Self appointed archivist

Tuesday, May 9, 2006 at 4:53 | Posted in Blogosphere, ethics, Germany, internet, Legal | 4 Comments
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How would you like to earn money with your blog? That question must have slipped through the thoughts of many bloggers. To attract serious ad revenue you would need a lot of quality contents. What if somebody else wrote all those posts for you?

Christian Mielke in Brandenburg, Germany must have been thinking somewhere along those lines when he got the idea of starting his Archiv Blog. The description of the “archive” explicitly spells out that the blog does not publish any self produced contents but “archives” posts of German language blogs. Mr. Mielke presents his blog as a “free backup service” for German bloggers funded by ads. Apparently, the posts are collected by a spider harvesting RSS feeds of the blogs.

Unfortunately, Mr. Mielke forgot to do his legal homework. He did not find it necessary to ask the bloggers if they want him to “back up” their blogs. He seems to have thought that an opt out link in his site would be enough to cover any copyright infringement claims.

Many German bloggers were less than amused to detect that someone was reproducing their posts in order to make money with them. One of them was long time blogger and criminal lawyer Udo Vetter in Düsseldorf. He sent Mr. Mielke a friendly e-mail which could best be decribed as legal advise pro bono.

Mr. Vetter points out that he wants to be asked first if somebody wants to reproduce his blog posts. He also advises Mr. Mielke that the announced intention to seek revenue makes the copyright infringement aggravating and infringing copyright is also prosecutable in Germany. Mr. Vetter finishes his letter by demanding his posts to be removed within 24 hours. Any correspondence after the deadline would not be cheap for Mr. Mielke. The posts disappeared from Archive Blog almost immediately.

Sven Scholtz in Niederwerrn delivers his claim of removal in a post in his blog. He makes the ironic assumption that there would be no need to mail his pretentions as Mr. Mielke would surely read the posts he “archives”. Mr. Scholtz sets a deadline to Wednesday May 10th and promises to send a bill to Mr. Mielke if he still detects his posts in Archive Blog on Wednesday. At this moment, less than 24 hours before the deadline, the posts are still there.

What may have looked like a lucrative chance to earn some money with small effort is about to turn into a nightmare for Christian Mielke. The legality of his activities would be at least questionable in almost any country and there is no doubt that this sort of “archiving” is highly unethical. But I am very much surprised that anybody would try to pull out something like this in Germany.

As I explained in this post in context of the suing practices of Andreas Kodsi, the German jurisdiction makes the bloggers responsible also for the web contents that they link to. Just imagine what flood of lawsuites Mr. Mielke could be facing by re-publishing loads of blog posts apparently without reading them. Unlike Sven Scholtz, I am not going to pretend that I would believe Mr. Mielke to be reading a line of what he reproduces.

All posts of Mein Parteibuch seem to have disappeared from Blog Archiv. I do not know whether Marcel Bartels took the initiative to removing them or if Mr. Mielke possibly discovered by himself that re-publishing Marcel’s posts is a risky business since they tend to attract all sorts of lawsuites. Like this one or this one or this one.

If there is anything to be learned from this incident it would be that there is no fast track to earning money with your blog. If you want to give it a try, go ahead but please remember that you need to write your own posts. Bloggers are also authors and their work is covered by the same copyright regulations as the work of all authors.

Update: The Blog-Archiv seems to have been closed on Tuesday morning. I take it that Christer Mielke understood that he was on a thin ice and came to the right conclusion. This goes to show that bloggers are awake and trying to pull their leg does not pay. I do not want to speculate whether the site was started in the first place because of bad judgement or bad intentions but I am glad that Mr. Mielke did the decent thing.

4 Comments »

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  1. Mr. Mielke has obviously recieved my demand for removing my posts at Archive-blog:
    http://archiv-blog.de/item/52357 😀

  2. That is cool, Sven! 😉 Goes to prove the point that he does not spend much time reading the posts.

    By the way, I detected that this is not the only one of his web businesses. This one appears to be more honest, though.

  3. “appears” – but is it so?
    http://www.medienrauschen.de/archiv/2006/05/10/datenhaendler-linksammler/ 😉

  4. Sven, I suspected there would be something like this which is why I chose to put it cautiously. I’ll have a closer look at it when I get the chance.


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