but last week they announced you can no longer buy the TM name for comparative advertising. Google's policy said it will sell the keyword to anyone for comparative reasons. In the case of pontiac, they are using the TM pontiac in the title of the Google ad and that is against Google's policy. So pontiac can call Google and have them change the title.

Situation #2: RSS & Scraping - Situation -- Splogs or other unauthorized sites use RSS and or scraping the copy to generate the page content that can be monetized via contextual ad networks -- He shows an example of a splog with Google AdSense ads - Questions -- How do you discover this type of unauthorized use? -- Is this actionable? --

David said this is about fair use. There is no fine line with this. You must look at every specific case, how much is used, where it is used, is it being used for a commercial purpose and so on. From a preventative standpoint, they draft a comprehensive terms of use that is in a sense a contract. You can also password protect your content (hmmm). The technology is advancing much more quickly then the law. the argument is that these people are getting the data out there quicker, broader and so on (people laughed).

Jeffery shows an example and asks David if its actionable. I am not going to get into the details but most of it is common sense (no need to go to court right away).

Debra said you get a little bonus if you register your work within 3 months. Copyright certification is $30 or so, and its a two page form, its very easy.

How should a blogger do this? David said, File copyright registrations as often as possible. Debra said its often not possible so focus on your most important content.

Situation #3: PR Modification - Situation -- Online PR distribution -- 3rd Party site strips your PR links in favor off InelliTXT ad links to competitor sites - Questions -- Is there actionable copyright infringement? -- What course(s) of action can you take? -- Who do you approach first - the PR network, the 3rd party site or the IntelliTEXT owner (Vibrant Media)

Great session but its all mostly Q&A and Q&A bores me, sorry for short coverage on this.

Situation #4: Site Content - Situation -- Well-ranking elder law site -- Competitor copies page content verbatim - Questions -- How do you discover this type of copying? -- What's your first course of action? -- Would the DMCA offer some assistance?

David: The first thing you do is print off the copies of the Web site. Gather evidence and worry about what would be excluded at trial, at trail. Because the web page can be changed instantly. Under the DMCA there is a notice and take down provision, it exempts Web hosts from contributory infringement for hosting the content. There are some formalities involved and if you follow them, it should be easy. But you do not need a lawyer to do this often.



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