Friday, June 8, 2012

Crossing the Line - Borrowing vs. Piracy

To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.

I included this line in a post a couple weeks ago.  It was one of a bunch of funny statements I received in an e-mail.  I can't credit the author, I have no idea who it was but I'm re-using it in this post because of something I came across earlier this week.

A lot of mornings when I'm reading through the blogs I follow, I move a couple into a "go back to" folder, to read when I have more time.  Occasionally, the folder gets a little out of hand, and I spent several hours recently working my way through the backlog.  Some were several months old, possibly older.  As I read each one, I deleted the link from the folder.  There was one I wish I'd kept.

A couple days after I cleaned out that folder, I was reading through the current day's postings and I came across the same post.  Same text.  Same pictures.  I'm not sure about the title.  But I am sure that it was a different author and there was no mention of this being a re-cycled post and no credit given to the original author.

By Grassyfilth

I know whatever we say in our blogs is fair game.  Copyright statements or not, anything we post can be lifted and re-used.  If the re-post is properly credited, this can be a good thing.  Especially if the credit includes a link back to the original blog.  But what if it's not?

If someone takes information you've posted and works it into their own post on the same topic, is that okay?  What if they only re-word your post?  What about images?  Okay to copy?  Should any of this be done without the original author's permission?

Where is the line on "borrowing" from someone else's blog verses stealing someone else's work?  What do you think?

Groaner of the Day:  A man who lived in an apartment building thought it was raining and leaned out his window to check. As he did so a glass eye fell into his hand. He looked up to see where it came from in time to see a young woman looking down.

"Is this yours?" he asked.

She said, "Oh, thank you. Yes, could you bring it up?"

When the man reached her apartment, the woman was profuse in her thanks and offered him a drink. Since she was very attractive, he agreed.

As they drank she said, "I'm about to have dinner. There's plenty; would you like to join me?"

He readily accepted and both enjoyed a lovely meal. As the evening was drawing to a close the lady said, "I've had a marvelous evening. Would you like to stay the night?"

The man hesitated then said, "Do you act like this with every man you meet?"

"No," she replied, "Only those who catch my eye."


Maria Zannini said...

Stealing content from a blog or web site is called scraping, and it is so NOT cool.

My blog has been scraped numerous times by unidentifiable sources. No name, no contact information, and no way to draw and quarter the scum.

I love it when people quote me or reference my blog. But blog etiquette asks that you link back to your source or at least give them credit by name.

Linking is better. It helps both parties gain visibility in the eyes of a search engine.

Stacy McKitrick said...

"Scraping." Now, there's a new term in my vocabulary. I hope I never experience it, too!

The beginning of your groaner reminded me of my Great-Uncle (via marriage only!), who had a glass eye and tended to throw it out the window whenever he was mad. Then he'd pay some schmuck to go outside and find it.

Cate Masters said...

Shocking to think authors would do this, but it's not the worst of what goes on. Don't get me started! Sad that they can't rely on their own writing to grab someone's attention.
Love the groaner, nyuk nyuk.

Linda G. said...

I'm so anal about plagiarism that I'll link-back and/or credit MYSELF when I recycle something I've written before.

Also, {{{groaning}}}

LD Masterson said...

Maria - I didn't know the term scraping but it certainly fits.

Linking is most definitely better. It's a win-win. Unless you need to cheat and claim someone else's work as your own.

LD Masterson said...

Stacy - I think you've got some blog material in the person of your Great Uncle.

LD Masterson said...

Cate - For people who aren't writers to steal someone else's material is one thing, but for authors it's inexcusable.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That was a groaner!
I rarely even use an idea I see on another blog. I'd never considering copying it. Maybe it's a good thing my blog posts tend to be all over the map - less likely someone would copy them.

LD Masterson said...

Linda - Okay, that might be considered a little bit anal, but at least you're covering your bases.

LD Masterson said...

I'm just sticking in my own comment here...

Stephen Tremp is a blogging gentleman of the first order. He always asks first if he wants to borrow an image from my blog, even ones I know are floating around in a bazillion e-mails.

Eve said...

I've never experienced this. I'm wondering, how would you know if someone 'borrowed' your post? Or little bits and pieces from it? I've never even heard of this..but I did hear someone say once that the internet is like the wild west...there's very little they can do to police it..I guess I'd be pissed if it happened to me, but in the end there's not much you can do.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

With all of the articles I've written and posted it wouldn't surprise me if someone had used one someplace without giving me credit. That is just terrible you saw the same stolen post so soon after the original.

LD Masterson said...

Alex - I disagree, I'd love to steal your blog. But I'm too smart to mess with a Ninja.

LD Masterson said...

Eve - My blog following is small enough that I might even be flattered. Once. But if I was blog hopping and saw one of my posts under someone else's name, I think I'd be seriously P.O.'ed.

LD Masterson said...

Diane - To be honest, I don't know how old the first posting was since I was clearing out old links. Sometimes a few will settle to the bottom and get lost for months. Of course, had I not just seen the first one, I'd never have realized it was stolen when I saw it on the second. I'm betting that what the pirate was counting on.

Carol Kilgore said...

I write silly fluff mostly on my blog, since it's a place to come relax. I've never seen any of it anyplace else, and I'd be surprised if I ever did. And ticked off if it was there without credit or a link.

Then again, one day something I write might catch a scraper's eye :)

LD Masterson said...

Carol - Ticked off is certainly how I'd feel.

Mike Keyton said...

Hmm, would I be 'chuffed' or 'pissed off' if someone scraped my blog? Probably the latter.

Ref 'plagerising the work of many' being validated as research, it is if the result is a synthesis unique to yourself.

Ref photos, tricky. I've cheerfully copied and recycled others' photos for my blog, but then again, I've uploaded my own which I've seen others recycle. So I suppose its all a matter of moral consistency.