I'm actually developping a "zen reading mode" (I don't know if there's a distinct way to say it in english) like Pocket for web articles in my own website.

Right now, I only save basic data on my database (Article title, thumbnail, author and URL) and when a user selects an article to be read, my website is performing a request to retrieve the article and then processes it to display it in "zen reading mode". I don't actually have the "zen" version of the article in my database.

But for performance issue, I'm wondering if I could just save the full "zen" version in my own database instead of querying the original URL of the articles.

Of course, either way, there are links to the original article and the author (if there's not, it's the domain it was published in) is displayed.

So I was just wondering if there was any laws or guideline about "copying" articles on the web and this kind of stuff.



To copy the article to your own database, you need to have permission from the copyright holder. Permission might be withheld if the rights-holder values web-page hits, or might want to withdraw or revise the article, or change terms of access (from "free and open" to pay, or "must sign up", or whatever). In addition, it sounds like the "zen" version is a derivative work (you'd have to explain how a zen version is different from a non-zen version). In order to create a derivative work, you also need permission, which poses a problem for any version of an article-converter. (You have to make a copy and perform a computation on it, then distribute the derivative work to a user). That first step of copying, and the step of creating a derivative work, both require permission of the rights holder. You can manually check specific articles to see what kinds of permissions are associated with the work, but that isn't programmable. So even your current version runs afoul of copyright law.

  • Would the ruling(s) about using VCRs to record TV shows for later viewing apply to this? – Mobius Jun 22 '17 at 20:26
  • It's not clear whether there would be commercially significant noninfringing uses. In the day, what saved Sony was the nature of TV broadcasts – shows are at specific times, watch it or miss it. Online articles are basically universal on-demand, so the concept of time-shifting would play no rule in justifying such copying. – user6726 Jun 22 '17 at 21:20

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