More than 400,000 unlicensed copies of articles from major US news sites were republished online between March and July this year, according to new research published this week by copyright tracking service Attributor.

The service's Graduated Response Trial for News monitored 70,101 news articles during the five-month period and found that in more than 400,000 cases 80 per cent of the original article had been illegally copied, with 44,906 sites involved in republishing content.

Attributor used the research to test out remedies for the copyright holders before resorting to takedown notices under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA).

It randomly chose 107 sites from the trial results that had used 10 or more full copies from one copyright holder's website within 30 days and were making money from advertising on their sites. It found that 75 per cent of these sites responded to either a courtesy notice sent to the site owner or removal requests sent to advertisers or search engines.

Attributor's technology has been used by the Fair Syndication Consortium, launched in 2009, and backed by news organisations including Reuters and Politico, which asks for ad-sharing arrangements to be set up between publishers and those seeking to reuse their content.

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