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May 14, 2009


Dan Bana

Hello Ralph!
I have translated some blog post and post it in my own blog. Is there a problem with that? Coz i did it with one of your post too.
Best Regards!

[Translation is alright if you have permission from the copyright holder -- the person who wrote the original post. -Ed.]

Jeff Mirisola

I agree whole-heartedly with you. This is something that I, and other bloggers, have discussed. Many of us now have a "Terms of Use" page on our blogs and track ping-backs.
The dealer is, clearly, in the wrong. If the blogger has a "Terms of Use" page, which includes a cost statement, the dealer could end up financially liable.


In my view, copying someone else's blog entry and re-posting it in its entirety without permission is wrong.

Legal issues and copyright issues aside, it simply isn't fair to the original blogger who has put in significant time and effort to produce original content.

Blogging is a relatively new medium, and bloggers are not expected to observe the same protocols as, say, a newspaper reporter or a syndicated columnist, so there may be some gray areas.

The example you described above, however, is not within the murky area. It's plagiarism, pure and simple.

Jose Guia

I agree with you 100% and I think most bloggers have run across this at some point or another.

Kenneth is right .. It's plagiarism, pure and simple. When I run across someone reposting blog posts as straight copy and pastes I ALWAYS write them a nasty little email.

Maybe we should start posting these publicly and start shaming these reposters.


Mark Burhop

I wonder how these ideas mesh with the technology.

When you set up a blog and then provide an RSS feed (Really Simple Syndication) that provides the full text, is it wrong for an aggregator (anything that reads an RSS feed) to display it someplace else? Is it the bloggers responsibility to make sure the feed only provides a summary? Or turn it off?

I don't know the answer, I'm just asking the question.

[I think the answer might be as simple as "Whatever the copyright holder allows." - Ed.]

Lars Christensen

Ralph, I agree. That a dealer would not have the common courtesy to ask permission to copy/paste some other persons work is sad.

Matt Lombard

The technology allows people to copy whatever they want and use it for whatever they want. We are raising a new generation that believes that if they can lay their hands on it, it belongs to them. More powerful tools with weaker ethical standards is a bad combination. It happens a lot. Too much. People who cannot create profit from those who can.

The case you cite is particularly egregious because the dealer is involved and is presumably profiting from someone elses work.

Just give us his name or his company name and we will see how quickly he changes his tune.

Evan Yares

Plagiarism is claiming someone else's writing as your own. i.e., mis-attribution.

That may be what's happening in this case. What is more likely to be happening is copyright infringement.

As to whether it's actionable -- that depends on whether the use falls under 17 USC § 107, which defines "fair use."

Financial liability for infringement is a little slippery in this case -- but, in any event, it's not affected by including a cost statement in the website's terms of use page.

If the blogger wants to stop the infringement, a simple letter from his lawyer, with the threat of filing a DMCA takedown notice (17 USC § 512) with the dealer's ISP should get their attention.

Nancy Johnson, Cadalyst

Yep, if you republish a significant portion of someone else's work (and "all of it" is significant, I'd say), it doesn't matter if you credit them, link to them, or send them a thank you card; if you did it without their permission, you've broken U.S. copyright law. It's that simple. Rationalize all you want -- it's still illegal.

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