May 3, 2006 02:06 | Social / WebBlogging / WebTech

Medieval ballisticism

In a follow-up to my "It's not about you" post a few weeks back, Mike Migurski, lead dev on ReBlog, points me to this complaint on "The Taming of The Band-Aid", a small, local weblog about one person's agricultural efforts in rural Florida:

This is new technology. We're out on the cutting edge, folks. Given that fact, technology gets put into play before abuses of said technology can be forseen. And I do see what "Garden Voices" is doing as abuse, plain and simple. They are generating revenue by posting original material without permission - material which, by the way, is copyrighted under Blogger's terms and conditions.

It seems "Garden Voices" (hehe) is reblogging tf23's content, without permission, with attribution (which ReBlog goes out of it's way to make possible) and yes of course... is trying to generate revenue with banner ads.

Classic water-mill setup. Just add water...

Again, I only point this out to say that the key issue here is awareness. The more awareness one has, the more one can help oneself. tf23 has several avenues of recourse, the least effective being to call Jonah, and turn of RSS. Also, tf23 should ask him/herself why he/she is blogging and for whom. Is it for fame? Fortune? Ego? or sharing? Sharing with whom? Why? (Do you see the spiral forming?)

It is a very hairy issue, inelegantly handled in this case but I suspect we will hear this kind of thing more and more.

Mike's comment on the entry bears pointing out as well:

Being quoted is a touchy subject, and I do think that's an appropriate word to describe what Reblog does. There's also a very fine line between being angry at having your work reblogged, and being angry because no one's paying attention. The big lesson of Reblog (and digital media in general) for me has been that the creators of a work have even less control over its dissemination than in the past, that this is *an intentionally-designed feature* of the internet (in fact, it's THE feature of the internet), and that it's a lot more interesting to embrace the weirdness than to fight it.

We essentially agree, inasmuch as we say "It's here, deal with it. Inform yourself and [re]act accordingly".


when we create tools which remove human decisions, it has direct benefits, because as you said it becomes easier to share. At the same time, these tools should not be dumb. Removing the human in part of the chain doesn't mean that the chain has to “butcher” some principles.

Here comes the wonderful CreativeCommons. In my reading of CreativeCommons, it's also a way to create a policy format about your content that will make possible of removing part of the hurdles of having someone to check if it is possible or not to use in some conditions.

My take on this, bots, user agents, proxy, rebloggers, should really, really enforces CreativeCommons, and that would remove bitterness AND leverages the use of CC by showing one of its benefits.

There is also another format which has been created by W3C: P3P. It is a way for a a Web site to declare their policies when using data of people.

Don't you see it?

Producer (CreativeCommons) ------ Tools -----> Consumers (P3P)

Hey! Tools implementers, you will do everyone else a lot of good and love if you implement and coordinate this.

What is it about the technological possibility of reblogging that flips the onus of seeking permissions from the reblogger to the original publisher?

If you own a radio station, it is your responsibility and yours alone to seek permission to play a song. If you don't, you will be sued and perhaps shut down. Luckily, there are effective and efficient ways to seek permission, so this isn't that big a deal.

In the case of a reblog site, however, why is it suddenly the responsibility of the original publisher to take action against the reblogger? Shouldn't the reblogger assume that the rights on a particular post are the ones that the writer wishes to publish it under and respect that?

Karl is right on here - the tools people use should support this and not allow exceptions.

Of course the problem with that is that Big Media Companies constantly try to retain more rights than they own, which makes the whole picture considerably more difficult.

I like how you worked though your own logic there Mikel.
I agree with you too. Only I think the onus should be on *everybody* to respect others and themselves.

I do not want "content makers" to control what i can do (hello DRM), I do not want the tools to control what I do (hello DRM).. and then we come to me. And here it becomes an issue of "freedom versus liberty".

See how nasty freedom is? "Fuck you I am going to steal your content and there ain't a goddamn thing you or your society can do about it." vs "Hi, I am a respectable citizen and I would like to consume your content and hopefully share something of my output with you too!"


As Michal says, "it's a lot more interesting to embrace the weirdness than to fight it". In other words, don't regulate, whether by societal laws (law law) or technological ones (software, hardware, "code law"). It's certainly a pipe dream (utopia?) to expect everyone to behave, but the alternative is... black... with some shiny logo and a snappy gesture.

Besides which, Karl's just as quick as the rest of us to scream when a piece of software disallows him to do something he wants... ;) hehehe

I think we basically agree. I don't want content makers to control - prevent nice shit from happening - programmatically but I do want their stated wishes respected. Barring other information, then, that means that works are copyrighted and reblogging a piece in its entirety should never be done without permission, and CC should always be respected. I think the only way to protect the freedom we have is to condemn those who would take advantage of that in improper ways.

That's why Google books should have asked publishers before trying to scan and make contents searchable. By crossing that line, Google fucked it up for the rest of us. Too bad no one is calling them on that.

It's getting all interesting over there, too.

Michael, I love your question. My understanding of radio is that it works because permissions can be handled in bulk, through ASCAP & BMI dues. Pay those, and Herb Alert's legal team doesn't get to call you to complain that you're playing his music. That street goes both ways, too - a bigger problem than permission seems to be that *artists* (or their record companies) are *paying the radio stations* to play their songs!

For some reason, these debates about copyright violations on the internet always seem to assume that artists are mortally afraid of getting a little exposure, when it's obvious from the radio example that this is rarely the case. Artists want exposure - what they're really afraid of is losing control over their story. My impression of TF23's complaints about Garden Voices is that he (she?) is uncomfortable with being pulled into the meatgrinder of a really busy reblog. He takes these photos of something really special (an urban garden restoration, it seems), and suddenly they're spliced into a stream of 500 other very-similar pictures of purty flowers. It's not the copying that's the issue, it's the new context of the copy!

Thrilling and demoralizing, like being included in any genre collection.


You all keep making it about my ego.

That's not the issue. What I resented was having the content swiped and made part of a big selling machine that I reject whenever, however is possible in my daily life. The personal being political, and vicey-versey.

And that's just *my* thing.

No one yet has addressed the hotlinking issue, which has jacked my friend Wayne's server bills up without any significant increase in his traffic. I don't see as how that practice, currently employed by Garden Voices, is defensible.

Since I have this comment window working (I got a 404 error yesterday for some reason), give me just a sec to clarify my point a little further:

"I feel as if the piece above does oversimplify my position on this situation by a country mile.

Wanting to know why I write my weblog does nothing but obfuscate this issue. Whether I write for my own ego or a glowing pollyanna sense of philanthropy and downright goodness is of no one's concern. At issue here is the fact that Garden Voices, in particular, has committed a party foul.

(snip: hotlinking issue, as mentioned in previous comment)

since I started my weblog, I have had in my sidebar that one need only ask before using my photos or text. I have never denied such a request, and most likely would not have denied Garden Voices either.

I'm not a stick in the mud. But neither am I a product. I'm just not down with my thoughts and photos being turned into sales, especially after going through the MSM Megacorp gristmill.

But according to the text above (if I read it right), since greed and theft of intellectual property are rampant, why not just roll over and take it - embrace it even?

I am told that I should just accept this, that I should have known better. Forgive me for being ingorant enough to think the word "copyright" still meant something. I didn't realize that things have become so much more complicated. I should have known that boning up on how I may get tooled in the future by companies I despise was part of Blogging."

As I read further, and re-read some of Boris and Michal's comments, here was the conclusion. If I was scared of a dialogue on this issue, I wouldn;t be here, so please let me know just how crazy and/or dumb I seem:

"I was never out to sell anything, nor did I ever want to be used to sell anything. I daresay that most of the Bloggers that I link to feel the same way. In a way, I have to thank Boris. My eyes have been opened to the fact that, no matter what I do at this point, I'm a sales vehicle. No matter what I do in my daily life, no matter that I just wanted to write and take some pictures, no matter what my personal feelings are about corporate intrusion into our lives in general. What I don't have to do is accept or like it.

Inelegant. Yeah, that's fair. I'm ragged, but I'm right."

What this is NOT about is some strange need to feel special. I have taken many of Michal's comments to be elucidating and helpful, but on that point, he's just plain wrong.

Thanks for talking about this, y'all.

Hi thingfish23!
a few things:
- "hotlinking" IS bad (I fight it too), but i snot the issue I am interested in here.
- reblogging without permission IS "not very nice", as I also brought up in the post that precedes this one on this very topic (and is linked right at the beginning of it.)
- i am glad you are realizing all this and that we are discussing it as well. the more people become aware and are aware, the more steps they can take to empower themselves. This holds true in ALL aspects of life.

I by no means entreat you to roll over. I see you have "accepted it as fact", and that is a huge step. Now, DO something about it. You do have means to protect yourself. (to be clear, I am not speaking of revenge: you have not been seriously wronged--by reblogging, not talking about the hotlinking--in any tangible way.) Learn some basics of the environemnt you find yourself in here (the web, webservers, how it all works on a basic level.) You seem to be doing this "in the real world", what with what your doing over there... it's the same "in here": it's a backlot in rural cyberspace... fix it up, or move if you must...



And now - what steps shall be taken?

It's pretty easy to say "educate yourself and do something about the problem." But - for lack of a better term, that is a "blame the victim" approach.

I do not see myself as a victim, so much as an unwilling participant in someone else's experiment.

So - I'm going to ask someone who, apparently, knows the solution to this problem. That'd be you, Boris.

Can you, Michal, or anyone else make some suggestions about how I can have a say in who reblogs my material in the future?


tf23 (a "he")

If I had the time and the inclination, I might put up a page somewhere sometime about just that.

For now, all you'll get is this:
move to a server you have *some* control of (right now you are living in a motel... or was it your buddy' sofa? You should move at least to your own apartment), then start fiddling with robots.txt files, apache .htaccess files containing RewriteRules. Disallow requests from any requesting clients you can identify and don't want taking your content. Start by looking for "Reblog" and "Google" and "Yahoo". You can also disallow requests for media files such as images (.gif, .jpg, .png, mp3.. whatever you don't want "hotlinked") coming from remote hosts (oh wait.. I think that's doable.. can't remember... been so long since I cared...)

And then you will be left well alone. :)

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