“Stealing” Content, and the Creative Commons

Since I’ve confirmed that I have at least 5 readers now, I will finally write this post:

Several poker bloggers have written of their blogrolls being wholesale copied onto other sites and, much worse, having their actual content copied.  There are plenty of legitimate reasons for concern here, but I hope that those concerns don’t get taken too far.

First, it’s important to note that we often cut-and-paste content in the process of criticism and commentary.  Our writing relies on that freedom to copy the works of others.  Hopefully, we copy with attribution and in legal ways, though the lines are often difficult to draw.

Second, certainly in poker blogging, I assume most of us are writing about poker to share knowledge with each other.  Whether that be in the form of explicit tips or the general sharing of playing experiences or the reporting of other useful information (e.g., articles about poker, bulletin board posts), we’re generating this information with each other and for each other – otherwise, we’d just as soon write a private diary.

In the service of that goal, please, do not take the desire to protect your work too far.  If we so loosely equate copying with “stealing” or “piracy”, we risk losing the sort of copying that’s so crucial to blogging. If someone’s profiting from your work, or using it without attribution, I can more clearly see your complaint.  But let’s not use that to cripple all copying.

Also, consider making your permissions clear.  As you can see on the right side of my blog, I have put my blog under a Creative Commons license, and, in that way, I hope to create more breathing space for anyone who wants to copy my writing – to provide clear, legal ways to share the information I provide.  The license outlines the permissions I’ve granted for use of this site’s content – namely, you can copy and distribute the content so long as you do so with attribution and for non-commercial purposes, and you can make derivative works so long as they’re under the same license.

Take it from Wil Wheaton, whose site is also CC licensed.  I’m sure you know Wil Wheaton as a poker blogger.  Some of you may also think of him as the guy who beat up Barney in order to demonstrate the ills of intellectual property.  I know I do.

(Full disclosure: I was an intern for Creative Commons two summers ago.  I spend a lot of time writing about copyright.)

One Response to ““Stealing” Content, and the Creative Commons”

  1. iggy
    November 11th, 2004 | 12:27 pm

    fine mitigating points, i concur.