Out of curiosity, I looked up the meaning of the phrase ‘Courtesy of’. Here’s what my favorite online reference resource had to say about it:
- done or performed as a matter of courtesy or protocol
- offered or provided free by courtesy of the management
I think it’s abundantly clear from this that ‘courtesy of’ means that permission has been asked and given. I thought it might be useful to clear that up since there are so many misconceptions regarding this, online.
And now, here’s why I felt the need for an English lesson, first thing in the day.
I wrote a post about women in sports. In addition to my blog, the post also appeared on Yahoo! Real Beauty(which licensed the content with all my permission and requisite legal terms).
A blogger decided to avail of the same post by simply copying the entire thing and reposting it to his blog. Of note, there has been no interaction between him and me before this so the question of his asking my permission doesn’t occur. When I found the post, I emailed him, tweeted him and left a comment stating what had been done and asking him to put in just an excerpt and a linkback.
A fellow-tweeter left a comment too. Mr.Copycat replied to her comment by email, stating that a linkback had been put in.The post now had a hyperlink on the (thus far) text link to my blog. But the entire post was still up there, my comments and my emails were unanswered.
The only way I could think of, to reach Mr.Copycat now was to respond to the email thread (which the other tweeter had kindly marked me on). It was only after that, that the post came down.
I took what I consider a courteous approach to the whole thing. But consider, would someone who claims to be an online professional (web designer) not know the difference between typing in a link and actually providing a linkback? How about the SEO devaluation of the original post (on my blog & Yahoo!) as a result? And most of all, the very obvious ignoring of my comments casts this in poor light indeed. This is a message to the thief – I’ve kept your name out of this post since you took the post down immediately. It would do you good to remember though, that the internet never forgets and potential employers may not want to work with a web designer who has been accused of cheating or stealing.
And here’s case no.2 (of the three that I found this morning). I wrote a post about mobilephone apps that every urban dweller needs to have. The post also appeared on Yahoo! Real Beauty (under the aforementioned arrangement, on board permission-wise).
Now I find, a website called Andhra Pradesh Information Portal sees fit to copy the entire post without so much as a ‘May I?’ I don’t see a comments section so I can’t speak up about it on the site.
This isn’t my first issue with content theft and sadly, I know it won’t be the last. Most tragic of all (to me), I still get responses along the lines of “Nothing can be done about it”. Notably, one person pointed out the ‘courtesy of’ at the bottom of the copied posts as an excuse for it not technically being a theft. I asked him, if someone walked away with his wallet and claimed that he had given it to them, if he’d still say that was technically not a theft. There’s no reason to not think of it that way. Just because it’s online, doesn’t make it any less criminal. Just because it’s an intangible (data) instead of a physical object like a wallet, doesn’t make the person who takes it, anything other than a thief.
If you have any further doubts about this, please refer to the start of my post again. I seem to have inadvertently become a champion of the cause of anti-content theft. But I’m damned if I stay a hapless victim.
Update: I found another copied post on the same blog. (Original here, the copy has been taken down). Mr.Copycat caught me on gtalk and apologized. Then he said,
“can you tell me which are your content i have posted, because i will not able to know which are your content and which are of others.”
I told him that I refused to waste any more time chasing after him (my entire morning wasted in this) and that if I found any more of my content stolen, I’d take action accordingly. He asked for a day to take his blog down as he was at work.
Less than an hour later, I was besieged by gtalk messages by him (which I saw on my phone) asking me to take down my tweets about the content theft as he had removed the post. It got to a point of his accusing me of being unfair. Mr.Copycat apparently assumes that I’m sitting around waiting for him to take the post that HE copied down and can’t be bothered with patience. It’s odd, how impatient he got over a few minutes of negative publicity while he took his own sweet time to respond (not to mention all the time the copied content was up online). I made a dash to the nearest computer to talk to him and tell him to stop harassing me. His last words were,
“ok go to hell”
Just for that, Sandip Chavda, your name features on this blog. Respect is two-ways, idiocy (unfortunately for you) only one-way.