Thursday, 29 July 2010

What Web Writers Want You to Know About Online Sharing

I started my morning having to deal with not one, but two, copyright violations. Two different individuals had "borrowed" entire articles I wrote and republished them without my permission. Only they weren't "borrowing" anything. They had committed theft.

There are some people out on the web who intentionally steal others' work, but I have come to believe a lot of copyright violation is due to laziness, ignorance of how copyright works, and confusing copyright with plagiarism. I'm sorry to say I have no miracle cures to offer for laziness, but I hope I can help to clear up the confusion around copyright here.

What is copyright?
There are a good number of sites that explain copyright in detail, so I'm not going to do that. What I will do is simplify it. At the most basic level, copyright is the right of an author to determine under what circumstances a work will be copied.


Doing Everything But Writing

It's been one of those days when I got very little writing done. I spent my morning dealing with kids and copyright infringements, and preparing for our day trip tomorrow. Writers quickly learn that our work consists of more  than writing. There is also planning, researching, networking, promoting and protecting our work. Most times I enjoy taking a break from writing to do something a little different, but chasing down copyright violations is not a favourite task.

The afternoon saw some actual writing get done, but there were interruptions for a number of reasons. One was a very pleasant one: a call from my daughter. She has been calling in the evening after the cadets get liberty, but today apparently there was a career fair at the camp and once she had seen all the kiosques that interested her she was allowed free time. We will be getting up at an absolutely ungodly hour to drive up for her graduation parade in the morning, but nothing could keep me from being there. We are so proud of her!

I managed to get one piece written today, and I hope both writers and their readers will find it helpful. I also want to say how grateful I am to Mohamed, who took care of one of the copyright violations for me as soon as he read my email. I have to believe that most of  the wrongs done in the world are a matter of ignorance. Educating ourselves allows us to choose the right, more often.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Negative Aspects of Freelance Writing

In A Bunch of Crap I Hate About Writing and a Challenge Jaipi Sixbear issues a challenge to "positive" writers to dig deep and give voice to some of their more negative feelings about writing. I have never given much thought to whether or not I count as a positive writer. I am a writer, and I hope a good one. One who is getting better with each day's writing and each new challenge - perhaps not measurably from one day to the next, but I know I'm making progress.

I don't generally engage in discussions of what I don't like about writing. I mean, why depress myself? Dwelling on all the drawbacks of one's job is counterproductive. Speaking ill of one's profession, one's colleagues or one's employers has a predictably negative effect on one's career. Sure, sometimes a little catharsis can be healthy. Airing the results of that process on the internet for all to see? Maybe not so healthy.

Still . . .


The Associated Content Model for Success: A Community of Writers with Heart

"Content farms": a derogatory term used by the mainstream for sites like Associated Content, Demand Studios and Seed. Sites like these regularly accept writing from ordinary people - people who don't have the benefit of a degree in journalism or communications, but who all the same have something to say.

The business model is making big money, and has got internet giants like Yahoo! and Google looking to get involved. But writers from the mainstream media view sites like Associated Content as a threat to the survival of their profession. One group has set out to create controls for online writing. They have even gone so far as to suggest Google should change the way it ranks content, because they feel articles by Associated Content writers and their peers are choking out mainstream content in search engine rankings.


Image: Chris Wightman, Wikimedia Commons