Friday, August 22, 2008

If it's all Greek to you ... read on!

A bunch of symbols is about to appear in the right margin:

...and numerous people will be wondering what the hell it's all about. It looks a little like something borrowed from an obelisk ... and you're starting to see these squiggles appearing all over the web.

It's all about something called the "creative commons license," and rather than blather at length about it, I'll give you the link to go right there, if you have the slightest interest, and check it out for yourself:

Creative Commons

The symbols basically tell visitors what they can, and can't do with the materials posted to this blog, although that's a terse, argumentative way of putting it. I'd be more likely to say, "If you want to use stuff posted here, please give me a citation when you re-post it somewhere -- a link would be nice, to bring visitors to this page; and you're welcome to repost the stuff, so long as you don't make a buck out of us, and we get the credit ... and, most importantly, you don't muck about with the materials before reposting. Meaning, please don't change what I said here, or rewrite the poetry!

Alack and alas, it's actually become necessary on today's web to put these legal symbols on a page, because the content of one's page is quite likely to get (and I use the proper term here ... though it sounds like a nasty medical procedure) scraped.

Scraped. Isn't that a horrible term? It basically means, unscrupulous people tour the web, thieving whole pages here and there as they go; they then plunk the pages down on their own sites and, voila, park their Google ads on them, and they're in business without writing a single word, taking a photo, doing some artwork, of their own.

It's illegal, of course; it's also very hard to stop. There's a new service which has just come along, called Copyscape, and to one degree and another, it should help protect people's websites and blogs. The Copyscape service scans and compares pages so, theoretically, if the content were identical, it would pop up the comparison and kick the case back to the legal publisher (on the understanding that the thief ain't the one using Copyscape, obviously).

Okay. It's nice in theory. But there's something else out there called "remixing," which is where multiple websites are "scraped" and content pasted together to make something new. And I seriously doubt there's anying much Copyscape will be able to do about that.

Anyway, the symbols are appearing on this page for obvious reasons. I'm uploading a lot of original stuff, such as Jade's artwork, Keegan's poetry and photos. And it turns out, you have to make some kind of a statement, sooner or later, to protect yourself against scrapers.

I don't like the sound of being scraped. It sounds like they tie you down to a surgical table and do something horrific to the most vulnerable portions of the human anatomy.

So, here we go with the icons. Now, what the hell do they mean?

Content covered by the Creative Commons License. Duh.

Gimme a citation, or accreditation, if you use the work: a back-link would be nice!

Don't "remix" the work ... meaning, don't rewrite me, changing what I said.

Don't use the work for profit. I don't make a buck out of it, why should you?!

Uh ... this one speaks for itself, right?

(The rights being reserved are set out by the symbols ... always supposing you can interpret the symbols. Hence, this half-baked Rosetta Stone.)

It's interesting that the whole problem of "scraping" has become so prevelent, but one could hardly call it surprising. A couple of posts ago, I mentioned there are now more webpages than there are people in the world -- and at the same time, anything you can park Google ads on (except gay-friendly sites: we went through that already!) will apparently earn "nice money." Add in one more factor (the sheer inability, or unwilingness, of unscrupulous people to create their own site content), and you have the scenario in a nutshell. A lot of webpages exist to carry the damned ads, and if you can "scrape" the content for the pages, you don't have to do any work. Great.

Makes legit writers, artists, photographers, poets and webmasters cringe ... and DreamCraft has just decided to at the very least start plunking the icons on some pages, to (mildly) deter the scrapers. We do use Copyscape, too. But it's the "remix" people who are almost certainly going to slither through that net, because I'm 99.999% sure that Copyscape doesn't read PARTS of a page; it compares whole pages. Hmmmm.

If you're interested, or have online intellectual properties to protect, it's, and it's worth a look.

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