It’s been a topsy-turvy time for the reputation of bloggers.
First, Jonathan Bailey at Plagiarism Today posted a thoughtful piece on bloggers, intellectual property and plagiarism.
Borrowing a phrase from Dan Zarella’s post on the same theme, he wonders whether some bloggers are anything more than “human aggregators”.
He describes the growing number of “grey blogs”, that stand somewhere between content creation and content theft:
These sites, which for this article Iâ€™ll simply call “gray”, are generally identified by a large number of very short posts, with much of it in block quotes or otherwise directly lifted content. Though they meticulously credit their sources, bowing to more traditional rules for blog attribution, and work to add at least some original content, usually over half of their material comes from other sources.
The situation is made more complex, he suggests, by the fact that there are many shades of grey blogs. Still, he claims, there comes a point at which grey blogs overstep the mark, and “get away with content theft under the guise of legitimate attribution”.
He proposes a list of seven guidelines to sift the shades the grey and preserve quality writing on the Internet. Without some form of action, he fears that “high quality writers will have little motivation to post their works on-line and, as the well slowly dries up, there will be less and less work available for either reuse or for simply reading.”
This is an advance on the usual, tired “Journalists good, Bloggers bad” debate. Tony Long, my favourite curmudgeon, is fond of regarding bloggers as weeping pimples on the chiselled jaw of Real Journalism, or “self-absorbed ramblers” , not only content thieves but — what’s worse — content thieves who can’t string a sentence together or spell worth a damn.
At the other end of the reputation spectrum, everyone with an Internet connection must now know that Apple has lost a court-case which is being reported (or misreported? ) as a “Victory for Bloggers” which accords them some of the same rights enjoyed by journalists when it comes to the protection of their sources.
The many posts I’ve read on this topic seem able to negotiate the semantic minefields here with hardly a second thought.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation was particularly upbeat :
“In addition to being a free speech victory for every citizen reporter who uses the Internet to distribute news, today’s decision is a profound electronic privacy victory for everyone who uses email,” said EFF Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. “The court correctly found that under federal law, civil litigants can’t subpoena your stored email from your service provider.”
Journalists, content thieves or just hacks?
My suspicion is that in this buzzword-compliant age, the role of the new media is overdone. All three exist as abundantly in print and traditional media as they do in the blogosphere. Readers still need to be as discriminating and sensible about what they read as ever.
So go and read Daring Fireball , or Red Sweater or Betalogue or 43 Folders or something.bloggers, blogs, journalism, standards, plagiarism, content theft, grey areas, intellectual property, apple, hacks
, content theft
, grey areas
, intellectual property