A story crossed my desk this morning that has me wondering whether the third largest publisher in the world has a policy of engaging in piracy.
One Indian tech blog I follow, Medianama, reported this morning on an email they got from Thomson Reuters. According to their post, Thomson Reuters said that it would take their non-response as permission to copy and distribute their articles.
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.”
Here's the important part of the email:
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.
Clearly that is piracy; even a non-lawyer such as myself knows that simply assuming agreement is not always valid. Yes, there is a proverb which can be summed up as "he who says nothing, agrees", but I wish you luck in arguing that in court.
This story crossed my desk earlier today, and I was all set to follow Techdirt and rip Thomson Reuters a new one, but as I got to writing the first draft of this post I started to question whether it is as serious as it sounds. I went looking for related incidents, but could not find any. Sure, I've seen the original email, but that is but a single email.
As I got to writing the post I asked myself if this was the policy of the $5.5 billion a year conglomerate, one division, or perhaps a single office?
I don't mean to doubt Medianama, but if this were a widespread policy don't you think it would have made a huge public spectacle?
And if this is not a widespread policy then it is fair to jump up and down, and scream and shout for what could be the actions of a handful of people?
I don't know. To be honest I would have held this story if Techdirt hadn't already posted it, and then posted it after I got my questions answered.
But since it is already out there, let me ask you: Have you heard of Thomson Reuters pulling this before? What about other companies?