Today, I find myself incredibly frustrated by the internet, our outdated copyright system, and the lack of help out there for independent bloggers. Yesterday’s coffee post ended up at Destinary.com, a site that appears to take bloggers’ content and publish it without their knowledge or permission, in its entirety, to drive traffic and advertising revenue. This site is very similar to Tinseltownnews.com, a site that posted my full Princess Bride post a few weeks ago.
The two share almost identical copyright pages. Their suggestions for avoiding copyright infringement are to stop WordPress promoting posts (which would limit exposure to potential new readers), to make posts private or password protected (which would add another step for readers, who already have so little time), and/or to publish only summaries rather than full text (which would again add another step for busy readers). The pages also suggest an unawareness of the terms “public domain” and “fair use.” Both are bandied about, but in ways that don’t actually make sense. “Public domain” doesn’t mean anything that is published on the Internet, which is how the sites use the term; “fair use” doesn’t mean just taking things so long as you provide a link back.
The sites claim to be powered by WordPress—or at least they have a line at the bottom suggesting they are, but after looking deeper into the sites, they aren’t hosted by WordPress, so I’m going to have to do some more investigating and composing of thoughts and ideas. That the content disappears from the blogs after 7 days is a problem, as it limits permalinking, which is a generally a must-have in Internet copyright infringement cases. Screenshots are a good ally in this case.
These sites are auto-blogs, and the idea of that gives me the shivers. Now I can imagine, perhaps, usefulness of such software. It’s not the program I’m annoyed with, as it’s just a program. But the way the person, or set of persons, is using this software is a problem. This is not a person combing through blogs, reading them and deciding which ones would be best used, truncating posts and making sure the independent bloggers that are powering these sites get credit—it’s software set up to comb entries for keywords and categories and reprint them, site unseen by a human, on a blog full of advertisements. In other words, this is use of auto-blogs to make money from other bloggers. A post never need be written if others can just be copied over with advertisement added to collect revenue.
It’s long past time that we revise our ideas of and enforcement of copyright, especially on the Internet. Filing complaints is time-consuming and confusing, and it’s not always clear where or who you should go to or even what rights which person holds. Auto-blogging is just one of many ways of infringing on or taking someone else’s work—-more sophisticated than copy and paste, but they essentially amount to the same thing. I don’t know what the solution is, but there has to be a better one than just allowing content theft.