How to Survive a Medium Copyright Inquiry

The TL;DR Version: Here are some quick takeaways for those of you facing your own problems with Medium:

  1. Respond in a timely manner. They said 12 hours. Don’t send it in anything more than 10. The sooner the better.
  2. Be polite. This is probably just some poor guy who is stuck reviewing bad emails all day. Get them on your side with this pro tip: don’t be an asshole.
  3. Be specific. I referenced each of the channels that I run, and also posted links and legal language from lawyers where I could. I’m sure it helped, and it also signals “Hey. Don’t shut me down. I’m not a bot and I care enough to take this seriously.”
  4. Give them ways to follow up. If for some reason this turned into a legal issue, it’s important that you made every effort to make yourself available. A judge might consider that if there were ever a legal issue. I’m not a lawyer, but I am overly cautious.
  5. Ask for a response. Put the responsibility on them to keep you informed. They certainly don’t have to, but make sure they know you are taking this seriously.

The full version:

You may have noticed that, two weeks ago, Wednesday came and passed without a new article. I hated to do it, but something came up. I was dealing with a threat from Medium to immediately suspend my account. The email from Medium:

Hello,

I am writing in regards to your account on Medium.com.

Per our Terms of Service, we require users to have full permission to post the content they publish onMedium.

As a courtesy, we are asking you to please remove any elements you do not have the copyright or permission to use, including any copy or photographs which you do not own or do not have unrestricted license for reuse. Additionally, crediting the source does not supplant the need to secure permissions.

Please let me know within the next 12 hours that you have these permissions, or remove any posts to which you do not have permission. Otherwise, the account will need to be suspended in accordance with the DMCA.

Thanks,
MediumTrust and Safety

As a guy trying to generate a second income from blogging, who has put a lot of time into learning how to do that over the past year — this was bad news.

Medium is a fantastic platform that I need. My Facebook is a great home for distribution, my website is in its infancy, but Medium does a lot for aspiring writers by actively promoting material to relevant audiences. I didn’t want to lose it, so I jumped into action.

My guess was that this inquiry came on the heels of a new blog idea I’ve been trying — which I named Quorated. It is a publication, on Medium, in which I post unique questions and answers from Quora, a website I also generate a small side income from. My immediate thought was that Medium had some serious questions about whether I was allowed to take and use this material. Speaking frankly, I had to double check.

This article might be boring reading for some, but I hope that for anyone facing the same letter from Medium, that this is exactly what you need. That is why I am publishing my letter back in full. It reads as follows:

Good Morning Medium Support Team-

Thank you for reaching out to me about this important matter. I am happy to help.

Per your request I believe it would be best to state under what terms I am using both images and text for your convenience and review. If there are any problems or follow up questions, please do not hesitate to contact me via email or phone at 207.205.XXXX.

Photos: All photos I use are exclusively from www.pixabay.com — which grants me the rights to use and publish in ay form I wish, with or without credit. All photos on my Medium are covered under this policy and are being used in accordance with those terms.

Copy:

All articles under the Liberty Ranger Blog are entirely my work and all needed citations are included for any quotes used.

All copy contained in comments, article responses, or not tied to a publication, is my property in full which I have the full right to use without limitation.

All articles published under the Quorated Blog are taken from Quora.com and are used in accordance with their terms and conditions for use. For your convenience I am including the relevant legal section below. Most relevant to this discussion is to note that all Quorated content is linked both to the page from which it was directly taken, and further linked with direct credit to the author. The content is not edited from its original form and all links are up to date. I am fully in compliance with the terms set forth in Quoras use policy, and also the policy on attribution and understanding under Mediums policy to the best of my understanding. (I am not a lawyer!).

From Quora: Subject to these Terms, Quora gives you a worldwide, royalty-free, non-assignable and non-exclusive license to re-post any of the Content on Quora anywhere on the rest of the web provided that the Content was added to the Service after April 22, 2010, and provided that the user who created the content has not explicitly marked the content as not for reproduction, and provided that you: (a) do not modify the Content; (b) attribute Quora by name in readable text and with a human and machine-followable link (an HTML <a> anchor tag) linking back to the page displaying the original source of the content on Page on Quora on every page that contains Quora content; © upon request, either by Quora or a user, remove the user’s name from Content which the user has subsequently made anonymous; (d) upon request, either by Quora or by a user who contributed to the Content, make a reasonable effort to update a particular piece of Content to the latest version on Page on Quora; and (e) upon request, either by Quora or by a user who contributed to the Content, make a reasonable attempt to delete Content that has been deleted or marked as not for reproduction on Page on Quora.

If you have any additional questions, comments, or need anything else related to these topics, I will of course be happy to help and will respond promptly. If you require documentation on any particular item of interest that prompted this email, I am also happy to assist in providing said documentation.

If possible, I would also appreciate a response to this email alerting me that you are in receipt of my response and that this matter has been settled to your satisfaction.

Thank you for reaching out and I will look forward to being of service in the future!

Take care,

Conner Drigotas

I hit send on that less than three hours after I received the email. Then I waited. And waited. And waited.

No response.

It was only six days later on March 12, 2019 I received the following email:

Hello,

Sorry for the delay. And thank you for the clarifying email.

We appreciate you honoring the granted license for the content you are reposting onto Medium.

We now consider this matter closed, and your account is unaffected.

If you need anything else, please let me know.

Thanks,
Evelyn
User Services

*Whew*

I have a tremendous amount of respect for Medium and the effort they took to actually send a response. It is an increasingly rare occurrence for a digital company to make a human connection.

This isn’t foolproof, but it worked for me. I have the good fortune to actually not be breaking any rules — even in a trigger happy legal world, that still counts for something.

TL;DR

Here are some quick takeaways for those of you facing your own problems with Medium:

  1. Respond in a timely manner. They said 12 hours. Don’t send it in anything more than 10. The sooner the better.
  2. Be polite. This is probably just some poor guy who is stuck reviewing bad emails all day. Get them on your side with this pro tip: don’t be an asshole.
  3. Be specific. I referenced each of the channels that I run, and also posted links and legal language from lawyers where I could. I’m sure it helped, and it also signals “Hey. Don’t shut me down. I’m not a bot and I care enough to take this seriously.”
  4. Give them ways to follow up. If for some reason this turned into a legal issue, it’s important that you made every effort to make yourself available. A judge might consider that if there were ever a legal issue. I’m not a lawyer, but I am overly cautious.
  5. Ask for a response. Put the responsibility on them to keep you informed. They certainly don’t have to, but make sure they know you are taking this seriously.

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pro liberty. Director of Comms and Development at a law firm. Adjunct Professor at a university. all opinions are my own. www.ConnerDrigotas.com

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