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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Attack of the blogs

There's a lot of talk in the 'blogosphere' over the past couple of days, but particularly today, about Darren Rowse of ProBlogger having his paid-for-and-copyrighted design stolen and used by Vince Chan of AmBlogger. A number of people have entered the fray, on one side or another, with one of them being 'chartreuse' who suggests that Darren, instead of demanding the design be changed, should have just asked for a link back to his own site as the inspiration for Vince's blog design.

While I can see the value of the argument that imitation is the greatest form of flattery, and that imitating something is only increasing the exposure (and value) of the original, I can also see the value of the opposite argument, where someone paid a good deal of money to create and copyright what is theirs, and as a result they don't want that stolen by anyone else.

However, I have my own views on the subject.

Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. To have someone copy your work is confirmation of its value, and certainly increases your own exposure. I have had people copy websites I've done in the past. They've done this without linking back to my original site. When I've found them, I've asked them politely to link back to my site as the inspiration for their own, or to change the design to something else if they don't want to do this. In each of the 3 cases I've found this, two of them linked back to my original site, while the 3rd changed it completely.

Instead of demanding a change, even though I can understand why he did, Darren should have just asked the guy to link back to his site. Darren's focus was on the money he spent to have this created for him. However, other people around the world, all over the internet, copy content as well, or use it for inspiration. The general rule of thumb is to link back to the originating source, which most blogs do.

All content costs something to the creator of it. Mostly time, but it's a cost nevertheless. Do we demand that no one use our content? Do we demand that any content that's used in any way be removed immediately? No, we don't. We just ask for links.
The blogosphere relies on blogs and people linking to each other, sharing content and ideas, and generally being part of a caring, sharing community.

Suddenly the sharing/caring's stopped for a few people, who start talking about how much they've spent and why no one should take advantage of it.

I'd love someone use my design, if they thought it was good enough. However, as chartreuse mentions, it's not the design of a site that makes it successful, it's the content. You can have the world's best looking website, but if the content is crap, people aren't going to come back to it. You can have the world's worst looking website, but if the content is great, people will always come back.

I feel Darren at ProBlogger has lost a little bit of what it means to be on the caring/sharing internet. Instead of promoting community, he's promoting greed. "I paid for this, leave it alone. Don't make me come over there..."

Well, all content we write is paid for in time. Should we take a leaf from Darren's book and stop the sharing?

Posted on 1/26/2006 01:40:00 PM Backlinks

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Anonymous Deborah said...

I read the posts and resulting comments on both sides. Vince knew exactly what he was doing by using Darren to gain publicity for himself. There was no caring/sharing attitude there, either. Just a lust for hits.

On the flip side of this issue, Vince did make some valid points that no one bothered to answer.

Point #1: Darren was ardently defended because he is one of the Big Guns of the blogosphere. Had this happened to you or me, we would be SOL.

Point #2: The majority of those vigilantes linked to his site via their comments. Were they really defending Darren or looking for free advertising for their own blogs? I have to wonder. Some of those comments were embarrassingly juvenile.

1/27/2006 04:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Vince Chan said...

There was a link back to Darren's site from Day 1 in every page... in the footer. I also made many posts citing the imitation due to inspiration/homage.

Nobody will believe when I say that it wasn't a lust for hits that motivated me, just a bad decision compounded by more bad decisions.

But what's done has been done. I had to contribute more points/content to the benefit of the Amateur Blogosphere in the future!

1/27/2006 05:35:00 PM  
Blogger Alan Howard said...

I think that in the end, it wasn't about 'theft', it was about Vince's public response. Vince, you should have kept it private. That was probably the first real mistake that took this public - the fact that you took it public.

I'm sure a lot of people have learnt a lot from this. :-)

1/27/2006 05:38:00 PM  

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