Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hatred as a motive for copying

The internet never ceases surprising me. The most hated blogger on the internet, it seems, has fled the US for Australia to avoid the consequences of his mortgage fraud. This would not be of much interest to me, except that his well-organized cabal of haters includes someone who's reposting all his blog entries on a different blog, so that fellow haters can read his entries without giving him any ad revenue. He has threatened a copyright infringement suit. (There's other copying described at that first link, but the blog reposts are what interest me.)

I would think that deliberately attempting to deprive someone of ad revenue crosses the line into bad faith, even if in general copying posts to criticize them is kosher given the norms of the blogosphere. Of course if each post is copied with added commentary, and if each post is as short as the one I linked to, then matters are more difficult. I can see the argument for copying rather than just linking, in case the original post is later edited. Moreover, the news story ascribes the revenue-diverting motive to the copiers, but would they all admit it? Even if they did, the question is whether it's the criticism or the copying that causes the economic harm; criticism is allowed to try to throttle the original economically. If the haters ("haterz") prefer to read the posts with mocking commentary attached, then maybe there's no actionable market substitution.

But I wouldn't bet that way.

No comments: