Sunday, 20 September 2015

Plagiarism: A Pirate Response

Cartoon of Wendy Cockcroft being angry
I'm not a big lover of copyright and think the laws we have are extreme and unfair. That said, it's not right when some random toerag, who does not deserve the honour of being linked here on my blog, wholesale copies my posts and reposts them on his own blog to populate it with content that he hasn't produced himself, that's not on.

I said that you could use it if you want to, but...

This is my stance on copyright over my own work:

If you like one of my posts and want to use it, why not copy a snippet and link to the post you like? Quoting is fine. Linking is fine, just don't take the whole thing and pretend you wrote it. That's not fair. It's good netiquette to cite and link; in fact, it's doing me a favour, drawing attention to my work without detracting from your own. - On t'Internet: Policies

...remember I made this, not you

For the hard of thinking this means that, if you like my post on being a moderate conservative pirate, you do something like this:

I've been reliably informed that "the slippery slope" is a logical fallacy. More often than not, it turns out to be true. You can actually feel the ground beneath your feet begin to drop away when people get all emotional about a given subject and refuse to think through the implications. Insert the language of human rights and stories of extreme cruelty and suffering to get people on side, and Bob's your second-degree relative.¹ - Wendy Cockcroft², It's Hard To Be A Moderate Conservative Pirate, But Somebody's Got To Do It³ - On t'Internet

  1. Take a paragraph or two and put them down as a cited text as above. Only use the most relevant part, you don't need the whole thing.
  2. Credit the author.
  3. Put the post/article title down and link to the source
  4. Credit the source blog/website 

It's not rocket science.

Now add value

When you take a piece of work that someone has generated, whatever its copyright status, don't just use it as it is; add value. To add value to the above extract, you could
  • argue and say you think I'm wrong and explain why
  • agree with me and explain why, giving some examples to support your position
I do this all the time, citing other people's points and explaining why I agree or disagree with them, or using their comments to illustrate my points. If you don't want to do any work, just take a snippet, put the title of the post above, put the snippet beneath, and put the link under that. Job done.

What to do if your work is plagiarised

Google provides ways of reporting unsuitable content and classes copyright content as "legal issues." Here's the link. The only remedy for the plagiarism I've reported is DMCA notice and counternotice. This is due process that gives the alleged infringer the right to argue that the accusation is unreasonable, it's fair use, etc. After that Google will either remove the offending links from its search results or close down the offending blog.

I don't like the idea of using DMCA as censorship but that's not what I'm doing here; he flat out copied and pasted every blog post I'd written for THREE YEARS into his own blog to populate it with content. It's all my stuff. Well it's great that he likes my work but had he merely linked snippets and either argued against them or agreed with them I'd have no problem with that. He used it all as if it was his own. That is very bad netiquette — it's downright cheeky! — and that's why I've reported him.

To be honest I've finished here, I've done as much as I'm going to do about it. If they take down the offending posts, they take 'em down. If they shut the blog down for cloning my posts, they shut it down. I'm not going to hover like a vulture waiting for the corpse to stop twitching, I've got better things to do.

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