Any one that has read my writing in our firewalled ITJourno/MediaConnect sites knows that I’m fiercely passionate about writer’s copyright and that I’m appalled at the level of theft that takes place in the blogosphere, or what I called the “flogosphere” in my most recent post.
Am I’m not even talking about so-called splogs here. Even high-profile bloggers regularly paste massive slabs of an article into their own blogs, under the premise of providing context. I simply don’t get it? You simply provide a link and the reader can go read the original post themselves and that’s real context. I don’t ever see the need for more than two or three pars to be “quoted” in any blog/story/article. For me, once you step over that boundary, you’re plagiarising. You’re taking away the reason that somebody might link through to an article and thereby possible earn revenue.
This issue has got some traction over the last 24 hours, because big-time blogger, Om Malik, got the shits his content was being ripped off. Fact is, though, it’s happening all over the net, all-day, every-day. There’s simply stuff all respect for writer’s copyright on the Internet and there needs to be a fundamental change take place or it’s going to go on unabated and the tenuous economics that one day, might make blogging and independent media sustainable remain even further off in the distance.
I’d suggest bloggers all start by stating their terms and conditions of copyright re-use. How much content can be republished (eg: three paragraphs/1000 words/partial-RSS feed only) and under what terms and conditions that can occur (eg: proper attribution and link). And then I’d love to see some of the big media companies start dropping lawsuits on serial plagiarists. The content community needs a big stick of some variety or they will be powerless to enforce copyright. I’d love to see a global organisation that any content provider can become a member of which would be charged with enforcing copyright through the legal system. The software industry has one, so does the music industry.
Also, the blogosphere needs to get over it’s reticence for partial-RSS feeds. Let’s face it, if you publish a full RSS feed, you’re inviting people to rip off your content. Om Malik’s blog couldn’t have been ripped off as easily as it could were it not for the full RSS feed he offers. Robert Scoble last month wanted to “shoot someone” because they refused to publish full RSS feeds, reasoning that they were treating him like a “slave”. The subsequent discussion is well worth reading. I really don’t see how you can expect to run a commercial blog, if you value your content so little, that provide a mechanism for anyone to publish it, wherever the hell they want.