Tag Archives: linking

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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Facebook and the share link – why they still own us forever

After electronically boring poor Laura Oliver to tears yesterday about Facebook, and then waking up this morning to discover they’ve revoked their terms because of the furore, I thought I’d make use of the thousands of words I’ve written as a post.

First, I can see the argument that legally Facebook needs to be licensed to use your content even if you close your account so that people you’ve shared things with (who may then have shared them with other people) still have access to them. For Facebook to promise that if you left, everything you’d ever posted would be removed from the profiles/groups you posted them to (and then from all the other profiles they’ve shared them with), would be a bit ludicrous.

Second, I may be naive but I don’t think being able to package and reuse our content is the reason Facebook have rewritten their terms. I think lawyerspeak makes it sound worse than it is. Amanda French’s post about the comparison with other sites shows that they could have rephrased to mean basically the same thing but sound less threatening about it. (although I don’t think she’d agree that’s what she’s demonstrated!)

Third: as a newspaper, we WANT people to share our content. The point of us being on Facebook is to get people to share our content, so that the generation of people who’ve never read the paper or think it’s irrelevant to them will start to make us part of their lives.

Facebook has thousands of Bournemouth users. Only 24 of them are friends with us so far. Most of them don’t use our site.

We can only get them interested in what we do by being where they are. We want them to share our content among themselves and with their friends. To build a community – people who will then use us as (one of) their news providers – we have to engage with them and stop assuming that we have a right to their attention

Once you’re encouraging sharing, you can’t really then turn round and stop people using your stuff. How can you police it? And if they’re crediting you, why would you, when it’s free distribution to an audience you wouldn’t have thought about reaching? (obviously I’m not an idiot: this is subject to copyright and the ‘linking to’ proviso…)

We have had occasions where reviews (our McFly review was a prime example) get cut and pasted onto fan forums and all the traffic goes there. How do we get round that? By having other stuff (video, audio) on our site that will pull some of that traffic over to us.

But fourth, and most importantly: we have a ‘share on facebook’ link on all our stories. Now let’s just look at what the old TOS say about share links, shall we?

By including a Share Link, Online Content Provider automatically grants, and represents and warrants that it has the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide licence (with the right to sub-licence) to use the Share Service in order to link to, use, copy, publish, stream, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part), summarise and distribute the content, links and other materials of any kind residing on any web pages on which Online Content Provider places the Share Link.

Now unless all newspaper groups are planning on taking this link off their sites, there’s not a lot of point getting hot under the collar about the new TOS.

Note – I don’t think this is designed so Facebook can steal our stuff. I think it’s badly worded legalese that covers them for all the ways people access FB and how it packages content. But I could be wrong….

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Reinventing the wheel

Too many news groups, it seems to me, are bent on creating their own version of free-to-use technology our of some misguided ‘keep-it-inhouse’ policy.

It’s an example of the battle between the proponents of the link economy and the companies that still think using other people’s software or linking to external content is a bad thing.

We’re doing our first live blog this weekend, from AFC Bournemouth’s away game. The sports desk is very excited at the prospect. I’ve shown them how the Liverpool Daily Post does it and some Portsmouth News examples.

The only minor snag is that we’re not supposed to use Cover it Live, the program both those papers rely on.

Instead we’re supposed to use the group’s recently released version.

But, as is so often the case in these scenarios, the company’s version isn’t as good.

I can only assume the group version has been created to try and emulate some of the success of CIL. But why bother? CIL has much more functionality. You can embed comments, videos and polls – all of which enhances the community aspect of the live blog. Your readers see it as a conversation, not a story they can comment on.

Here’s a comparison.


Now tell me, what would you do?

(We’re using CIL.)

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