Friday, May 27, 2011

Stolen Content as a Business Model

For years much ado has been made by the likes of the RIAA and MPAA about stolen content via P2P fileharing.  The majority of this sharing has been done by random individuals with no profit motive, but what if someone figured out how to make good money on this stuff?

No, I'm not talking about Kazaa, Napster or any of the similar services that have used nefarious means to bank cash in the past (and some in the present) while standing behind the, "it's the users that are doing it" defense.  I'm talking about funnyjunk.com, who I refuse to link to 'cause I don't want to give them any search engine link juice.

I became aware of the situation earlier this week via a blog post by Matt Inman on his stupidly funny site, The Oatmeal.  It seems that Funnyjunk has copied his entire website and are using the content to make money on their own site by wrapping it in advertising.  Now that, in concept, is only mildly objectionable and can be mitigated by appropriate use attribution and link backs, but the shlong twinks at Funnyjunk went a many of steps farther to turn this into an outrageous violation of Internet ethics by doing the following:

  • Not a single bit of attribution to Matt.
  • No link backs to The Oatmeal.
  • Explicit editing of the content to remove any reference to Matt or The Oatmeal by either cropping or blotting sections of the images.
  • Defacing the content with multiple ads on site that's ugly as sin.  That's particularly insulting to Matt 'cause he's a killer-good web designer.
  • Stamping everything with their own copyright notice.

As Matt describes in his post, the buttmunches at Funnyjunk seem to make a habit of this practice, stealing content from places like The Far Side, XKCD, Dilbert and many others.

Since this was originally posted, the fecal fetishists at Funnyjunk have taken down a lot of the content at issue but certainly not all of it.  I'm still seeing a steady stream of content from the various Cheezburger Network sites, all with the same problems as before.  On the other hand, Cheezburger seems to have many of the same issues as funnyjunk.com, but that's another story.

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