Now that Bill O’Reilly is no longer on the Fox News Channel, it makes sense that until a new gig comes along, O’Reilly is going to tap into his fan base and make some money providing content for which many people will happily pay.
Eric Wemple raises the question of whether or not O’Reilly’s content violates copyright law.
A glimpse at planning materials — even retrospective ones — for “The O’Reilly Factor” is something for which the Erik Wemple Blog readily pays a premium. So we signed up. Turns out that “Bill’s Daily Briefing” is a daily assortment of copyright violations. Sample this item from Monday’s “briefing.” To judge from the top-level architecture, it’s a story written by Eugene Flarmben on the death of Erin Moran.
At the bottom of the piece lies a link: “USA Today,” leading to a story by Justin L. Mack of the Indianapolis Star. So did BillOReilly.com summarize and aggregate the USA Today story, just the way that websites everywhere have learned to do? No — BillOReilly.com just copied the text and published it for its premium members.
Outside of such courtesies, however, these news roundups betray contempt for the work of journalists, not to mention the imperatives of copyright law. Aggregation is an ages-old practice that took a trip to the major leagues with the advent of the Internet. Over a couple of decades of practice, most news organizations respect a set of principles when it comes to spring-boarding off the written work of others: Don’t copy too much text, link generously and move the story forward with analysis, reporting, humor, whatever.
Of course, this practice as Wemple says is something that goes back to when political blogs exploded across the internet in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. I just engaged in the practice just now, and nearly all of the contributors at RedState do the same thing. Naturally, the practice brings about criticism, and I see it from time to time on social media. Often, it extends from talentless hacks who have nothing interesting to offer, so they whine about the work of others.
Wemple’s issue is not like that but instead that O’Reilly is charging people to read aggregated content from other websites. Wemple reported none of the sites O’Reilly cited confirmed having an agreement with the former Fox News host to use their content in that way.
Also, it strikes me as odd that the best O’Reilly and the people who work for him can do is offer up content about Erin Moran’s death? One visit to the entertainment section of any news website and all the information is there.
I suppose people are paying mostly for access to O’Reilly’s podcast but seriously, how difficult would it be for O’Reilly to write some commentary available exclusively to premium members? O’Reilly churns out ‘Killing’ books once every six months. It wouldn’t be a stretch for him to offer something to paying customers outside of news they likely already consumed.
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