Who"s davidlian?

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davidlian is an ultra-geeky chinese dude that works for a technology PR agency. He loves fiddling with techno-toys, plays Warhammer 40K, and shoots pictures wherever he goes. Here, he rants about PR, Technology and anything else. Don't expect balance and un-biased, he ain't no journalist. Anything said on this blog are solely davidlian's personal views. Don't confuse them with company mantra, client's views or views of any organisation he may be part of.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Can you contribute others' posts?

Yesterday, the Malay Mail published both ShaolinTiger and my posts about "PR and bloggers" side by side in a contrapuntal article entitled "Battle for the Internet mind". Shaolintiger posted about this on his blog, attracting many replies screaming plagiarism, copyright-infringement or the like.

Battleforinternetminds.jpg - Share on Ovi

Technically, it isn't plagiarism, because its attributed to us. It's possibly copyright infringement, because we weren't asked or informed. But here's a slight loophole, that I've had at the back of my mind thinking:

The whole page is framed as a reader-contributed page where the Malay Mail asks readers to send in links to anything interesting they've seen on the Net. So technically, it isn't the Malay Mail that's willfully taking and publishing blogposts, right? Readers contributed them.

I'm not a lawyer, so I'm really asking an open question about the legality of this?

Personally, I wouldn't even have needed to be asked permission (permission is over-rated). But it'd have been nice to just get an email from The Malay Mail telling me:

"Hi David, we loved your post on this and this, so we're going to run it in tomorrow's newspaper. Thought we'd let you know. Oh, and don't worry about running out to get a copy, we'll send you a complimentary copy."

It doesn't hurt to be nice, you know?

On another note, in today's connected society, is the culture of taking and re-purposing something that's become a norm? I can embed any YouTube video I want without asking the person who posted the video in the first place. Can the Malay Mail 'embed' my blog into their newspaper too?

I guess that's another discussion altogether.


KY said...

I've had the same experience too, I guess it is becoming the norm to the new breed of journalists..

e l d y said...

debate can lah , but don insult using dirty words ..

davidlian said...

@KY: :)
@eldy: Indeed, we should never insult one another whenever possible. If something I've posted is dirty and insulting, please let me know and I'll fix it.

Ben Israel said...

Interesting post David, raises a lot of questions.

Would it have made a difference if you had a CreativeCommons license published on your blog?

Might be the deciding factor if (in a different scenario) you had to pursue legal action.

davidlian said...

@Ben_Israel: Thanks for the comment! I've no intention of pursuing legal action. Have neither the energy nor the time to do so.

I'm not pissed at The Malay Mail, more surprised. Wouldn've been great if some common courtesy was shown.

Rather, I think it's a worthy case study to see if what's essentially an online behaviour (taking and republishing / repurposing) is making its way offline (when a newspaper takes online content and repurposes / republishes it).

In my particular case, I've no intention of making this blog Creative Commons. So the question is, when the Malay Mail took the content and published it, did it constitute "fair use"?

As an aside, Molly Wood publishes a great blog about the culture of ownership at (http://www.cultureofownership.org) and discusses how the idea of ownership is changing and that expands on the few thoughts linked to this post. I'm sure you're already reading this :).

Ben Israel said...

Good point, I think as you say it's more courtesy than anything else.

But because "fair use" means different things to different people, I find it best/safest for the curator to state upfront how he/she would like their content to be treated. Like on Flickr.

E.g. while MM clearly didn't ask for your permission or inform you about the use. They did use the content verbatim and attributed it back to you. Personally, I think that's dodgy. But, obviously they did not.

BTW, I just noticed Twitter says, "Your profile and materials uploaded remain yours."

ShaolinTiger said...

I have a full copyright notice on my site, I used to publish under CC but I don't any more.

I explicitly state:

"Legally speaking everything is Copyright ShaolinTiger with all rights reserved. The information, posts, comments, text and graphics in this site are protected by copyright. You may only use the information, text or graphics contained in this site for your own personal use and may not reproduce, adapt or publish it, in whole or in part, for any other purpose without the express written consent of ShaolinTiger."

Fair use only covers using a thumbnail sized image and a paragraph or max two of an article. Ok they pass the image part, but lifting the whole article? That's not fair use.

davidlian said...

@Ben_Israel: Good point. I need to find a space to say, please let me know if you want to take more than a paragraph of my stuff.

@ShaolinTiger: Obviously, they didn't read that part.

leonardo leong said...

is it the norm of the new breed reporters to sit on their chairs and expect stories from blogs and facebook.

such people are a disgrace to true bred journalists!

davidlian said...

@Leonardo: Having worked with a fair number of journalists, I can assure you it isn't. I think it's just got to do with a few columns that can get content fairly easily off blogs.

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