Sunday, May 20, 2007

More on Post-Pilfering

Re my previous post, VJack wrote:

Has somebody been lifting your stuff? I hate it when that happens, but I suppose it is the price of blogging in a way.

Here’s my answer:

Actually, it should not be the price of blogging. A writer's work is his own, and protected by copyright. It may be quoted in brief, but not stolen verbatim and complete. This is true even if the thief includes an acknowledgement of the writer.

Technically, you may not lift a Carl Sagan essay, or a Doonesbury cartoon, or a five-minute snatch of The Daily Show or someone else's post. The answer that “everybody does it” is not sufficient, at least for us atheists. “Everybody” believes in god, but that doesn’t make it right.

Of course, copyright infringement would be impossible and impractical to police in the blogosphere. But we atheists, most of us, are not stupid. We, of all people, should avoid sinking to the low intellectual and moral standard set by the rest of the e-world. We ought, at very least, to have respect for one another’s work.

Look, a lot of us already contribute happily to the atheist-themed aggregators. I'm delighted to see my work reprinted with my permission in daily anthologies like Planet Atheism. I’m honored when someone links to my writing, or quotes a brief snippet of mine as a springboard for his or her own post.

But my feeling is: if a blogger doesn't have something new of his own to add to our continuing freethinking dialogue, he should just shut the fuck up for that day, or that week, or that month. If he's so determined to have his persona floating out there in the ether every single minute —even if it means pilfering other people's work and publishing it under his own name — perhaps he ought to be straight with his readers. Maybe he should say something like:

I don't have a good idea right now, but I really want you to like me anyway. So don't bother going to other people's blogs. I'll be friendly, and reprint the best posts here. If I find an error, I'll even correct it — without informing the person who created the error in the first place. So my version is better, right? I encourage you to leave comments on my site, and to tag my blog for social bookmarking; with any luck, my reprint will show up before the original on search engines. We’re all atheists here anyway, working for the same thing. Right? After all, let’s not attack one another and encourage those well-meaning religionists to think ill of us. Who really cares which of us actually took the time to think of something innovative? Aren’t we all God’s children? Oops!
For the record, you may not hijack this post and place it on your own blog. But do feel free to link to it, or quote from it, or refer to it in any way, positively or negatively.

Thanks for your respect.


Anonymous said...

Ahem. I completely agree about "post-pilfering", although I am now going to do a bit of "comment-pilfering". But it's my own comment, and it's from your previous article, and I wrote it before I read this, and I've just realised it would be more appropriate here.

Agree completely about post-lifting. It's happend to me too, and it's annoying. Recently someone copied and pasted an entire article of mine and reprinted it in a discussion forum, and although they put in a link, they (quite deliberately, in my opinion) made it seem as if they were the author.

If you've got nothing to say, say nothing. Better still, have something to say, and say it. If you're having a touch of writer's block, by all means point your readers towards a blog where the author does have something to say. But do it with a link to give them the traffic they deserve, not reprint the whole thing to boost your own.

I'm quite worked up now. I'm off to kick the cat :P

Feel free to delete it from the previous article. :)

The Exterminator said...


I think your comment can stand to be read twice, although you should probably kick the cat just once. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

It's academic now - it moved out of the way and then scratched my standing leg, before promptly buggering off for the night. Outsmarted by a creature that can't use a tin opnener - a new low!

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