I received an email last week from an author who was trying to obtain permission from a company to include quotes from their website. The owner of that company said they receive requests all the time but they refused to give her written permission. She wrote, “It will lead to opening up a Pandora’s box for others to request quotes but stated that he would be fine with my using the quotes, giving the company credit, but not formally having anything in writing that would open up others to request permission. Kind of a one and done scenario. He doesn’t want to get bogged down by the busyness of other requests.”
I can’t think of a more creative way to entrap someone for copyright infringement. Well, yes I can but I’m not going to give any mean people reading this any ideas.
Anyway, just because one author of one book quotes a website doesn’t mean numerous other authors are going to get in line and demand they be able to quote from the site, too. This website owner has an incredibly inflated ego.
Second, by giving verbal permission, but not written, the website owner could very well later deny giving that verbal permission, and could then sue the author for copyright infringement. And, he could obtain greater damages if he could prove that the author wrote to him asking for permission (but tell the court he never granted it). Willful copyright infringement carries far higher penalties.
What makes me so cynical? The flimsy “too many other people will want to quote our website, too” excuse. Nobody reading her book would know if she had obtained written permission or not. And, he still wanted her to cite his website under the quotes so he DID want the publicity. Uh huh…
Something stinks to high heaven there. I told the author to either obtain written permission, or to not quote the website at all.
Think entrapment over copyright law isn’t done? Think again.
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