Monthly Archives: April 2009

A blogging dilemma

A quick post here about a blogging dilemma.

We’ve run a story today about the chair of the police federation saying PCSOs should be scrapped or reduced so the money can be spent on more frontline officers. He calls them a failed experiment.

Then I spotted a tweet from someone we follow with the paper’s account, expressing disappointment that his local paper had done down his job.

I responded, to ask what had upset him. He replied, to say a lazy story about PCSOs didn’t help those who were PCSOs. He then tweeted a link to his blog, asking people who follow him to read it.

So I read the blog, and it’s a very good. I thought he made some excellent points, so I retweeted and suggested to the editor that we linked to it. But before I linked to it, I used the paper’s twitter to check he was okay with that.

He said no thanks, he didn’t want to get in trouble. He’s not taking the blog down, and he was happy with the retweet, but he didn’t want a link.

I then asked him how he’d feel if we quoted it anonymously, but by then he’d gone to work and has not, as yet, replied.

Now the newshound in me thinks this could be a great follow up to our splash. So I asked the Twitterverse for their opinions.

Here’s a selection of replies.

You’ll see they’re quite varied. Which made me think.

Do you need permission to link to content freely available on the web?

I assume, when I blog, that I have no control over where links to that content ends up, just like I have no control over things I’ve posted publicly on Twitter (a painful lesson I learned courtesy of Press Gazette but that a whole different post). I assume copyright to the extent that I want to be acknowledged as the author of my work, I expect a link if something of mine is used and I expect people not to pretend its their own or make money out of it, but that’s it.

So having blogged this, then tweeted it, made it publicly available and invited people to read it, does he still have the right to ask us not to use it? In other words, if we haven’t asked him, would we have been doing anything wrong in linking to it?

And if you decide not to link because you’re trying not to get someone in trouble, in a case where crediting or attributing will identify them, is quoting their content anonymously better or worse?

I realise that to many people the simple answer would be don’t use it. To many journalists the answer would be ‘he’s made it public, therefore you can use it.’ I think if he explicitly says no to us using it in any form, then we won’t.

But it made me think hard about the whole concept of copyright and permissions when it comes to blogs. And I’m still not sure what the answer is.

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