Lazy or lifting content?

I’m going to step in it with a few of you, but the habit of lifting content has been on my mind for a while.

Charlie Sykes is very unhappy – or at least he was when he signed off last night. He declared conservatives are tied three ways and went on to whine some more. This morning he posts a “hot read” that is the full content of another blogger’s work. Now I suppose that Charlie thinks John Podhoretz from Commentary Magazine is lucky to be associated with the famous Charlie Sykes. I think it’s unethical for Charlie to pop the entire piece titled Why they hate John McCain from Podhoretz into his 620WTMJ-hosted blog.

It’s lifting content. Stealing. A violation of the original writer’s copyright. And it’s happening a lot with “real” journalists in the Journal Communications sphere. I’ve been working on a piece for a while that I’ll try to finish today.

It won’t be pretty.


  1. Maggie Milhouse says:

    Don’t have a background in journalism, but I am a fan of Charlie Sykes. Looked at his blog and he clearly stated the content was from John. To me it is the same thing as linking to another persons blog. Why would it be considered stealing unless he attempted to pass it off as his own? I think the world of the internet has opened up a lot of issues that may not have been issues before.

  2. True. The original author’s name is there and it is an active link. No one is required to use the link,though, since the whole article is reprinted.

    Does this take revenue from the original author since no one is required to use the link? Sykes keeps everyone interested in this person’s work right there in the WTMJ revenue stream instead of causing interested readers to click to the author’s site.

  3. You seem to be flattered when others use your content if they give you credit. Why is it different for Sykes or anyone else. as long as credit is given? Besides, much blog content is less than original thought. Bloggers aren’t the end all and be all of creative thinking. They just think they are because they post their content.

  4. To my knowledge only one person has reprinted an entire piece. I asked that person to remove it.

    There’s a right way and a wrong way to go about it. I’ll get to that later today.

  5. I must add to this debate on two fronts.

    One, as long as their is acknowledgement and a link, I don’t personally consider it theft, per se.

    What I would call it is intellectual dishonesty and laziness. Sykes and McIlheran do this a lot, in an effort to make themselves look thoughtful and busy. In reality, they’re just too lazy to come up with their own thoughts.

    I will admit a certain amount of glee, even though it not nice of me, to watch Sykes, et al., flailing in frustration.

  6. I have to add my voice to the chorus of people that believes that, as long as an active link and proper acknowledgment of/to the author, it’s not wrong to run a whole piece. In my case, I use my blog as a research aide during book projects, so I like having whole pieces archived with attribution.

    HOWEVER, I tend to make sure I only run the beginning of a piece with a “continued at this link” indication when it’s a local blogger who I think would appreciate the traffic and whatever exposure a link might create.

  7. So when Cindy uses someone else’s thought and gives due credit we can still call her intellectually lazy and dishonest. Works for me. As for “flailing in frustration”, I guess Capper sees what he wants to see. Glee comes cheap for some.

  8. Jester, if you can provide a specific example of where I posted the entirety of someone else’s work, then we can continue this conversation.

    John, I guess I’m surprised by your practice. I like how you treat local bloggers better.

    Capper, I couldn’t find where McIlheran has the same problem I mention with Sykes, but I only checked through the first of the year. Please pop up a link if you know of something.

  9. So it’s a question of quantity? Post all and it’s lazy but select a few comments and it’s ok? I never said you posted anyone’s work in “entirety”. As long as some credit is assigned when using someone else’s work in it’s entirety, I have no problem. There aren’t really any new ideas, just new ways of expressing them. You don’t “own” every idea you express.

  10. Scott Berg says:

    “Lifting”? How about YOUR entry of January 27 ( ) where you clearly “lifted” content. Then you editted a reply to it (and how often does THAT happen!) that revealed the web name?

    You constantly brag of your copyright (January 23 –, yet berate others for protecting theirs.

    Maybe I should write a page to reveal your numerous double standards…

    But then this message will never be posted intact, will it?

  11. Sure Scott, typos and all. (I’ll be nice and call it a typo anyway.) That was a couple of lines I used, not the whole entry from a blog. I did edit a reply that linked to that site. I probably always will as the owner and I have a bit of a history.

    We’re talking about it on another thread, but do you have a work-time internet use agreement with the company you work for? What about the one you are contracted to?

  12. As long as the source is identified and if possible a link provided, there’s nothing wrong with reproducing the material. Some bloggers I have spoken to prefer to only have a pull quote or simple reference to direct readers to their site. Others are ambivalent on the matter.

    The reason I said “if possible a link provided” is some sites I quote from require paid access to obtain archives and providing the link would be useless after a period of time.

  13. Wait! Isn’t it a clue that the owner wants to protect content when they require paid access to the archives?

    Welcome, by the way.

  14. An Amendment to my views on “lifting”: If you have a site or blog THAT ACCEPTS ADVERTISING AND GENERATES REVENUE, then you have a different set of rules. Blogs with ads should NOT post whole stories; you are enriching yourself financially with other people’s content.

    If my blog suddenly accepted advertising, my policy would certainly change. Again, my blog is research tool rather than a commercial enterprise.

    Also, blogs are not always (almost never, actually) places to find “new, original thoughts and ideas.” What they can be, however, is places to see stories and ideas in a CONTEXT (stories about Wal-Mart in a sprawl blog, for instance) that illuminates the content and allows comments in that context.

  15. Shawn Matson says:

    He’s baaaaack

  16. Scott Berg says:

    Ah yes, the threats to employment. There have been so many instances of that.

    In fact, 1) I am compliant with my employer’s written policy on fair of use of the internet, 2) I am not a contract employee, 3) in the case of this comment I am working from home using the internet link I pay for to perform my job as well as taking a break to comment here (one of those has become a waste of time).

    Once again you resort to the drive by shooting school of character assassination while being wrong on every factual point. Remember the Maxwell residency incident? How about the Niebler retraction? You’re still using innuendo of a revelation on the Sprinkel incident, fueling the lynch mob without actually bringing anything to light.

    I’d provide links to all your blunders but you change web / blog sites every few months to prevent revelations about your journalistic ineptitude. Talk about manipulative!

    Looks like it might soon be time for a fact check blog of my own. And I’ll make sure to give full credit to the source. Perhaps I should start with explaining what “tortious interference” is and how it (you!) almost cost the city $10+ million.

  17. I think that’s an important distinction, John. But what about lost revenue from the content owner? For example (completely made up but I don’t think you’ll mind) you copy an article from the Daily Planet and put the whole thing on your site. You attribute the Daily Planet, even link back to the article. But now, no one needs to go to to read the content. They’ve lost the revenue from their site, which does sell advertising, because they lost a hit they can’t count when selling new advertising.

  18. Oh good grief, Scott. I can assume you are home like everyone else today. It was no threat to your employment. Just curious in light of comments here.

  19. Having visited the Sykes site, I’m uncomfortable with a blogger on a major local media site who titles an entry “WEDNESDAY HOT READ: WHY THEY HATE JOHN McCAIN By Charlie Sykes” and then pastes in a whole story… by someone else, written FOR someone else. In effect, WTMJ has stolen this content.

    Sykes’s media platform demands that he have the courtesy to send readers to the Podhoretz site rather than make it appear as though he and WTMJ (with ads all over the place) are “presenting” the Podhoretz content. I just read the whole thing without having to visit the Commentary Magazine site; as far as I’m concerned, WTMJ presented it.

    Yup – in this case – – on the site of a major media company – – pasting in a full story is poor form. Put the first paragraph or so in there and make the reader go AWAY from one media site (WTMJ) to another (Commentary Magazine), along with exposing the reader to the advertising that paid for the article rather than the advertising enriching WTMJ.

    (So I can pull WTMJ’s content in full? I guess so.)

    However, if a local unaffiliated blogger did the same I would have much less of a problem with it.

  20. Actually, paid access is not as much a way to protect content as it is a way to raise revenue, whether it be a newspaper or a pundit, a la Rush 24/7

  21. So you don’t think a site has a right to raise revenue from its proprietary content?

  22. Sure it does. But subscribing to those sites, like Packer Insider from JSOnline, isn’t in my budget. Much like research papers — God knows I’ve written enough of them — citing the source is usually sufficient when there’s a source requiring paid registration. If it requires free registration, I warn my readers. They may not want spam from those sites (which is the result of free registration, since they collect those e-mail addresses and sell them to anyone who wants to buy them(.

  23. You’ve certainly thought it through! Thanks so much for being part of the discussion.