Tech Writer Helped Kill Personal Paper Service on Day of Launch

A technology journalist helped bring a speedy end to a new web service last week. Milo Yiannopolous published an account at TechCrunch of killing web service personalpaper.me within four hours of its launch last Thursday. The site has remained down ever since.

The concept of personalpaper was a way to transform unread web based articles, presumably ones you hoped to read over the weekend, into an actual printed newspaper which would be delivered in the mail, all for $2. The problem with this plan, of course, was copyright law.

As Yiannopolous put it, "personalpaper.me represents copyright infringement, unauthorised republication and illicit distribution on an industrial scale. In other words, its entire business model is predicated on theft" (original emphasis).

The company that created personalpaper.me was apparently caught by surprise by this fairly obvious objection. Last week its Twitter feed put out the following message:

That was followed by another message which read: "Obviously something we have carefully considered, just didn't think it will come up *this* early : )"

Even as the creators were expressing public surprise to the concerns about copyright, they were privately distancing themselves from the project. When Yiannopolous "went a bit ballistic" in an email to the company, the creator took the entire site down.

A message posted on the app's web page since then says the company is currently running the concept past its lawyers to make sure they are "clear." "If we are OK, we'll be back in business as soon as we can. If we are not OK, we'll raise our hand and apologise."

Yiannopolous, who is writing a book titled The Sociopaths of Silicon Valley, isn't surprised at the company's behavior. 

He writes: "If I were feeling charitable, I might concede that personalpaper.me probably meant well. Perhaps the designers at ustwo genuinely didn’t even think about the people whose livelihoods their startup was chipping away at, and just wanted to create a pretty product. But innocence and naivety are really no excuse for robbing other people of their paycheck."


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