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Understanding Copyscape, Creative Commons and Copyright, Busting the Misconceptions
comment 4 Comments September 6, 2008 – 7:22 am
popping..

If you’re a blogger, you are probably using one or the other or in my case- both: Copyscape and Creative Commons. I have decided to tackle the subjects after receiving an anonymous comment on my previous post about the two (I am inimical to anonymous comments!! You have a name, for crying out loud use it!). It was an irrelevant note, from (I assume) a blogger with a Philippine IP address who just sort of ‘ordered’ me:

“You can not use copyscape and Creative Commons at the same time. Copyscape goes against sharing which is what Creative Commons is all about. search Free Culture Movement, open source, GPL, linux, IBM, Creative Commons are all part of the movement, copyscape is not because it is against it.”

Aaah, yeah… Nevermind the syntax! Earth calling nameless person! Aside from the fact that your comment was totally unrelated to my post, you have no idea what you’re blabbering about. Your comment is an absolute farce and the arguments totally neither here nor there. But thanks to you, I now have a blog post!

Copyscape is against sharing? You seriously need to have someone translate what you have been reading because your interpretation of the concept is out of this world! You are insinuating that Copyscape is THE bad guy because it doesn’t allow COPYING, STEALING or your term to put it subtlety, sharing. Your comment rather reads that you are talking “sharing” to actually mean copying or stealing as one and the same! By saying that, you are suggesting that Creative Commons is part of the movement that tolerates stealing or copying! Do you seriously believe that?

For the benefit of the lost confused nameless person, let me share what I know on the subject. To quote Bob Edwards, “a little learning is a dangerous thing but a lot of ignorance is just as bad.” I beg your indulgence as this post could get lengthy but I sure hope you will learn something from it.

Clearly I claim to be no expert on this but reading with understanding on Copyright, Copyscape and Creative Commons can go far. This is not rocket science! Some people just don’t “get it” (pun intended!) and that’s all right. I don’t get most things. However, there is more, much more to just copying and pasting the Copyscape and Creative Commons buttons to place on our blogs.

See most bloggers find the buttons, thinks it’s cool, copies the code and then that’s that. That’s not how it works! I know why I placed these banners on my website! There’s no excuse why one doesn’t know the purpose of it on their websites.

WHAT IS COPYSCAPE?

Copyscape is a TOOL.

It is not some kind of law or rule. It is not an agenda or part of any “movement”. It is just like any other BUSINESS website promoting something, in this case it is promoting a service to find duplicates of your content to protect you against online plagiarism and theft. Plain and simple. There have been contentions about its usage, purpose and usefulness because it is only afterall dependent on Google’s API- meaning it’s just the same as typing in keywords in Google as Copyscape uses the same database, therefore you get the same results!!

On the Copyscape website you are greeted with a search bar just like Google’s that says: “Search for copies of your page on the Web.” Half of the time, you get useless results because it does find ALL duplicates regardless if it’s just snippets of your own submission to MyBloglog, BlogCatalog, Technorati and other networking sites or quotes and references you made from other sites. It couldn’t tell the difference on what’s plagiarized or not- just duplicates of anything.

Since it is dependent on Google’s algorithms, it only shows you the latest popular and most recent duplicates it could find. What happens if the ones plagiarized are your posts from a year before that is not too popular? You’re doomed. Of course I wouldn’t know what happens when you get the premium service, how reliable the results will be extending your searches to limitless as opposed to just 10 free. I have no interest in paying $0.05 per search (Premium service) to find out if other people stole any of my articles or not. There are other ways to know for FREE.

COPYSCAPE DOES NOT PREVENT PLAGIARISM AND THEFT CONTENT!

Whoever gave one the idea that it does baffles the mind. Copyscape is only a duplicate detecting service with limitations. It won’t even help you if indeed you found your article stolen! It gives advice on what to do if your work is plagiarized and it has a forum to share issues. That’s that. Tough luck, we’re on our own! There is NO full-proof tool that can ever prevent theft content. Fortunately, there are OTHER tools you can use to detect it (and I will tell you in another post later) BUT again no way to STOP these lowlifes from stealing or scraping our content.

Why the heck am I using it for then if its useless? When I first discovered the service last year, I actually found one lowlife who stole one of my popular contents and it’s been sitting on his blog since 2005!! He argued that he found it circulating via email with no attribution! I wrote a short fiction “Unrequited Love” in April 2005 on my Friendster blog, he copied it in May 2005. I only discovered it in November 2007 and without Copyscape, I wouldn’t have probably known!! It was the only time Copyscape delivered for me…

Nonetheless, I choose to use the service despite its limitations because on the good side, it really helped bring the issue of PLAGIARISM to the forefront. They helped bring theft content into the mainstream and brought certain degree of awareness to everyone. They are continuously (although excessively I might add) praised by the media for their “valuable” work. Well, to get the full benefit you have to pay, how does that become valuable to an average Jane and Joe like me?!!

With the Anti-plagiarism banner up on all my pages, it does set off a warning to would be thieves- regardless if they choose to ignore it not, it’s there! It is my way of challenging these losers: “C’mon, try stealing my content and I will HUNT YOU DOWN to the depths of the internet and I will expose you!! I will not stop!” Hosting sites, Google and social networking sites HATE content stealer with a passion and they don’t want to be associated with one! Reporting it to them is a slow process but it is totally worth all the effort!! Copyscape is not a stand alone tool. When used with other tools can be beneficial to every blogger.

Scrapers are another issue because they may come in bulk and so are harder to track down. Scrapers steal content automatically via our RSS feeds based on the keywords used. When you get to their sites, they don’t actually have any original posts but all snippets of different links to websites with the same keyword.

WHAT IS CREATIVE COMMONS?

Creative commons (CC) is again an optional service!

It is derived from a non-profit organization based in the United States that “encourages authors and other creative people to donate selected writings, music, video, and other works for free exchange in the public domain.”

This is done to facilitate ease of use of certain materials found online. It supposedly shortens the process of going through USING certain materials online like asking permission to the author to use a photo or copy certain lines on a website. What it has done however, despite very good intentions has them becoming a part of the problem instead of the solution because MOST people do not understand the concept and or HOW TO USE IT like the nameless person! CC can only work when people understands how to use and apply it.

Creative Commons is a new copyright law.

BIG NO. Creative Commons does not and can never replace the copyright law. It is not some kind of new law!! Fact is, “Creative Commons license are based on copyright. So it applies to all works that are protected by copyright law. The kinds of works that are protected by copyright law are books, websites, blogs, photographs, films, videos, songs and other audio & visual recordings, for example.”

Creative Commons is anti-copyright.

Again, not. It is even debated to be PRO-copyright! “Creative Commons licenses give you the ability to dictate how others may exercise your copyright rights—such as the right of others to copy your work, make derivative works or adaptations of your work, to distribute your work and/or make money from your work. They do not give you the ability to restrict anything that is otherwise permitted by exceptions or limitations to copyright—including, importantly, fair use or fair dealing—nor do they give you the ability to control anything that is not protected by copyright law, such as facts and ideas.”

HOW DOES CREATIVE COMMONS WORK?

I have CC on my site (see footer): Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0. It means that you are FREE to use my work: Free to Share — to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work.

Under the following conditions:

  • Attribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).
  • Noncommercial. You may not use this work for commercial purposes.
  • No Derivative Works. You may not alter, transform, or build upon this work.

There it is clear as the sky in Boracay Islands on a sunny day! I am authorizing anybody to use any of my content as is PROVIDED you give me credit! You give me a linkback, cite my website as your source. You can NOT use my work to earn money off it! And you can NOT change or transform it into anything.

Say, you liked my short story: “Unrequited Love.” Go ahead cut and paste it on your website but include on the top or bottom CREDIT that it is a repost and the original can be found on MY site! It becomes plagiarism when you cut and paste the story with no attribution that anybody who sees and reads it thinks it’s your original work when it’s not. You can not MAKE my short story and turn it into a novel (derivative work) using the entire plot and characters and the story itself and then have it published as a book and sell it (non-commercial use)!! You don’t need written permission to use any articles on my website! When you link to me, I would know.

That’s the short of Creative Commons, to cut down the process of asking permission and waiting for a response from the original author. With the button on your site, you can dictate it to be ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, SOME RIGHTS RESERVED, ETC making it easier for users to identify which works are readily available for reuse which ones are not. For the long story please visit creativecommons.org and read carefully what they have to say.

Creative Commons does not deter Copyright Infringement, Theft Content

The same as Copyscape, CC regardless of how you want your work used does not prevent one from stealing your content. Content thieves are the lowliest of lifeforms, they have no respect for signs, warnings or banners! They would use our content with or without our consent!

Copyright Law is SUPREME.

This is the be all and end all of it.

Copyright SUPERSEDES ALL related tools or services or organizations or whatever movement. Everything is based on the copyright law. Whether it is Copyleft, Copyscape, Creative Commons, GNU, Free Culture Movement, Open Source, GPL, Linux, IBM, Fair use Act. All these websites except one even have copyright notices plastered at the bottom of their pages. Everything has limits.

Let me lay it down this way to give you a better perspective:

Name of website/service/tool/movement  |  Year of Inception

Free Culture Movement April 2004

Libervis.com August 2004

Open Source Initiative 1998

GNU 1984

Linux 1994

Creative Commons 2001

Philippine Copyright Law RA 8293 June 6, 1997

International Copyright Law Berne Convention 1887

ETC…

What’s my point? The Copyright law has been in existence for hundreds of years over a hundred years! You can’t question this law, you can’t run away from it. One cannot circumvent or evade the copyright law! The ownership of any work in whatever form is protected by copyright UNTIL the person FREELY gives up that right!! It is the owner’s prerogative!! If one wants to distribute his work for free, I commend that person! In fact here’s one amazing popular blogger who defies convention. He authorizes anybody to steal his content! Go for it!

Conclusion

When you start saying that one thing goes against sharing so you can’t use it, then something is obviously lost in translation there. No one can dictate what one shares with another. Everybody has the right to their own work until they voluntarily give up that right! You can’t share something that you have NOT given freely! No movement dictates people to giveaway their work, they can only hope for it.  If you don’t share, that’s your choice. These movements will NOT condemn you if you don’t want to share your work with others!

Nowhere does it say in the Creative Commons site that THEY ORDER PEOPLE TO SHARE THEIR WORK. Creative Commons encourages all publishers to let other people know HOW THEY WANT THEIR WORK USED!! That’s why CC gives you 6 choices plus combinations!

  1. Attribution alone (by)
  2. Attribution + Noncommercial (by-nc)
  3. Attribution + NoDerivs (by-nd)
  4. Attribution + ShareAlike (by-sa)
  5. Attribution + Noncommercial + NoDerivs (by-nc-nd)
  6. Attribution + Noncommercial + ShareAlike (by-nc-sa)

These choices vary from ALL rights reserved to some rights reserved with variations. (Sorry, I don’t like repeating myself either!)

IMHO, I am impartial to the EXTREME Free Culture notion because its core principles if you analyze it directly or indirectly supports the idea of communism rather than democracy. They want to be able to break down technology into pieces and distribute it to however they want, which is great to me! It benefits me too when I am able to download this theme for example FREE of charge or the FREE WP-plugins because of GPL and open source. It promotes common ownership, a free society to copy, distribute and whatever you bloody well please with software or any digital technology. One person gives up his/her own right to months long of hardwork, that is fine. That is his/her decision to make. We’re thankful to those people.

The line is drawn somewhere but some extreme advocates want to be able to cross that line too! For the most part, some movements are after the BIG FISH- big corporations raking in TOO MUCH money for a software they have invented. They want to somehow be able to use it and integrate it to their own invention making the technology free for all.

The whole idea of free culture is very open to misinterpretations and misuse and it is a scary thing for artists and creative people whose ideas and hard work are stolen because of it. Like the nameless person’s farce reasoning, unscrupulous individuals will use it as an excuse to copy and steal original works by others.

For the ignorant street smarts, they use free culture as a weak point to freely share and distribute software justifying it their right to do so. That is called PIRACY NOT SHARING. Big difference. One is a criminal act, the other fostering community. Creative Commons and others will never endorse sharing to mean copying without consent from the original author. Still others steal content and argue that the original authors should be “flattered” because they used their content. Poor argument. If you wanted to give adulation to the original author, wouldn’t linking back to the original post make more sense as a thank you?!

Common sense is not too common these days…

If my own blabbering still didn’t help and you are still confused, please read all the links here or feel free to have an open friendly discussion with me.  My only request is you give me your name. I give you mine.

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