How The Internet Polices Plagiarism
from the works-itself-out dept
When we write about bad intellectual property laws or lawsuits, we often get angry comments from people along the lines of “Oh yeah? What if I just took all the content on Techdirt and posted it on my own site? You’d be pissed off then!” The response is the same: please, feel free to do so. We have an RSS feed to make it easy. A lot of sites already do so, and we’re always happy to have more. Of course, the vast majority of those sites credit us, which is nice. Occasionally, we come across sites that don’t credit us for the content. A friendly request often fixes that, but even if they continue to post content without crediting us, is it really that big of a problem? There are two likely scenarios concerning what would happen. In the first, the plagiarizing site would have such a small audience, it wouldn’t really matter to us at all. The second is that the site would get more attention, but enough people read Techdirt as well to recognize the plagiarism and point it out — making that other site lose credibility. This second scenario seems to be exactly what happened to a number of journalists last week, when a blog written by someone claiming to be a journalist was simply taking pieces written by others and posting it as his own. However, it didn’t take people long to make the connection and shame the guy into taking down the site — without the people who were being plagiarized having to do anything at all. The public nature of the internet self-corrected the issue without any lawsuits or problems. So, rather than immediately calling out the lawyers, maybe it’s time to rethink many of the kneejerk reactions to things like plagiarism.