Thursday, March 16, 2006

copyright and blogs: updated

In the last 24 hrs I have had two of my blogs posts copied in their entirety on someone else’s blog. I’m not going to name them because this is not in any way a personal discussion. Rather it just got me thinking.

In a book world, you are allowed to “copy” 10% or a chapter from a book. Should there (is there?) such (voluntary) guidelines for the blog world?

Advantages of 100% copying
1. Ideas get spread. A person’s thoughts get multiplied. That is part of the new media revoluation.
2. Ideas get read more widely. Every blog audience is unique and so the readership of an idea increased.
3. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, so 100% blog post reproduction is a huge compliment.

Disadvantages of 100% copying
1. Words lose context. A blogpost gains layers of meaning because it is shaped by an author and by the surrounding posts. Reproducing a blogpost loses that context. (This is also the reason why I don’t use or like RSS feeds. They might be efficient but they strip context.)
2. The original author is more likely to be removed from any ensuing discussion (ie comments occur in another context and the original author is less likely to be aware).
3. Chinese whispers. You know that game you play where you form a line and pass a whisper down and laugh at how much it has changed. Similarly, reproducing a reproduction heightens the risk of not giving due credit or mixing up words from various bloggers.
4. Internet pollution. In an information rich world, should there be an ethical commitment to streamlining information rather than reproducing the same information?

I am not upset or anything. It just got me thinking. What do you think? What advantages and/or disadvantages do you see?

Updated based on comments:


I feel I need to clarify that I am not in any way accusing people of breaking copyright. I am just pondering the fact that blogs allow us to so easily do this. I could never, as say a weekly newspaper columnist, write something that said “I like what Taylor says: ….. and then print everything Taylor says.” I would struggle to have a book published that consisted of great big long quotes from others.

Yet web technology makes cut and paste so easy. So we have a whole new way of publishing. It is are easier to cut and paste others words than to write your own. And I want to ask: what is the impact of this on the nature and understanding of writing and reading? Are we seeing less originality and more re-production? Do we, or don’t we, like that impact? And only having pondered these first three; to ask, what are the legal implications.

Posted by steve at 09:10 PM

17 Comments

  1. It’s nice to see that your not getting all high and mighty about the affair. Personally I just can’t see the point of pinching some one else’s blog posts… Why bother, sure quote, comment and disagree, but why pinch the lot.

    As an aside, if they have ads on their site they have broken the terms of your creative commons licence because they are using your material to draw traffic to their site which will increase their revenue.

    Comment by Graham Doel — March 17, 2006 @ 12:37 am

  2. My feeling is that as long as there is a link to the original post and it’s credited, I don’t care. I personally quote segments from other’s blogs and then cite and link. *shrug* I guess I view blogs as conversations more than as books or other “legalized” documents.

    Comment by Makeesha — March 17, 2006 @ 3:26 am

  3. I just went over to my blog and noticed that I posted your “smells like kingdom” story. I think it was probably the whole thing. I hope that didn’t offend you.

    Comment by Makeesha — March 17, 2006 @ 3:29 am

  4. I do a lot of links to other blogs because the people that read my blog (that communicate with me anyway)like a bit of a resume of what is going on (if I copy anything it will only be a taster)! Is there not a question in a question re streamlining, how do we get a “summary site” i.e. all these people are blogging on this book or this topic, but then there are so many variations within topics etc. this could be almost impossible – still it would be great to have some sort of linking index – not that I have a clue how that would be done…

    Comment by Nigel — March 17, 2006 @ 3:53 am

  5. Makeesha, to repeat what I said in the blog; “I am not upset”. And also to stress that this blog post is not based on any particular blogs. It is simply something I was pondering.

    I made the post hoping that readers would simply read it as a pondering.

    peace
    steve

    Comment by steve — March 17, 2006 @ 8:02 am

  6. This is an interesting discussion. I would tend to think that as long as a hyperlink is provided to the original post things are cool. Then again why not just post the link…
    A friend and I recently started a website to share the resources we create for our ministries. We use a Creative Commons License and actively encourage people to use the ideas/resources wihtout giving us credit in a ministry setting- but even in that circumstance context is important. I hope people use the ideas, are inspired by them and mold them to fit their context- not stop being creative and just use my stuff wihtout thinking.

    Comment by jeremy — March 17, 2006 @ 4:14 pm

  7. Steve ~

    I understand :) I just didn’t even realize I had done what you were saying until I went back to my blog and checked. I just loved that story so much I wasn’t even thinking about it…which goes back to the intent of your comment, I do think it’s something we need to be cognizant of…so good post brother, thought provoking :)

    Comment by Makeesha — March 17, 2006 @ 4:20 pm

  8. If there’s a CC licence, the intent is to allow/encourage reuse, so the only question is whether the reuse is fair and good. (I’d leave Graham’s legal loophole to use later if I decided the usage was unfair or bad ;)

    If the posts (a) link to the original context and (b) add something then it seems to me good, if they don’t do (a) then it’s theft. It’s where they do (a) but not (b) that I have doubts if it really meets the moral intent of the CC approach… though with CC video clips I’d be happy to show them in church or class…

    Comment by Tim — March 18, 2006 @ 7:46 am

  9. I will add this to the post as an update. I feel I need to clarify that I am not in any way accusing people of breaking copyright. I am just pondering the fact that blogs allow us to so easily do this. I could never, as say a weekly newspaper columnist, write something that said “I like what Taylor says: ….. and then print everything Taylor says.” I would struggle to have a book published that consisted of great big long quotes from others.

    Yet web technology makes cut and paste so easy. So we have a whole new way of publishing. It is are easier to cut and paste others words than to write your own. And I want to ask: what is the impact of this on the nature and understanding of writing and reading? Are we seeing less originality and more re-production? Do we, or don’t we, like that impact? And only having pondered these first three; to ask, what are the legal implications.

    Comment by steve — March 18, 2006 @ 2:36 pm

  10. There’s also the ambiguous question of whether comments left by people are covered by the blog licence or remain the property of those who post them.

    Comment by Stephen — March 18, 2006 @ 3:34 pm

  11. I think because I view a blog as a conversation (since there are comments and such), I don’t see it as protected like a book, newspaper article, etc. But an article online I do see as covered by that protection.

    One thing I find myself doing is reading something in a blog and thinking “ooo…good topic, I need to think about this”…and then I do, and then I feel it behooves me to quote what got me thinking about it before I make my comments so that I can a) give perspective and b) give credit. I don’t want people to think that the idea was my own. So for me, and many people I know, it’s actually a way to protect the original speaker

    Comment by Makeesha — March 18, 2006 @ 3:53 pm

  12. oh, and as to your question about originality…I think we’re seeing more dialogue…as for how much of it is original…well, there really is nothing new under the sun ;)

    Comment by Makeesha — March 18, 2006 @ 3:54 pm

  13. In the light of your clarification, Steve, maybe the new medium makes DJing text easier… but 100% copying is not “good” DJing as it adds little of the DJ’s own, unless through the new context it changes the meaning…

    Comment by Tim — March 19, 2006 @ 6:49 am

  14. Tim, love the DJ application. Have you been reading my book?:). You are right, there is no DJ adding their own, no enhancing or making of a new mix. But then (arguing against myself here) at least my tunes are being played.

    Comment by steve — March 19, 2006 @ 10:12 pm

  15. In terms of conventions for blogaria, I’d prefer to see the “rule” being that one posts either a discussion of the original post, or some tasty titbits with a link. I think posting a whole post from elsewhere is unimaginative, mechanical and boreing.

    Though having said that there is one blog I scan regularly, because she picks up on interesting material from newspaper sites etc. and most posts are either straight quotes or nearly so… it’s the selection I like… So there too there is value added.

    Comment by Tim — March 21, 2006 @ 6:14 am

  16. I think under the CC license copying would be OK (just goes to good manners, then). However, I think that normally an author has intellectual rights over his or her work, in which case, technically, it would be illegal without permission. But in most cases, I imagaine, such an act would be considered flattery as long as sue acknowledgement is given.

    Comment by Alex — March 24, 2006 @ 9:41 am

  17. Cut and paste is certainly much easier than writing your own words but, in the words of the Instant Kiwi ad, “I feel like I need something else”. There’s no point in an author reproducing without critiquing.

    I’m lazy (time-conscious?) and appreciate when blogs I read link to stuff that might be of interest. It opens up new ideas and sites that I might not find otherwise. If the whole post is recreated I’m not going to bother.

    Reproduction of quotes and paragraphs is only useful, in my opinion, if the copied post adds something to the discussion. I agree with Tim (and I assume yourself) in questioning the point of only reproducing.

    The “ethical commitment to streamlining information” is interesting and, in general, I agree. In praxis whenever it fits I link without reproducing. However I think an organism such as the blogosphere is always going to throw up large amounts of redundancy.

    Comment by Craig (mars-hill) — March 29, 2006 @ 12:01 am

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