Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Yahoo gets a failing grade for its over-aggregation of news

When Yahoo introduced a mobile news app at the Consumer Electronics Show last week, I was struck by how liberally it applied the principle of “fair use.”
Yahoo is likely to face the same charges of over-aggregation as other digital media sites like AOL’s Huffington Post.
But Yahoo’s new mobile app, Yahoo News Digest, is worse than HuffPo when it comes to taking information from other media organizations.
When HuffPo does an aggregated news story, it adds attribution and Web links to sources throughout the article. When Yahoo News Digest does an aggregated news story, it takes information from multiple sources and doesn’t provide attribution for any individual pieces of information. Instead it adds a bibliography of sources way at the bottom of the article and leaves it to the reader to figure out what came from where.
That would get a failing grade on a high-school research paper and is unacceptable in the news business. You always have to source your articles, especially if you take information from another publication.
This steps over the line of fair use.
Fair use is a legal exemption to copyright law. It allows people to quote passages of a book in order to review it or quote from a news article to comment on it.
Yahoo is taking shortcuts that short change the original sources of the news it is aggregating.
It’s not enough to include the words “Summarized by Yahoo” at the end of an article, followed by graphics, maps, photos, videos, tweets and then, buried at the end, include a button for “references.”

‘Fair use’ is OK for Yahoo, but not for Yahoo users 

Ironically Yahoo gives itself broad leeway when it comes to defining fair use for its content practices, but holds its users to a much stricter standard.
Last summer, I wrote about how Yahoo-owned Tumblr terminated my account and my three blogs after getting two questionable complaints about copyright infringement from one photographer.
I claimed fair use, but Yahoo didn’t care. It deleted my content and never responded to my appeal.

Photos: Screenshot of Yahoo News Digest (top); and Nick D’Aloisio, creator of Summly and now Yahoo product manager, mobile and emerging products, introduces Yahoo News Digest at CES (CEA photo

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