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Wednesday, January 3, 2007

First Cara wrote about “the problem”.
And Norma mentioned it last week too.

Now it’s my turn.

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I usually do not write about the downside of being online, but it’s a New Year, with new corners, new roads. New surprises.

I was contacted this weekend by a lady who wanted to exchange website links with me – the usual I’ll show you/yours if you show me/mine…

Because of the way the email was written with misspellings & weird syntax, I went to the site and looked it over.

On this site I found a blog created entirely from what appeared to be other people’s content (a splog). No visible attribution. Just entire posts, articles, patterns, pictures (hotlinked but of course) etc. published online AS IF they came from that site itself.

Not RSS feeds. Not aggregator-gathered entries used with your permission. Your blog – but not your blog.

Digging around a little (after I notified the people I recognized), I found out a curious thing.

This site was built using Mechanical Turks.

QUE?!

Well, my fine friends, for the princely sum of $1.00 per article or link, a *requester*, in this case, someone representing a yarn outlet, wants YOU to do all of the heavy lifting (Human Intelligence Tasks) for him. Apparently, several individuals are willing to work for one dollar and are harvesting any ole knitting content out there and publishing it. In THEIR name. To support his commercial site.

Unbelievable. Intentional.

Since I started this blog in 2001, I have learned several lessons about copyright and trademark. I’ve been threatened by a big yarn company in a ridiculous situation. I’ve been copyright violated six ways til Tuesday by people wanting to make money from my hard work without my permission or knowledge – everything from photo *borrowing* by major newspapers to entire pattern reproductions on CD’s for sale, article siphoning, patterns being cloned and offered as someone else’s originals, free patterns being sold in stores, name cloning, you name it.

All of these things, when they happen, cause anxiety, confusion and incredible wastes of time and money.

I’ve never mentioned here how this can banish one’s imaginative spirit. But it does. Thoroughly. Quickly. I know this first-hand.

It does not induce more creativity. It induces Chaos.

Imitation (i.e. plagiarism) is NOT the sincerest form of flattery. It IS an injurious and crippling form of insult.

Copyright means the content creator gets to control how and where their stuff is used. That’s all. This, at its most basic, is just common courtesy.

Yet, there appears to be no end in sight for the wholesale lifting. No end in sight for greedy (and false) concepts like “how much do I have to change before I can call it mine”; no end in sight for the people seeking business short cuts at your expense.

I have one thing to say to all of this: Get off my back.

M. TURKS & other JERKS: Write your own blog entries. Link to a site instead of lifting other’s content. Design and write your own pattern without cribbing someone else’s. Ask permission before posting graphics and pictures. Don’t assume it is free advertising – if you don’t have the knowledge and permission of the content creator, it is not OK.

If you see original work used in an inappropriate place and know the author, photographer, designer, etc. please let them know. It would be a kindness. It’s become a prevalent COMMERCIAL trend to harvest content from our community; the Bottom Feeders need to come into the Light…

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.


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