Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Aggregation vs. plagiarism

Interesting New York Times article about Germany's attempts to protect and enforce the copyright of journalism that appears online. Unfortunately, it's a little skimpy on the details. As someone whose work has been plagiarized, I support the idea of clamping down on plagiarism, especially when people are making money through this unethical and illegal behavior. But I'm a little foggy on why publishers want the term "plagiarist" to apply to news feeds.

News feeds generally provide the title of an article and the first few sentences, then direct the reader to the Web site that originally published the article. What's the problem here? How is this substantially different from a library's book index?

If an aggregator reproduces the article in its entirety, that's a problem. But I have a hard time calling such a service an aggregator. It's really a publication of its own that uses aggregation technology to provide its content. You know, a "plagiarggregator." Don't you love how that flows off the tongue?

Repeat that word without attributing it to me, and I'll sue you!*

*Unless, of course, your use is in line with Fair Use laws, in which case I'll be proud of how my difficult-to-pronounce coinage is invading the English language.

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