Checked your blog for content theft lately? While the Internet has become an essential part of our lives, it’s also a rip-off channel for blog crime and copyright infringement thieves who steal copyrighted material. People steal intellectual property when copying your blog content to their sites.
Sending threatening letters about copyright infringement to website and blog owners, their ISP’s and their domain registrars is time-consuming for legitimate bloggers and frequently ineffective in getting the thieves to remove your copyrighted material. Blog crime continues. (See Plagiarism Today or visit their Twitter site for actions you can take as a blogger commits copyright infringement.)
Blog crime can start with people who leave comments on your blog with a link back to their sites. Some of the more successful thieves populate their sites with content lifted from multiple blogs without giving credit to the original source.
Here are a few examples that recently appeared on this blog.
“Considerably, the post is actually the greatest on this precious topic. I agree with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your incoming updates. Saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the phenomenal clarity in your writing. I will directly grab your RSS feed to stay privy of any updates. Admirable work and much success in your business. dealings! Yes, Christmas is coming, probably faster than we want to think about,are you ready for it? Did you make some unique Christmas crafts? Making Christmas crafts is the most beautiful moment for waiting the Christmas to come.”
The comment regarded my post “Christmas Gift Giving in an Age of Guilt.” I doubt that bloggers like this one have any sense of guilt on the Internet or otherwise.
“It was a really nice theme! Just wanna say thank you for the selective information you have fanned. Just continue publishing this kind of post. I will be your patriotic reader. Thanks again.” (Yeah, sure, thanks a lot.)
“Very informative post. I’m learning more about how to play golf from your website, then I’ve ever did from even my own golf instructor. Hope it’s ok that I share this post on Facebook?”
This rip-off artist was commenting on my post Hurley Creates Golf Courses and Hope On Lost Islands, a piece I wrote about the TV series “Lost” and how Hurley, one of the main characters, suggested building a golf course so stranded people on the island would have some fun. Guess what this turd sells: golf clubs.
Like other bloggers, I welcome legitimate comments that create conversations in blogs. Interacting with your readers is one of the joys of writing a blog. But the blog crime thieves, who are too lazy to write their own blog material, lurk in the shadows of the Internet. They’re like wolves waiting for a juicy lamb to wander by and should be banned from the Internet.
One solution is to install code from a company called Tynt This free service monitors all copied content from your blog and attempts to create links on the offending sites.
Reading through this morning’s San Jose Mercury News reinforced my belief that U.S. newspapers are contributing to their demise by printing stories that are, in many cases, irrelevant to the majority of readers.
The word “relevant” has an interesting origin. The dictionary says it derives from medieval Latin in the 16th century meaning “raising up.” Instead of “relevant” then, we might ask ourselves: “are newspapers raising us up?” Are they enlightening us about events and issues that might change our views on the world, whether from a local, national or global perspective?
Sometimes newspaper articles are irrelevant because they’re sensational or incomplete. (I give two examples below.) Whether “irrelevant” or “incomplete,” however, is not an either/or answer to the plight of newspapers. Content that interests and illuminates peoples’ lives is the issue.
I sent an email this morning to Mike Cassidy, a reporter for the paper who’s been collecting feedback from readers lately. I complimented the Mercury for a page one article dealing with Chinese entrepreneurs who are leaving Silicon Valley to build their businesses in China. (The Chinese government is wisely funding a variety of start-up companies as VC money in the valley dries up.)
As I read the rest of the Mercury today, however, I kept asking myself: “Why did the Mercury News’ editors decide to print this?” How is it relevant to my life? What’s the value of the content? Some examples:
“At Least 25 killed, 55 hurt in Egyptian train collision.” The article featured a full-color photo–same amount of space as the article beneath–of people climbing out of the wrecked train. A horrible event, yes, but I kept looking for information in the article that was relevant (“raising me up”) and I didn’t find it. What if the Mercury editors had used more of the AP reporter’s news story by reducing the size of the color photo? Or maybe added additional information about the growing need for improving the world’s rail systems.
Here in California we had a rail initiative on the ballot during our last election. Why not integrate local content into a national disaster story?
“Church janitor charged in slaying of N.J. priest.” I’m 99.5% certain this article would never have made the front section of the Mercury unless the victim had been a priest and had been stabbed 32 times.The article, again written by an AP writer, described blow-by-blow what happened, how the killer’s son graduated from the church’s school, his daughter still attending the school and how the slain priest was well-loved in the community.The story clearly had local interest for the priest’s community. But here in California? Why would the Mercury use nearly a quarter page in the front newspaper section to cover a sensational, horrible local event 3,000 miles away?
During the reign of William Randolph Hearst, the famous–some would say “infamous”–newspaper publisher, “yellow journalism” reigned. Hearst was rightfully accused of sensationalizing the news, causing wars and more.
If Hearst were the current editor-in-chief of the Mercury News, he probably would have put the slain priest article on page one with even greater detail of the killing. Maybe his readers would have enjoyed knowing which parts of the priest’s body were stabbed, the type of knife used by the killer and other gory details. Why not? That’s how Hearst sold newspapers and he was pretty darn effective marketing his publications.
Like other newspapers, the Mercury continues losing millions of dollars in revenues as advertisers move their ad dollars to the Internet and other digital media. While readers flock to the Web, however, newspaper publishers, editors and reporters should examine their role in the loss of readers. Publishing online is not the solution. The Internet only offers a bigger white board to write on.