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Internet copyright/content question

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#1 katpaws

Posted 07 December 2012 - 07:14 AM

I am aware of a website that provides a forum for people to put up reviews of goods and services provided by various companies. I was reading the reviews about a specific company and found that the text in some of the reviews was very familiar. When i checked the company's website i found that a few of the recommendations from clients on their webpage had been directly transferred to the review website (that is, word for word) by people who had set up new accounts (newbies) and had never undertaken any other reviews or comments for that consumer website again. Other recommendations on the company's website have been directly taken from a client questionnaire and were not in fact recommendations written by clients (these are not on the consumer website).

I contacted the consumer (review) website about the fact that it would appear that a few of the reviews on the website were not genuine and that there may be breaches of copyright, but many days later I have not heard from the moderators of that website. I was told if i disagreed with the reviews I could add a comment, however, none of my comments have been allowed so far by the moderators of the website (and they were not inflammatory, it was just this comment is what has been posted on the company's website so please make sure you talk about this company with people who you know that have actually used their goods/services).

Or have i got it wrong? It is perfectly legal and/or ethical for client recommendations to appear on consumer review sites? Is it also legal and/or ethical for a business to put up as client recommendations that are from a questionnaire and where it maybe possible that the clients do not know their details and comments have been put on the web?

#2 Sassy Dingo

Posted 07 December 2012 - 09:15 AM

QUOTE (katpaws @ 07/12/2012, 07:14 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Or have i got it wrong? It is perfectly legal and/or ethical for client recommendations to appear on consumer review sites? Is it also legal and/or ethical for a business to put up as client recommendations that are from a questionnaire and where it maybe possible that the clients do not know their details and comments have been put on the web?

Could it be that the customer submitted a comment to both the business and the review website? If it is the business who submitted the comments it is unethical but not illegal. What law do you suggest they are breaking? They may be contravening the terms and conditions of the review website, but then it would be up to the review website to enforce.

Are you also sure that the business is putting up the correct client details? Seems silly to me. If I was going to put a fake review up, I would make up the details so that no one could confirm it was incorrect. If they are their clients details and they did not consent to having them put on the website I would contact the website with proof of identify and also the business and they should take them down. However if they refuse I don't know what you can practically do about it. I am not aware of any law that they are breaking (I would have to review the application of the privacy act, but from memory it only applies to very large companies).

#3 solongsuckers

Posted 07 December 2012 - 09:30 AM

Maybe the business has copied it form the review website?

I'm not sure why it matters that the same comments appear in both places.

#4 katpaws

Posted 07 December 2012 - 10:02 AM

My concern it that there are all these positive reivews of this company on the consumer website that have been put up by people who have set up an account soley for the purpose of transferring "their" recommendation letter from the business website to the consumer website, that is, they are not genuine reviews but are probably in fact the business creating member accounts to promote their business online (without paying for advertising). While i could go maybe one or two posts saying this business is wonderful and quoting word for word their recommendation that they have given to the business, the number of new accounts doing the same thing is large enough to question how genuine these reviews are.

The guidelines for the consumer website include that the reviews must be a genuine review of a user of that service or good; and from what i can see they are not. I also have an issue with questionnaire responses being put up as recommendations as i am concerned that people have not given their consent for their personal details (ie name, where they live) on the business's website and may not be aware of this.

The company in question is not a good one and they are known for very unethical and illegal practices. I worry that more people will get trapped in their web and will be taken in by reviews that are most probably the business copying and pasting "recommendations" from their website to other websites.

My understanding is that with copyright you cannot transfer exact content (ie words) from one website to another without referencing the original source. I have no problem with people saying "This is what i told the company: blah blah and quoting their recommendation. I have a problem with a company doing a cut and paste job pretending to be the clients to drum up more business (and suckers).

Maybe the business has copied it form the review website?

No, the reviews are copied word for word from "recommendations" from the business website; that is the original source.

Edited by katpaws, 07 December 2012 - 10:07 AM.

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