Unattributed copying of perl blog content via Planet Perl

I recall other bloggers complaining of unattributed redistribution of their work. Now a site called rapid-dev.net has started redistributing Plant Perl posts, including mine, with an advert at the top.

I wouldn’t mind if the page had clear attribution, but it doesn’t. In fact, at the bottom it says “Author: hoanatwho”.

That doesn’t feel right. Especially as many of my posts, and probably many others from Planet Perl, use the first-person pronoun “I”.

Why does this matter? A couple of months ago Merlin Mann wrote a long but excellent piece that explains why far better than I could.

Nobody but me is allowed to decide why I make things. And — if and when I choose to give away the things that I make — nobody but me is allowed to define how or where I’ll do it. I am independent.

Merlin discusses, with his typical style, the motivations of those who make their work available for free, and the perils of presuming to understand their motives. Although written mostly about bloggers it seems very applicable to authors of Open Source software. For me it echoes how I feel about coding and, to an extent, the freedom that Perl give me to express my thoughts.

If you have a blog I recommend you at least make the licence for reuse clear. My blog has a “Terms of Use” link in the sidebar that refers to Creative Commons “Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0″ license.

Looking at the Planet Perl page I see it has no licence. Perhaps that should be fixed — even if only to say that the license of the feeds being aggregated must be respected.

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7 thoughts on “Unattributed copying of perl blog content via Planet Perl

  1. Licenses won’t fix this sort of thing. People are going to steal your work to make ad attractors and there’s no reasonable recourse for you. There are laws that could protect you, but only if you’re willing to spend money on private legal resources. Even in the US, the DCMA is only useful as a 10 day injunction, after which it’s a civil matter that you most privately pursue. The carriers are completely unwilling to get involved, and happily reinstatement infringing material once the injunction has expired.

    What I have discovered, as well as many non-tech writers I know, is that it isn’t worth writing on blogs when this sort of thing happens and there is no reasonable recourse. People scoff at the notion of a “chilling effect”, but it is definitely there. My google blogsearch results for my name and the title of my books are 90% this sort of crap. Now I just assume that anything I write is going to be stolen and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. As such, I write a lot less.

    Some people are always going to break the rules as long as they think they are close to the line. I’d like to support things like Creative Commons, but when you move the line farther out, it only moves the lengths people will go to infringe farther too.

    • I’m content to simply make it clear what my licence is so people copying at least know they’re acting outside the licence. That is their choice, and I agree there’s little I can do about it, but I want to be sure they know what they’re doing and are making a conscious choice.

      I like the approach taken by Rui Carmo for The Tao of Mac. His system automatically adds into the RSS feed, at the end of each post, text like the following:

      “IMAP Scraping” was written by Rui Carmo for The Tao of Mac and was originally posted on Tuesday, 3 January 2006. Except as noted, it’s ©2009 Rui Carmo and licensed for reuse under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.

      and it’s presented in a nice box with dark background. See http://feedproxy.google.com/taoofmac/blog for examples.

      That’s polite and understated, yet clearly conveys the authorship and licensing intent. Essentially he’s building attribution into the feed itself. I imagine few redistributors would go to the trouble of removing it.

      I might try doing something similar, though it’ll have to appear on the main articles as well as the feed as I don’t have as much control as Rui does – he built his own system wereas I’m using wordpress.com.

  2. While not always fully working, using Google Spam Report (there is special marker “duplicate content” there) makes attempts of those people far less useful

  3. Have you tried sending an e-mail asking the person to remove your (or the perl planet) feed from his site?
    It might be worth a mail.

    For some of my longer posts I write a short abstract of 3-5 lines and only that abstract goes in the feed with a link back to the original full article. I did this actually to avoid filling a planet with my 300 line long posts but it actually also solves the copying problem.

    • I had started an email discussion with them just after I wrote the post. They were willing to give better attribution, and, after a little back-and-forth they’d updated their template to include a link to the original article and where they got it from, i.e., planet perl. I was happy enough with that. Kudos to them for being open to making these changes.

      Now I come to look again (prompted by http://mdk.per.ly/2009/09/28/coming-soon-planet-perl-archives/) I see they’ve taken down that content and are no longer republishing the planet perl feed.

  4. Pingback: Coming soon – Planet Perl Archives « MDK

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