Thomson Reuters: we’ll take your articles if you don’t tell us not to


Update: We’ve just received an email from Thomson Reuters, stating that the letter was sent to us in error. We hope that, in future, explicit permission is sought in every instance, not just in our case.

Dear Nikhil

On 20 August 2014, Thomson Reuters sent you a letter regarding the use of certain content on your website. The letter you received was sent in error. No content will be used without your express permission. We apologise for the error.

Kind regards

Kate Brown

Updated below with an email we sent to Thomson Reuters (just for fun)

We received an email from Thomson Reuters last evening, informing us that unless we write back to them in 14 days denying them the use of our articles, they will take the lack of refusal, as an indication of consent to use them. What’s more, they will presume that we have given them the “right to use, incorporate and distribute the Content in its Services to its subscribers and to permit such subscribers to use and redistribute the Content.”

This is unprofessional and unethical of Thomson Reuters: A lack of refusal to consent does not amount to giving consent, and I doubt that this rationale will hold up in the court of law.

The email (copied below, with email address details redacted) appears to be a templated one, which suggests that it might have been sent to others as well. What if the email is sent to an address that is rarely used? That’s one easy way for Thomson Reuters to presume consent (even if not valid).

It’s one thing for a blog to incorrectly presume that if they link to the source of an article or a photo, copying it is kosher (it isn’t), quite another for Thomson Reuters to start copying and distributing articles without explicit consent. For a company of its history and stature, and  one which has built its business on the basis of respect for copyright, to presume that rights have been given in this manner speaks rather poorly of its current approach to business.

This Venn diagram now makes sense:

We have denied Thomson Reuters the use of our articles (which they have acknowledged), and informed them that we will be writing about this request from them.

*

The email we got from Reuters (with email address details redacted):

from: n***********@thomsonreuters.com
to: releases@medianama.com
date: Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 6:19 PM
subject: Thomson Reuters – use of your website content

image001

August 20, 2014

MediaNama
MixedBag Media Pvt. Ltd.
20 A Rajpur Road,
Civil Lines, Delhi-110054

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thomson Reuters – use of your website content

Thomson Reuters is a global provider of electronic information, committed to providing our customers with comprehensive, timely and reliable information. Our services include the provision of key financial market content to the largest and most diverse group of financial market participants in the world. Our business customers, who include analysts, fund managers, corporate financiers and traders, watch news and prices on more than 300,000 screens linked to a secure private communications network spanning more than 150 countries.

We are writing to seek your consent to use and redistribute certain content from your website (the “Content”), in particular, articles that pertains to companies that have received investment funding from Private Equity firms and other Private Equity related articles, within Thomson Reuters services (the “Services”). For the purpose of this letter Thomson Reuters means the Thomson Reuters Group.1 We may use automated tools in order to identify and obtain such content from your website.

As such the Thomson Reuters group shall have the right to use, incorporate and distribute the Content in its Services to its subscribers and to permit such subscribers to use and redistribute the Content. We are aware that you will be receiving numerous requests of this nature and that asking you to give a response in each case would be burdensome for you. We would ask, therefore, that you respond either to the address or e-mail address given below within 14 days of the date at the head of this letter only if you wish to refuse your consent. Otherwise, Thomson Reuters will presume that your consent has been given for the purposes set out in this letter. Performance by Thomson Reuters under this letter will constitute adequate consideration for the purposes of this letter.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for any further information; for questions and clarifications, you may contact Maria Nikka De Vera, Research Analyst – Private Equity at n***********@thomsonreuters.com.

Yours Faithfully,

Kate Brown
Head of Content Acquisition – EMEA
Reuters Limited

1 “Thomson Reuters Group” shall mean any company from time to time under the control of, controlling or under common control with the entity signing this letter and also includes any third party from time to time authorised by Thomson Reuters. For the avoidance of doubt, Thomson Reuters Group shall also include The Thomson Reuters Corporation and any entity from time to time, that is directly or indirectly controlling, controlled by or under common control with Thomson Reuters Corporation. An entity will be deemed to control another entity if it has the power to direct or cause the direction of the management or policies of an entity, whether through the ownership of voting securities, by contract, or otherwise.

***

Update: We sent Thomson Reuters a similar mail, just for fun:

from: Nikhil Pahwa <nikhil@medianama.com>
to: n**********@thomsonreuters.com
date: Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 11:03 AM
subject: MediaNama – use of your website content

August 21, 2014

Thomson Reuters
3 Times Square
New York, New York 10036

Dear Sir/Madam,

MediaNama – use of your website content

This is in response to your email to us regarding the usage of MediaNama content, presuming consent unless we refused it. Since that is a principle that Thomson Reuters appears to believe in, we thought we would adopt a similar principle regarding usage of your content.

MediaNama is the premier source of news and analysis on the telecom and digital ecosystem in India, committed to providing our readers with comprehensive, timely and reliable information, analysis and perspective on the digital ecosystem. Our services include the provision of key digital industry news and analysis to some of the largest and most diverse group of digital industry participants in India. Our readers, who include venture capitalists, digital industry CXO’s and executives, telecom operator executives, policy wonks, financial analysts, fund managers, corporate financiers, and traders, read news and information on more than 100,000 screens (desktops and mobiles) linked to a sometimes secure communications network (called the Internet) spanning more than 150 countries.

We are writing to seek your consent to use and redistribute certain content from your website (the “Content”), in particular, articles that pertain to the global digital (Internet and Mobile) industry, within MediaNama services (the “Services”). For the purpose of this letter MediaNama means the MediaNama Group.1 We may use automated tools in order to identify and obtain such content from your website.

As such the MediaNama group shall have the right to use, incorporate and distribute the Content in its Services to its subscribers and visitors and to permit such subscribers to use and redistribute the Content. We are aware that you will be receiving numerous requests of this nature and that asking you to give a response in each case would be burdensome for you. We would ask, therefore, that you respond either to the address or e-mail address given below within 14 days of the date at the head of this letter only if you wish to refuse your consent. Otherwise, MediaNama will presume that your consent has been given for the purposes set out in this letter. Performance by MediaNama under this letter will constitute adequate consideration for the purposes of this letter.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for any further information; for questions and clarifications, you may contact Nikhil Pahwa, Editor & Publisher at nikhil@medianama.com.

Please also do share this email with Kate Brown, Head of Content Acquisition – EMEA, Reuters Limited.

Yours Faithfully,

Nikhil Pahwa
Editor, Publisher and part-time Head of Content Acquisition – World
Mixed Bag Media Private Limited
__________________________________________________________________________
1 “MediaNama Group” (Mixed Bag Media Private Limited) shall mean any company from time to time under the control of, controlling or under common control with the entity signing this letter and also includes any third party from time to time authorised by MediaNama Group. For the avoidance of doubt, MediaNama Group shall also include MediaNama and any entity from time to time, that is directly or indirectly controlling, controlled by or under common control with MediaNama. An entity will be deemed to control another entity if it has the power to direct or cause the direction of the management or policies of an entity, whether through the ownership of voting securities, by contract, or otherwise.

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  • http://www.deepakgupta.org/ Deepak Gupta

    “Hey, can we get coffee sometime, say tomorrow 5 pm?”

    She’s too busy staring at her phone not even bothering to look up & validate your existence with a “No”.

    You reach her place next day at 5 pm, drag her into your car, drive to an old fashioned coffee shop & make her have coffee along with a bunch of your friends.

    • Vinaya Naidu

      HAHAHAHA!!

    • Jai K

      So true!!

  • KC

    What I am wondering is, why would Kate Brown send out the email from Maria Nikka De Vera’s account?

    • Jai K

      because generally, their secys send out the mails.

  • Shufflin’ Android

    This is nothing. When I lectured law at Victoria University in Melbourne, and cancelled a TR textbook, TR initiated a campaign of harassment and intimidation through their stand over man, Robert Wilson in their Sydney office, through the VU head of the law school, Andrew Clarke. The TR rep, Anna Milanovich committed to writing a series of lies and even tried to bully the purchasing officer to reverse the cancellation! Clarke and Wilson had some kind of corrupt, pre-existing relationship, so Wilson was able to use Clarke to punish me for cancelling their textbook. Watch out for TR. Dangerous people.

  • http://www.techbangalore.com/ Prashanth HN

    #Nama’s response is just BRILLIANT!!!

  • Lara

    You know what? This is such BS, that corporations now do this. I sell on eBay. eBay owns PayPal. PayPal is the only check out option when a buyer pays for something on eBay. As the seller, you not only pay a transaction fee to PayPal, but you also pay a commission fee to eBay, on the same item. They are double-charging sellers and ripping people off and PayPal’s user agreement, ‘The Agreement’ states that if you do NOT write them personally to say that you are opting out, you cannot participate in a class action law suit against PayPal. Ever. So basically if the 10M+ sellers all want to stick it to eBay for being monopolistic market-abusing deviants, they can’t, because they didn’t ‘opt out’ of the User Agreement terms. Who even reads all those T+Cs (other than me??? Nobody).

  • Karl Hall

    The best revenge would be if -everyone- sent this email to Reuters. If Reuters received thousands of presumed-consent letters, surely they will miss responding to one or two, at which point potentially all their content would be available for free redistribution.

    • patsaison

      Great Idea. That would fix them.

      • patsaison

        My father’s health insurance company did this to him three times–they were happy to collect his insurance premium payment for years, but when he got older and started making claims for service, they wanted to push him to Medicare and discontinue his policy–so they sent this sneaky type of letter notification–if you don’t get back to us within so many days then it means you agree to our action.

        Each time I filed complaint against the insurance company with the state’s insurance commission and each time the insurance company then said they had made a mistake and will not cancel. Then they do it again.

    • Dale Tarrant

      There’s no need to think in terms of revenge. Just state that all agreements may be negotiated by email but will, in their final form, be paper-based, signed by both parties in blue ink, and with an original copy distributed to, and held by, each party. Otherwise agreement will not be presumed.

  • Flipkart

    I doubt the letter is genuine. It’s very unlikely for a big company to issue a non-directed email seeking a legal contract. And, that too one of the world’s largest media companies asking for articles from a little-known entity (no disrespect to any one). And surely, the letter signature would have matched the email id :P For technology reporters, email ID masking should be a known thing #justsaying

    • http://www.medianama.com Nikhil Pahwa

      As confirmed by Thomson Reuters, the letter was genuine.

  • Dale Tarrant

    This email suggests a new wave of legal agreements in the digital age between web and media businesses who create and share content, that is, an agreement will be assumed unless an email response to the contrary is received within a set time.

    One response, therefore, is to state in the Conditions for Use of a website that when negotiating agreements, emails may be exchanged in the negotiating phase, but final legal agreements will be exchanged only in paper-based form, with two copies signed in blue ink by both parties and with a signed copy each given to and held by each party.

    Then insert into each final agreement something to the effect that All amendments to this agreement will also be agreed to by both parties in writing, paper-based, signed by both parties and so on.

    The road to the top is paved with agreements and passwords. A key to success is to avoid verbal agreements and to require all agreements to be paper-based and signed off. Your report suggests that a third type of agreement needs to be avoided also, agreements by email with acceptance of an offer assumed if return notice is not received.

    So place on the front page of a website in small print something to the effect of

    LEGAL AGREEMENTS WITH THIS WEBSITE
    Although legal agreements with his website may be negotiated via email, all final forms of agreements will be paper-based, with two copies each signed in blue ink by both parties, and with one original copy of the agreement held by each party.

  • Amit Jain

    Medianama. Loved your response.