Cracked Shows How To Respond To Someone Infringing On Their Work

from the with-humor-and-sarcasm dept

We’ve mentioned for years that Techdirt content is regularly copied and placed on various spam blogs. They’re all over the place, and it’s not hard to find. If we listened to some people, we’d be spending all our time sending off DMCA notices and venting angrily on insular blogs about how much more successful we’d be if only everyone else were responsible for blocking that infringement. But, of course, we recognize that most of the spam blogs get no attention at all, and anyone who does actually stumble across them, and like them, will quickly realize that the content comes from somewhere else, and will eventually find their way here and (hopefully) stick around. In fact, the site that merely scrapes our stuff without credit will probably have what little reputation they might already have harmed even more by such poor internet etiquette.

Of course, every so often, we see such things happen with larger sites. A few months ago, for example, a well-known blog that we like (and have linked to quite often) posted an exact replica of one of our articles (word for word), but with one of their author’s names on it. I won’t say who it was, because it’s not that important. We were a bit surprised by this, but mainly because we didn’t see why they would want to hurt their own reputation like that, as people were bound to notice. I sent a quick email to the editor and the writer, saying that (1) we were absolutely fine with them keeping everything the way it was but (2) we just wanted to see if perhaps the item was posted in error because it seemed out of character (the site posts all original content). Within a few hours, we got multiple apologies as they explained the snafu (involving them using a new aggregator, and the writer sending one of our article to the editor just because he might be interested in the story, and he got confused, thinking it was the latest article). They also posted a really unnecessary public apology, which we told them they didn’t need to do (in fact, we told them they could keep the original article up). Basically, no big deal in the end. No threats. No DMCA. No screaming about copyrights. Just a friendly email and knowledge of how reputations work and everything worked itself out.

Point being: rather than relying on copyright or screaming about infringement, there are often much more effective ways of dealing with such things. Take, for example, the way Cracked (one of our absolute favorite websites, and it should be one of yours too) recently handled the UK’s Daily Mail’s decision to copy a Cracked article on horrible tourists. Rather than going all DMCA, screaming about infringement, Cracked did what Cracked does best, and brought the funny, publishing a “sincere apology” to the Daily Mail admitting that Cracked authors get “fabulous space-time powers” and the most logical explanation for what happened was that Cracked contributor XJ Selman, went forward in time, copied the Daily Mail’s Sunday column, then went back in time, and pre-published it 24 hours earlier. Obviously.

we at Cracked are in the wrong here. Yes, our Saturday article flat-out plagiarized The Daily Mail‘s Sunday article. But how did this happen?

You see, when you sign up to write articles for Cracked — which absolutely anyone can do, more information on that here — you don’t simply get the opportunity to pen monkeyshines for one of the most popular comedy websites on the planet. No, a singing jewel will descend from the heavens and mystically bless you with fabulous space-time powers.

Now, the Daily Mail (right, we’ve heard the Daily Fail jokes, no need to remind us) already has about the crappiest reputation that a newspaper (and, I use the term loosely) can have. So, perhaps this does little to harm their reputation. But what this absolutely does do is raise Cracked’s reputation among lots and lots of people, for responding to someone copying their stuff with typical and fitting humor and wit.

And, really, that’s a point that we’ve been trying to make for over a decade: when faced with these kinds of situations, so many people get so focused on “punishing” other people, without ever bothering to think about what it means for their own reputation. Yet, when there are opportunities to embrace those things to enhance their own reputation, so few seem willing to do it. Yet, as with so many things, Cracked has it right. The Daily Mail is a joke already. Rather than blasting off a DMCA notice or some sort of legal threat, just make the most of things by reacting humorously and boosting your own reputation.

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Companies: cracked, the daily mail

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Comments on “Cracked Shows How To Respond To Someone Infringing On Their Work”

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out_of_the_blue says:

You may not know this, but Cracked is supposedly all humorous.

Other people, when they find an entire article pirated under someone else’s name, get all bent out of shape and fire off passive-aggressive emails. I won’t mention names, but he’s known on this site and has confessed to it. God knows what he’d do if hadn’t been a mistake by a friendly site quickly apologized for, but told the practice would continue and he’d been dared to sue. I’m guessing that’d be different.

If you’re against copyright, quit putting your name on posts! You don’t own the idea!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: You may not know this, but Cracked is supposedly all humorous.

If you’re against copyright, quit putting your name on posts! You don’t own the idea!

If you understood the far reaching meaning of that comment, you may not have said it.
Anonymity lets ideas shine for what they are and not because who said them.

Anonymity is the key part of what makes the internet a melting pot of ideas.
Want a melting pot of people >>>>> facebook >>>>> that way >>>>>>

Glad you agree.
No backtracking will be listened to. That idea stood on its merits

MY NAME HERE :3 says:

Re: You may not know this, but Cracked is supposedly all humorous.

You should do some kind of online reality tv show on your life, it must be fascinating to see how you save all those people from their ignorance !

But seriously, I have no ideas what you’re trying to prove by posting on every single articles posted here to spew some of the most vitriolic and hateful things you can think of under the cover of debate. Debate which you promptly avoid by retreating to whatever dark hole you crawled out from..

Discussion and debate are in some ways similar to negotiation. You have to make concessions and to be understanding, and more importantly have good arguments.

Have you been understanding, or have you made any concessions lately ? No ?
Have you at least provided strong and valid arguments ? Neither uh ? Oh, you say you’ve used arguments based on logical fallacies eh ?

Arguments that use logical fallacies as base are devoid of any value, and are the equivalent of CHEATING and LYING.

But, I think you’d rather use “RAPING AN ENTIRE ORPHANAGE OF TERMINALLY ILL, BEATEN AND MENTALLY CHALLENGED KIDS” instead of those more accurate and less fallaciously overly strong words..
One thing you should be aware of, is that cheaters and liars aren’t well seen by others in society, because they tend to make life shitty for others, while taking all the good stuff for themselves.

I’m also against copyright laws as they are today. But that doesn’t mean I’m against authorship.

Your signature/quote, whatever, is extremely short sighted and obviously malign. In this I’ll admit, it does fit you very well. You should keep it.

As you so deftly demonstrated so many times over, you obviously have no clue about what you’re talking about. Therefore, you should know that authorship and copyright monopolies are two different things. An author is still the author even if his monopoly on copies and derivative works are bought by someone else..

So even with no copyright monopoly on anything I’d do, I’m still the one who wrote it. Trying to hide you’ve made something is pretty hard and pointless(Hi mr NSA admin 🙂 ), and could actually be harmful, or make things needlessly complicated for others. When writing a program, and collaborating with a ton of other people for example, lets say you have to use someone’s code, particularly badly written, so much that you can’t figure out what it does. You’ll be glad to have the name of the author !

And thankfully, even without any form of Industrial Protectionism on software development for a long while, people still left their names on their code, even though a lot of them seemed like they couldn’t care less about silly monopolies ! Isn’t that wonderful !

Plus, it really helps when discussing on the web given that humans can’t guess who sent a message and any subsequent ones online just by looking at them.. Oh, but you wouldn’t know, because all your “discussions” consists of vomiting some really nasty pile of hateful bullcrap, and moving on, while others are cleaning up after you..

But, we’re actually not interested in avoiding debate, because we actually know that somewhere, we’re right about something, and that’s valid for any sides of the issue. We therefore don’t need to use petty tactics to justify our stance to ourselves….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: You may not know this, but Cracked is supposedly all humorous.

While i am still anonymous, i’ve been on this site for over a year.
Trust me, replying to out of the blue is a waste of time.
You will have more success trying to convince a pig to fly than talking some sense into this guy.
Either make a quick mockery of him if you can’t resist or just ignore it.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: You may not know this, but Cracked is supposedly all humorous.

If you’re against copyright, quit putting your name on posts! You don’t own the idea!

You are confused. Putting your name on it falls under attribution and not copyright. Mike can correct me if I’m wrong but TD articles are released in the Public Domain or some very loose copyright regime (ie Creative Commons).

Don’t you get tired of making a fool of yourself?

Jake says:

Re: Re: Re:

Yeah… no. It’s rather a lot more complicated than that, and saying that kind of thing around disabled-rights activists is a great way to get torn a new one.

Oh, and I actually have it (proper diagnosis by medical professionals long before it was fashionable to diagnose oneself I might add) and I’m a regular Cracked reader, so make of that what you will.

bob (profile) says:

many fold benefit

along with playing to the crowd, just the savings on lawyer fees must be worth it. It would likely take over $1,000 to send the DMCA letter, and that’s without a followup etc.

just like copy protection, this shows a shift from focusing on theft, to focusing on what your customers want from you.
it’s a win win for the company, instead of a win-win for the lawyers and 2 bankrupt companies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: many fold benefit

“It would likely take over $1,000 to send the DMCA letter”

And how much would it take to realize that a DMCA letter is not the way to go here, even if you DID want to go the legal route?

DMCA notices are used on third parties. For example, you would send a DMCA notice to YouTube if one of their users uploaded an infringing video. You would NOT send a DMCA notice to YouTube if YouTube itself had uploaded the video. Then you just send a demand letter or whatever else people who are actually lawyers can think of.

I suppose you COULD send a DMCA notice to Google to block the link, but that would have rather limited effect in this case.

Anonymous Coward says:

Daily mail is a scum paper

I seriously pity the long term readers of that paper. Similar to those who read the Sun newspaper every day. So much misinformation, propaganda and emotional manipulation.

A little bit of hope dies inside me every time I see someone with those papers.

For non-Brits. Think fox-news with slower and usually more subtle manipulation.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Daily mail is a scum paper

“says, no doubt, an avid viewer of MSNBC”

Ah, a typical Fox viewer, methinks. Not only unable to think of things outside of a simplistic dichotomy, but also unable to parse the actual meaning of words (the OP is clearly not American and the “waah! MSNBC is just as bad but liberal!” means sod all in the UK where the BBC, ITV, Al Jazeera and other non-right wing openly masturbatory sources are freely available).

Instead of attacking a strawman fantasy version of the OP, why not address his actual words? You can choose to defend Fox News with cites of how their perceived slant is wrong, or you can defend The Sun or the Daily Mail. Introducing a new criticism in order to deflect away from your beloved Fox doesn’t actually address any of his claims, it just makes you look like you’ve got nothing.

“isn’t the ‘fox news is the child of the devil’ slant a bit past its sell-by date”

From what little I see of them, they’re still broadcasting misleading, biased and often outright false information masquerading as news, so no. Maybe it’s because I’m also British, where such openly biased reporting is not allowed on TV (but is unfortunately rife in the press), but Fox seems to me to deserve its reputation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Daily mail is a scum paper

Your response to AC is just as misguided.

Trusting the BBC or Al Jazeera to provide unbiased information is the same as trusting Fox.

‘News’ without bias is boring, factual recitation. Opinion and a slant is what keeps ’em coming back. Pick a side and prepare to be brainwashed. The network ‘news’, no matter the network, has become a propaganda vehicle for whichever political, social, or economic platform they lean towards.

It’s so easy to look at things that have already come to pass and twist the narrative to fit your specific view of the world. You do it every day, it’s a survival instinct.

The same can be said for today’s ‘news’ organizations too. They twist, manipulate, edit, filter, and format the information to reinforce their perspective of an event and call it ‘unbiased’ or a ‘no spin zone’. All done to perpetuate their own existence.

There is no such thing as un-biased news.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Daily mail is a scum paper

Ah, forgive me, perhaps I wasn’t clear. I’m certainly not saying that those sources are not biased. If you watch them regularly you can certainly pick up on some biases depending on the reporters and subject, especially outside of the actual new reporting segments.

However, compared to the likes of Fox they’re almost saintly in their devotion to true neutrality.

My point was simply this – the OP is clearly not American. So, even if you buy into the idea that MSNBC is “just as bad as Fox but liberal”, there’s a huge middle between those two extreme grounds, where most available TV news media resides. I can provide many examples of Fox outright lying to their audience and using interviews to push a very naked agenda. British TV news is prohibited from doing this, and even if they weren’t they are definitely far less openly biased.

I rarely see any similar criticism of the BBC, for example, if it’s not coming from a right wing tabloid (usually the Fail) that has to openly distort facts in order to make a criticism. There’s bias there, and that does sometimes lean liberal (although that’s unavoidable – many more extreme ideas are easily overcome by application of facts – and I’m fine with news organisations being biased toward ideas based on facts, even if that means they appear to lean too far left for some tastes).

“Trusting the BBC or Al Jazeera to provide unbiased information is the same as trusting Fox.”

Trusting any single source is dangerous, especially if you’ve somehow convinced yourself they’re not biased (as in Fox’s infamous slogan, an easily proven lie). But I’d wager that someone who bases their worldview on the BBC will have a worldview closer to reality and with an awareness of what the “other” side really thinks rather than cartoonish misinterpretations.

Any intelligent person uses multiple types of media and multiple sources to understand the world. Fools choose just one type of media and choose the source the reflects their world view rather than challenges it. There’s too many fools in the world, and many of them choose the same source. That is all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Daily mail is a scum paper

Sorry to burst your bubble. Not even American.

It is “foxnews light” for Establishment democrat supporters.
It isn’t for left wingers.
Any left wing ideology is irrelevant if the establishment democrats contradict it.

Compared to Fox.
Foxnews is right wing.
Some establishment Republicans are left of foxnews.
Right wing ideology is paramount if the establishment republicans contradict it.

Both are tools of the political parties.

■ FoxNews pushes its side’s ideology and creates misinformation.
■ MSNBC cheer-leads for its side and parrots its misinformation.

Fox is way worse imho. MSNBC is pretty bad too. No where near as bad as FoxNews though.

FoxNews creates misinformation and false narratives.
Like the Daily Fail and the Sun Newspapers also do. They CREATE it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: It could be could be Matt Inman vs. Charles Cameron

Viral marketeer, SEO, millionaire with multi-million business got suckers to donate their money to charity to fight a defamation case via public opinion. (he called admin of FJ a thief)

The joke in that case is on anyone who supported Inman.
Gullible suckers.

Hero donates other peoples money to charity. What a guy. Next time he wrongly calls someone a thief I will be there to buy PR for him.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: It could be could be Matt Inman vs. Charles Cameron

So, they were “suckered” into donating.. to a charity.. because donating to a charity.. is somehow.. uh.. bad?

thats an interesting revisionist history if there ever was one.

I would love to hear you explain how Funnyjunk wasn’t in the wrong in this case, or Charles Carreon for doing any of the things he did in the course of the case. I’m sure it will be amusing to anyone who has any knowledge of the case.

And whats with the pseudo-scare-words “viral marketeer”, “SEO”, and “millionaire”. You haven’t made much of a case here yourself. Sounds like Charles.

Anonymous Coward says:


saw a youtube clip last night, this fellow took a techdirt article and presented it. he departed from the article halfway through, as he started absorbing the fact, started thinking through the implications himself.

if he couldn’t access that article his presentation would have been a pale rehash that was not watchable, what made it watchable was his thinking his analysis of personal consequence.

there comes a point in life where we stop immitating the views and ideas of those around us and we strike out in the new. if we dont get a chance to see the well trodden road, how will we see the new oportunities

Someone says:

When I first started my site in the 1990s, it had a lot of original content that was regularly copied. I ALWAYS emailed the culprit first, and they always either (1) ignored my email and kept using the article, or (2) sent me a mocking email and kept using the article. Sadly, the reality is that being nice does not work with deliberate plagiarists because they know they are plagiarizing. And they like doing it. I now use very little original content on my site.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

If you like someone and you see that person making a mistake, would you simply look the other way and not become engaged?

The article clearly states that Cracked is one of TDs favorite websites, so they like ’em, right?

What you call “low key gatekeeping” I’d call “helping the ones you care about”. In this case, helping them keep their reputation up.

Anyway, I don’t think TD has ever stated that no reaction to copyright infringement is always the best reaction. I personally think that what it is: It’s never (or at least rarely) the worst reaction.

horse with no name says:

The value of content that rapidly goes stale

I think that the real problem here is that you want to use the example of your not getting upset about your blog posts getting copied to justify every other form of copying, which makes no sense.

Your posts go stale almost instantly, turning from relevant and up to date pieces into nothing more than Google bot bait within hours. It’s the reason you (and many other sites) work so hard to jam keywords into titles, on page, and in links to create the appearance of being relevant, praying to and virtual Matt Cutts alter for traffic.

Few of the posts have real replay value, which is to say that beyond perhaps a historical look back, they don’t stay fresh. Blog posts are like baked bread, heading towards stale the moment you take them out of the oven.

The issue of Cracked is a pretty simple one: Once published by the Daily Mail in print, there is no longer any benefit to asking for the piece to get removed. The printing is already done, the piece is out there and that is all there is to it. By the time the lawyers would get around to it, the humor is stale and the piece no longer relevant. Their humorous take (and your talking about it) gets them more than the lawyers could – because their piece has really low long term value, and the Daily Mail’s use doesn’t really won’t hurt them much beyond what has already happened and been done.

However, they would still be right and it would be appropriate if they notified them and asked them not to do it again.

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