Press This is a bookmarklet tool that was added to WordPress 2.6 in 2008. You can access the tool by browsing to the WordPress backend and select the Tools menu. It acts as a small app that runs in the browser to quickly share content on the web. Press This is in the process of being revamped in preparation for WordPress 4.2.
Because the bookmarklet uses content from the site being shared, it’s easy to infringe on a website’s copyrighted material. Daniel Bachhuber brought up the issue in Github where active development is taking place.
I’m not the best person to comment on this, but it seems like building a tool that automatically scrapes copyrighted materials should have an upfront discussion about said legal implications, and whether this is something we should promote.
To my knowledge, this is the first time the issue has been brought up since its inclusion into core. Stephane Daury, who is one of the project’s primary contributors explains that, the tool goes through great efforts to use values clearly defined by websites.
We also (now) make a greater effort to use values the sites have clearly defined and specified as being what they want their articles and content to be represented as when shared elsewhere, by detecting Open Graph and Twitter Cards tags, etc. This includes representations for thumbnails, embeds, etc.
Although it’s not documented in the conversation on Github, Michael Arestad reached out to Paul Sieminski, Automattic’s general legal counsel, and received word that, from a legal standpoint, Press This is fine. Richard Best of WP and Legal Stuff published a post on the issue and takes a similar stance:
It seems that a person in-the-know in Automattic has commented internally (no doubt in more detail than we see in the public online discussion) that Press This is fine. I agree. I thought it might be of interest to those following this issue to explain why.
The discussion revolves around the notion of ‘authorising’ an action that amounts to copyright infringement or ‘contributing’ to infringement (similar concepts which, in different jurisdictions, are called different things). It explains why there is no such authorisation or contribution here and why, therefore, Press This is fine.
The Press this bookmarklet is a convenient way to share content on the web, but it doesn’t prevent copyright infringement from occurring. Best makes an excellent point when he says that, it’s the end user’s responsibility to make sure they’re not infringing on anyone’s copyright:
It can, of course, also be used to infringe copyright, by copying a full article without permission or copying a full size copyright image without permission but, ultimately, Press This is simply a (pretty handy) tool of convenience. It’s the user’s responsibility to use Press This within the confines of copyright law (or run the risk of being accused of copyright infringement).
While Press This is a tool that makes it easy to share snippets of content on the web, it should not be used to re purpose entire articles or share full-size copyrighted images. As Voltaire once said, “great power comes with great responsibility.”