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December 17, 2007

How To Provide Attribution in the Blogging World

When the Richter Scales posted their “Here Comes Another Bubble” video, they didn’t expect the attention that they would get.

The video and song, a parody of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” lampooning the current wave of Web companies, almost instantly went viral, generating over 600,000 views on YouTube and becoming an instant Internet sensation.

However, the video also found itself at the center of a copyright controversy when photographer Lane Hartwell objected to the use of one of her photographs in the video montage.

Making sure that there was proper attribution, or acknowledgement of your sources, could have prevented a lot of controversy.

Here’s how you can do it right.

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December 3, 2007

Digital Fingerprints For Images: Detecting Image Theft for Free

Photobloggers, typically, have a much more difficult time detecting misuse of their content than writers.

This is because the Internet was built first and foremost for sharing text, and nowhere is this more clear than when we search for something on the Web. It doesn’t matter if we’re doing an image or video search, we’re using text to describe what we want and locating it based upon descriptions and tags.

Though this is very effective for delivering us types of content, it doesn’t work as well for finding duplicates. Once a photo is copied, content creators have little control what text is attached to it or appears around it.

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November 26, 2007

The 6 Steps to Stop Content Theft

With spammers and plagiarists becoming more prolific and more aggressive than ever, content theft is no longer a matter of “if”, but “when”.

Where once protecting content was the realm of lawyers and billion-dollar industries, it is now important for Webmasters, large and small, to be familiar with both the laws and the tools available for dealing with content theft.

Fortunately, the steps for fighting plagiarism are easy to follow and, for the most part, the tools are free and readily available.

If you take a few moments to familiarize yourself with the process and technology, you can become a champion plagiarism fighter in short order and get back to the business of running your site before you realize how effective you’ve become.

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November 19, 2007

5 Content Theft Myths and Why They Are False

When it comes to content theft, there is a great deal of confusion.

Not only is copyright law almost impossible to understand, even by most lawyers’ standards, but the technology used to steal content on the Web is often confusing in and of itself.

This confusion has given rise to a series of myths and misunderstandings about content theft, many of which have very negative implications for Webmasters concerned with the rising tide of scraping and plagiarism.

To help dispel some of those myths I, along with Lorelle from Lorelle on WordPress, have put together a list of the most common myths in content theft and explanations for why they are false.

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November 8, 2007

Number One Rule in Blogging: Play Nice or Pay

What is slowly being understood by many is that this freedom to publish your words comes with a responsibility. As James Farmer said recently in The Age:

…if we stuff up, and let through a defamatory comment, then that’s potentially hundreds of thousands in damages or legal costs.

Freedom of speech does not mean you can say anything you want about anything or anyone. Our words, and the comments we make and allow on our blogs, have a responsibility that comes with publishing.

We are constantly at risk of plagiarism by blockquoting each other’s work. We love saying inflammatory things that brings a lot of traffic and attention, but sometimes lawsuits and laws.
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October 22, 2007

Copyright Cases to Watch: Coton v. TVX Films

Many photographers dream of having their work displayed on the cover of magazines, DVDs and books. Likewise, many models dream of having their faces splashed across display stands across the country.

However, this was not how Lara Jade Coton envisioned her debut would be made.

In May if this year. Coton discovered that a self portrait, one taken when she was just fourteen years old, had appeared on the cover of a pornographic DVD entitled “Body Magic”.

In July of this year, Coton with the help of a Tampa attorney named Richard Harrison filed suit against TVX films for the infringement, quickly turning what was a PR disaster and source of public outrage into a copyright case with potential implications reaching deep into the blogging and photography world.

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October 16, 2007

Who’s Talking About You and Your Blog

I haven’t made time recently to find out whose been talking about me and my blog. It’s one of those tasks easily put off. So I thought I’d take you along for the ride to show you how I keep track of whose been talking about me and my blog, and remind you to not put this important blog task off.

Google Blog Search

Google Blog Search helps you track what others are saying about your blog fairly easily. In the search form, use:

link:http://example.com/

This will result in a list of all the blogs indexed by Google’s Blog Search with a link to your blog. and uses Google Blog Search to track incoming links on the WordPress Dashboard panel, so you can click through to Google Blog Search incoming links to your blog through those links. Luckily, they are the few.

I checked and found a lot of interesting bloggers writing about me or my posts and went visiting to see what they had to say and leave a few comments along the way. I also found inspiration for some blog posts, posts in which I will reference and link back to them, saying something about them and their blogs, too.

For the most part, I found bloggers saying delightful things about my blog, and a lot of positive reinforcement that I’m still blogging down the right path. I also found some splogs and copyright thieves, so it pays to check these out frequently. I also found a few who didn’t have nice things to say about me, which is their right in this world of free speech.
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October 15, 2007

Copyright Cases to Watch: Viacom v. YouTube

It’s the talk of the Internet and a veritable clash of the titans. Viacom, the company that owns several cable television channels, including Comedy Central, sued YouTube and Google for one billion dollars earlier this year and the Internet has not been able to stop talking about it since.

But even though it has gotten a great deal of attention as a clash between new and old media and for its polarizing effect among those on the Internet, it also raises some potent legal issues that could drastically affect bloggers, the tools that they use and the future of the Internet itself.

Simply put, if YouTube and sites like it are the future of the Internet, then this case could have a great deal of impact in determining the future direction of the Web and the people who post to it.

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October 8, 2007

Copyright Cases to Watch: Lenz v. Universal

What do you get when you combine a bouncing baby boy, a song by Prince and a DMCA notice? The perfect recipe for a PR disaster and a copyright nightmare.

However, that is exactly the pot that was stirred this past June when Universal Music Publishing Group (Universal) ordered a DMCA takedown notice of a 30-second clip of a dancing toddler. The reason? Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” was playing, albeit softly, in the background.

But what started out as a PR misstep and a copyright faux pas has grown into one of the most important ongoing copyright cases for bloggers to follow. Though much of the case seems simple, if it goes all the way to a courtroom, it could address issues of fair use, censorship and, perhaps most importantly, how much one’s content is really worth.

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Goodbye to Splogs and Feed-Driven Blogs

After much soul searching and internal debate, I’ve decided that I’m done with splogs and feed-driven blogs generating content from my blogs. Aren’t you?

Here is the scenario.

A trackback comes in with the following starting off the “quote”, followed by the start of your blog post content:

  • […]admin wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt[…]
  • […] Jim Phillips wrote an interesting post today!.Here’s a quick excerpt…
  • […] Novak wrote an interesting post today on 100 bloggers worldwide collaborate to benefit charityHere’s a quick […]

Example of trackback splog comment spam

Notice the similarity? These all involve the words “wrote an interesting post today” and “here’s a quick excerpt”.

I’m considering adding these two phrases to my banned commenters list, but it’s a difficult decision as many use these words perfectly innocently. I wish there was a way to put them in the filter using all of the words without kicking out the innocent usages.

It’s that, or teach all bloggers to never introduce a blockquote using those phrases.
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