Yesterday evening, Gawker wrote about how internet meme listing site BuzzFeed and it's enormous amount of lifted content. Not only were the photos and descriptions 100% copied from lesser sites, overarching themes and ideas were, too. Worst of all, most of the articles stem from Senior Editor, Matt Stopera, who has been hailed for his lightening speed ability to churn out wildly popular posts.
Gawker writes, “A key part of that code is copying and pasting chunks of text into lists without attribution. For example Stopera's '13 Things You Probably Didn't Know About the Movie ‘Clueless' is comprised almost solely of sentences copied from the IMDB trivia page for Clueless, with no sign that they are anything but his own words.”
While most readers, writers, and journalists would shout from the top of their lungs “PLAGIARISM!!!” the article points out that Gawker too has been called out for lifting content. But more importantly, it questions whether this is just the name of the game on this weird thing called the internet, or whether we should bash, kick, and stone any site that doesn't properly credit work.
“Stopera's lifting is the result of an extreme aggregation logic that approaches words as just another form of content, to be remixed and copied without worrying about their source. The whole internet is trending in this direction: The top story on Reddit on any given day is likely to be some image scanned from a newspaper, a quote misattributed to Ghandi, or a Youtube video of a '90s cartoon.”
He continues on, “But the practice does reflect something that's bugged me for a while… The explosion of people happily sharing images and text completely void of context. There's a stupid disinterest in the story behind whatever shiny internet thing has gone viral now, as if knowing more would ruin the mysterious viralness of the thing.”
Of course, the copying and pasting curse has hit the fashion blogosphere hard. With sites like Tumblr and Pinterest, and the actions of reblogging, repinning, reuploading, etc., the “source” of any given image or text is completely lost. From street style photos to images of models backstage, to even polyvores and outfit posts, many bloggers are killing the original credit.
Do you believe someone might be copying your content? Here our some tips on protecting yourself, listed on Digital Inspiration:
1. First attempt to find a sentence in your content that has a unique pairing of words. Search for the sentence enclosed in quotes on Google Blog Search.
2. If you found a copy of your blog article on another site first send an email to the blog owner requesting that your content be removed or add a comment to the post.
3. If the blogger refuses to comply or claims that you are the one stealing content, get in touch with the web hosting company by running a WhoIs lookup on the web domain name to find the domain registrar and the name of the web hosting company.
4. Visit the hosting company website for contact information where you can formally send a complaint with proof that Google spiders discovered your site first, your Google Page Rank, your Alexa Ranking and traffic details, and any other information you may think will prove your case.
5. If that doesn't work, you can request Google, Yahoo and other search engines to remove the copied content if the site violates copyright laws. You can do this by filing a DMCA complaint.
6. And if THAT doesn't work, you can notify the other website's advertisers that this site is using your content to monetize. Most likely they will pull the ads.
As a result of the article, BuzzFeed has added more sources to their site, but when will the madness of copying and pasting end? Or will it ever end? Is this just how the Internet works?