lunch

“The ‘New’ Plagiarism”

Updated: See end of article for update

The Investor Relations Web Report calls it "the new plagiarism". (Note: The original blog post is down.) Dan Zarella from Puritan City call those who engage in it "the best plagiarists". Others simply call them bloggers or, as Zarella also put it, "Human Aggregators".

They’re a new breed of content users that walk a gray area between that which is clearly fair use and what is obviously content theft. Their blogs are marked with large swaths of block quotes and heavy content reuse, but also proper attribution and at least some original content.

These sites, as they’ve grown in number, have created a great deal of controversy among bloggers who are left to wonder if they are nothing more than content thieves in disguise.

Block quotes by the Dozen

These sites, which for this article I’ll simply call "gray", are generally identified by a large number of very short posts, with much of it in block quotes or otherwise directly lifted content. Though they meticulously credit their sources, bowing to more traditional rules for blog attribution, and work to add at least some original content, usually over half of their material comes from other sources.

This has caused many bloggers to worry that these grey blogs might be trying to get away with content theft under the guise of legitimate attribution. The idea being that they can create a much larger volume of content if they only have to write a small portion of it. Users will simply visit the gray blogs since they are able to provide so much more information and, due to the use of liberal quoting, the user will then have no reason to visit the original source. After all, they already have most of the critical information.

While certainly grey blogs don’t pose the same threat or raise the same concerns as spam blogs and other content scrapers, the cause for concern is clear. Even though blogging is about sharing and reusing information, excessive sharing threatens the authors penning the original content. The tale of the goose laying the golden egg springs to mind as, quite simply, greed can be the blogging world’s biggest enemy.

A Separation of Degrees

What makes this issue so difficult to address, and so difficult to write about, is that it’s not so much about gray blogs, but rather, various shades of grey blogs. The difference between someone simply quoting blogs and someone trying to tweak the system is not a clear cut matter, but a separation of degrees.

Quoting, even liberal quoting, is expected by blogs. It’s a part of researching a story and covering ongoing stories as well as sharing information. If done properly, it can not only be used to create a new work, but also drive valuable traffic to the original site. In the blogging world, being the source is often a badge of honor.

However, basing your entire site, or even a larger percentage of it, on quoted content is viewed differently. Being a source in a larger article is one thing, but having your content be the majority of the article on another site another. What distinguishes one from the other is unclear at best. There are no math formulas or systems for determining what is right or what is too much.

More confusing still, everyone has a different idea of what constitutes content theft. With Creative Commons Licenses being very common, it’s obvious some feel that copying an entire work is acceptable so long as attribution is affixed. Others would place the boundary well within what is usually considered fair use.

The challenge becomes to strike a balance and set some kind of guideline that is compatible with copyright law, acceptable under the current code of blogging ethics but also able to appease the concerns many bloggers share over grey sites.

A Proposed Solution

When I first looked at the problem, I was tempted to set guidelines by which a blogger should not get more than X percent of their overall content from other sites or use more than Y lines from another entry. All ideas along those lines, however, quickly fell through.

First, some sites like Engadget, gets a majority of their information from other sources and, correctly, have never been accused of content theft. (Correction: Engadget does write their own copy but reuses many photographs. I apologize for the misunderstanding.). Second, given the varied lengths of posts and methods of reuse available, almost any guideline system would quickly run afoul of fair use and, in other cases, would permit reuse that would almost certainly be questionable. Any attempt to work around these factors would complicate a rule that, supposedly, had the sole benefit of being simple.

In lieu of a hard and fast rule, much like the fair use provision itself, we begin to seek out a framework for determining if a reuse is ethical or not. This framework would contain the following elements, many of which are found in the standard fair use provision:

  1. The amount of reused content compared to the amount of original content.
  2. The amount of reused content in relation to the original work.
  3. The frequency with which large blocks of text are used.
  4. What is gained by the original author.
  5. Whether permission was granted in advance, either through a CC license or direct permission.
  6. Whether attribution was provided or not.
  7. Other indications as to the intent of the one reusing the work, including excessive advertisements, links to one’s own sites and other forms of profiteering or over the top promotion.

(Note: As with everything I do like this, these elements are a draft and are open to both comment and revision.)

Such a system, while not perfect or easy, would provide guidelines both for pursuing content theft and reusing others works. Though it might be subjective in many respects, it does give people pause to think about what they are doing beforehand and at least some standard of conduct to follow.

Conclusion

With file sharing, blogging and content trading are more popular than ever, copyright has become something of a dirty word. Many people are obsessed not with how to best disperse information and participate in this sharing revolution, but with how much they can get away with legally and ethically.

In a parallel to the famous John F. Kennedy quote, we need to stop asking what others can do for us, and ask what we can do for them. Rather than simply wondering what we can get away with or how we can get the most for the least amount of work, we need to figure out how we can best participate in this world-wide discussion.

If the ethics of the blogging world are constantly abused to promote the gain of others, high quality writers will have little motivation to post their works on-line and, as the well slowly dries up, there will be less and less work available for either reuse or for simply reading.

It’s not enough to share, we have to support and reward good content creators. It’s the only way to keep the revolution alive.

*****UPDATE*****

Since this article made its appearance on Slashdot, many people have criticized me for allegedly mixing up the terms plagiarism and copyright infringement. This is coming from confusion in dealing with both the title and the first paragraph of this piece, which were both intended to be hat tips to the articles that inspired me to write about this issue.

The quote is attributed in the very first sentence of the piece. I chose to put quotes around the word "New" instead of the entire title because this kind of content reuse has been going on for some time. There really is little "new" about it. I have modified the title to make it more clear.

Throughout the work I use the terms copyright infringement, reuse and content theft, but never the word plagiarism after the first paragraph. I understand the difference between the terms well and need no lectures.

My hope is that this piece and the attention drawn to it will spark real discussion on a very complicated and intricate issue. Instead, I fear that confusion and misinterpretation may prevent a much-needed debate.

I hope that bloggers, in their haste to chop down the work, will look past the poorly-worded intro and into the issue behind the work, the reason it was pushed in the first place.

[tags]Plagiarism, Content Theft, Copyright Infringement, Copyright Law, Scraping, Creative Commons[/tags]

94 Responses to “The ‘New’ Plagiarism”

  1. Peter Rojas says:

    Your characterization of Engadget is completely 100% wrong. We write every single post ourselves and very rarely quote someone else. When we do, we make it very clear that it is a blockquote and not our own words.

    I'd appreciate a correction.

  2. Peter Rojas says:

    Your characterization of Engadget is completely 100% wrong. We write every single post ourselves and very rarely quote someone else. When we do, we make it very clear that it is a blockquote and not our own words.

    I’d appreciate a correction.

  3. matthijs says:

    It's an interesting and and difficult subject. I think you sum it up quite well, at the moment I have nothing to add to your draft.

    I do have a question though: In this article you are talking about "content aggregation" as a (grey) form of plagiarism, in which the boundaries between copyright infringement and fair use are not clear.

    But if these are grey areas, framing is certainly not in the grey area, isn't it? (meaning it is a form of plagiarism) What are your thoughts on framing in this matter? I know you wrote about it in september 05. Have you changed your position or ideas on that matter in any way since then? (Sorry if this is off-topic)

  4. Dan Zarrella says:

    Watchful Eye, two points:

    a) why are you hiding behind a psuedonym?

    b) and yes I, like most bloggers, use blockquotes, however if you look at the overall balance on puritan city, you will see that much of what I post is original and unique, I take stands on issues, I make snarky (or at least attempts at snarky wit) comments, and in general I try to add new value to everything I post. (The Circus post was merely a followup to a number of other unique posts I made, including one pretty big one) Perhaps if you stepped out from behind your veil we could compare and contrast sites, and get more specific.

  5. JB says:

    Matthijs: Not off topic in the least and, truthfully, a glaring omission in both my article and my guidelines. Thank you for pointing it out. To answer your question, I have not changed my view on framing.

    Framing a site with the intent to implying a relationship that does not exist is never right. This is not a gray area issue but something that needs to be stopped. That goes beyond reusing a portion of a person's content to create your own post and up to taking partial credit for all of the work, including the design, images and other elements. Definitely not acceptable.

    I'll have to look into adding a sentence to the guidelines to address that. Thank you for bringing it up.

    Watchful Eye & Dan:

    I don't judge gray sites, it's not my place, but when I linked to Dan's site I did look through it and noticed that, while he does use a fair amount of block quotes, the ratio of original content to reused content was about 50/50 over the first few pages. (Note: This is without the benefit of a word count, just an estimation).

    Is this too much? I don't have an easy answer. Everyone's going to look at it differently. I tend to be a little bit copyleft and err more on the side that is in favor of attributed reuse. However, the decision should really be left to those that have had their content reused by Dan. If they approve, there is really no room for complaint.

    No matter what though, his site is certainly not the worst I've seen in this regard. Others, including ones that I surveyed for this article had a 25/75 or even a 10/90 ratio. Some are so blatant as to post an entire 500 post in block quotes and at a brief "Neat huh?" at the end.

    All of this raises an interesting question though, as an estimation, about how much original content should a blog have? As I said before, there can be no hard and fast rules, but a number might give us an idea of the comfort level on the Web.

    Any thoughts?

  6. matthijs says:

    Jonathan,

    thanks for your answer. I asked about the framing because I recently found out one of my sites (together with many sites I know the owners of) is being "framed". I did some research and must say it's very difficult to find good information, let alone good advice (it's a difficult subject). I've been following your site for a year now, but now your advice can come in handy. Your work here is really appreciated!

  7. Alex says:

    In response to the original topic, I think this is a perfect example of the distinction between plagiarism (using someone else's ideas without proper attribution) and copyright theft (using someone else's intellectual property without permission).

    We do not need to reinvent the wheel, redefine/confuse these concepts, or make new ones up. The ones we have are perfectly fine.

    If someone properly quotes large amounts of content without permission, it may very well constitute copyright theft (this is up to a judge to decide), but not plagiarism.

    If someone uses the smallest piece of intellectual work without properly attributing the source, this is 100% plagiarism, 100% of the time, but not necessarily copyright theft.

    Simple.

  8. JB says:

    Alex,

    I just wanted to say bravo and well put there.

  9. Watchful Eye says:

    Dan Zarella is accusing others of plagiarism? It would seem to me that he forgets his own use of large block quotes surrounded by a couple of sentences. Without the block quotes he borrows, he’d have little to work with. I see little difference between his own blog and the “human aggregators” he accuses of plagiarism. See, for example, his post on the Big Apple Circus: http://www.puritancity.com/2006-04-03/review-of-big-apple-circuss-boston-show.html in which he admits not having seen the circus, so he just “borrows” part of the Boston Herald’s review.

  10. Watchful Eye says:

    Dan Zarella is accusing others of plagiarism? It would seem to me that he forgets his own use of large block quotes surrounded by a couple of sentences. Without the block quotes he borrows, he’d have little to work with. I see little difference between his own blog and the “human aggregators” he accuses of plagiarism. See, for example, his post on the Big Apple Circus: http://www.puritancity.com/2006-04-03/review-of… in which he admits not having seen the circus, so he just “borrows” part of the Boston Herald’s review.

  11. matthijs says:

    It’s an interesting and and difficult subject. I think you sum it up quite well, at the moment I have nothing to add to your draft.

    I do have a question though: In this article you are talking about “content aggregation” as a (grey) form of plagiarism, in which the boundaries between copyright infringement and fair use are not clear.

    But if these are grey areas, framing is certainly not in the grey area, isn’t it? (meaning it is a form of plagiarism) What are your thoughts on framing in this matter? I know you wrote about it in september 05. Have you changed your position or ideas on that matter in any way since then? (Sorry if this is off-topic)

  12. Dan Zarrella says:

    Watchful Eye, two points:
    a) why are you hiding behind a psuedonym?
    b) and yes I, like most bloggers, use blockquotes, however if you look at the overall balance on puritan city, you will see that much of what I post is original and unique, I take stands on issues, I make snarky (or at least attempts at snarky wit) comments, and in general I try to add new value to everything I post. (The Circus post was merely a followup to a number of other unique posts I made, including one pretty big one) Perhaps if you stepped out from behind your veil we could compare and contrast sites, and get more specific.

  13. JB says:

    Matthijs: Not off topic in the least and, truthfully, a glaring omission in both my article and my guidelines. Thank you for pointing it out. To answer your question, I have not changed my view on framing.

    Framing a site with the intent to implying a relationship that does not exist is never right. This is not a gray area issue but something that needs to be stopped. That goes beyond reusing a portion of a person’s content to create your own post and up to taking partial credit for all of the work, including the design, images and other elements. Definitely not acceptable.

    I’ll have to look into adding a sentence to the guidelines to address that. Thank you for bringing it up.

    Watchful Eye & Dan:

    I don’t judge gray sites, it’s not my place, but when I linked to Dan’s site I did look through it and noticed that, while he does use a fair amount of block quotes, the ratio of original content to reused content was about 50/50 over the first few pages. (Note: This is without the benefit of a word count, just an estimation).

    Is this too much? I don’t have an easy answer. Everyone’s going to look at it differently. I tend to be a little bit copyleft and err more on the side that is in favor of attributed reuse. However, the decision should really be left to those that have had their content reused by Dan. If they approve, there is really no room for complaint.

    No matter what though, his site is certainly not the worst I’ve seen in this regard. Others, including ones that I surveyed for this article had a 25/75 or even a 10/90 ratio. Some are so blatant as to post an entire 500 post in block quotes and at a brief "Neat huh?" at the end.

    All of this raises an interesting question though, as an estimation, about how much original content should a blog have? As I said before, there can be no hard and fast rules, but a number might give us an idea of the comfort level on the Web.

    Any thoughts?

  14. matthijs says:

    Jonathan,
    thanks for your answer. I asked about the framing because I recently found out one of my sites (together with many sites I know the owners of) is being “framed”. I did some research and must say it’s very difficult to find good information, let alone good advice (it’s a difficult subject). I’ve been following your site for a year now, but now your advice can come in handy. Your work here is really appreciated!

  15. Dan Zarrella says:

    JB: I’m thinking the ratio should be in the area of better than 50%, it seems like a logical delimiter, legally I’m not sure there is much to be said about attribution and human aggregation,(pure RSS scraping with ads is a different story, i’d think).

  16. Alex says:

    In response to the original topic, I think this is a perfect example of the distinction between plagiarism (using someone else’s ideas without proper attribution) and copyright theft (using someone else’s intellectual property without permission).

    We do not need to reinvent the wheel, redefine/confuse these concepts, or make new ones up. The ones we have are perfectly fine.

    If someone properly quotes large amounts of content without permission, it may very well constitute copyright theft (this is up to a judge to decide), but not plagiarism.

    If someone uses the smallest piece of intellectual work without properly attributing the source, this is 100% plagiarism, 100% of the time, but not necessarily copyright theft.

    Simple.

  17. JB says:

    Alex,

    I just wanted to say bravo and well put there.

  18. matthijs says:

    Indeed, very well said. I didn’t think about the difference between the two in that way before.

  19. Dan Zarrella says:

    Watchful Eye made a grammatical error in his post which I’ve found on a local competitor’s “human aggregator” site, and his indepth knowledge of old posts from my site, leave me pretty certain who he is.

  20. [...] Jonathan Bailey has been doing a bang-up job writing about and fighting plagiarism on the Internet. If you are a writer, blogger, photographer, or artist, his website, Plagiarism Today, should be on your must-read list. (Although he has a greater focus on written works.) In a recent post, Jonathan talks about The New Plagiarism and how there’s a gray area that some bloggers are treading into that comes very close to violating “fair use” guidelines when it comes to republishing other bloggers’ content. [...]

  21. [...] This story landed on the front page of Slashdot today, so I decided it was worth talking about. The blogger at PlagiarismToday made a pretty in depth post about the issue along with proposed solutions. [...]

  22. [...] Some feathers are getting ruffled by bloggers. Seems like there’s a lot of plagiarism going on a people want a stop to it. [...]

  23. Peter says:

    This is a difficult topic. With the size of the internet, enforcement is impossible. That being said, I believe the internet is a new and different thing where maybe we have to adapt and not oppose old standards upon them.
    If I quote you and link back to your blog it can be a good thing. It gets you more hits, gets you ranked higher in search engine, drives more traffic to you and more traffic for you = more money for you. Now if someone prints the whole article and leaves no reason for anyone to go to the original source, there might be a problem.
    Let’s just remember that properly credited articles are good, even if it’s just one original sentence and a quote. Just so long as you’re not taking most or the whole article. Sure there’s a line but at this point it’s a line that we can’t enforce.
    Links and quotes are a good thing for traffic, otherwise how would any of us ended up here?

  24. Peter says:

    This is a difficult topic. With the size of the internet, enforcement is impossible. That being said, I believe the internet is a new and different thing where maybe we have to adapt and not oppose old standards upon them.
    If I quote you and link back to your blog it can be a good thing. It gets you more hits, gets you ranked higher in search engine, drives more traffic to you and more traffic for you = more money for you. Now if someone prints the whole article and leaves no reason for anyone to go to the original source, there might be a problem.
    Let’s just remember that properly credited articles are good, even if it’s just one original sentence and a quote. Just so long as you’re not taking most or the whole article. Sure there’s a line but at this point it’s a line that we can’t enforce.
    Links and quotes are a good thing for traffic, otherwise how would any of us ended up here?

  25. someone says:

    should i just copy this article and paste it in my blog?

    jk… kudos to you.

  26. [...] Bloggers are the New Plagiarism Posted by CmdrTaco on Monday May 22, @01:46PM from the i-think-i’ve-heard-that-before dept. mjeppsen writes “PlagiarismToday offers a thought-provoking article that frankly discusses concerns with plagiarism and rote content theft among bloggers. In the section entitled “Block quotes by the Dozen” the author mentions the so-called “gray area”. That is PlagiarismToday’s classification of the common blogger practice of re-using large blocks of text/content from the original article or source, even when the source is attributed.”l [...]

  27. [...] I decided to view my subscribed feeds again, and I found this article via Slashdot, which talks about bloggers and content theft. Excessive use of blockquotes was mentioned, and well, it pointed me to one of my entries wherein I blockquoted the whole article. But in my defense, I would say that I mentioned where I got the article off, and because the site was dead, I re-posted the content so others could read it (all done with good will in mind). I would absolutely point out the readers to the source if it had been alive, I swear (I still linked anyway despite it being dead *rolls eyes*). [...]

  28. Noel Cower says:

    This is a touchy subject and I’m glad you put it into perspective for others. If it weren’t for hindsight, I honestly never would have considered that some bloggers get most of their traffic by posting the most interesting snippets of posts from other articles. Honestly, I hesitate to even say ‘some’ since I have not conducted any research on this and probably won’t because of the sheer scale of such a project.

    Anyhow, on to what I believe is one argument (logically speaking) of the article. While I think those readers who truly appreciate viewing the entirety of the source article will in fact view the source, it is likely to be the case that many readers of the quoting blogs will likely be more interested in the critical points presented by said blog. It’s convenience at the cost of the source losing its traffic. However, is it fair to say that most bloggers who provide this are doing it to convenience their readers or simply to get traffic more easily? After all, an article’s critical points is likely to be more interesting and keep the reader longer than if it were a smaller quote that provided only a small sample to get the reader to read not only the blogger’s article but the source as well.

    While posting on my blog, I’ve tried to keep the amount of quotes I use to an absolute minimum since I just don’t want to have others’ work on my blog. I think the amount of quotes I’ve used so far is one. I was quoting myself on another site- sad. I’m one of the bizarre people who feels that the vast majority of content on a blog or site should be produced by its owner. As far as posting loads of block quotes and then commenting with only one or two sentences, I disagree with it. Prior to this article, however, I never gave it much thought other than “doesn’t this guy write anything himself?”

    I feel awkward discussing this since I have little experience in the matter, but I’d rather say my piece and be criticized than not have my information right. If I’ve presented anything that is contrary to your view, I would appreciate you correcting me so that I can better discuss it. Also, I’m afraid I’m one of the many Slashdot viewers who saw this only now. After reading this, however, I plan to keep an eye on this site as it has presented some very interesting thoughts.

    Thank you for the article. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

  29. Noel Cower says:

    This is a touchy subject and I’m glad you put it into perspective for others. If it weren’t for hindsight, I honestly never would have considered that some bloggers get most of their traffic by posting the most interesting snippets of posts from other articles. Honestly, I hesitate to even say ‘some’ since I have not conducted any research on this and probably won’t because of the sheer scale of such a project.

    Anyhow, on to what I believe is one argument (logically speaking) of the article. While I think those readers who truly appreciate viewing the entirety of the source article will in fact view the source, it is likely to be the case that many readers of the quoting blogs will likely be more interested in the critical points presented by said blog. It’s convenience at the cost of the source losing its traffic. However, is it fair to say that most bloggers who provide this are doing it to convenience their readers or simply to get traffic more easily? After all, an article’s critical points is likely to be more interesting and keep the reader longer than if it were a smaller quote that provided only a small sample to get the reader to read not only the blogger’s article but the source as well.

    While posting on my blog, I’ve tried to keep the amount of quotes I use to an absolute minimum since I just don’t want to have others’ work on my blog. I think the amount of quotes I’ve used so far is one. I was quoting myself on another site- sad. I’m one of the bizarre people who feels that the vast majority of content on a blog or site should be produced by its owner. As far as posting loads of block quotes and then commenting with only one or two sentences, I disagree with it. Prior to this article, however, I never gave it much thought other than “doesn’t this guy write anything himself?”

    I feel awkward discussing this since I have little experience in the matter, but I’d rather say my piece and be criticized than not have my information right. If I’ve presented anything that is contrary to your view, I would appreciate you correcting me so that I can better discuss it. Also, I’m afraid I’m one of the many Slashdot viewers who saw this only now. After reading this, however, I plan to keep an eye on this site as it has presented some very interesting thoughts.

    Thank you for the article. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

  30. As one of the original sources of inspiration for this piece, let me clarify that I used the term “plagiarism” loosely and with a touch of irony. I was reacting to some holier-than-thou blog discussion about Raytheon CEO William Swanson’s plagiarism and suggestions that he wouldn’t last a year in his current job. It struck me as case of the pot calling the kettle black, especially as some of the bloggers are big block quoters themselves. I do the same thing sometimes, but try not to.

    The more discussion and debate about these topics the better. Perhaps is will make me think harder next time I copy and paste if I know that my readers might think less of me. Perhaps it will cause me to think differently of the next blog I see that has a lot of block quotes.

    A little awareness and peer pressure can do wonders.

  31. As one of the original sources of inspiration for this piece, let me clarify that I used the term “plagiarism” loosely and with a touch of irony. I was reacting to some holier-than-thou blog discussion about Raytheon CEO William Swanson’s plagiarism and suggestions that he wouldn’t last a year in his current job. It struck me as case of the pot calling the kettle black, especially as some of the bloggers are big block quoters themselves. I do the same thing sometimes, but try not to.

    The more discussion and debate about these topics the better. Perhaps is will make me think harder next time I copy and paste if I know that my readers might think less of me. Perhaps it will cause me to think differently of the next blog I see that has a lot of block quotes.

    A little awareness and peer pressure can do wonders.

  32. jefseb says:

    Thanks for the article. Online content creative misrepresentation is rampant and I’m glad someone is fighting the good fight.

  33. Sumant says:

    I do not support large scale content copying but I feel, “human aggregators” are really not that bad because probably those guys have spent a lot of time digging through the Internet and compiling/distilling crucial information from different sources (hopefully with attribution) together. Collecting and distributing a coherent and quality set of pointers to good information in the world-”wild”-web is certainly useful. What are Slashdot posts doing afterall? People are aggregating stuff that matters! Subscribers look upon such “human aggegators” as a source of sources-of-information! Links to the original content anyways increase rank of the original site. Who knows, the meta-information added by these folks in the www might reveal itself in the form of next-generation www search technique.

  34. Oy. I just made a long comment but it was lost when I hit submit.

    Anyway: I do think there is some utility to human aggregation, not just to the blogger who does the aggregation and their readers, but also to the blogs being quoted. For instance, you were quoted by Slashdot today, and that brought you a lot of traffic, which you could capitalize on if you were interested in advertising, and helps you get your message across to a larger number of people.

    The two things I think about when quoting are:
    1. Have I quoted the least possible to get the point across to my readers?
    2. Have I prominently displayed a link to the original item?

    I think people coming from traditional media see blockquotes as laziness — because a blockquote isn’t original material. As a blogger, I interpret most blockquotes as part of a distributed conversation. Let me express that in a less abstract way: I may quote a part of this post on my blog, link to it, and provide a brief response to what you’ve said. We’re now engaged in a distributed conversation that’s spread across your site and my site. Unlike traditional media, we’re not standing on our own individual islands lobbing bottles with notes into the ocean; the technology makes it possible for us to have much more interactivity.

    This distributed conversation is a foundational element of blogging, and like Slashdot linking to you, it has benefits for both parties. I quote you and make a response, but also, all my readers are reading our exchange, and hopefully I’ve been skillful enough in pulling a quote that makes them want to visit your site. If I didn’t quote some portion, it’d be like hearing only one side of a phone conversation — confusing and irritating. So some amount of quoting helps my readers get interested in what you have to say, hopefully interested enough to visit and read the whole thing.

    Many times I see just a short blockquote and a link, in which case the understood response of the blogger who’s quoting is: “Interesting.”

    I’ve had a lot of opportunities to think about this because I run a local newsblog. One of the features is a live-updated page of headlines and the first 200 characters of posts from bloggers who live in my town. It’s totally opt-in — I never add anyone without their permission. This is very popular among the bloggers who are aggregated by it, because it sends a lot of traffic to their sites. For the larger community, it’s useful because it’s a nodal point where people can discover other local bloggers and start to have conversations with each other. The more the aggregator page has been around, the more I notice that the bloggers in it link to each other and are having distributed conversations with each other.

    To me, the big problems are emerging commercial services like Feedsfarm which take fulltext posts from RSS feeds, republish them on pages with ads — and, this is the worst part — insert links into the content that the author didn’t create, links that point to pages with ads. This is just a more ambitious splog, and an attempt to legitimize splogs.

  35. Oy. I just made a long comment but it was lost when I hit submit.

    Anyway: I do think there is some utility to human aggregation, not just to the blogger who does the aggregation and their readers, but also to the blogs being quoted. For instance, you were quoted by Slashdot today, and that brought you a lot of traffic, which you could capitalize on if you were interested in advertising, and helps you get your message across to a larger number of people.

    The two things I think about when quoting are:
    1. Have I quoted the least possible to get the point across to my readers?
    2. Have I prominently displayed a link to the original item?

    I think people coming from traditional media see blockquotes as laziness — because a blockquote isn’t original material. As a blogger, I interpret most blockquotes as part of a distributed conversation. Let me express that in a less abstract way: I may quote a part of this post on my blog, link to it, and provide a brief response to what you’ve said. We’re now engaged in a distributed conversation that’s spread across your site and my site. Unlike traditional media, we’re not standing on our own individual islands lobbing bottles with notes into the ocean; the technology makes it possible for us to have much more interactivity.

    This distributed conversation is a foundational element of blogging, and like Slashdot linking to you, it has benefits for both parties. I quote you and make a response, but also, all my readers are reading our exchange, and hopefully I’ve been skillful enough in pulling a quote that makes them want to visit your site. If I didn’t quote some portion, it’d be like hearing only one side of a phone conversation — confusing and irritating. So some amount of quoting helps my readers get interested in what you have to say, hopefully interested enough to visit and read the whole thing.

    Many times I see just a short blockquote and a link, in which case the understood response of the blogger who’s quoting is: “Interesting.”

    I’ve had a lot of opportunities to think about this because I run a local newsblog. One of the features is a live-updated page of headlines and the first 200 characters of posts from bloggers who live in my town. It’s totally opt-in — I never add anyone without their permission. This is very popular among the bloggers who are aggregated by it, because it sends a lot of traffic to their sites. For the larger community, it’s useful because it’s a nodal point where people can discover other local bloggers and start to have conversations with each other. The more the aggregator page has been around, the more I notice that the bloggers in it link to each other and are having distributed conversations with each other.

    To me, the big problems are emerging commercial services like Feedsfarm which take fulltext posts from RSS feeds, republish them on pages with ads — and, this is the worst part — insert links into the content that the author didn’t create, links that point to pages with ads. This is just a more ambitious splog, and an attempt to legitimize splogs.

  36. Uriah says:

    Uhh, windbag much?

    I’d just like to point out that the interests of the original author shouldn’t come into play, and especially you shouldn’t be expected to ask permission to block quote a piece. Otherwise distributed conversations are chilled and noone can use a person’s words against them without sounding like the liars in the mainstream media who quote tiny chunks out of context to pervert their meaning. If the original content were novel length noone would bat an eye at a three paragraph block quote. Why should this be any different.

    And aside from that, this whole conversation is totally irrelevant. Copyright theft? Come on. You recognise the benefits of having a popular site quoting you increasing your own throughput, but you fail to see that there are already basic market forces in play here, in this case related to how a site becomes popular in the first place. Exactly three things are needed in a linkblog in order to become popular (outside of trollish spammers and search-engine tricksters, which is a different issue entirely): copious content, interesting and relevant links (to whatever audience is watching) and good original commentary. These three rules are pretty much inherently true of the blogosphere. Note that even fark.com has funny headlines. Without that originality, it wouldn’t be so popular.

    And so, the people who greviously stretch the notion of fair use reap their own rewards– they don’t have any viewers! So WHO CARES about the ‘gray area’? It’s a non-issue, and your attempts to force it into one do nothing but harm for the entire goddamn world. That’s exactly what we need, a set of guidelines whereby people can sue BLOGGERS over quotes. Do you even think about the consequences of your ideas?

    I repeat: the sites that quote appropriately drive click-throughs to the original content creator, allowing them to gain revenue however they can. The ones who do it badly are either already breaking other, more serious laws that need to be addressed in a direct fashion, or they are so inconsequential as to not make one iota of difference other than to letter-of-the-law asshat fascists and autistic people. To claim it to be poor design that drives away readers is merely stating the truth– to push it further into the basis of an issue of copyright is both ridiculous and dangerous.

    Personally, I think it’s somewhat ridiculous that anyone takes credit for creative works in the first place– such a philosophical notion of creativity certainly doesn’t jive with my experiences with creating original content. It’s just words. Someone coined every single one of them, along with every idea in your head. Gift from God or aggregate of prior experiences, either way it’s not really yours to create, but is your responsibility to the world to distribute. Which isn’t to say that people should be making money off of a piece without compensating the original artist, but aren’t cutups original art, even though they’re composed entirely of previous work? IP law the way it’s structured today, the way you’re recommending it be set up, it just doesn’t fit into the world of creativity that it is supposedly designed to support. I’d wager we could come up with a different system of supporting artists and inventors, writers and musicians than the festering pool of ‘I made it, it’s mine’.

    I can see I’ve entered into the world of windbag myself, but seriously, what is the point of all this? Just much ado about nothing.

    Just remember, every word in the english language was invented by someone. Every cliche was written by a particular person, and every colloquialism was mentioned by a particular person for the very first time. To call this plagiarism is preposterous– it is simply the nature of the evolution of communication. Lifting large portions of a previous work and calling it your own is plagiarism. Let’s not be expanding the definitions of legal terms, shall we?

  37. Uriah says:

    Uhh, windbag much?

    I’d just like to point out that the interests of the original author shouldn’t come into play, and especially you shouldn’t be expected to ask permission to block quote a piece. Otherwise distributed conversations are chilled and noone can use a person’s words against them without sounding like the liars in the mainstream media who quote tiny chunks out of context to pervert their meaning. If the original content were novel length noone would bat an eye at a three paragraph block quote. Why should this be any different.

    And aside from that, this whole conversation is totally irrelevant. Copyright theft? Come on. You recognise the benefits of having a popular site quoting you increasing your own throughput, but you fail to see that there are already basic market forces in play here, in this case related to how a site becomes popular in the first place. Exactly three things are needed in a linkblog in order to become popular (outside of trollish spammers and search-engine tricksters, which is a different issue entirely): copious content, interesting and relevant links (to whatever audience is watching) and good original commentary. These three rules are pretty much inherently true of the blogosphere. Note that even fark.com has funny headlines. Without that originality, it wouldn’t be so popular.

    And so, the people who greviously stretch the notion of fair use reap their own rewards– they don’t have any viewers! So WHO CARES about the ‘gray area’? It’s a non-issue, and your attempts to force it into one do nothing but harm for the entire goddamn world. That’s exactly what we need, a set of guidelines whereby people can sue BLOGGERS over quotes. Do you even think about the consequences of your ideas?

    I repeat: the sites that quote appropriately drive click-throughs to the original content creator, allowing them to gain revenue however they can. The ones who do it badly are either already breaking other, more serious laws that need to be addressed in a direct fashion, or they are so inconsequential as to not make one iota of difference other than to letter-of-the-law asshat fascists and autistic people. To claim it to be poor design that drives away readers is merely stating the truth– to push it further into the basis of an issue of copyright is both ridiculous and dangerous.

    Personally, I think it’s somewhat ridiculous that anyone takes credit for creative works in the first place– such a philosophical notion of creativity certainly doesn’t jive with my experiences with creating original content. It’s just words. Someone coined every single one of them, along with every idea in your head. Gift from God or aggregate of prior experiences, either way it’s not really yours to create, but is your responsibility to the world to distribute. Which isn’t to say that people should be making money off of a piece without compensating the original artist, but aren’t cutups original art, even though they’re composed entirely of previous work? IP law the way it’s structured today, the way you’re recommending it be set up, it just doesn’t fit into the world of creativity that it is supposedly designed to support. I’d wager we could come up with a different system of supporting artists and inventors, writers and musicians than the festering pool of ‘I made it, it’s mine’.

    I can see I’ve entered into the world of windbag myself, but seriously, what is the point of all this? Just much ado about nothing.

    Just remember, every word in the english language was invented by someone. Every cliche was written by a particular person, and every colloquialism was mentioned by a particular person for the very first time. To call this plagiarism is preposterous– it is simply the nature of the evolution of communication. Lifting large portions of a previous work and calling it your own is plagiarism. Let’s not be expanding the definitions of legal terms, shall we?

  38. someone says:

    should i just copy this article and paste it in my blog?

    jk… kudos to you.

  39. [...]  http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/?p=238 [...]

  40. Roland says:

    It’s an interesting and and difficult subject. I think your sum up is not very useful.
    Yes, you certainly have several interesting points. I just want to point out that their in my opinion is no “new plagiarism”.

  41. Roland says:

    It’s an interesting and and difficult subject. I think your sum up is not very useful.
    Yes, you certainly have several interesting points. I just want to point out that their in my opinion is no “new plagiarism”.

  42. Mirko says:

    If someone uses another one’s text and gives credit to the original author, that’s OK. Most scientific publications persists much much more than a half of quotations, citations and abstracts from the work of others. And as long as you say that is not your work, that is ok.

    If you don’t name the source, you claim that the content has been written from you – and that is plagiarism.

  43. Mirko says:

    If someone uses another one’s text and gives credit to the original author, that’s OK. Most scientific publications persists much much more than a half of quotations, citations and abstracts from the work of others. And as long as you say that is not your work, that is ok.

    If you don’t name the source, you claim that the content has been written from you – and that is plagiarism.

  44. [...] Varias son as causas para facer agora este artigo. Por unha banda, a xa cansa acusación plaxios lida en Slashdot reflcitindo unha nova de PlagiarismToday que sinala á práctica blogueira coma unha área gris de re-utilización de contidos. [...]

  45. nortypig says:

    My concern is that much of this plagiarism debate isn’t fuelled by people who put their words up to share on the net but by “probloggers” who are really only concerned about click through traffic…

    but other than that I guess all I can say is if anyone ever doesn’t want to be linked to on any of my blogs please feel free to email me. I understand what you’re saying about the grey blog thing and understand the types of blog you’re talking about. I try to put a cite url into every blockquote nowdays and generally the fact I’m quoting someone is pretty evident the quote is a quote of them. Sometimes on my links blog I just use their site tagline or something.

    I notice from a quote in a post on this site of words on my blog Pig Work you have fairly cited me but not put in the cite tag…

    http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/?p=97

    my point being fair use is simply about doing your best at the time to not “misrepresent” ourselves.

    I’m not sure I ever do much different than you do here.

    That being said yes there’s big business going on in sucking up content just for advertising revenue… when I worry my nights away on that one I’ll give it away and publish a book or something.

  46. nortypig says:

    My concern is that much of this plagiarism debate isn’t fuelled by people who put their words up to share on the net but by “probloggers” who are really only concerned about click through traffic…

    but other than that I guess all I can say is if anyone ever doesn’t want to be linked to on any of my blogs please feel free to email me. I understand what you’re saying about the grey blog thing and understand the types of blog you’re talking about. I try to put a cite url into every blockquote nowdays and generally the fact I’m quoting someone is pretty evident the quote is a quote of them. Sometimes on my links blog I just use their site tagline or something.

    I notice from a quote in a post on this site of words on my blog Pig Work you have fairly cited me but not put in the cite tag…

    http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/?p=97

    my point being fair use is simply about doing your best at the time to not “misrepresent” ourselves.

    I’m not sure I ever do much different than you do here.

    That being said yes there’s big business going on in sucking up content just for advertising revenue… when I worry my nights away on that one I’ll give it away and publish a book or something.

  47. nortypig says:

    Ha sorry not a quote by me I meant the quote on the commenter Id.Ology – which is a comment anyway… but you get what I mean I guess so you might want to scrub that line if you’ve got the chance lol…

    anyway i think you’re right that these things do need to be discussed in an open forum. unfortunately i don’t think it will go very far in the long run bar raising awareness.

    its like separating the email marketer from the spammer – my politicians seem to not consider their emails spam but to me they are… very grey too.

    glad to see you survived the slashdotting too. Congrats.

  48. nortypig says:

    Ha sorry not a quote by me I meant the quote on the commenter Id.Ology – which is a comment anyway… but you get what I mean I guess so you might want to scrub that line if you’ve got the chance lol…

    anyway i think you’re right that these things do need to be discussed in an open forum. unfortunately i don’t think it will go very far in the long run bar raising awareness.

    its like separating the email marketer from the spammer – my politicians seem to not consider their emails spam but to me they are… very grey too.

    glad to see you survived the slashdotting too. Congrats.

  49. [...] Bloggers are the New Plagiarism mjeppsen writes “PlagiarismToday offers a thought-provoking article that frankly discusses concerns with plagiarism and rote content theft among bloggers. In the section entitled “Block quotes by the Dozen” the author mentions the so-called “gray area”. That is PlagiarismToday’s classification of the common blogger practice of re-using large blocks of text/content from the original article or source, even when the source is attributed.” mjeppsen writes “PlagiarismToday offers a thought-provoking article that frankly discusses concerns with plagiarism and rote content theft among bloggers. In the section entitled “Block quotes by the Dozen” the author mentions the so-called “gray area”. That is PlagiarismToday’s classification of the common blogger practice of re-using large blocks of text/content from the original article or source, even when the source is attributed.” [...]

  50. [...] PlagarismToday makes a point that has been a beef of mine for a while with the blogosphere: These sites, which for this article I’ll simply call “gray”, are generally identified by a large number of very short posts, with much of it in block quotes or otherwise directly lifted content. Though they meticulously credit their sources, bowing to more traditional rules for blog attribution, and work to add at least some original content, usually over half of their material comes from other sources. This has caused many bloggers to worry that these grey blogs might be trying to get away with content theft under the guise of legitimate attribution. The idea being that they can create a much larger volume of content if they only have to write a small portion of it. Users will simply visit the gray blogs since they are able to provide so much more information and, due to the use of liberal quoting, the user will then have no reason to visit the original source. After all, they already have most of the critical information. [...]

  51. [...] Slashdot linked to an article this morning over on Plagiarism Today – The New Plagiarism – which refers to the practice on some blogs of using large quotes on a frequent basis in articles. The crux really being those blogs who have more blockquotes in there than original content. [...]

  52. [...] Ein interessanter Artikel auf Plagiarism Today bezeichnet Blogs als eine mögliche neue Form des Plagiats. Der Autor beruft sich hierbei natürlich nicht auf alle Blogs, sondern vielmehr auf jene Blogs, die einen Großteil ihres Content von anderen Seiten zusammensuchen und diesen in Blockquotes setzen, zwar mit Quellenangabe, aber teilweise oder größtenteils unkommentiert. Diese “gray” Blogs dienen in erster Linie als Content Aggregator; die Autoren suchen, in ihrem Ermessen, interessante Seiten, Artikel und Videos und bereiten sie prägnant, häufig nur in Auszügen, in ihrem Blog auf. Das Verfahren der Aufbereitung und Wiederverwendung von Informationen ist, so bemerkt auch der Verfasser des Artikels, natürlich nicht neu, sondern eines der grundlegenden Verfahren in der Blogosphäre. These sites, which for this article I’ll simply call “gray”, are generally identified by a large number of very short posts, with much of it in block quotes or otherwise directly lifted content. Though they meticulously credit their sources, bowing to more traditional rules for blog attribution, and work to add at least some original content, usually over half of their material comes from other sources. [...]

  53. Flajann says:

    While Plagiarism is plainly bad, as long as there is attribution to the quoted article, that should be enough. In this ephemeral world of web content that comes and goes, many times I have seen sites disapear that I had merely direct links to.
    Nowadays, I will copy the entire article and include an attribution and a link to the original, just in case the original website disapears someday.

    In the old days before blogging, in news groups and UseNet, it was not only customary, but typical to quote the entire content of someone else’s post and add your own commmentary to it. There were no issues raised about copyright and plagiarism, or few if ever.

    Today, I think it’s more an issue of the blogger wanting more traffic to go to *his* site so that ads can get greater exposure. If that’s the case, the blog is really being “monitized”, and that’s a different issue altogether.

    I would say, don’t place anything on the Internet if you don’t want it massively copied everywhere, and around 20 years from now. We can bitch and bemoan all we want about what others should do, but the reality is that the Internet is a medium of copy and replication and archive. Don’t like it? Go back to dead-tree publications and commentary.

  54. Flajann says:

    While Plagiarism is plainly bad, as long as there is attribution to the quoted article, that should be enough. In this ephemeral world of web content that comes and goes, many times I have seen sites disapear that I had merely direct links to.
    Nowadays, I will copy the entire article and include an attribution and a link to the original, just in case the original website disapears someday.

    In the old days before blogging, in news groups and UseNet, it was not only customary, but typical to quote the entire content of someone else’s post and add your own commmentary to it. There were no issues raised about copyright and plagiarism, or few if ever.

    Today, I think it’s more an issue of the blogger wanting more traffic to go to *his* site so that ads can get greater exposure. If that’s the case, the blog is really being “monitized”, and that’s a different issue altogether.

    I would say, don’t place anything on the Internet if you don’t want it massively copied everywhere, and around 20 years from now. We can bitch and bemoan all we want about what others should do, but the reality is that the Internet is a medium of copy and replication and archive. Don’t like it? Go back to dead-tree publications and commentary.

  55. Consider this: I never would have found your website unless Slashdot had “excerpted” aka “blockquoted” some portion of the material on your website. You now have a new reader thanks to this practice.

    You can lead a reader to content, but if you don’t give ‘em a sip to get there, they’ll find sustenance elsewhere, my friend.

  56. Consider this: I never would have found your website unless Slashdot had “excerpted” aka “blockquoted” some portion of the material on your website. You now have a new reader thanks to this practice.

    You can lead a reader to content, but if you don’t give ‘em a sip to get there, they’ll find sustenance elsewhere, my friend.

  57. domelhor.net says:

    Plagiarismo e abuso de cpia so pragas dos blogues…

    A cpia de textos de outros sites uma praga que assola a blogoesfera – existe uma area mal defenida entre o roubo dos conteudos (claramente ilegal) e o uso adequado da informao de outros blogues (defenido na lei). E muitas das vezes os autores dispes d…

  58. domelhor.net says:

    Plagiarismo e abuso de cpia so pragas dos blogues…

    A cpia de textos de outros sites uma praga que assola a blogoesfera – existe uma area mal defenida entre o roubo dos conteudos (claramente ilegal) e o uso adequado da informao de outros blogues (defenido na lei). E muitas das vezes os autores dispes d…

  59. Isaac says:

    This is all slashdot is: a huge collection of directly quoted blocks of text with a comment area for each. This is how a site that is relatively obscure can get attention. I would never have visited this site if not for Slashdot’s item on it, though in this case the text presented in the /. item is not a direct quote from your article.

    Also, your comment form is crap in Firefox.

  60. Isaac says:

    This is all slashdot is: a huge collection of directly quoted blocks of text with a comment area for each. This is how a site that is relatively obscure can get attention. I would never have visited this site if not for Slashdot’s item on it, though in this case the text presented in the /. item is not a direct quote from your article.

    Also, your comment form is crap in Firefox.

  61. JB says:

    Isaac,

    I have no trouble with it in Firefox 1.5 on Windows XP or Linux. Is anyone else having trouble with the comment form in Firefox?

  62. JB says:

    Isaac,

    I have no trouble with it in Firefox 1.5 on Windows XP or Linux. Is anyone else having trouble with the comment form in Firefox?

  63. [...] The PlagiarismToday blog has a good post up about blogs and “gray-area” plagiarism. Of particular concern is the ease with which large quotes or entire articles from one source can be posted on another. [...]

  64. I have block quoted this entire article on my site. LMAO :)

  65. XMLicious says:

    A distinction that hasn’t been made above, I don’t think… plagiarism is an ethical issue whereas copyright infringement is a legal issue.

    Plagiarism is a form of dishonesty. Profits from clickthroughs and other material benefits, as well as other interests of the author such as community repute and status, are irrelevant to the issue of plagiarism. It’s still wrong to plagiarize even if the author is unable or unwilling to profit from his or her creation (if the author is dead, for example.)

    Copyright infringement is an element in the mechanism of maintenance and enforcement of the legal concept of intellectual property, which is itself an implementation of the public policy that creative people and creative legal entities like corporations must be directly materially compensated for their creations. Other civilizations might choose to compensate creative people in a different manner, or might decide that they don’t need to be compensated at all, but the ethical issue of plagiarism would still exist.

  66. XMLicious says:

    A distinction that hasn’t been made above, I don’t think… plagiarism is an ethical issue whereas copyright infringement is a legal issue.

    Plagiarism is a form of dishonesty. Profits from clickthroughs and other material benefits, as well as other interests of the author such as community repute and status, are irrelevant to the issue of plagiarism. It’s still wrong to plagiarize even if the author is unable or unwilling to profit from his or her creation (if the author is dead, for example.)

    Copyright infringement is an element in the mechanism of maintenance and enforcement of the legal concept of intellectual property, which is itself an implementation of the public policy that creative people and creative legal entities like corporations must be directly materially compensated for their creations. Other civilizations might choose to compensate creative people in a different manner, or might decide that they don’t need to be compensated at all, but the ethical issue of plagiarism would still exist.

  67. [...] with del.icio.us   |   Email this entry   |   TrackBack URI   |   Digg it   |   Track with co.mments   |  [...]

  68. [...] The other day Slashdot pointed to a rather misguided critique of bloggers as plagiarists. The writer contends in “The New Plagiarism” that bloggers who “blockquote” and cite their sources are still plagiarists. These sites, which for this article I’ll simply call “gray”, are generally identified by a large number of very short posts, with much of it in block quotes or otherwise directly lifted content. Though they meticulously credit their sources, bowing to more traditional rules for blog attribution, and work to add at least some original content, usually over half of their material comes from other sources. [...]

  69. [...]  Jonathan Bailey in Plagiarism Today, looks at how much plagiarism exists in blogs. He acknowledges that it’s a difficult area – many bloggers do attribute work – and link back to the original – however the level of commenting that is put in varies tremendously. In his blog, he’s really concentrating on Web plagiarism, not academic. [...]

  70. Andrew Lih says:

    Jonathan, re: your comment on my blog, point taken.

    Though if you have a post called “The New Plagiarism” on a site called “PlagiarismToday” and the first graf says, “…Dan Zarella from Puritan City call those who engage in it ‘the best plagiarists’. Others simply call them bloggers or, as Zarella also put it, ‘Human Aggregators’…” then you can’t really fault readers for thinking your angle is to at least insinuate that that plagiarism is part of the issue. But let’s put that aside.

    There are problems with the vague term you use: “content theft.” It is not something defined legally (see the Dan Brown case in the UK) nor is it something widely used in academia (while the term plagiarism is).

    Some consider “fair use” a form of “content theft” even though it is well established in the US sense. (It is less so in the Commonwealth’s concept of fair dealing.) So I wonder if that is the issue you have, with content block-quoted and attributed, but somehow the copyright owner being able to exercise more restrictions over the use of their content? Is it a fundamental objection to the whole idea of fair use (or fair dealing) that you are contending?

  71. Andrew Lih says:

    Jonathan, re: your comment on my blog, point taken.

    Though if you have a post called “The New Plagiarism” on a site called “PlagiarismToday” and the first graf says, “…Dan Zarella from Puritan City call those who engage in it ‘the best plagiarists’. Others simply call them bloggers or, as Zarella also put it, ‘Human Aggregators’…” then you can’t really fault readers for thinking your angle is to at least insinuate that that plagiarism is part of the issue. But let’s put that aside.

    There are problems with the vague term you use: “content theft.” It is not something defined legally (see the Dan Brown case in the UK) nor is it something widely used in academia (while the term plagiarism is).

    Some consider “fair use” a form of “content theft” even though it is well established in the US sense. (It is less so in the Commonwealth’s concept of fair dealing.) So I wonder if that is the issue you have, with content block-quoted and attributed, but somehow the copyright owner being able to exercise more restrictions over the use of their content? Is it a fundamental objection to the whole idea of fair use (or fair dealing) that you are contending?

  72. [...] This site and the posted content seem to fall squarely within the sights of this article about "The New Plagiarism" otherwise known as blogging. [...]

  73. Joseph Pietro Riolo says:

    Plagiarism is built on the myth that the authors are
    the creators of new works and therefore, the expectation
    that their works must be treated with high reverence,
    for these authors are on a higher plane than other
    people (i.e. non-authors). This leads to the senseless
    rule that anyone who copies their ideas or words (or
    expressions) must pay the reverence to them by
    providing the attribution. Anyone who does not follow
    the rule is considered to be dishonest and therefore
    is guilty of breaking the rule. Thus, the concept of
    plagiarism is born.

    In realty, all authors are derivers where their works
    are derived from many sources of knowledge. There
    is nothing new under the sun. The only difference
    between their works and the sources is the different
    combination of the pieces of knowledge, in the same
    way as the difference between two kids’ construction
    of the same number of wood blocks. Because the
    universe can’t hold all possible combinations of pieces
    of knowledge in the same way as it can’t hold all
    different combinations of atoms, very large percentage
    of the combinations is left for people to discover
    (discover means to uncover something that already
    exists).

    So, what should we do with plagiarism? Follow the
    steps in how to deal with it.

    1. Recognize that the authors are the derivers, not
    the creators of the new things. If you continue to
    believe in the myth that the authors make something
    new, stop here and continue believing in this myth.
    Otherwise, go to the next step.

    2. If copying text without attribution does not
    violate any law (i.e. it is public domain or
    uncopyrightable or it falls under fair use) or enforceable
    agreement (i.e. license, contract), go to the next step.
    Otherwise, stop here and ask the original writer for
    permission to copy without attribution.

    3. If copying text without attribution will not result
    in undesirable consequence, go to the next step. Otherwise,
    stop here and you are forced to provide attribution when
    copying text. An example of this is college where you are
    forced to provide attribution with the penalty of being given
    a failing grade or expelled from the college.

    4. Exercise the freedom of communication by copying text
    or ideas without giving attribution.

    5. This step is optional. It is your decision to provide
    attribution. We know that we all crave attention. If
    providing attribution will not lead you into trouble or
    undesirable consequence, feel free to provide attribution.
    Otherwise, don’t give attribution.

    By following the steps, we can prevent the rule against
    the plagiarism from becoming the 11th commandment that
    would hamper the flexibility of communication as seen in
    the blog world.

    Joseph Pietro Riolo
    josephpietrojeungriolo@gmail.com
    riolo@voicenet.com

    Public domain notice: I put all of my expressions in this
    post in the public domain

  74. Joseph Pietro Riolo says:

    Plagiarism is built on the myth that the authors are
    the creators of new works and therefore, the expectation
    that their works must be treated with high reverence,
    for these authors are on a higher plane than other
    people (i.e. non-authors). This leads to the senseless
    rule that anyone who copies their ideas or words (or
    expressions) must pay the reverence to them by
    providing the attribution. Anyone who does not follow
    the rule is considered to be dishonest and therefore
    is guilty of breaking the rule. Thus, the concept of
    plagiarism is born.

    In realty, all authors are derivers where their works
    are derived from many sources of knowledge. There
    is nothing new under the sun. The only difference
    between their works and the sources is the different
    combination of the pieces of knowledge, in the same
    way as the difference between two kids’ construction
    of the same number of wood blocks. Because the
    universe can’t hold all possible combinations of pieces
    of knowledge in the same way as it can’t hold all
    different combinations of atoms, very large percentage
    of the combinations is left for people to discover
    (discover means to uncover something that already
    exists).

    So, what should we do with plagiarism? Follow the
    steps in how to deal with it.

    1. Recognize that the authors are the derivers, not
    the creators of the new things. If you continue to
    believe in the myth that the authors make something
    new, stop here and continue believing in this myth.
    Otherwise, go to the next step.

    2. If copying text without attribution does not
    violate any law (i.e. it is public domain or
    uncopyrightable or it falls under fair use) or enforceable
    agreement (i.e. license, contract), go to the next step.
    Otherwise, stop here and ask the original writer for
    permission to copy without attribution.

    3. If copying text without attribution will not result
    in undesirable consequence, go to the next step. Otherwise,
    stop here and you are forced to provide attribution when
    copying text. An example of this is college where you are
    forced to provide attribution with the penalty of being given
    a failing grade or expelled from the college.

    4. Exercise the freedom of communication by copying text
    or ideas without giving attribution.

    5. This step is optional. It is your decision to provide
    attribution. We know that we all crave attention. If
    providing attribution will not lead you into trouble or
    undesirable consequence, feel free to provide attribution.
    Otherwise, don’t give attribution.

    By following the steps, we can prevent the rule against
    the plagiarism from becoming the 11th commandment that
    would hamper the flexibility of communication as seen in
    the blog world.

    Joseph Pietro Riolo
    josephpietrojeungriolo@gmail.com
    riolo@voicenet.com

    Public domain notice: I put all of my expressions in this
    post in the public domain

  75. nortypig says:

    I agree all authors are derivers as well…

    Who wrote the first 10 Ways to Improve SEO for example – I’ve read quite a number. Did those people perhaps absorb it from the atmosphere? Yet none of them to my memory said they learned that on another blog. Its a valid example.

    I have to say I would find it very hard ever to say exactly where what I’ve heard becomes my own opinion. Mind you I was a writer before being a blogger so am well aware of how parts of things soup away in a bubbling brew and come out as something original. Or originalish.

    Yes I like Joseph’s point and have made it myself to a lesser extent in the past. Quite a few articles on professional blogging sites seem to be a circuitous rehash of the same information which may have begun on Micro Persuasion or somewhere else.

    Its kind of icky when you think of it? Human aggregators or programatical is probably irrelevant.

    I’m for a free blogosphere where conversation and the sharing of knowledge are more important than click through revenue… on blogs at least.

    Is either side of the debate right though? Mmm I probably think the truth and the path are in that grey area you mentioned.

  76. nortypig says:

    I agree all authors are derivers as well…

    Who wrote the first 10 Ways to Improve SEO for example – I’ve read quite a number. Did those people perhaps absorb it from the atmosphere? Yet none of them to my memory said they learned that on another blog. Its a valid example.

    I have to say I would find it very hard ever to say exactly where what I’ve heard becomes my own opinion. Mind you I was a writer before being a blogger so am well aware of how parts of things soup away in a bubbling brew and come out as something original. Or originalish.

    Yes I like Joseph’s point and have made it myself to a lesser extent in the past. Quite a few articles on professional blogging sites seem to be a circuitous rehash of the same information which may have begun on Micro Persuasion or somewhere else.

    Its kind of icky when you think of it? Human aggregators or programatical is probably irrelevant.

    I’m for a free blogosphere where conversation and the sharing of knowledge are more important than click through revenue… on blogs at least.

    Is either side of the debate right though? Mmm I probably think the truth and the path are in that grey area you mentioned.

  77. [...] First, Jonathan Bailey at Plagiarism Today posted a thoughtful piece on bloggers, intellectual property and plagiarism. [...]

  78. [...] Hawkwings made an excellent article on the subject, and plagiarismtoday.com is running this article “The ‘New’ Plagiarism? which has, I think, some quite subtle points of view. [...]

  79. [...] Following up on the new plagiarism, I wonder if the framework might expand to include another point – the degree to which the aggregate content provides a filtered (in an information overload sense) view of the topic. Does the site provide an expert’s, or amateur’s (which can be equally useful), view of the important resources? Here, blogs are the tool of ‘the mentat’ in Herbert’s (Dune) and Hunter’s (World Without Secrets) worlds.  Well maybe not Herbert's as blogs approach "likeness of the human mind" in a Doctorow sense anyway. [...]

  80. [...] PlagiarismToday » “The ‘New’ Plagiarism? “The ‘New’ Plagiarism? (tags: toread) [...]

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  83. Zach van Draden says:

    Is it really that much to ask when we say, “in your own words?”

  • Alleen says:

    Hello, I was shocked today when I was accused of Plagiarism! I will explain my situation. Im in a OTA program at Keiser University. I wrote a paper on a case study that was pretty good until I came a cross information that was common knowledge to me so I thought it did not have to be cited for example: i wrote directions on how to get out a wheel chair after a hip surgery? All the websites and hand out my teacher gave us said the same action, get up from the wheel chair with the good leg not the one that had surgery… I figure that was an action anyone with common sense would… do ! But today I have learned that even something that is common knowledge needs to be cited even if is within the norm. Really…there has got to be a loop hole to this??? Please help
    Alleen Santana
    email me at alleenmarti@aol.com

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