Agreement Reached After Phillips County Uses Copyrighted Content on Website

It was the last story we expected to start a controversy.

Last week, our technology column included a brief piece on some new websites created for Helena and Phillips County. They were created by Connect Arkansas and the Information Network of Arkansas as part of a program to design sites for underserved counties in the state. Pretty simple stuff.

But then came an email from Guy Lancaster, editor of the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. “Imagine my surprise to find that the county history sections for that site directly copies, without attribution, the Phillips County entry on the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture,” he said.

This piqued our curiosity, and we checked out some of the other county websites designed by Connect Arkansas and the INA. They, too, had text from the encyclopedia, but attribution was included.

“Either INA or a local volunteer are responsible, as they created the content,” Julia Malinowski, director of the Helena Advertising & Promotion Commission, told us.

Fortunately, Lancaster later told us he had communicated with the county, and the issue had been smoothed out. The encyclopedia does allow nonprofits and government entities to use its articles, as long as attribution is provided, Lancaster said.

But it all goes to show: Just because it’s written on the Internet doesn’t mean the Internet wrote it.