Plaigarising our content: How should bloggers respond?

Echoing a post just three days ago on the Daily Mirror‘s plagiarism, this post on Chuls Bits & Pics blog does not come as a surprise. The author notes that the photo accompanying the story on the Sunday Times here was published without any attribution. As the author notes,

Infuriating was a mild term to describe how I felt, cheated is more like it, considering this photograph was taken by me during a short stop in London in 2008 when this statue was on display at the British Museum.  I had made a special visit to the British Museum for the sole purpose of seeing this statue, take this photograph and write the story.

As I’ve noted earlier in this blog, rampant plagiarism by leading Editors and newspapers in Sri Lanka of content that appears on the web and in blogs is an eduring issue that I have covered in detail elsewhere.

Given a strong and shared interest in ensuring that content Sri Lankan bloggers / web writers post online – text, audio, video, photos – is attributed correctly, how do you think the blogging community in Sri Lanka can engage mainstream media? Nalaka Gunawardene calls newspapers a dinosaur under siege. If we agree that newspapers are transforming and that, in a larger sense, current distinctions between new and traditional media will be erased in the years to come, how can the blogging community impress upon Editors – generally old, stubborn, technologically challenged men, resistant to change and closed off to learning – that their survival depends on how well they embrace our content to supplant and complement what they produce?

If it is good enough to reproduce, how can we tell traditional media Editors and Owners that it is good enough to attribute?

Ideas welcome.

8 Comments on “Plaigarising our content: How should bloggers respond?”

  1. indica
    March 26, 2009 at 9:20 am #

    Creative Commons licensing of blogs, briefing editors on what that means and how to attribute, and then giving them one source (probably search) to get content.

    If you can get bloggers to license their stuff it’s easy to make a custom Google Site Search. Then you just need to have a meeting with the main editors to tell them this content is available if they follow these rules.

  2. chuls
    March 26, 2009 at 9:55 am #

    Sanjana

    Thank you for the comments and this post. It’s clear that this has been happening for quite sometime and will happen in the future unless we stem this tide. I think we need to push the Dinosaurs to understand the issue involved — some don’t even know what a Blog is, let alone the correct way an attribution has to be made. Blame is shifted easily to Sub editors. In addition they need to set aside some money in their budgets to pay for blog material they will use and pay a penalty if unlawful use is made

    Legally too we might only have a handful of lawyers who are competent to take on cases. A list will be useful. Resolving issues without the legal track would be best but if respect and recognition comes only through legal means we shouldn’t hesitate.

    One thing we could do would be to come up with standard payments for photographs and blog text reproduced with a penalty if used unlawfully. Change is never easy but we are there to put in the effort.

  3. David Blacker
    March 26, 2009 at 10:09 am #

    Start suing.

  4. Laurie Ashton Farook
    March 27, 2009 at 8:24 am #

    It isn’t just about attribution. It’s also about pay. (If the blogger is looking for pay.)

    If they pay their staff writers and photographers, then they should pay the blogger for content. And how much they pay should be discussed with the blogger beforehand. If the content is good enough to be published in their newspapers/magazines, then it’s good enough to pay for.

    It’s a business for the newspapers/magazines, so they should be professional about this. Stealing content is not professional. Not paying for content is not professional.

    I’ve found my content on online Sri Lankan news sites. I issued a DMCA take down notice to the news site, and when that didn’t work (they ignored it completely), issued a DMCA take down notice to their web host. Their site was taken down for 24 or so hours until they removed my content. Still, they had it on their site for over six months WHILE THEY EARNED REVENUE USING MY CONTENT. But, since I don’t read offline newspapers, no idea if or how much of my content has been plagiarized elsewhere.

    When Internet sites steal my content, I issue DMCA take down notices. And I follow up until my content is removed.

    Problem is, this doesn’t work for offline content.

    The only real way to make people and organizations that do this change is to make them pay, have consequences for their actions. But the legal system here… It seems like hardly anyone even knows what copyright is, what copyright law means, and so on.

  5. Laurie Ashton Farook
    March 27, 2009 at 8:25 am #

    It isn’t just about attribution. It’s also about pay. (If the blogger is looking for pay.)

    If they pay their staff writers and photographers, then they should pay the blogger for content. And how much they pay should be discussed with the blogger beforehand. If the content is good enough to be published in their newspapers/magazines, then it’s good enough to pay for.

    It’s a business for the newspapers/magazines, so they should be professional about this. Stealing content is not professional. Not paying for content is not professional.

    I’ve found my content on online Sri Lankan news sites. I issued a DMCA take down notice to the news site, and when that didn’t work (they ignored it completely), issued a DMCA take down notice to their web host. Their site was taken down for 24 or so hours until they removed my content. Still, they had it on their site for over six months WHILE THEY EARNED REVENUE USING MY CONTENT. But, since I don’t read offline newspapers, no idea if or how much of my content has been plagiarized elsewhere.

    When Internet sites steal my content, I issue DMCA take down notices. And I follow up until my content is removed.

    Problem is, this doesn’t work for offline content, nor does it financially compensate me for them stealing my content. Plus they still have the revenue they earned while my content was on their site.

    The only real way to make people and organizations that do this change is to make them pay, have consequences for their actions. But the legal system here… It seems like hardly anyone even knows what copyright is, what copyright law means, and so on.

  6. Sanjana Hattotuwa
    March 30, 2009 at 8:26 pm #

    @Indi CC licensing is great, getting Editors to understand what it means is a challenge.

    @David Interesting idea – perhaps the legal precedence needs to be set for fear to guide others to comply. I don’t know enough about copyright law to opine about how easy this would be as Laurie points out.

    @Laurie Most bloggers I know of don’t really want financial compensation. They just want more eyeballs on their content, which is why attribution more than mercenary demands is what animates them.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Global Voices Online » Sri Lanka: How Should Bloggers Respond To Plagiarizing - March 27, 2009

    [...] ICT For Peacebuilding (ICT4Peace) comments: “rampant plagiarism by leading Editors and newspapers in Sri Lanka of content that appears on the web and in blogs is an enduring issue”. The blog also discusses how should Sri Lankan bloggers respond to plagiarizing. Cancel this reply [...]

  2. Identity and suicide on blogs « ICT for Peacebuilding (ICT4Peace) - March 29, 2009

    [...] can the Fourth Estate and electronic media, provided it attributes this content, strengthen their own publications and programming by featuring and using content on the web such [...]

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