Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
 
Bloggoleechification

While we're in this discussion of copy-rights and -wrongs, I would like to grab that opportunity to talk about bloggoleechification. The word doesn't exist. In fact, I made sure before I wrote this that a Google search for bloggoleechification turns up zero hits. Now that I published this post, the word will technically exist on the internet, and future Google searches will find it. And if you do that Google search in 48 hours, you will get quite a number of hits. Many of which will point to websites which are not tobolds.blogspot.com or www.tobold.com. For lack of a better word, I call these other websites the leeches. They take content from popular blogs, and repost it together with some advertising, in the hope of making some money from the creation of others. I'm not talking about bloggers or game websites taking up an idea from another blogger and adding their own thoughts and commentary to it. I'm talking about websites with a script which does nothing but copy and paste the content of others with no selection or added input. They will even copy this post in which I call them leeches. And by that Google search for bloggoleechification you can find them.

Of course the leeches do not cause me any financial damage. The income of this blog from Paypal donations in the last couple of months was exactly $0, and that wouldn't be any different if my content wasn't copied elsewhere. Many of the leeches aren't even technically stealing, as I do allow the copying of my content under the condition that it comes with a link back to me. Nevertheless the bloggoleechification of mine and other people's content is something which raises some ethical questions. Is it fair if a blogger creates content for free, on a site without advertising, and then somebody comes and copies that content onto a site with advertising, and makes money from that? Even if authors on the internet often don't have the means to enforce copyright, and thus don't bother with it, don't they at least have some moral rights to their creations?
Comments:
It would have been a better experiment if you wouldn't have included the term in the post title. Blogger's blog roll widget links to each blog's latest post without any intention to leech content.
 
I had a feeling that you would post something like this after yesterdays discussion. ;)
 
Okay, I'd just like to make clear that although i'm showing up in Google results my blog is not a "leech"! My blogroll simply updates with your post title, as Hirvox has already suggested.

Tobold, I've been reading your blog for ages, woe betide me if I tried to pinch anything ;)
 
I deliberately posted another post right after this, exactly to get the blog roll widgets cleared. Of course it will take some time for that to work. I *did* say check in 48 hours. :)
 
Which reminds me, many pirate sites gain advertising money for the redistribution of their pirated wares.

Websites out there PAY people to blog for them, at some point, simply taking a blog and posting it on another site, without adding to it, and making money from it, should result in a payment of some sort. It might be something that you would have to contact them, and they would either cease it, or pay.

Not sure if you want either, but my American mind says that this is the sort of action that should be taken. What do you think?
 
won't it appear also on all sites that show a rss feed of your blog?

In that case, say it prompts the last two topics, it'll show a false positive?
 
This is the point of Egoist Anarchism: If you can't stop someone from doing something, it doesn't matter if it's 'fair' or not.

If you bother to make a law you can't enforce, 'nice frendly peeps' will obey the law, but the people who were going to get away with it before won't stop, because they know you can't do anything about it.

In fact, I think its the perfect ability-based example (that is, those with the most ability make the most profits, regardless of social things like skin color and voice accent or what you do with your freetime): their ability to leech your content is greater than your ability to stop them, therefore they should have whatever nickels they can get.
 
Your Google reader, or whatever newsreader you use, is not a "site" in the sense that search engines will search it and display its content.

The sites that will be shown are those that display my RSS feed as content, and that is not a "false" positive. Of course the leeches use my RSS feed. But my choice here is to turn off my RSS feed to stop the leeching, but in the process also stopping all regular readers who read my blog via RSS, or to leave it like it is.

Not sure if you want either, but my American mind says that this is the sort of action that should be taken. What do you think?

Define "should"! I am not a lawyer, and even the cost to draft a standard cease & desist letter with a letterhead from a legal firm that will be taken seriously is far beyond the financial damage caused. Enforcing blog copyright simply isn't practically feasible, whatever I think of the moral rights and wrongs of it.
 
I wouldn't lose too much sleep over this. Some things are simply beyond our control and there's nothing we can do about it. Many of these leechers are offshore and American laws do not apply to them.
 
so in an ideal world where your ability to enforce rules didn't matter what would the solution be?
 
I now have 24 search engine referrals to my blog for the term "bloggoleechification."

I run an RSS widget that shows the last 15 headlines from VirginWorlds, and "bloggoleechification" is currently on that list.

The odd thing is that Google ties the search to two specific posts on my site, though I couldn't tell you why those two were chosen.
 
I write to make my opinion public. I don't care much when people 'steal' my thoughts and help me make them public.
 
It's been almost 24 hours since the publication of this post, and all I see on that Google search are widget links from Virgin Worlds, two Wordpress blogs, MMOZ and two other aggregator sites. Even the aggregators just include a very short ingress and a link to the original post. So far, all of them could be classified as fair use.
 
On http://www.justmytwocopper.org I try to put links into my posts that I think will go viral because of these copy cats.

They suddenly go from useless leeches to your own personal link army.

Try it out yourself, it really works.
 
I have no doubt that this phenomenon you describe is real, but for some reason I still get no "illicit" hits on Google. Either the leeches actually filter out some posts or Google has some sort of search filter in place. Or it simply takes longer for the leeches to kick in.

Your word has made the Urban dictionary, though, so it's now official! :)
 
It is somewhat ironic that on the Urban dictionary site you can now "buy bloggoleechification mugs, tshirts and magnets". Of course adding the word to a different site kind of kills the project.

But I *did* observe that some of the sites like "Starcraft2BattleReports.com" or "Teddybears.paidtoblog.com" that usually copy my posts didn't copy this one. So you're probably right that maybe there is a human editor after all.
 
Five days after the original post I searched for the word and found thirteen hits. To my surprise, none of them appeared to be examples of what Tobold is complaining about, though I've seen it before myself (including theft from my my own blog).

I guess someone is paying attention!
 
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