Reading some Web sites and some expat discussion lists is, as Yogi Berra said, déjà vu all over again.
Staring out of the computer are articles that appeared in A.M. Costa Rica that have been copied and posted without permission elsewhere.
A 2011 presidential decree pretty well eliminated the liability of Web site service providers for any stolen material that is posted. So the responsibility rests completely with the individual who copies and reposts someone else’s work.
A recent post on the Yahoo discussion list called Costa Rica Living handled an A.M. Costa Rica news story in just the right way. The poster mentioned the story, briefly summarized the main point and then provided a link back to the original. He also made some personal comments about the article.
Other times, posters will copy and post the entire story, which is a gross violation of intellectual property rights.
The Huffington Post in the United States has been criticized for taking information from other news sources. Taking information from another news source is shoddy, but still short of simply copying another person’s work.
Some expats think that they can freely post material as long as they attribute the news story to the source. That is incorrect and similar to saying one can take someone else’s car as long as the owner’s name is written on the side door.
Obtaining news costs time, resources and money. Editors who want good news stories should do what A.M. Costa Rica reporters do, and that is go out in the driving rain, visit police stations, news conferences and the legislature to get the facts.
To publish a news story that says “as La Nación” reported is equivalent to saying “I am just too lazy to be a reporter, so I stole these facts.” That is unless La Nación is writing about itself because the company is some way involved in making news.
CRHoy, an excellent Spanish-language news site, frequently is victim of this kind of appropriation. Some editorial crooks also steal the photos.
The free trade treaty with the United States and Central American countries requires each nation to pass laws protecting intellectual property. Costa Rica has done so, but online news articles have a low priority. Prosecutors are more interested in counterfeit CDs and name brand clothing when they have time.
At one point La Nación tried the hale an online publisher into court for stealing the company’s news stories and running them through a Google translator and then posting them.
Foreign language rights usually are owed by the original publisher, too. But the offending publisher had hidden himself so well that process servers could not find him.
A.M. Costa Rica operated the Costa Rica Report site which contained a brief summary of daily news stories from the Spanish language press and links to the original story on the newspapers’ Web sites. That was a legal and ethical approach.
Editors at A.M. Costa Rica will step up their monitoring of low-budget news sites to protect the content.