Copied Reviews


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Copied Reviews

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lokakuu 28, 2007, 2:14 pm

What do you do when you discover someone who appears to have copied their reviews from others on Amazon?

lokakuu 28, 2007, 2:26 pm

I flag them as a violation of LT's terms of service.

lokakuu 28, 2007, 2:26 pm

Flag them for copyright infringement.

lokakuu 28, 2007, 5:06 pm

Assuming they appear to have copied their reviews from multiple others, give them a red flag. But if they appear to have copied the reviews of only one person on amazon, I'd say they might actually be that person.

lokakuu 28, 2007, 11:35 pm

But why flag them? what good does it do? LT won't take them down, right, unless the original writer complains, or no? I just don't see the point of flagging them. I'm thinking of one person who took so much time to copy lots and lots of other people's reviews--and I'm gonna make them feel bad after all that effort by flagging them? I don't think so.

lokakuu 29, 2007, 1:54 am

#4, I checked out the profile of the person on Amazon and the one here, pretty much appears they're not the same person.

#5, But isn't it dishonest?

lokakuu 29, 2007, 2:31 am

Viestin kirjoittaja on poistanut viestin.

lokakuu 29, 2007, 7:48 am

7: Moderators don't check photo credits, regular users do. Just like with reviews.

5: "All that effort" of stealing other people's work? I think that might be something to feel bad about, yes.

lokakuu 29, 2007, 1:03 pm

>#6, readingrebecca, ("But isn't it dishonest?")

Let's take the example of one LT user I'm thinking of who has 315 reviews, maybe all written by other people--
(1) I suspect the LT user honestly is trying to be helpful, since (s)he gives credit by naming the real reviewer, doesn't pass it off as his/her own, and
(2) Imagining the worse, the LT user was passing off reviews as his/her own, why is it helpful for any of us to flag the review? So we draw attention by implying "caught you, you lying, deceptive, thief sneak, fraud" whatever--what good does that do? I'm just not seeing the point.

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 29, 2007, 4:33 pm

I wonder how the original reviewers on Amazon would feel about this. I've never written a review either on Amazon or on LT, but it is clear that many of those have required a lot of thought and effort.

I just finished Anne Fadiman's Ex Libris, where she details her mother's experiences when a colleague of hers published her writings as his own. Obviously, this is nowhere near as serious, but I think any writer would feel bad when someone else is passing his/her thoughts off as their own.

lokakuu 29, 2007, 4:47 pm


So what do you suggest? Let people get away with it?

Benefits to flagging -

a) In case of honest mistakes the user may remove the copied reviews.
b) In the case of malice the user may not post any more if they think they are going to be noticed almost immediately.
c) The offending reviews get pushed to the bottom of the pile.
d) In the case of extreme offenders it gives Tim the option to word a warning and eventually to take further action if he so wishes.

Of these c) and a) are the most persuasive.

lokakuu 29, 2007, 10:45 pm

I thought that a number of TOS flags could put the reviews in quarantine or remove them in some way? No?

If it is an honest mistake, as it probably is in most cases, the person will surely want to know so as not to continue making the mistake.

If it isn't an honest mistake, the person is supposed to "feel bad." Those who don't feel bad about stealing or cheating are called sociopaths, aren't they?

lokakuu 30, 2007, 3:59 am

Well, this is the thing, the person that I don't even know has copied over 300 reviews already, it's like how can I tell them now that they've been bad. Maybe if I'd caught it on review #5 or even 10, but after 300? It's like this now dead neighbor I had who I let call me (incorrectly) Chris for well over a year, but because it went on for so long I couldn't bring myself to tell him he'd been calling me by the wrong name.

Here's a suggestion: make it clearer somehow to people that they can't copy other people's reviews--perhaps on the edit page where people are likely to type in the reviews would be an obvious place for such a notice.

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 30, 2007, 9:30 am

I completely agree with EncompassedRunner #13.

lokakuu 30, 2007, 9:50 am

While this flagging business seems like a good idea, it is unenforceable unless LT wants to take over and ultimately control user data.

lokakuu 30, 2007, 11:59 am

make it clearer somehow to people that they can't copy other people's reviews

Should we just start sending people back to kindergarten?

it's like how can I tell them now that they've been bad. Maybe if I'd caught it on review #5 or even 10, but after 300?

"If I'd caught him after he only stole $5 from me, I would have said something, but since I didn't notice until he had stolen $300, how could I tell him now that he's been bad?"

I've noticed users that copied hundreds of reviews from published sources - is that different from the Amazon reviews or the same? I don't see what's wrong with the community policing itself, especially when there aren't any consequences for the actual data of the flagged users.

lokakuu 31, 2007, 12:46 am


There is no requirement that you flag the reviews or tell the person anything.

If you want to do the person a favor --- and if you think that it would be appreciated --- you could explain the situation to him or her before other people start flagging the 300 reviews.

That way, the person could remove the reviews before bunches of flags highlight the violation.

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 31, 2007, 1:00 am


Should we just start sending people back to kindergarten?

I don't think that they cover stuff like that in kindergarten, or later, any more. The lesson now is to feel good about yourself, not to bother about having reasons to feel good about yourself.

lokakuu 31, 2007, 1:04 am

I don't see why you should feel bad to tell someone that they're making a mistake. Don't approach them as if they're "Stealing" it or doing something bad, just try to leave a "helpful" comment to them - "Oh, hey, I noticed all these reviews are copied from Amazon, and wanted to let you know that this is considered a violation of the LT terms of service", then give them a link sending them that direction and say a nice goodbye.

I've only done this once, but the guy wrote a polite reply to me and (I assume) fixed his error. Honestly, I'm less worried about making someone feel bad for having wasted time than I am about sounding mean or angry in my comment to them. It's difficult to communicate polite criticism on the internet, because tone just doesn't come across well.

lokakuu 31, 2007, 1:05 am

I don't know that a link to the TOS would help; presumably good people wouldn't have done it if they knew it was illegal.

lokakuu 31, 2007, 1:10 am

True, though you'd be surprised how few people actually understand what "plagiarism" means. Every semester I give a 30-minute lecture about not handing me plagiarized work & what that means, then still get at least 2-3 papers which are directly cribbed from websites or books, and another 5-10 which aren't verbatim but are clearly restatements of others' work. And while it's tempting to say, "they knew it was wrong," you can tell that many really don't get what they're doing or why it's not legit. I think it all goes back to what they're (not) teaching in kindergarten (and 1st grade, and 2nd grade, and...).

lokakuu 31, 2007, 2:24 am

21, How about going further back than that, what they're not teaching at home. That's where I learned about stealing and that it was wrong.

lokakuu 31, 2007, 2:46 am

The thing is, it was recently pointed out to me in a different thread that the flags aren't about plagiarism. Lots of these people know not to plagiarize, so they give credit to whomever they take the review from, but that's still not good enough.

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 31, 2007, 7:09 am

Zoe, it was also pointed out several times in this thread :) Which is why I'm confused about the direction of this conversation. As far as I know the only reviews under discussion are the ones with a link back to where they were copied from.

I don't see what kindergarten has to do with anything. They don't teach about copyright infringement there.

The internet is founded on copying. Consider that the Amazon reviews are available for free to anyone who sends a HTTP request in their direction, and the process of fulfilling that request involves making numerous copies on servers along the way. Getting the review from a caching proxy is not all that different from getting it from a LibraryThing page. Both provide the same text and an indicator of origin, and both make the same text more accessible.

To distinguish between "good" and "bad" copying is pretty subtle and there are legitimate disagreements. It's not a matter of naive morality. It's not something people can be expected to just know.

Also, can we please drop the "stealing" rhetoric? Copyright infringement isn't stealing. It isn't even similar.

Muokkaaja: lokakuu 31, 2007, 8:34 am

There *are* two different issues here. One is related to people "copying" reviews but giving credit. The other is people plagiarizing reviews from others and not giving credit. And I'm sorry, Amtep, but I think the latter certainly is stealing - a kind of stealing that I find more appalling and offensive than most forms of the physical kind. Taking someone's ideas and claiming them for your own is like taking a part of that person. Nothing is more fundamental to who we are than our thoughts.

Edited to try and add some explanation.

lokakuu 31, 2007, 8:47 am

Copyright infringement isn't stealing.

Tell that to the writers, photographers, musicians, etc. whose intellectual property rights are being violated and who are being deprived of royalties.

lokakuu 31, 2007, 1:51 pm

>#17, myshelves,

like I said before, the person has gone to a lot of time and trouble to copy over 300 reviews, so I certainly don't see any benefit in telling the person now about the situation so that as you say "the person could remove the reviews before bunches of flags highlight the violation," since that would be just more work and time!

(Sure, of course, if I'd noticed this at the beginning of this person's practice I would've private messaged him/her--something I've done with others, but my point is, since the location of where people write the reviews is on the form on the Edit page, that is where there needs to be a one-line simple instruction that the reviews must be original reviews, not on some Terms of Service on some other page that people might not read.)

marraskuu 1, 2007, 12:22 pm

At my suggestion on another thread, the word "Your" was added in front of "Review" on the Edit page. That should make it clear enough now, but doesn't help where reviews by other people have already been posted.

I guess it is up to those involved to decide whether removing the reviews or having them flagged is preferable. If I had misunderstood, and had copied professional or Amazon reviews as a contribution to the information available on LT, I'd be taking the time and trouble to rectify the error. I might grumble, and mutter "How was I supposed to know?" But if that's the rule, not to mention the law....

marraskuu 1, 2007, 3:21 pm

there needs to be a one-line simple instruction that the reviews must be original reviews, not on some Terms of Service on some other page that people might not read

I think the worst part is that it isn't even mentioned explicity on the TOS page; it just falls under the general heading of "don't do anything illegal".

marraskuu 1, 2007, 3:53 pm

Yes indeed. And when you click on the flag, you are told See the terms of service for more guidelines.

The guidelines may be somewhere, but info is scattered around in so many places that finding them would be a challenge. Maybe they are now on a wiki. But the TOS (or TOU) should have a link.

tammikuu 11, 2008, 11:26 pm

I hate to resurrect this discussion but seriously, what does one do when one finds a review that is copied from Amazon's book description and is in quotes (indicating that its been copied from somewhere), but is not credited to a specific place... and then goes to the users page and sees that they have hundreds of reviews, most of which are either copies of other reviewers' works, quotes from other famous people about the book, or links to things like interviews with the author or a wikipedia page? This is not "hurting" me per se, but these are really not legit reviews and, in some cases, they may violate LT's policy on copyright infringement. I don't have the time or energy to go through and flag every single one of these things and I think that leaving a note, even a very nicely worded one, might not fly....

(Okay, now that I've complained about it, I'm letting it go....its gone)

tammikuu 12, 2008, 6:46 am

Those reviews need to be flagged. There are a number of times I've spotted similar situations, but given up flagging after about 100 reviews, because it is just so boring. If anyone needs a helping hand, feel free to send me a private message and I'll do another hundred or so to help out.

tammikuu 14, 2008, 7:09 pm

And what does flagging do... precisely?

tammikuu 14, 2008, 8:36 pm

As far as I can tell, nothing. Anyone else know?

I know this is a huge imposition on the site owners, but wouldn't it be better if there was a way to just tell Tim or Abby: "Hey, userX has a huge number of these things - can you send them a message?" It seems like you're more often going to encounter someone who does this ALL the time and has hundreds of "reviews" like this than someone who has just done this once or twice. In cases where its not a review, its merely annoying, but in cases of apparent copyright violation, it really is a site issue.

I mean, I don't want to get anyone in trouble and I don't want to be a b*tch, but this does drive me a little nuts, given that I really take time and effort to write the reviews that I do write. Also, when a book has one "review" that is technically not a review for some reason, that is kind of annoying.

tammikuu 14, 2008, 11:15 pm

I agree. LT does have (appointed) people acting as moderator to check credits for art work (photos).

Why not a similar system for Reviews? There could be a message or reminder in the Review Box.

Or if this is considered too inhibiting to memebers posting reviews, there should be moderators to check out Red flags (or whatever other mark) on Reviews that are copyright infringements.

tammikuu 14, 2008, 11:26 pm

People are not appointed to moderate the photo credits--the system is similar to the one for reviews except the author photos are quarantined after flagging. Anyone can work on this--there are really no functions on LT that are not open to anyone, except a few things that only paid users can do (but anyone can become a paid user). Author photos, however, aren't considered part of any one user's personal book catalogue data, unlike reviews.

Flags do have one small function, they affect the review sort if you sort by vote. They count as a sort of negative vote, though I'm not sure of the weighting of a flag compared with a thumbs up.

tammikuu 14, 2008, 11:36 pm

I recently noticed that someone flagged my review of Hale's Civilization of Europe in the Renaissance. I wrote this review myself, and can't figure out why it was flagged as "not a review". Maybe I'm missing the criteria for what a "review" is: I read the book and wrote down what I thought of it. How is this not a review?

tammikuu 14, 2008, 11:54 pm

> 37

How is this not a review?

I'll bite. Looks like a review to me!

tammikuu 15, 2008, 4:18 am

#33- multiple red flags for TOS violoations as seem to be indicated by #31 remove the review from general viewing. I believ the owner can still see the review though.

#34- You could of course leave a polite note on the users profile, including a link to the relevant TOS they've violated. This would probably be a better first step.

You could just leave a message on timspalding or ablanchy 's profiles. Or you could email them. It isn't getting someone into trouble, it's highlighting a probable misunderstanding, which indicates to Tim et al that they need to make certain guidance clearer.

#35 - Moderators - this has come up before with regard to inappropriate talk posts. TIM is firmly against the idea of mods in any form, preferring LT to police itself.

tammikuu 15, 2008, 7:05 am

#39: reading_fox
Leaving a message can be a good idea, especially for a relatively new member who doesn't know what's expected or allowed, but some big offenders seem to be no longer active.

tammikuu 15, 2008, 8:17 am

> 37

I could see someone mistaking it for an unattributed copy (its good enough for that) and giving a red flag, but a blue flag makes no sense.

tammikuu 15, 2008, 6:16 pm

Ok, forgive me if some of this has been already covered - my brain is working now and I don't want it to stall while I try to finish the full thread. A disclaimer - I have no idea if this is a worthwhile solution or not, either in theory or application. But it popped up and I thought I'd send it out into the ether.

This being LibraryThing, a site devoted to the written word I believe that the members here want to hold it in as high esteem as possible. That includes respecting the writers and not 'lifting' other people's work. The problem lies in people posting reviews that are not their own in the Member review box.

If there was a place where people who wanted LT access to an old NYT review, could post it and give credit where credit was due. Amazon book descriptions are included in Common Knowledge - or they are for the first 3 books in my catalogue - don't know about the rest. If there was a place in Common Knowledge or in the Wiki (and I really don't know about this, the Wiki intimidates me a lot so I don't know if this would work) where users could post reviews or links to reviews (like the link and reference lists at the end of Wikipedia articles) giving due credit with perhaps proper bibliographic information. That might be ok.

That way the Members Review box is dedicated to members words only.

Of course, this idea in and of itself may blur the lines of copyright infringement and I don't know if LT wants to involve itself in that. Since they are supported in part by Amazon, we're already using their book data which includes their book descriptions. LT has permission to use Amazon book data but I do not know if that extends to their members reviews, unless the Amazon member is copying their own review into their LT review box.

I also don't know if LT has the capacity to add another network of pages just to copy information that is already out there, but links on the wikipage does not seem unreasonable.

This way everything has their designated space.

tammikuu 15, 2008, 7:43 pm

>37 Makifat:, I'll also weigh in and say that it looks like a review to me - and a pretty good one too! Maybe someone flagged it as "not a review" because the initial part doesn't read like a review in the sense that its not like "I thought this book was great because...." Who knows.

>42 sollocks:, LT also has the capacity to post things like links and non-reviews under comments and private comments. Seems to me that's a better place for things than in the review box. I don't know why this bothers me so much, but it does. :)

tammikuu 15, 2008, 7:48 pm

Thanks to all who took the time to take a look and hazard an opinion. I can only guess that it was a mistake. Guess I won't worry about it. Thanks again!

tammikuu 15, 2008, 8:03 pm

On a related note, sometimes I see reviews that appear to be copied from somewhere and have gotten a red flag but are actually reviews that an LT member has written elsewhere and then re-copied to their reviews here. Is there a way that you can remove a flag that someone else has added if its actually not a copyright violation? Or does adding a "helpful" rating to a review kind of counterbalance the flag?

I'm thinking in particular of one really great review for The House of the Seven Gables that I read just now by user jasonpettus. This user has reviews posted on a website associated with a center that he owns but has also posted them on LT (giving credit to his original site at the beginning of the LT review). Someone has red-flagged this review, but it doesn't seem justified, since he's only copying himself (and giving credit to the copyright holder). Its a really good review and I'm just thinking its a shame that its got a big ugly red-flag on it. Don't red-flags sort of count against "helpful votes"?

46jasonpettus Ensimmäinen viesti
tammikuu 15, 2008, 8:31 pm

Hey, Jason Pettus here, the author Fanny is talking about in the message just previous to mine. Yeah, I'm wondering as well why my review got flagged; I'm assuming at this point that it's because it starts with, "Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography," and that the flag-waver thinks I am illegally reposting the review from that website to my own account.

Hey, flag-waver! I'm the owner of the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography! I wrote the original review that's being reprinted at my account, and I'm therefore the owner of the copyright of that review; I'm not violating anything by reprinting it at my LibraryThing account, in that I'm the one who owns all the rights to the essay in the first place.

I have to admit, it's extremely annoying that any old random schmuck can lodge a complaint about me, but that it takes such trouble to actually track down who that complainer is, and what they're complaining about. I would've never known about the red flag to begin with, to tell you the truth, if not for Fanny very nicely writing me a private email about the subject; it makes me really wonder about the technological backbone holding LibraryThing together, and of what safeguards there are for those who wish to exploit the system.

Just my two cents! Would really appreciate an explanation behind my red flag, LibraryThing Gods!

Jason Pettus!

tammikuu 15, 2008, 8:49 pm

Certainly the flagger should do some investigating before using a red flag.

tammikuu 15, 2008, 9:06 pm

47: Yes! I always check to make sure the reviewer isn't copying his own review from another site before I flag. I've seen reviews from jasonpettus before and from other users too where I was able to find out that yes, the review was reprinted, but from the user's own blog or amazon review or whatever. I'm sure not everyone is doing that kind of research.

tammikuu 15, 2008, 9:06 pm

Viestin kirjoittaja on poistanut viestin.

tammikuu 15, 2008, 9:20 pm

For longer reviews, I tend to post them both on LT and on my own blog. I never thought I might need a disclaimer, but as my blog gets less traffic than the road to nowhere, I doubt anyone would recognize the duplication.

tammikuu 15, 2008, 10:11 pm

You could of course leave a polite note on the users profile, including a link to the relevant TOS they've violated.

The TOS just needs to be more explicit. I assume that the people who post copied reviews and say where they're taken from don't realize that they're doing anything wrong; the clause in the TOS saying not to do anything illegal provides absolutely zero useful guidance unless you happen to be a copyright lawyer.

tammikuu 16, 2008, 6:48 am

Putting a chunk of one of your reviews into Google took me to a blog: however the similarity of names raises a strong presumption that the same person posted both.

tammikuu 16, 2008, 9:03 am


Being more or less a Luddite, it's very difficult for me to cover my on-line tracks, as it were.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 16, 2008, 10:52 pm

Where I cross-post my own reviews, I say so. (That said, I've just updated the wording at the end of my review of A Distant Mirror to make it clearer that I wrote my own darn review.)

tammikuu 17, 2008, 12:26 am

> 42

If there was a place where people who wanted LT access to an old NYT review, could post it and give credit where credit was due.

Not good enough. If the review is copyrighted, and there's no question in my mind that the NYT reviews are copyrighted, giving credit is not sufficient. You need the copyright holder's permission to post the text.

tammikuu 17, 2008, 4:54 am

#55 Is it legit, to link to that review though? Such a link could be a field in CK either auto populated or manually added?

tammikuu 17, 2008, 5:04 am

I think it is. The wikipedia article on Norman Mailer has a link (at the bottom in the references section) to a NYT's review.

I can understand not reprinting copyrighted work, but putting a link down would only generate more traffic for the work in question (if it is the original url). I don't see how that can be illegal.

As I said earlier, wikipedia makes a practice of this and we could use it in our wiki or common knowledge page.

As for uncopyrighted work that still belongs to others... I guess the best you can do is ask permission - much like we do for author photos.

Regardless of this, I think there should be an area separate from Member Reviews so that no one can confuse one person's work with another's

Just another thing to add to the long list of HoneyDo's for the LT Team.

tammikuu 17, 2008, 5:40 am


Uncopyrighted work? What work is that then - pretty much all written work(*) is copyright (even your messages on the forum here).

(*) Yes, I do know about the US Federal Government works being non-copyrightable. I also know that the US is peculiar in requiring registration in order for litigation - however that doesn't mean an unregistered work is fair-game.

tammikuu 17, 2008, 8:49 am

> 57

I think a link is alright, also, but not because Wikipedia does it. Wikipedia does a lot of things that are just plain wrong, or that we can't do ("fair use" of images, for instance, doesn't apply to LT).

tammikuu 17, 2008, 8:51 am

> 58

Some authors/photographers release the rights to their works, either completely, or under a license such as a Creative Commons license. If the latter, one must be sure to comply with the terms of the license. For instance, if it's an attribution license, be sure to give proper attribution (though it's the decent thing to do that anyway), and if it's a non-commercial license, don't use it here, because LT is a commercial site.

tammikuu 17, 2008, 8:00 pm

On your profile setting page, you have four options:

Your book reviews:
- Keep reviews on LibraryThing only
- Allow LibraryThing to give your reviews to non-commercial entities (libraries mostly)
- Allow LibraryThing to give reviews to both non-commercial and commercial entities (booksellers, publishers, authors, street gangs)
- Unchosen

This means that in some circumstances LT may be giving away the reviews for commercial purposes, with one of the settings. Doing this with someone else's copyrighted work could land LT in big trouble. Therefore, we should prevent this happening at all costs, and if this means erring on the side of caution, then so be it.

tammikuu 20, 2008, 1:34 pm

Can someone point me to where in the ToS it mentions copyright violations? I know I've found it mentioned before, as I've used it to point wayward reviewers in the right direction. I've found someone who is inputting hundreds of copied reviews, however, and now I can't find the right place to point him to. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks :)

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 20, 2008, 6:11 pm

I think this may be what you want. Under "Miscellaneous things you can't do" it says "LibraryThing may not be used for any illegal activity". Using copyright material without permission is illegal.

tammikuu 20, 2008, 7:14 pm

No, I saw that. I could have sworn this issue was specifically addressed somewhere in the ToS. I guess I was mistaken, but that bothers me. If there's a mechanism in place for "reporting" people who are violating the ToS with their reviews, then it should be spelled out explicitly in the ToS just what it means for a review to violate them. I get that most of us here understand why copyright violations are a problem, but clearly someone who has copied hundreds of reviews from external sources doesn't understand that, and it seems like having it explicitly spelled out, by the LT powers that be within the ToS would go pretty far in at least clearing the issue up somewhat.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 20, 2008, 7:26 pm

On the Wiki page, it says, "Red flags are meant for reviews that are a clear violation of the terms of service, such as spam reviews or posting copyrighted material without permission."

Of course, most people don't even know the Wiki exists, much less do they read it. It's not exactly the most obvious part of LT.

tammikuu 20, 2008, 7:31 pm

Thanks lilithcat, that's what I was remembering. And you're right - it's not exactly a place someone new to the site is going to go off in search of to see what is allowed and what is not.

tammikuu 21, 2008, 12:03 am

"Red flags are meant for reviews that are a clear violation of the terms of service, such as spam reviews or posting copyrighted material without permission."

I really think they need to make the ToS itself clear before talking about clear violations of it.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 21, 2008, 3:08 pm

The wiki page was written by fyrefly98. Not sure how much standing it has: it really needs to be endorsed by Tim. I think that it would be much better having a statement on the main site, rather than in a user-editable area.

tammikuu 21, 2008, 4:34 pm

I really think they need to make the ToS itself clear before talking about clear violations of it.

I understand the need for clarification in the ToS if people are going to be flagging spam reviews, etc.

But posting copyrighted material without permission (regardless of whether credited) is not only against the terms of service but also illegal. And I don't think LT has to spell out the ways in which a user can use LT for illegal activity. I think it is clear on that as it is.

tammikuu 21, 2008, 5:49 pm

And I don't think LT has to spell out the ways in which a user can use LT for illegal activity. I think it is clear on that as it is.

I don't think so. I assume that most of the people who post copyrighted reviews and state where they're taken from don't realize that they're doing anything illegal.

If LT had done nothing, it would be one thing. But when you add an entire feature just for pointing out the illegal action of others, it seems like common courtesy to write one sentence of clarification to reduce the chance of people making that mistake in the first place.

tammikuu 25, 2008, 8:12 pm

_Zoe_ 70, I know we've been through this before, but a deeply fundamental legal principle is that "ignorance of the law is no excuse".

If some people are sufficiently clueless on copyright that they think it's about something other than the RIGHT to COPY, that's not LT's problem. If they confuse plagiarism with copyright violation, that's not LT's problem either. Mentioning that illegal activities are not acceptable helps keep the DMCA goons from LT's door when people DO break the law here; that doesn't mean LT is obligated to cite chapter and verse of what, precisely, is illegal.

tammikuu 25, 2008, 8:23 pm

Oh, I know we've been through it before.

The issue here isn't the deeply fundamental legal principle. The issue is the general atmosphere of the site and the attitude that LT takes toward their users. I'd like to think that the relationship between the site and the users involves more than just the impersonal enforcement of laws. I understand that LT isn't obligated to explain what people are doing wrong--but that doesn't mean that it wouldn't be the courteous thing to do.

tammikuu 25, 2008, 8:38 pm

IANAL but I think it boils down to the question of trust and also to explicitness.

Firstly it seems quite obvious to me that LT works on a trust basis. It trusts the individual user to do the right thing.

As to explicitness - if LT was to explicitly disallow some things it might open the door to someone saying that because LT did not explicitly disallow something it was OK because something else was explicitly disallowed.

tammikuu 25, 2008, 8:50 pm


But immediately after saying not to do anything illegal, the ToU says Users may not use LibraryThing to injure, threaten, stalk or harrass someone. Isn't that a bit redundant?

tammikuu 25, 2008, 8:53 pm

Just a quick question, but how can you tell if the person on LT really is the person on Amazon? My Amazon reviews list me as A. Dressel (obviously, my real name). I have cut and pasted those reviews here, to my LT account, under my username Blissfulwitch. How is anyone to know that I am in fact, the same person and not just stealing Amazon reviews?

tammikuu 25, 2008, 9:04 pm

75: It's very possible they wouldn't know. The first initial matches, and you do have a location listed here which may match your Amazon location--that would be enough evidence for me not to flag, probably. But it's definitely possible that someone being rather zealous might flag your reviews without asking you or whatever first.

tammikuu 26, 2008, 2:58 am

I would suggest that you add a note at the end of the review saying "Reproduced with permission of the author of this review." or perhaps even "Copyright 2008 A. Dressel (blissfulwitch). Permission granted for use on LibraryThing."

helmikuu 3, 2008, 1:04 pm

-- Copyright infringement isn't stealing.

Tell that to the writers, photographers, musicians, etc. whose intellectual property rights are being violated and who are being deprived of royalties.

I've heard the same from some of them.


Copyright infringement isn't theft.

Dealing dope isn't theft, either.

Nor is either Piracy. Or the other way around.

They're different. Different legal rules apply. Different real-life consequences happen.

Even calling it "intellectual property" is seriously misleading, because it doesn't behave like property, neither under the law nor elsewhere.

A book that, say, Washington bought, and that didn't get lost or destroyed, may have changed owner quite a number of times, but it still has a definite owner.

Even assuming copyright had already existed back then, today nobody would own that copyright, because it would have expired a long time ago.

Ergo, a book is property, a copyright is not.

helmikuu 3, 2008, 1:14 pm

LT also has the capacity to post things like links and non-reviews under comments and private comments. Seems to me that's a better place for things than in the review box. I don't know why this bothers me so much, but it does. :)

I'm of the opinion that there's nothing wrong with a clearly labeled link to a review, or something that might be useful to someone looking for reviews.

Don't copy stuff you don't own, though.

And if it's stuff that won't be interesting to other people, keep it in other fields, like comments or privare comments.