Bloggers and ripping off content

Felix Marwick, in comments at Public Address, raises some concerning behaviour:

I was trying to draw a distinction between what I regard as genuine blogging; opinion and news gathering involving individual research vs blatant plagiarism dressed up as opinion/news.

Forgive me if I get a little pissed off at people who help themselves to my work and that of my colleagues, slap it up on their site without so much as a “please” or a “do you mind”. Journalism costs. You want to take our work? How about asking first? How about making a contribution even?

I don’t mind quotes and links. Fair use is fine. But lifting whole articles is taking the piss.

Completely fair point.  It’s not just taking the piss, it’s plagiarism – and even where attributed, copy-pasting another author or site’s whole work basically means, if you or they are making money off onsite advertising, that you’re stealing from them.

(Obviously this doesn’t apply to consensual cross- or guest-posting, but duh.)

Here’s what I find super-interesting: Felix, as a member of the mainstream media, has talked about this issue as being about bloggers – and others in the PA comments have a few suggestions of who specifically might have that accusation levelled at them.

But you know who I immediately think of when people start talking about lifting whole articles and placing them on other sites to boost their own currency / activity / pageviews?

Bob fucking McCoskrie.

Evidence for the prosecution:  the Protect Marriage website; the Family First website.  FF’s website is particularly hilarious for the way all the posts are by the author “Bob” yet are nothing but copypasta from the mainstream media.  (Or occasionally, totally-anonymous-honest “satires” about how funny gay teenagers killing themselves is.)

Oh, sure, they’re attributed, they even have a link to the original story at the end, in case you find it so fascinating you want to re-read it in a different font.

But no one writes off Bob McCoskrie as a blogging parasite.  No, he gets TV interviews and mass media coverage of every twisted, inaccurate factoid he tries to create moral panic over.  All the while, basically stealing shit from that very media to make his sites look active and relevant.

I’ve no doubt there are blogs out there which just churn through other sites’ posts, and that’s shitty and uncreative and goddammit go away and leave the Google rankings to us original-content creators.  But at least you can snort derisively when it’s a blogger doing it.

When it’s the Moral Guiding Hand of the nation, it’s just a bit pathetic.

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