In my brain, today was a pretty slow news day. When I first started out doing news stories I would check the usual suspects for ideas, CNN and Google News. It did not take very long to figure out that just rehashing top stories was not all that satisfying.

My dilemma was fixed by doing some serious thinking (many beers).

I decided that I should spread my wings and look at some of the more creative news sites, however that didn’t last long either. The creative sites such as Reuters, Court TV, even Snopes are too well known to get anything truly unique.

The answer was press releases, these are a great source of info, and there are all sorts of sites that spew press releases all day and all night long.

So Press Releases was what I trolled today. And I came up empty, about the only good one was from some company that had updated the ‘Pet Rock’ idea and given it an internet twist. If owning a 21st century pet rock is on your must have list you can find them here.

So, there I was, no story, what was I going to do? Well, when I am not writing here (or working) I do like to follow what is going on with the internet. I have read many articles about people ‘stealing’ content from web sites and calling it their own. The term that is used is ‘content scraping’.

My completely un-scientific approach was to take two of my articles and see where they had ended up.

On December 7th I wrote about a Homeless man getting a fine for spitting. Within 9 hours of publication the article had turned up on homelessnation.org.

Within another 24 hours it had found a new home on www.nowpublic.com, the interesting aspect of this re-incarnation was the posters comment

“I do thank you but I can’t take credit for the writing that article. It was a cut and paste from homelessnation.org I did however did the headline.  Thnx”

Next I did a similar experiment with another post about the RIAA, and got very similar results. Within 24 to 36 hours there were multiple copies floating around.

But, the question that we need to ask is “is this good or bad?”. All of the sites I visited gave full credit to BNN (the permalink was there) and credit to the author. Clearly not the classic definition of content scraping, there has been no attempt to claim originality.

However, the downside is that the original owner, in this case BNN may not get full credit. The ‘air use’ laws permit pulling quotes from written works, but this is the ‘lifting’ of entire articles.

Is this bad? I don’t know, I just thought it was an interesting experiment.

Simon Barrett

http://zzsimonb.blogspot.com

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