With the increasing importance of intellectual property on companies’ balance sheets, and the rise in litigation between them, the law of averages dictates that we’ll be noticing more mistakes in articles discussing the nature of IP and its territorial limits. You know the sort of thing I mean: bloggers who note how someone is patenting their trademark; Britons telling other Britons that their use of a copyright work is ‘fair use’ (no such defense exists in the UK, yet).
But occasionally some of the big players get it really wrong too. Last month, an employee at the BBC defended their use of photographs and text without permission by telling an aggrieved netizen that:
Twitter is a social network platform which is available to most people who have a computer and therefore any content on it is not subject to the same copyright laws as it is already in the public domain.
That’s an obviously absurd argument, and it was retracted and replaced with a (slightly) better attempt at explaining how the BBC’s practices comply with local IP laws (though it’s questionable whether that aim has been met, even though it may be sincerely pursued).
I’ve also just noticed that The Telegraph is getting in on the act too, with this gem about Apple and Samsung‘s ongoing worldwide litigation over the Galaxy Tab and iPhone 5:
While the Galaxy Tab case was about intellectual property, the hypothetical injunction against the iPhone 5 would be a patent infringement claim.
Err, right. This is a doubly strange comment since patents are usually what most people cite when asked to name an intellectual property right.
Anyway, there have been so many examples of this type of misinformed reporting recently that I thought we should establish a Twitter hashtag to more easily identify these stories so that we could ask their authors to correct their mistakes. This is especially important when the offending party is a trusted media outlet, such as the BBC or NPR (did you listen to their ‘When Patents Attack’ podcast? I still can’t quite believe what I heard).
So the hashtag we (it was suggested by @TTABlog) have come up with is #badIPnews. Self-explanatory, if not very punchy, but it works for these crowd-sourcing purposes.