So the article titled “Authorship Gets Lost on Web” in USA Today has somewhat of a connection to the very interesting discussion from a few days ago about taking work that others do and publishing it on your own sites, commercial or otherwise. (Let me just say, btw, that I found that whole thread to be immensely thought provoking, especially the back and forth between Tom and Stephen, who both made my brain hurt. And, interestingly, that the publisher of the site in question took my feed out of the mix. It would have been even more interesting to get his/her thinking on this issue as well, but…) The article is a recap of some of the more blatant stealing that is going on as an author of a Businessweek.com piece found his work had been published under the names of 13 other authors on the Web.
But here is the money-quote, I think, that describes the bigger shift “out there:”
In some quarters, plagiarism remains a serious offense. But where it involves the Internet, an acceptance of plagiarism is taking hold, and when confronted, offenders often shrug it off as hardly newsworthy. Pew Research two weeks ago said it found that of the 12 million adults who blog, 44% say they have taken songs, text or images and “remixed” them into their own artistic creation.
So, what to do? Certainly, there is a central ethic that is involved here, that of owning your own work and attributing the work of others. Putting your name on someone else’s stuff is theft, plain and simple, and should not be tolerated. But as the article points out, much of the problem is simple sloppy work in terms of sourcing and attribution. And the bigger problem is that it is being tolerated.
This is fundamental, third grade on work that we have to start doing with our students. But it’s also a challenge to us as educators to model the process and make it transparent. Tom caught me just yesterday not citing a source. (He’s good at that.) And it was a good reminder of how careful I need to be. In the grander scheme of things, we need to have some much broader discussions of how this all impacts our process, our curriculum and our teaching.
technorati tags:plagiarism, education, literacy
Stan Orchard says
“Pew Research two weeks ago said it found that of the 12 million adults who blog, 44% say they have taken songs, text or images and â€œremixedâ€ them into their own artistic creation.”
I often wonder how we handle this issue if the person who took the material actually creates a second piece of art that is, in its own right, compelling, interesting, and otherwise of value. Should the original artist get mentioned somehow? I would think so, but not so sure younger folks would agree. Especially if the song or written material or whatever was from many years ago, but still under copyright. The digital age has brought with it some interesting conundrums.
Meredith Broderick says
I think this is just another major shift in ethics that will have to happen with the invention of the read-write web. Much like we have seen medical ethics have to address the questons of euthanasia (though that one is far from solved. In the end Ownership will be altered. And yes for some this will be scandalous and expensive.
You can relate it to the Dadaist artist Duchamp in the early part of the last century painted a mustache on the Mona Lisa. Controversy ensued. But now it seems normal for artist to sample other artist work.
Ethics follow inventions, not the other way around.
Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach says
My favorite comment was when refered to reference… “my â€˜useâ€™ of other peopleâ€™s work arguably falls under the domain of â€˜referenceâ€™ rather than â€˜useâ€™”
Part of the beauty generated by the “read write Web” is that scholarship is fast becoming something that occurs outside of institutions made of brick and mortar.
As we start to ask the tough questions about our intellectual property and what our CC licenses really mean– I hope we will not lose site of the power behind “reference” in the blogosphere and how this is intimately tied to scholarship.
“And, interestingly, that the publisher of the site in question took my feed out of the mix. It would have been even more interesting to get his/her thinking on this issue as well, butâ€¦)”
Well, since you asked …
My intent was to build a single source for news relating to technology and education online. The google ads posted at the site don’t generate enough income pay for hosting. The site runs a loss of about $5.00 per month. I think that makes this a â€œresourceâ€ instead of a â€œscamâ€. If it starts making $500 a month, maybe we should revisit the topic of profiteering from someone elseâ€™s content.
On the issue of full content vs. excerpts, edutechtalk publishes whatever is contained in the RSS feed of the sites being aggregated. I think every blogging platform gives publishers the ability to control how much of their content is sent out in the feed. Several of the sites being aggregated only publish excerpts. I’m working on the assumption that bloggers who publish a full feed do so in order to make the full feed exposed to wide distribution through sites like NewsGator, etc. Those who only publish excerpts, I would assume, do so in order to drive interested people back from the distributed feed to the originating site. In either case, the sort of “public” aggregator I built follows the same rules for content that a customized private aggregator like NewsGator follows – I don’t scour the sites for content that the publisher has not made widely available via RSS.
Iâ€™m fairly agnostic as to whether or not this kind of aggregation increases or decreases the value of the blog being re-published. All social and community aspects of blogging are retained on the originating site â€“ if someone wants to comment on an article, or tries to grab the premalink in order to reference it from their own blog, all of those links lead back to the originating post, not to the aggregating site.
17% of the traffic to the site clicks out to one of the blogs aggregated, through those links listed. Compare that with about a 0.05% clickthrough rate on the ads.
I realize that many bloggers may not see that as a significant enough added value to justify allowing their content to be aggregated off-site. I respect that, and it is certainly the prerogative of the creator to deny specific uses of their content. I took your original post to be just such a request, which was why I removed your feed.
I wonder though, 15 years from now we look back at the new media revolution, if we might say that the most significant lasting effect of this new paradigm was the transition away from a system that views content as property.
Will Richardson says
Ok…first off, I never said it was a scam. I do still question the ethics of it on various levels, however.
Second, I don’t think I should be expected to manage my RSS feeds according to the extent that people are aggregating my content on their sites. My readers by and large seem to want full text. You are right about wide distribution…to readers that subscribe to the site. I don’t think your public aggregator is the same as a news reader.
I may very well have “allowed” you to aggregate my content on your site had you asked. You didn’t. I rarely turn down requests, though I may have because of the ads in this case. And if the click through revenue is so slight, why do it at all?
I agree that the content is property concept is changing. I’m struggling with it. But I also think that in an open content world, we need to be more transparent about what we do and who we are. So, who are you anyway? The fact that I still don’t have a name bugs me.
None of this is worth a lot of time or energy…just another change that I’m thinking about and trying to work through.
Thanks for the comment back.
Andrew Pass says
It’s interesting most people wouldn’t think of stealing money from somebody or stealing their material goods. People seem to have a hard time understand that a person’s words are indeed his/her property – the fruits of their labor. As teachers it is important that we not only teach our students what it means to plagarize but also why it is inappropriate to do so.