Serious Business of Content Theft
So, I was going to do a post about the Japanese movies I watched the other day, but after a recent conversation on Twitter and a post by a particular dramablogger that I like, I figured I’ll add to the discussion.
First off, it was brought to several bloggers’ attention that zkpop.com has been stealing content without proper attribution or credit. This is so not cool. You can read more about it at Dramajjang.
All of the following are considered plagiarism:
- turning in someone else’s work as your own
- copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
- failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
- giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
- changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
- copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not (see our section on “fair use” rules)
A while back, I did a series of posts, a Blogging 101 series, and I did cover this to some extent. I have also had this happen to me. I am not sure if someone completely stole my posts without any credit, but there was a blogger posting mine, and others’, full recaps of dramas and western TV shows. Credit was given, but that did not stop the fact that this person copied and pasted FULL articles and that is wrong. What hurt even more is the fact that blog that reposted my posts had better search rankings than my own original articles at the time.
It does not matter if a blogger gives credit to another blogger, it is rude and unethical (see definition of plagiarism above as given by plagiarism.org) to completely post another’s work without permission or in its entirety. Google’s Panda roll out (which also hurt lots of legitimate sites’ search rankings) did put in new measures to ensure copied content did not achieve page rankings like the original, but we all know nothing’s perfect.
As an English major I have dealt with plagiarism on an ongoing basis. I was taught about research papers and citations from elementary school through college. I have also tutored English at the college level and worked with students on their own papers. In my own dealings it has been brought to my attention just how little people today understand what plagiarism and copyright infringement mean. So many students just copied and pasted directly from sources without proper formatting and citations and many had no idea they did anything wrong. One reason is that this type of thing is not taught in schools like it once was. I have actually learned it can be quite rare for high school English classes or otherwise to cover the always evil research paper which is the best teacher of this topic. I’m not making excuses for anybody, but from personal experience, I know that there is this ignorance on the topic and that there are many who don’t understand. But I’m sure we all know best that ignorance is not an acceptable excuse anyways.
What’s sad is there are people who do understand, but choose to ignore the rules and use others’ hard work for their own gain, and I can completely understand why bloggers are so upset on this topic as I was also very unhappy when it happened to me. I never did contact the blogger and request a takedown, but I was young and didn’t know what to do. The blog now no longer exists, so that’s good.
Some people might say that there was no copyright statement on a blog, thus there can be no case of plagiarism or copyright infringement. Guess again! Legalzoom.com lets us know that is a fallacy: “When you write a blog post, you instantly create a copyrighted work. According to the U.S. Copyright Office, your original work receives copyright protection ‘the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.'” You do NOT need to have a copyright statement or symbol or registration. Of course, there is, as always, a caveat that if you want to sue someone for an infringement, it does need to have been registered with the US Copyright Office. Complicated, ne? That’s why there are lawyers dedicated solely to this purpose. But, bloggers should post copyright, even if it’s just the symbol, date range, and site name, just to be safe.
If you do love another blogger’s post, and want to reblog it, fine, but follow the rules. One, you should really ask permission first. Two, DON’T reblog ANYTHING in it’s entirety (again look at plagiarism definition). We all know that no blogger will give another the right to an entire post (some exclusions apply to this, but that’s decided by the original blogger) and there’s tons of SEO reasons why they shouldn’t. Three, When reblogging something, give a SHORT quote from the post with written credit to the blog and its author with and a link to the original article. It’s also nice to write a few of your own thoughts about the post. You want to curate a list of new posts by bloggers you love? Not impossible, but again, short snippets, proper credits.
Copyright infringement is the act of violating the copyright owner’s exclusive right through unauthorized (emphasis mine) or prohibited use of copyrighted material. . . .
An infringement of rights of the copyright owner occurs when: 1. there is a reproduction of work;
2. there is a derivative of works prepared based on the work;
If you’re a blogger and want to learn a bit more about safeguarding content, you can check out kissmetric’s post. The post is definitely more geared towards business bloggers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t apply some of their tips and tricks. In particular, take screenshots of both your posts and the Infringer’s. Politely (no slinging poo…yet) request that the site remove the stolen content (or you can request they shorten a post and give proper credit & links, too, but we shouldn’t reward content thieves, should we?).
There are ways, if you are a self-hosted blog to prevent RSS content scraping. That simply means people publishing posts via RSS cannot access the full content of your posts as only a snippet is made available and I think that there was a way that you could hardwire links to your work in, but it’s been a long time and I don’t want to give any misinformation there. Image theft, aka hotlinking, is a bandwidth nightmare. On self-hosted sites, there are several different ways to keep people from leeching bandwidth by posting links to your images.
Content thieves can ruin hardworking bloggers just like they can ruin fansubbers. Please let us not support them or their sites and if you notice someone has taken content from a place you frequent, let the blogger know.