TV SMITH's Dua Sen: The Mouse & The Rats
TV Smith's Dua Sen
TV Smith's Dua Sen. The politically incorrect irregular columnist combines his idiosyncratic observations and tangential commentary into a blog...


by TV Smith

As bloggers, we suffer from blogger's block, from time to time. Not having the faintest inkling of our next posting, tormented by the prospect of missing our own deadlines. Then, there are those moments when a tiny seed of idea emerges unexpectedly, swiftly germinating and blossoming into a full-blown essay. Whether it is written in ten minutes or in ten days, be it rabid ranting or random rambling, there is self-satisfaction of self-opinion self-published.

For me, that satisfaction is usually replaced by dismay and anger, hours after publication. Self-appointed distributors would lift the article, distribute it via e-mail, post it on mail lists, forums, newsgroups, websites and even published it in newspapers (updated). It is an established practice in online, print and academic publishing to cite sources and to credit authors. Either through callowness or willful disregard, this convention is often ignored by our Copy & Paste Brigade.

Maybe these pilferers feel that the best way to cover their tracks is to remove any evidence pointing to its origins. I don't mind anyone taking a paragraph or five AND linking to the originating page. But to take entire articles and re-publish it without permission and attribution? Maybe I don't need a website or pay for hosting after all. I should be using the Malaysian peer-to-peer publishing network where everything and anything is considered public domain. I am being forcefully inducted into this growing network, to serve as their ghost writer.

It's bad enough having your work pillaged and plundered. To add injury to insult, these web pirates even took the trouble to modify and edit the content to suit their taste. Some of my essays are reinforced with pictures, contained embedded links or are defined by a specific layout. Collectively, these elements help to establish the story, frame the issue at hand and deliver the message as intended. By selectively copying or modifying, these thoughtless people are changing the context and mutilating the subtext.

Damn snatch thieves of the online world. Just two days after The Naked Card story, I was already receiving tons of mail forwarding the article defaced and desecrated. The story may be satirical but its introduction, as Aizuddin kindly noted, points to online resources to help the reader better understand the underlying message of privacy infringement. All these were stripped bare by some ravaging rodents tethered to a mouse. The CD pirates may be pirating Siti Nurhaliza's albums on a grander scale but at least they don't go around changing her name or altering her songs.

Many would claim ignorance when confronted or confess themselves as serial zombie forwarders. Fine; but there are accompanying risks and legal liability in dealing and distributing stolen property, even if you're unaware. If your car was stolen and you found some stranger driving it, what do you do? Pat the guy on the back, inquire gently or slug him in the face? Every time I get my own articles forwarded back to me, I feel as if someone was trying to sell me back my stolen car, vandalized and with parts missing.

Asohan (The Star) and See Ming (MyWordUp), through their own initiative, highlighted the outrageous extent of plagiarism involving the Uncle Ho parody in a recent InTech cover story. But even before the ink has dried, the thieving rats were already circulating the sequel in a thousand distorted versions. Sadly, some ten years after the introduction of the Internet in Malaysia, some users still have little respect for intellectual property and scant understanding of fair use.

© 2003 TV SMITH
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Jeff Ooi's blog on 2 recent cases involving 'The Naked Card' : Gracious & Graceful | Plagiarist at IDG HK

Additional Reading: 10 Big Myths About Copyright Explained


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