A Troll Named Kroll - Time For The PD To Be Real About The New Media and REALNEO

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sun, 01/10/2010 - 14:05.

The administrators of REALNEO (I believe Jeff Schuler, Jeff Buster and myself) received an email yesterday, via the contact link on REALNEO, from John Kroll. Mr. Kroll is the "Director of Training and Digital Development for The Plain Dealer". That he contacted us in this way, regarding the matter he raises, clearly demonstrates a problem with the Cleveland Plain Dealer operating in the New Economy - they consider themselves above our community, yet are trolls.

Mr. Kroll, "Director of Training and Digital Development for The Plain Dealer", emails the administrators of the free, open social network REALNEO - which he surely knows well - to coach us in the content management of one of our members, rather than set up an account and communicate directly in the community with any and all members.

One would think Mr. Kroll would long have been a member of this community - a personal friend to us all - and long made clear how the PD would like to share insight with our members and the world - we are free and open, and many PD staffers are members and do post here.

Mr. Kroll, I am not trying to be flip or insulting, but as "Director of Training and Digital Development for The REALNEO" (if I may assume that title for a moment), I invite you to join your community and communicate directly with our administrators and all the people of real NEO here. That will not bankrupt your newspaper.

Regarding the matter you raise below, that "This item: "http://realneo.us/content/nice-work-mr-puente" reproduces
entirely a Plain Dealer story
", I agree and I do not encourage that practice. As we are a not-for-profit coop owned social network, that does not receive any revenues for traffic, I do not know that we are outside the new economy law, but I would like that issue discussed here, among all members.

Mr. Kroll and all at the PD, please feel free to join REALNEO and the discussion.

We are all real NEO.

We are the New Media... welcome.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: <jkroll [at] plaind [dot] com>
Date: Sat, Jan 9, 2010 at 7:55 PM
Subject: [Info, Ideas, Feedback ~ REALNEO] reprinting Plain Dealer story
To: info [at] realneo [dot] us

John Kroll sent a message using the contact form at

This item: "http://realneo.us/content/nice-work-mr-puente" reproduces
entirely a Plain Dealer story. You're welcome to quote parts of it and link
to the rest, of course.

Mason hides assets-PD see link

James Renner at the Independent is calling it. Good work.

the Plain Dealer non-cooperative

Handled well, Norm. Mr Kroll, please join in. 

What's the NYT or Washington Post stance on issues like this?

This "you're stealing our content because you're talking about it on another web site and we're not making a nickel" thing?

LOL I don't know what to call it. 


 I mean, seriously - I left the credits intact.

ok - wHAtever -

thank you for The Cleveland Independent link...

next time I'll think twice before giving peedee any play.

PD whining

Perhaps if the PD would publish REALneo news, people like myself would not be searching the internet for REAL news and actually buy one of their papers.  I cancelled my subscription two weeks ago. PD is too one-sided and only prints what they want the public to know while protecting others from exposure.

It is a shame that people have to resort to being their own government and government watchdogs by watching every move our public officials are making, so maybe we are entirely copying stories.  I am probably very guilty of that myself.

Do the "rules" apply to us at REALNEO? 

how much an issue?

 I read this posting by Norm again. It seems that we are free to reference a Plain Dealer story, quote some (how much?) then provide a link. I can see where for advertising purposes, the Plain Dealer needs people to visit their site. Are we stepping over the line, legally, though, when we copy and paste an entire article? I much prefer not to have to  follow a link, and sometimes will not, as some stuff just brings the old computer to a grinding slow down and not all links are trustworthy. So, Norm, do you think we members should not copy and paste, even with attribution? Others, what do you think? Norm has offered this up for discussion, and it is an important issue for realneo.

Mr. Roulet, Sorry. I thought

Mr. Roulet,

Sorry. I thought the "contact" link meant that was how you would prefer me to contact the site. My mistake. When would it be appropriate to use the "contact" link? 

As far as reproducing our work, I'm glad you agree with me. As I said in my note, we certainly encourage sites to link to our work and quote from it, within reason. But, to dbra: If you do think Mark Puente did a good job on that story -- as I do -- why begrudge him the courtesy of not copying quite so much of his work? That's how we instruct our staff to operate as they aggregate from other sites, and it's how I operated when I put together the "Blog 5" feature that aimed to send cleveland.com's users to other sites, including RealNEO.


And, Mr. Roulet, thanks for the headline on this item. Such a warm, polite greeting makes me feel welcome in the community. I suppose I should be glad I met you first this way, rather than in person, or I'd be wiping the whipped cream and custard of friendship off my face right now.

John Kroll

Director of Training and Digital Development

The Plain Dealer


Like you folks don't like catchy headlines


I appreciate your outreach, and certainly welcome you to REALNEO. I expect you will be well respected here.

I've made several outreaches to your publisher and editor. Ask them about respect and consideration. They set the tone for your organization, for each and all of you, unless you stand apart.

Disrupt IT

hi John Kroll - "fair use applies" i copy full articles and link

hi John Kroll - "fair use" applies" i copy full articles and link  - all my posts

yogi and guy http://www.nationalwardogsmonument.org/

Fair use

 If you're referring to the legal "fair use" doctrine, that's not quite how it works. There are four standards to determine whether something is fair use, and one of them is "The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole."

As far as providing a link -- that's polite, and much appreciated. But not enough, according to the U.S. Copyright Office; "Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission."


Lest anyone misunderstand, I'm not the enforcer of The Plain Dealer's copyright. But legal questions aside, I think it's just polite to use only a small part of someone else's work. That's why when I've linked from cleveland.com to RealNEO posts in the past, I've tried to use just a small part of a post, so that the original poster and the site get (we hope) the benefit of people clicking to read the whole thing.

The Plain Dealer and cleveland.com have, in fact, begun a new emphasis on using our large audience to send people to the many informative and creative blogs around Northeast Ohio. You'll be hearing even more about that in weeks to come. And when we do that, we'll be careful to follow fair-use guidelines and our own sense of what's right. If we do take too much of someone's work, I hope someone will let me know (jkroll [at] plaind [dot] com) so I can get that fixed.

John Kroll

Director of Training and Digital Development

The Plain Dealer

The economic benefit of fair use

I am interested by new economy law. I don't know that there are any experts on the subject, in this region, as I've been looking... let me know if you know of one.

The subject of fair use is certainly a global one - well beyond US courts, jurisdiction and laws alone. In the US, as you say, four factors of fair use to be "considered" were added to the US copyright act of 1976. In brief, from Wikipedia:

Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 17 U.S.C. § 106 and 17 U.S.C. § 106A, the fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include:

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

To address rule 1 - we are not commercial and we are for nonprofit educational purposes.

The other rules are very subjective, and also held to an overriding rule of triviality, I believe.

REALNEO will be here forever so assuming the PD keeps surviving we need to find smart ways to work together, with fair use and fair play, to make this a great region.

I emailed your editor and published suggesting we discuss all this, months ago, and I know they got the message. They did not reply.

Most interesting, about Fiar Trade, is Wikipedia's write-up on the Economic benefit of Fair Trade:

The economic benefit of fair use

A balanced copyright law provides an economic benefit to many high tech businesses such as search engines and software developers and Fair Use is also crucial to non-technology industries such as insurance, legal services, and newspaper publishers.[24] On September 12, 2007, the Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA),[24] a group representing companies including Google Inc., Microsoft Inc.,[25] Oracle Corporation, Sun Microsystems, Yahoo[26] and other high tech companies, released a study that found that Fair Use exceptions to US copyright laws were responsible for more than $4,500 Billion dollars in annual revenue for the United States economy representing one-sixth of the total U.S. GDP.[24] The study was conducted using a methodology developed by the World Intellectual Property Organization.[24] The study found that fair use dependent industries are directly responsible for more than 18% of U.S. economic growth and nearly 11 million American jobs.[24] “As the United States economy becomes increasingly knowledge-based, the concept of fair use can no longer be discussed and legislated in the abstract. It is the very foundation of the digital age and a cornerstone of our economy,” said Ed Black, President and CEO of CCIA.[24] “Much of the unprecedented economic growth of the past ten years can actually be credited to the doctrine of fair use, as the Internet itself depends on the ability to use content in a limited and nonlicensed manner."[24]

$4.5 trillion in annual revenue for the United States economy.

I believe, historically, the PD has stifled the economic potential of fair use in this region. I hope this discussion is the beginning of a turning point in the development of the new economy of Northeast Ohio, as that offers us $ billions in opportunity.

Let's all get together.

Disrupt IT

"why begrudge him the courtesy of not copying quite so much..."

"why begrudge him the courtesy of not copying quite so much of his work?"

I'm sorry - I don't understand why copying less of his work would be a courtesy?

He was both credited and praised. Could you please explain that - or is it rhetorical?

 Not rhetorical.  Mark

 Not rhetorical. 

Mark Puente wrote and posted that story on cleveland.com. And he carried on a conversation with the users on that site, responding to their questions and comments. 

By copying the whole story, even if you credit and link to him, you're making it unlikely that those who find the story on RealNEO will go to cleveland.com to read it and respond to Mark there. That's not doing much to reward Mark for his reporting or The Plain Dealer and cleveland.com for supporting it. Realize that posting something on RealNEO, or any other blog, isn't like telling it to a friend or mailing it to your aunt. Instead, you're making it available to the whole online world.

If you quote a portion of his story -- a few paragraphs, say, given the length of this particular story -- you still give your readers enough context to discuss it on RealNEO, if they wish. But you also whet their appetite to read the whole thing where Mark originally posted it. And you send them to the site that's part of the company that pays the salary that allows Puente to devote his energy to tracking down stories like that. Money aside, it means more clicks and comments for his story, and that's the currency of the Internet.

Even for sites where advertising's not involved, someone who goes to the trouble of writing an original, interesting post deserves to have traffic sent their way, rather than having that post appropriated to pull traffic toward another site that didn't put in the effort.

And there is the law to consider. When you copied Puente's story, you included the copyright information at the bottom. That's not just a credit; it's a legal notice that The Plain Dealer and cleveland.com retain the rights to that content. The New York Times, the Lake County News-Herald, Cleveland Scene -- they all do the same.

In the broader discussion that Mr. Roulet called for, that's something RealNEO posters should consider. Aggregation -- sharing the best of online journalism and commentary with your readers -- is a great thing, and it complements the original posts on this site. Reproducing another site's work entirely, without prior permission, is not. 

well, then I'm glad you found it -


have a great day!

I agree with Mr. Kroll - fair use isn't cut and paste entire pie

Except for the  caveat of disappearing (404) links which Susan Miller has commented on in this thread, (which has been a real problem with the PD)  there is no justification for cutting and pasting someone else’s work in it’s entirety into Realneo or any other web site.  (solution: copy the entire article and save it on your computer – if later link goes dead, post the entire piece - Yogi and I have discussed this often).  
Realneo should be about original content as much as possible.   If a user needs to link out, you can link out to other newspapers besides the PD - the Blade, the Scene, the NYT - many of which have the same content as the PD.  
Maybe a realneo user will go to the Seven Hills Police Station and get a copy of the police report concerning Prosecutor Mason's driver and post a pdf of the report to Realneo.  That would be nice original content. 
When I find my images on other web sites where they have been copied and pasted without my knowledge, permission, or even accreditation – I am sure I feel much the same as Mr. Knoll and the PD indicate they do in this situation.
Conversely, if the PD were having link "tease" backs to their commercially supported content placed on Realneo (without the entire article), I would see them as a spammer.   So how much or how little of an article is posted - and whether that amount is ethical and/or copyright legal, depends on who is placing the link and why they placed the link.  Motive is a factor.
But while we are discussing what is ethical and legal Mr. Knoll, what about the PD littering the community with their yellow jacketed Sunday fish wrap?
How do you feel this PD commercial advertizing – you-pick-it-up-whether-you-like-it-or-not  - activity rates on the civic civility meter?   


i feel

sO spanked!

no spanking allowed

1) while this is a lesson for most of us, let us not forget that it was this story about Mason that got the Plain Dealer attention enough to contact us

2) the story that I posted about Sarah Palin was really me experimenting with links, and it linked automatically on the other end so that I really did not have to do anything. I did not know this until I had copies and pasted the credits then it just did it. For a somewhat tech challenged person, this is great and it also shows that this media outlet is willing to do something on their end to make sure that the link to the source is there.

Realneo users are not the only ones facing a learning curve here.

spanking and capitalism seem to go

 hand in hand...

if you notice DemocracyNow! politely asks you to credit, but they don't have hissy fits. Neither do I. DemocracyNow! used video footage I shot on their election night show last year, and no - they didn't credit me, but I was happy for them to use it and not about money.

I also shoot other artists, document their work, do shoots and videos for musicians. they give me free pass to their shows and sometimes throw me a few free beers. I'm happy to support and encourage them, so its not big deal. and yES - I see my "work" in print other places and on the web... I don't know, maybe I should be more of a selfish bitch - do you think tHAt's what Jeff is suggesting?????

spanking and capitalism

It took me a couple of days to mull this over. The answer, dbra, to your question is yes. While realneo needs to develop some guidelines, this whole thing is in reaction to the PeeDee wagging the finger at us. (Still think that it was the subject of mason that got them going). There are some good points to be made about clicks, advertising and supporting reporters that do a good job. So then what do we do when the PeeDee does an atrocious job on covering an issue,  point people over for the clicks and revenue? I think not. We need to figure out a balance here, and start with an acknowledgment that while we do have an obligation to adhere to some guidelines, we won't do it in reaction to be spanked by the Plain Dealer. 

I think we are just fine

 I think we are just fine - the story I posted had the requisite link and was fully credited.

I mean seriously - I'm not a journalist and I do not want to spend an afternoon "writing" a "story". Neither should I have to. Get real.

Some of us may have secret aspirations and find ourselves eloquent, witty and wordy - frankly I don't - neither my self nor any one else on this blog. If I want to point out a story, I shouldn't be obligated to rewrite it or make up some ridiculous, vainglorious journalistic embarassment.

Though I must say I do find your posts, Debbie, to be both entertaining and comforting, in an odd sort of way. :)

hey, I was being serious

 dbra,  yes, your piece covered all the bases, not my point. But I really did mull this over, what is so odd? I agree, though, that this is a blog, and I appreciate the news coming to me when there just isn't the time to seek it out. sure, it is a narrow perspective, but it is better than TV, or a total tune out.

So what comes to mind is two things: one being that major media outlets, and also the Plain Dealer (just can't include them) are pushing the envelope on the protection of original content and realneo will find itself under the gun to comply, regardless of members perferences.

two) maybe some people do want this site to both that of a journalistic original content thing. Maybe there is blog/comment fatigue and a reinvention is being pushed.

I have been through several reinventions with different organizations. Let me know if that is where this is headed as I have reinvention fatigue and would set it out.

clearly it was about $$$

 clearly it was about $$$. the story was fully credited and it was linked - but if the entire story is reposted, then people don't click over to peedee..

ok-ok mea culpa. i have been reformed. from now on i have a special repost policy for the peedee. i will paraphrase the article, mention it came from peedee and let people decide for themselves to go find the peedee and find the story. 

it has been a ridiculous to do about nothing.

and we all know who it is that does numerous reposts a day here and we all also know there is no way in hell we are going to get them to stop, so reinvention isnt even a consideration is it?

Bad Girl

better straighten up!

bad girl

Bad girls spank, they don't get spanked. 

bad girl

:)    good point.   

but the rEAlly bad ones...

 do boTH.

John Kroll

 Mr. Kroll, I see that you have signed on as a new member. Welcome to realneo. 


Order vs. disorder...and institutional memory.

I will be the first to admit that finding content on REALNEO is a disaster, although doing a keyword search on google  "word site:realneo.us" usually works. 

Libraries are finding that putting the author as the access point makes the most sense for the functional bibliographic record and that we still do need some form of an index or classification system. 

Here's the Plain Dealer's first effort to organize their own on line content--


We all have a lot of work to do....