Sunday, May 30, 2010

Web News Piracy

As a writer in the age of the internet, one gets a front seat perspective on the issue of "intellectual property". It is technically possible to cut and paste an article and run it in its entirety on a web site. It seems harmless, but it is far from it.

Writers and websites get paid a certain amount per thousand hits. If you summarize or link to an article so people click to see the source you cited, then you become a partner to someone who may have worked hours on researching, writing and perfecting an article. That is the internet fuctioning at its best.

One thing that web sites have in common with printed media is that they get paid for ads based on their proven circulation.This is logical. You want your ads seen by as many people as possible.

I have seen sites that reprin an article in its entirety and mention the source in tiny print. Maybe they provide a hyperlink. A tiny fraction of people click back to see the original article. If the article gets 1200 hits, then that means that those 1200 readers don't have to go to Associated Press, the National Review or other original sources. I have had people write an editor and praise him for something I wrote that I was not paid a dime for. Sites like this build up a wide variety of content and leech readership from providers of original content. If they provided a summary or introductory paragraphs and a link for the rest of the article, they would be helping modern day writers who are struggling to earn a living. Instead they are taking business away from them.

A site that I sometimes visit gets a little over 41,000 hits every day. Almost all of their articles are lifted from AP or existing newspapers. I would like to know what, if any permission they have to use the material that they reprint in its entirety. I randomly checked 12 articles and found one that was written by the site's authors. The other stories were written by AP or were taken from various newspapers. That means that over 90% of their hits come at the expense of legitimate news sources.

I would like to see news sites that lift articles like this post information about their copyright policies. Do they have an arrangement with the sources? Or do they think it's OK to avoid paying authors by lifting content?

Anyone who has written for a living is not doing it for fame. They are doing it to get paid. No one would reprint a newspaper and dare to sell it. But it happens all the time on web sites. If you look at a web site and see that you have to click over to the original source to read the whole story, that is helping writers and their employers. But if the whole story is lifted, and there is a tiny link at the end, then someone is being cheated. Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Basketball At Ground Zero

The more people try to explain the proposed mosque at Ground Zero, the worse it sounds. Why of all the faith communities at Ground Zero is Islam to be the biggest presence. Must we overlook that Islam was the professed faith of all the 9/11 hijackers? What is really aggravating about the apologists for the "Cordoba Center" is how they say it will be a community center there. The Times of London elaborates as follows

"The $100 million (£69 million) project would include a swimming pool, a basketball court, a 500-seat theatre and possibly a daycare centre. About 2,000 Muslims are expected to attend Friday prayers there."

Basketball and a swimming pool? What unsurpassed arrogance ! How about having a Woodstock concert at Arlington National Cemetery?" How about having a women's marathon through Mecca and Medina during the Haj? No one faith owns Ground Zero. It should never, ever be a place for recreation. Basketball at Ground Zero? What unmitigated gall! Any politician who is not a prostitute (and I apologise to all prostitutes for the comparison) should angrily refuse this arrogant proposal. Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Thoughts of Immigrants

I was shopping in Friedmans Thursday night. I needed detergent. I asked a guy who was stocking shelves where I could find detergent. "Aisle 4". he answered in Slavic accented English.

I flashed back to 1973, when I moved to Italy. I had not learned much Italian. Asking for the most basic needs was very difficult. A dictionary can tell you the word for something, but it can not keep up with directions given in rapid fire Italian. At the end of the day, I was profoundly exhausted.

Years later, I had a job unloading trucks in a warehouse. The work was invigorating. At the end of the day I felt pumped up. i liked the workout. The boss decided I should work in the office. He gave me a book with specs and prices to memorise. I am awful at memorisation. The exhaustion i felt was identical to that I had felt in Italy in 1973. It dawned on me that mental exertion can be more profoundly tiring than physical strain. When the man answered me "Aisle 4", I realised how much work it took for him to be able to pick up English as a grown man who had grown up speaking another language. As we pass people in the streets, we sometimes lose sight of their quiet and hard won accomplishments.

A moving song by Alonzo garbanzo Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Hide The American Flag !!

I did three articles today on One was about some kids at Live Oak High School in Morgan California who were sent home for wearing American flag clothing on Cinco de Mayo. There were kids who had the audacity, the unmitigated audacity to say that they were offended by the display of the American flag on Cinco de Mayo. They actually marched in the streets of Morgan "demanding respect." If they don't want to see the American flag, then they don't belong here.

The next article was about an elementary school in Ann Arbor Michigan that excluded white kids from a science field trip because they wanted to narrow the gap between black and white test scores. They were shocked when the kids who were left behind booed the kids who went on the trip. The principal essentially told offended parents, "I'm sorry you were offended." That was worse than no apology at all. It turns out that the field trip was against Michigan state law. Reverse racism is still racism.

The last article was about political leaders whose first careers were outside politics. From Ho Chi Minh the dishwasher to Harry Truman the haberdasher, I chose ten political figures who intrigue me.

There are so many topics and so little time. But that is what I chose to write about today. Sphere: Related Content