B.L. Ochman in SES Notes Scandal

Source Title:
Conference Reports - Copyright Violations?
Story Text:

B.L. Ochman has been getting some bad press for hawking her notes from the recent Search Engine Strategies NYC - Is it legal, and would the notes even be credible from such a source?

The notes are being promoted as "Essential Tips, Tactics and Resources from Search Engine Strategies New York 2005" and Ian McCanerin of SMA NA raises the issue of legality at Jupiters own SearchEngineWatch Forums saying:

But what happens when you take it to the next step and start charging for that information? What if you attend an SES, take a bunch of notes, then charge people for it?

You could argue that the time and effort put into collecting the information and presenting it makes it valuable and therefore charging for it is appropriate.

You could also argue that copying down someone elses work and repackaging it for sale is a copyright violation.

A good point made i think, perhaps Jupiter will have something to say on this at some point.

Legalities aside, are they worth $15?

The notes are being flogged at $15 a crack, what interests me besides the possible legalities involved is the fact that for all appearances, B.L. Ochman is a Search Newbie and it could be argued that not only are the notes potentially in breach of copyright, but are not what they are marketed to be.

What qualifies Ochman to sell (at admittedly a pittance) notes on the following?

  • 24 Need to Know Search Engine Optimization Tactics
  • 21 Insider's Tips for increasing your search ranking
  • 23 essential resources for Search Optimization Strategy

I'll gladly retract the last paragraphs if someone can point to something that validates her as a Search expert, but for now, i'd say that $15 was about $14 too much to ask...

For an excellent summary and commentary on many of the sessions at SES NYC see Barry Schwartz's coverage for FREE here


I don't like it

I think she is possibly violating my copyrights as a speaker, as well as the other speakers rights not to speak of Jupiter Medias right to the name and the show as such. It is, in my mind, like brining a video cam to a concert and then sell the video. There is a difference between reporting an event in a publically available media, such as Rustys brilliant blog reports and then this. I can only interpret "Resources" as blatant copyright violations of the material we, the speakers, has presented.

Also, I believe that this violates Jupiter Medias trademarks. You are simply not allowed to market your products using other companies trademarks like that as a key driver.


Wow, she has big balls to pass off other people's information like that. I think I'll offer my personal answers to her list of the top things you'll learn from her notes. I've listed below in bold the top questions that she has posted on her website that her notes will answer for you, my personal response is listed beneath each question.

What works even better than paid search?
spamming the organic results for free
Who really rules search?
Who are the biggest influencers online today?
blog spammers
How blogs can increase your search engine success
spam the blogs
Is there a better search engine than Google?
msn is better than google since its easier to spam
Why you need lots of anchor text
it improves the quality of your blog spam
Can links hurt your search engine placement?
don't spam jay allen, matt cutts or tim mayer's blog

I think she is possibly violating my copyrights as a speaker

In what country would that be?

As a general rule information wants to be free, you can either work with that or against it. Jupiter got schooled, the bell has been ringing for a long time.


NFFC, I am in Denmark but our laws on copyright is to a great extend build on the sam international agreements that most of Europe, and to some degree USA, is obligated from.

> As a general rule information wants to be free

You may want it to be so but that is definately not what the law say. Just because my copyrighted material becomes publicly avaialble dosen't give you, are any other viewers any other ight than to watch it - NOT to redestribute, broadcast or resell it or works directly made thereoff.

On top of this, the SES show is a private event where Jupiter set the terms. I am not sure if Jupiter already have acions like this covered by their TOS but they should. In any case, you will at least be obligated as an attendie to follow that TOS - or just don't attend.

I have spoken to several other speakers about this and none of them was aware that they signed up for this - and possibly they don't We will have to see what Jupiter say about it - and what they will do. I believe that Jupiters and mine interest are alligned in this and I respect Jupiter enough to give them the chance to deal with it.

I'm not sure if she is voilating any rights.

I can get registered as a journalist write up everything she said into an article and then the publication then sells that information on.

If that publication is the WSJ, then you would pay to access it on the web.

As a freelance journalist I would get money for it from the publisher, sometimes keeping copyright and sometimes handing it over. If I kept copyright, within n days I would then be able to sell the article (possibly amended and possibly not) on to another publisher or even sell it from a website. I could also re-write the article for differing publications to meet their reader profile and sell the same information lots of times. Music Journos do it all the time.

She doesn't even have to use the Search Engine Strategies, simply call it the major search engine conference in NY, March 2005. However, I think that everyone and their mother is using Search Engine Strategies conference name on the web and it is quoted around the world so using this would probably not cause copyright problems.

Also, a lot of companies send representatives to conferences, they write their notes up and distribute them to others back in the office. Should that not be allowed?

I am pretty sure that nobody signs a confidentiality agreement or NDA just before handing Jupiter the $1500.

Having said that, I still think it is a bit Ghetto-Fab to be doing this.

Again, waiting for the incoming.

Its not allowed to bring a video camera into a movie theater

But that is because the movie theater clearly set the rule and printed it on the back of the ticket prohibiting that item. Jupiter has not clearly set their policy. I hope they do a better job announcing their policy at future meetings.

Copyright, trademarks and marketing laws

There are as far as I can see at least three different legal areas involved in this: Copyright of the presenters, trademarks of Jupiter and marketing laws that generally state (with some country variations) that you are not allowed to use other companies trademarks to sell your product such as SES in this case.

I don't think there can be any doubt that the mrketing of this PDF does in fact abuse Jupiters trademark to sell it. I am also quite confident that marketing laws are violated. Finally I believe that some speakers copyrights may have been violated but as I haven't seen the actual PDF I don't know for sure. Also, this may to some degree depend on where the speakers come from and what copyright law protect their works.

Little hope

Unless she's quoting you verbatim at length (meaning "beyond fair usage") or displaying your slides unaltered, I'm afraid you won't have much of a case against her, Mikkel.

Not that I particularly like her approach, I actually find it to be pretty cheap and unfriendly, to put it mildly; but copyright doesn't relate to mere ideas, opinions or speaker's stance - unless you've suddenly gone into ballet, perhaps. :-)

Marketing it as an SES script may or may not violate Jupiter's trademark(s), that would probably be for a court to decide for sure.

You may want it to be so but that is definately not what the law

I didn't say I wanted it to be so, it wants to be all by itself, like water it will find its way through any cracks.

I think there has been a demand for something like this for a while, I assume Jupiter knows this too. It seems to me that they tried to pretend the demand wasn't there for fear of hitting attendence at the show itself. I don't think it would and a Jupiter produced DVD "The best of SES NY etc" could sell a few thousand copies at $299.

Here is a another general rule, if your business is going to get canabilised it is best if you do it yourself.

Interesting points

Think I tend to agree with Fantomaster. Unless it's going beyond fair use, I can't see that there's anything you can do.
It may not be a terribly friendly thing to do, but how bad really is it?

Most of the stuff I know about web design generally is from forum discussions and articles on websites.

I've learnt a lot of things by reading and listening to other people.
What if I then decide to sell some of that knowledge I've gained?

I could write some articles, make an eBook or something, and sell it.

Is that terribly different?
If someone goes along to an SES, or maybe something like SXSW instead, and learns a lot from it, could they not just write up a load of stuff and sell it as "things I know and am passing on to you"?

Just been reading some of Tantek's notes on SXSW. He suggested perhaps they could make sessions availible as podcasts after the event. Mainly because he missed some panels due to running panels himself, but I'd imagine that was the kind of thing Jupiter could do with SES too.

Make them availible to attendees anyway, and sell them to those who didn't go.

thanks nffc for the idea

for the next ses i'm gonna bring a six pack of beer and have a video camera hidden in my jacket, and then i'll sell it just like the bootleg dvds they sell on the street, or better yet hide a webcam in each room and charge $50 for every hour of access. This way if you only want to see 1 or 2 sessions you don't have to fly and it only costs a little money.

B.L. Ochman

First of all, what qualifies me as a search engine optimization expert is the SEO work I have done for clients for the past 10 years, optimizing sites for natural and paid search.

My clients' sites consistently rank in the top of their categories and I have written extensively on SEO topics in my newsletter and blog and in articles published in MarketingProfs, ExpertPR and several others.

No malice is intended in my sale of this report. I have not quoted anyone, shown slides or included information directly from any conference speaker.

I have included information that represents my conclusions about the best current practices in SEO that were discussed at the show.

I sell the report as one of many reports I offer through my site. Selling reports is one of my sources of income. I have had only one return in several hundred sales of six reports so I have to believe that people find the information useful.

What I've done in my search strategies report is compile information.

I am deeply sorry if doing so is offensive to anyone.
B.L. Ochman

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