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Plageurism in blogging

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August 29th, 2004
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Blogging News, Web Ethics

I understand that a lot of sites are offering “blogging news” and are trying to gain popularity by capitulating in this niche market. Since I tend to keep track of a handful of blogging tools, I tend to find a lot of blogs that are blatantly copying the articles from another blog and passing them off as their own. Some of these blogs are adding attribution, but that is not enough.

Let me elaborate a little. I come from a very strict educational background where any sort of plageurism is looked down upon with extreme disgust. Now that might not apply to the blogging world, but I still consider blatant disregard for intellectual property to be a major problem. In academia, usage of material from external sources is encouraged. There are however, very strict rules of identification of sources and proper punctuation of external information so as to designate their origin and provide the required attribution. Though these very strict rules cannot be adhered upon in the fragmented blogging world, nominal rules of respect for Intellectual property still applies.

I encourage bloggers to use external sources. I strongly encourage discussion of these bits of information in personal blogs. However, please do not copy every word and every punctuation from another blog and call it your own. Providing a “source” or a link to the original author is simply not enough when you are copying the whole article. If you are going to post the exact information from another blog to your own, make sure that the external information is blockquoted or somehow designated to not be your own. Readers are not stupid and they will catch on. Providing unoriginal content can only go so far.

I have identified a couple of blogs that are completely made up of posts from other blogs. Most of these are the new fangled “blogging news blogs”. This has irked me to the point that if these people do not stop, I will take it upon myself to maintain a list of these blogs and prevent their access to this site and any other that I might have influence in. I will go so far as to suggest that my readers do the same.

Please respect other people’s intellectual property. You are very welcome to provide parts of posts as text in your entries with simple attribution. You are even welcome to quote large parts of posts as long as they are designated as being completely from another blog or website. But please do not steal the work of others and do not think that a small source identification is enough to make a whole article your own work. I hope other authors feel the same way!

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Comments

  1. jerome rigaud says:

    i’m a rebloger; i’m feeling really sorry for your reaction. all what i can do is just to agree with roger. i’m rebloging your content. i publish the link to your blog and a link to technorati as well. if you’re completely against the fact that i could diffuse your content, just drop me a line or two and i will erase your feed from my listing and never again republish your content, nor read it, as rebloging is for me a tool to follow lots of discussions/articles/topics. what i’m doing through rebloging, is just to share the best articles i’ve read. i would argue also that publishing a link to your site not only gives you credit for the intellectual work (and all the rest as well) but makes your pagerank getting higher as well.

    and finally i would just underline (as roger noticed for the blog) that there’s even a feed for the comments…

  2. Mark says:

    I think I need to rephrase this post. A lot of people have taken this completely out of context and I might be sending out the wrong message.

    Reblogging is not a bad thing and I am happy that you think that content from my blog is worth reblogging. Please continue to do so freely.

    Also, expect a follow up post on this issue soon.

  3. Mark (34 comments.) says:

    Thank you for a well thought out answer.

    However, my mastery over the English language is not at question here. Nor is it important whether I am a “native English” speaker.

    If you read through the article again, you should see that I am trying to establish that a one line “source:XXX” at the beginning of a blog post (of which the author is listed as the author of the suspect blog) is not enough if the whole post is from another source.

    Lastly, Copyright Infringement IS theft of intellectual property.

  4. Jim says:

    If you read through the article again, you should see that I am trying to establish that a one line “source:XXX” at the beginning of a blog post (of which the author is listed as the author of the suspect blog) is not enough if the whole post is from another source.

    Not enough for what? It’s certainly enough to ensure that it’s not plagiarism. It’s not enough to ensure that it isn’t copyright infringement. That’s one of the points I was trying to get across; these are very different concepts. You can plagiarise without infringing upon copyright, and you can infringe upon copyright without plagiarising. You seem to be unaware that plagiarism is passing others’ work off as your own, and copyright infringement is copying something without permission. The two often occur at the same time, but they are different things and you are treating them as if they were interchangable.

    If somebody refers to somebody else as the source of the article, in no way can you claim that they are trying to pass the work off as their own. You can, however, accuse them of copyright infringement if they copied the article without permission in a way that isn’t covered by fair use.

    Lastly, Copyright Infringement IS theft of intellectual property.

    Repeating this mistruth doesn’t make it any truer. “Intellectual property” is merely a term used to group a number of different laws together. It’s an abstract concept, and you can’t steal an abstract concept. To steal something, you must remove it from the original owner’s possession. If somebody infringes upon copyright, does the copyright holder still hold the copyright? Of course they do. Do they still have the article that they wrote? Of course they do. When somebody infringes upon copyright, are they arrested for theft? No, they aren’t.

    Copyright infringement and theft are two completely different things, with completely different consequences. It makes no sense to equate them. If I would liken copyright infringement to any other law, it would probably be counterfeiting. It’s nothing like theft.

    Don’t just take my word for it; the U.S.A. Supreme Court recognises the difference between copyright and theft (look up Dowling vs. United States, 1985 in which they make this utterly clear).

  5. Roger Benningfield (1 comments.) says:

    I have some sympathy for folks with these sorts of complaints, but like it or not, the distributed Web is here, and it ain’t goin’ away. If you publish an RSS feed, your content is most likely being compiled and republished *somewhere*… that’s the whole point of syndication, after all.

    So rather than worry about licensing (which won’t stop actual bad guys and will be ignored by automated republishing tools), focus on the things that you can actually control. First up: stop producing full-content RSS feeds.

  6. Carthik (25 comments.) says:

    I was thinking the same about reblogging blogs and how they dilute my articles. They have the same title and content as that of my own blog, and they started up without my consent. Now if someone searches on google, will they end up on my site or theirs? Anybody’s guess. I think that verbatim duplication of posts, using an automated script is downright evil! That said, I am going to hunt for a licence for my weblog that works for me.

  7. Carthik (25 comments.) says:

    I have since added a full copyright statement to each of my articles sent out as an RSS 2.0 feed item.

  8. Craig Hughes (2 comments.) says:

    Actually, it can be enough to simply attribute. It entirely depends on the license under which use of the material is granted. For example, content on my blog is licensed under a creative commons “by” license (and clearly tagged as such with a piece of XML in every page). http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/1.0/

    There are many other licenses, which allow people to use content in a whole range of different ways. Attribution is not even required if the original author allows you not to do it.

  9. mog (4 comments.) says:

    And when I find those blogs, I make sure not to link them. As to blogging news, mine consists of I updated to the latest nightly then I list all the things that don’t work, like most of my plugins.

  10. Jemima (1 comments.) says:

    “Plagiarism.”

  11. jr (1 comments.) says:

    Well, yes, Jemima, but this makes it MUCH easier to find them. (As well as spot folks who miss the pun in the title.)

  12. Jonathan Greene (12 comments.) says:

    I’ve had the same thoughts…

    http://www.atmasphere.net/wp/a.....t-to-quote

    could not agree more!

  13. Jim says:

    I tend to find a lot of blogs that are blatantly copying the articles from another blog and passing them off as their own. Some of these blogs are adding attribution, but that is not enough.

    If they are adding attribution, then, by definition, they are not “passing them off as their own” and are not plagiarising. They may or may not be infringing upon somebody’s copyrights, but that is a different concept to plagiarism.

    I still consider blatant disregard for intellectual property to be a major problem.

    Hang on… if somebody republishes content with permission, with attribution, why are you accusing people of “blatant disregard for intellectual property”? You are aware that many people explicitly allow republication of their works aren’t you?

    However, please do not copy every word and every punctuation from another blog and call it your own. Providing a “source” or a link to the original author is simply not enough when you are copying the whole article. If you are going to post the exact information from another blog to your own, make sure that the external information is blockquoted or somehow designated to not be your own.

    Attributing it to somebody else somehow isn’t enough to designate it as somebody else’s work? You aren’t making sense!

    I have identified a couple of blogs that are completely made up of posts from other blogs.

    Yes, I read many of them. It is useful when you want to keep track of a certain topic, when posts about that topic may be spread across many disparate sources and otherwise diluted by a lot of material that is not relevent.

    This has irked me to the point that if these people do not stop, I will take it upon myself to maintain a list of these blogs and prevent their access to this site and any other that I might have influence in. I will go so far as to suggest that my readers do the same.

    What? In the cases I am thinking of, they are doing nothing wrong! Republishing articles from sources that allow republication, attributing the articles to the correct people… why the nasty vendetta?

    But please do not steal the work of others

    Copyright infringement is not theft.

    do not think that a small source identification is enough to make a whole article your own work.

    Are you a native English speaker? Citing somebody else as the source for an article is an explicit acknowledgement that the article is not your own work. You seem to be using words without knowing the meaning of them.

    That said, I am going to hunt for a licence for my weblog that works for me.

    If you don’t want people republishing your works, you don’t need a license, you are already covered by copyright.

    (As well as spot folks who miss the pun in the title.)

    I don’t get it. It looks less like a pun and more like another reason to believe the writer is not comfortable with the English language.

  14. taih says:

    so why are you delivering your feeds? just don’t offer them, or take part of some restricted license of you. to be creative commons compliant, makes you be more confortable with 3rd party applications ;-)

  15. David Russell (32 comments.) says:

    Aside from any copyright issues, plagiarism is dishonest – you’re cheating your readers and yourself. If you can’t use blockquotes (some blog systems’ implementations, e.g. WordPress, screw XHTML validity) then put it in italics or use some other method of marking.

  16. Petit says:

    … and of course, Jerome, commenting and linking to other bloggers posts is as good a behavior as just copying text is a bad.

    The whole idea of linking, pingbacks, trackbacks and RSS feeds is to spread and share the thoughts and ideas between us.

    To manually or automatically harvest other bloggers posts just to make your own site grow ( and possibly collect Google Ad money ) is too simple and meaningless. If you don’t at least read an article, you can’t recommend it.

    Whatever jures says about “intellectual property”, ethically its theft if you don’t give credit to the real author.

    However relevant citation of parts of an article, with reference to the source is fine, and on the web linking to the source is simple enough.

    The RSS feeds and the like is something else. This is a syndication of information with its own rules. The author is aware of the distribution form and the reference back to her/him is there. The author also decides how much of the content is fed to the feed.

    If I had a syndication service that weaves together articles or blog posts from many different sources, I wouldn’t filter out the originating authors from my feed.

    Simple as that: Read and comment on, link or mix my posts with others – spread my opinion, but don’t steel my words and call my novel yours.
    ( You may cite this where ever you want, but link back to this comment :-)

  17. ts says:

    “Whatever jures says about “intellectual property”, ethically its theft if you don’t give credit to the real author.”

    Ethically, it is a amatter of one’s viewpoint, not a collective definition. Unfortunately, your proposal is illogcal, since you do not take anything, a la theft, instead you mislead people to believe you wrote soemthing when you do plagurize, which IMO, and definition wise is better suited by fraud. It makes me sick that people are using words that have little real relevance as synonyms for other words.



Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  2. Netlex News says:

    Reblog blogging and plagiarism : a personal comment
    “I tend to find a lot of blogs that are blatantly copying the articles from another blog and passing them off as their own. Some of these blogs are adding attribution, but that is not enough”

    Plageurism in blogging

    Is this blog a “reblog blog…

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