Its a Splog Planet

19 Comments

A few days ago when I made a stink about certain sites simply republishing the content without as much as a hat tip, I got a smack down from others who thought let the text flow. Jason and Jeff Jarvis have since picked up the flag, and are basically pointing out that this is becoming a big problem. Not sure where it is going to end, but Mike Rundle is sounding an alarm over a new site called Top Ten Sources. The site is simply republishing entire feeds, regardless of the content length or whatever. So the cycle continues… As Charlie and David say , given who is backing the site, I might be hasty in calling it a splog. Actually I didn’t…. I just pointed out the wholesale republishing. Especially, if the said parties are behind the venture.

Shelley “Burningbird” Powers: Isn’t a personal aggregator, whether web-based or desktop-based, nothing more than a variation on a browser, in that it renders web-based material for an individual’s personal consumption? However, re-publishing the content in its entirety for mass consumption without permission is a violation of copyright law.

John Palfrey has a post up, in which he justifies everything. Good points, they are emailing all new inclusions. That’s all that was needed. Issue closed.

Also, Why Bloggers’ Need Google’s Help

19 Comments

Jake

Isn’t your default, unstated copyright already “All Rights Reserved” – or do you want to add a different copyright?

What’s the difference between a splog and an issue-oriented, editor selected, portal smacking aggregator?

Jeneane Sessum

I was selected as a Top Ten Source when the site first started. Selected is an interesting word, and there’s probably a post we could devote to that term alone, but in short, I said “Thanks” and then waited to see how it would all work out.

So far, it’s been fine, but I’m not sure what I’m really getting out of it–and I’m not sure if I really should be getting anything out of it, or if somehow I’m benefiting without knowing it. If the real purpose is for TTS to ‘be a channel,’ not content, as they say, then it would be interesting to hear back from our channel on how things are going–what’s new? What kind of readers are clicking through to me? etc.

Basically, as a Top Ten Source, I’m okay with the model today. As you have said Om, and I thought the same thing when I saw my posts flowing through TTS, they should have ASKED not SELECTED. In my case I know the Source Aggregatess (halley) who selected me, and I was simply glad she thought of me.

The big question: what is this model really about? If I see ads running next to my content and I’m not sharing in that revenue, then I’ll be mightily peeved. And taking me off at that point won’t be good enough to make me unpeeved. So if that’s where they’re going, then I want to know, because AGREED TO revenue sharing terms are the difference between legit and splog.

which gives me an idea…. need to go now and add a certain copyright notice to my RSS feed… ;-)

David Jackson

I think you’re totally right about this, Om, and the investors in the site make no difference. SeekingAlpha.com is the leading aggregator and filter for stock market related blogs, and I spent a lot of time thinking about the ethics of reposting. After selecting the authors we want, I email them personally to ask permission, and only repost their material after receiving explicit permission. So far they’re all happy and not one has asked to be removed, since we add value by aggregating into sectorized and ticker-ized format, and aggregating the viewpoints of multiple authors about individual stocks. As a result, we drive meaningful traffic to our contributors.

Om Malik

adam

i don’t doubt for a minute that parley is a straight up guy, and this could just might be an explainable oversight. i am just bringing it up because if the bad guys are doing it, then the good guys have to make sure that everything is in the clear.

Adam Green

Om:

When I started my aggregator I emailed the people I wanted to aggregate and only one responded. I decided to just excerpt to be safe. That is what search engines do and nobody gets upset. I don’t blame you for being hot about this. Soon after my first book came out someone published one with the exact same example set, including example names like Fred Astaire. My big shot copyright lawyer said that examples didn’t count. That’s when I stopped worrying about this stuff. Even so, you are right to keep the pressure on this issue in general. As I said on my blog, where TopTenSources may have gone too far is republishing entire feeds. But if you ever met Palrey you would know that he is a straight as they come.

Om Malik

i had said this earlier, and i will say it again. i have no problems with people taking and remixing my content. just show some respect, and drop me a note asking for permission. i don’t thing that is too much to ask. i know dave is going to get them to do the right thing.

Anonymous

In addition to giving the original author a chance to opt in, the sites should block search engines from indexing the content. This prevents the splogs from rising above the original content in search results.

It’s easy to block search engines using robots.txt or by adding a meta tag to each page:

META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX”

JP

I spent some time at the ten sources site a while back and believe it is not splogish at all, but an effort to use editors to aggregate great information in the same way tech.memeorandum using an algorithm. Dave Winer has talked about these guys alot I would like to hear his opinion on what they are doing.

Mike Rundle

One of the comments at my BusinessLogs.com article was from somebody who has been aggregated, they said they were informed of the republishing after they were up.

I think that republishing content and then sending out an email is absolutely not the way to go about it. 90% of the time when a scrape site emails me beforehand I let them go ahead and do it if they leave attribution. If they email me afterwards (or worse yet, if I email them) then I’m already a bit upset about it and will tell them to remove it immediately.

Sounds like a common courtesy thing, so I’m anxious to see what the Top Ten Sources people have to say.

Om Malik

well, i am not sure who is running the company. i tried doing a who is look-up but did not get anywhere.

charlie as you point out, if that is the case, it would have been nice to hear from them via an email. how tough is that.

Charlie Wood

FYI, Top 10 Sources is run by John Palfrey, who is a general partner at RSS Investors, a clinical professor at Harvard Law School, and executive director of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

David Ulevitch

I’m pretty sure you probably know some of the folks behind Top Ten Sources… (Even if you didn’t know you did)

While they are absolutely republishing content, I wouldn’t lump them into the splogs pile yet…

-david

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