Saturday, February 10, 2007

 

Blog Theft

Blog Theft

``Kariveppila'', is the Malayalam word for what is sometimes referred to in culinary recipes as ``Bay Leaves'' or ``Indian Bay Leaves'', but are actually curry leaves.

Kariveppila is used while cooking the dishes, and are usually one of the first ingredients which go into a dish while cooking; it is also served, but never consumed. They are discarded while eating. But, no Indian dish (particularly thosecooked in oil bases) would taste the same without curry leaves.

The indispensability of the curry leaf, and the practice of discarding it has given rise to referring to some people (and/or their contribution) as ``Kariveppilas''. They are indispensable, do all the work and once they are utilised to the maximum, they are discarded.

The reason I say all this is because Yahoo! IndiaTM has started its Indian Language content service, and the contributors are being treated as Kariveppilas.

Allegations (with proof) are flying around in the blogosphere about how bad Yahoo!TM is, and why they ought to be sued. And Yahoo!TM's response has been to silently remove the infringing content. While writing this, I has double checked Yahoo!TM's copyright policy, and all it talks about is how to approach Yahoo!TM if its users violate copyrights. Nothing -- not even -- a word about Yahoo!TM's contents violating others' rights!!

Going by evidence available on blogosphere, Yahoo!TM is not alone in plagiarising content. Other portals too are doing it.

People keep on cringing ``we live far away, and cannot sue the corporates, what will we do??'' and in my opinion, it is the ``we cannot sue'' attitude that lies at the root of the un-authorised contenting copying problem.

Most blogs are licensed under one of the several Creative Commons licenses. Some, like this, are not licensed at all. What people should do, if you are serious about your works being subject matter of unauthorised copying, is, instead of raising the bogey of legal proceedings, first, insist on compliance with the license. if any. If you did not attach a license to your published copyrightable work, it cannot be copied / reproduced at all, except as ``fair use''.

Remember, you attached a license to your work with the intention that the license terms are complied with, and the other person cannot use your work except in compliance with the license terms. So, when somebody violates your copyright / license, insist on license compliance. If your license allows copying, you obviously intended that your work be copied, and what you want is that your work should be copied. If the license terms reserve any rights (most sensible licenses do), your best bet is to insist on the infringer comply with your license. In most cases, particularly in case of blogs, you only wanted you be attributed when your work is reproduced, and that is a trivial relief to raise threats about litigation at first go.

So, before raising crying yourselves hoarse about litigation, crimes, courts, law, damages, bad ethics of the infringer and all that, stay level headed, polite, and ask for compliance with the license.

Else, you end up like ``kariveppila'', a Malayalam blog whose recipes have been plagiarised by Yahoo!TM's Malayalam language service. When the blogger complained, Yahoo!TM removed the post, without even an apology. People tried to rationalise this behaviour, attributing it to content providers. But, the action of removing the blog helped nobody - least of all, the blogger. The fact remains that Yahoo!TM had considered the recipe good enough to be published as its own; and insisting on its continued publication, with proper attribution (because the kariveppila blog is licensed under a creative commons non-commercial, attribution license) would have served the purpose (of the license) far better than any litigation will.

However, we should never hesitate to sue an infringer who refuses to provide proper attribution (or comply with the license terms). And merely taking down the infringing work from the web site is only mitigating the liability, it does not absolve the infringer from liability.

Of course in electronic media, a published work under a permissive (preferably, a strong copyleft) license is far better than a work without a license at all, since electronic media allows, encourages and requires, (as a matter of technical ease of use) making of copies. Copyleft licenses ensure that people making and distributing copies redistribute the same rights as those granted by the copyright holder. Not having any license at all means the work cannot be copied.

Which now brings me to the license of this blog -- time to re-licence it.


Comments:
dude. you got me all confused now.

what am i supposed to do with all the stuff on my blog?

how do I license it?
 
Step 1:- Make sure that you want to license, rather than just post to your blog. Remember, I may be wrong.

2. Choose a license. This is not an easy task. There are plenty of licenses available on the net. You can pick one of them, or even choose to write your own. The terms of the license, whether you write your own, or choose a canned one, depend on your personal priorities.

3. If you write your own license, put it up somewhere, or if you use a canned one, add a link to the license on each and every post. If I remember, Blogger has some means of adding a footer to your posts, and you can use this facility. SU has done it in her kariveppila blog.
 
One problem with this whole hullabaloo: Recipes are not subject to copyright, even if copied with the exact same wording. This is clearly supported by appellate case law.

Photographs of food are protected. Recipe "compilations" are protected, but this requires a large number of recipes whose content and organization are substantially copied.
 
കണ്ടു. പകുതി മനസിലായി ആരെങ്കിലും ഇതൊന്ന്‌ മലയാളത്തിലാക്കി തരാമോ?
chandrasekharan.nair@gmail.com
 
from what i heard, the problem is not with yahoo!. They just posted contents provided by a company called Webdunia (a pure indian company). So it looks like the one to blame is not the multinational "evil" company, but a local "dumb" one...
 
The bloggers should get money from Yahoo and that is what is intent of all the protest. We should move in that direction. Rest is all shit.
 
Dear anonymous friend,

This is not about money, but about respect for other's efforts and work.

And, please remember that dropping obscenities around does not reinforce your statement in any way.
 
याहू के इस कुकृत्य का विरोध होना ही चाहिये. मेरा विरोध यहां दर्ज है.
 
Pai, I'm a journalist which explains the reason for my interest in the whole debate!..what you say is pretty interesting...I went through the trouble of reading up Sec 65-67 of the IPC dealing with tampering and hacking and there is nothing mentioned on plagarism...what does Surya Gayathri do in this case?
 
Sarah, this about violation of copyright law. Please look up a good dictionary (or look up the wikipedia) for meaning of the terms ``tampering'' and ``hacking''.
 
umm...its me again!..n u hvent read my post correctly...do u want to before replying?
 
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