The Yomiuri ShimbunThe company will pay a high price for having its eyes glued on making profits, and making light of the principles of distributing news articles.
A third-party committee of lawyers has released its investigative report into content-curation websites run by information technology company DeNA Co.
As a result of examining a sample of 400 articles from more than 370,000 listed on the websites, the committee said it is possible that up to 5.6 percent overall may have violated copyright. About 750,000 images, or about 16 percent of the total, also are suspected to have infringed copyright.
This can only be described as a lack of awareness about the importance of protecting copyright. DeNA had no other way than to shut down all 10 websites in December after these problems were discovered.
As well as losing the massive amount of money it had invested in launching the websites, DeNA also has lost the trust of the sites’ users.
A key point deserving attention in the report was the determination that DeNA’s content-curation websites were “media,” and not “platforms.” The report rejected DeNA’s assertion that the websites were platforms on which regular users could post content.
On many of the sites, such posts accounted for less than 5 percent of the content. Most of the content was articles which DeNA was involved in planning and writing. Given this, we agree with the report’s view.
The fact that DeNA claimed the websites were platforms indicates its intention to avoid taking responsibility for the content.
For a media company, publishing articles is accompanied by legal and social responsibilities. When an article is to be made public, meticulous consideration for accuracy and fairness is essential.
The situation at DeNA fell far short of this. A medical and health care website called WELQ had no editor with expert knowledge in this field, and it was not supervised by medical professionals.
Many articles contained sentences copied word-for-word from the sources referred to, while others simply changed words and expressions in the text.
Those involved in producing the websites reportedly were under pressure to increase the number of page views and boost advertising revenue. A lawyer from the third-party committee warned, “The company should change from its overemphasis on numbers to fair ways of making money.” This is a reasonable point to make.
DeNA has decided on penalties for 30 people involved in the matter, including a 50 percent salary reduction for President Isao Moriyasu for six months. As one of Japan’s representative IT firms, DeNA must not fail to fundamentally reform its awareness of this issue.
Curation websites, which collect information from the internet, entail a constant risk of copyright violation. Similar problems also have emerged at websites run by other companies. Some operators have even shut down their websites.
The entire industry must make efforts to ensure the soundness of such websites.