the other week I noticed some roiling of the placid waters of social media love. some random blogger was “lifting content” from assorted web x.0 luminaries. when does sharing stop being social?
when sharing is scaring
when I visited the site, I saw that @looppacosmos was using a posterous blog. I love posterous because it makes it easy to collect interesting content from various corners of the internet. I’ve written about how I use my posterous blog– sort of a scratch pad for stuff I may want to write about later. but it can be a bit hard to tell which content you are producing and which you are sharing. a posterous post that you send from a web page shows up like this:
the source of the content is identified in the subject line and in a byline below the clip. however, it’s still possible that a viewer not familiar with web conventions could believe that the posterous blog author was the content creator (true story: a potential client advised me that I was in competition with a company with a cool name and logo but no website or any tweets that were not posts from other, established sites or agencies). but it gets even more murky! posterous blog posts can be set it to automatically cross-post the stuff you collect, including to another blog. I am far too ocd to let something post to the qualified yes without…well, qualifying it with comments, formatting, yadaya. but it is possible to edit out some or all the references to the original creator and put the material out there as one’s own. that is essentially what social media consultant johny fisher was doing on his company blog:
use me, don’t abuse me
note the lack of any mention that fisher did not write this content. in fact, every article in the “research” area of the looppa website was written by someone else and offers no annotation or commentary from the putative experts at looppa. in addition, the loopa site claims copyright to all the material! social media expert chris heuer, another unacknowledged “ghost author” on loopa, called fisher to task.
a far from chastened fisher came right back (although he did immediately remove the material heuer linked to)
@chrisheuer whats wrong with you my friend?there is a link in the top and in the final of the post to the original post,this is your thx ? —Johni Fisher (@JohniFisher) October 11, 2009
not only was fisher unapologetic, he expected heuer, brogran and other experts to be grateful! fisher’s argument was based on his interpretation of social media and inbound marketing – that the marketing effectiveness of content is measured by the number of links to that content. fisher’s position was that by providing a link to the original author, he was showing “link love” and promoting the author’s content. does fisher have a point? ‘share this’ is the mantra of web x.0. ubiquitous icons beckon us to spread messages across our universe. funny videos. interesting articles. tweets. copyrighting and ‘all rights reserved’ is out (although not for fisher or for that matter heuer); “use it however you want, just give me credit” is in:
services like posterous have extended the definition of content linking. is the line getting too blurred? returning to my example, the looppa site has seen a few changes. original creators are now credited in the subject line. is that enough, however, when fisher promotes himself on the looppa site as having “the know-how to help you monetize all your social media actions”? I love how generously the social media practitioners I have encountered have been with their time and expertise. I hate the idea that this spirit of openness and generosity may be in jeopardy. what do you think?