Probably one of the biggest sins you can commit in blogging (at least from my point of view) is to not cite your sources. This Commandment of Blogging is for me, a remnant of of my days as a literature major where if you didn’t cite your quotes in a paper, you failed. It also happened to be very handy way to avoid being accused of plagiarism and again, failing.
In the blogscape, obviously, citations often go by the wayside, especially when it comes to images [Spain, stop hotlinking my files!] There have been countless ways to try and get around people stealing your intellectual property ranging from embedding text in an image, to watermarking, to using Flash, to just about anything else including what they did on this site about Guinea. Try and copy or right click anything on it out of there. Try it in multiple browsers. Yes, they’ve done a very solid job of disabling any and all ways for end users to copy text out of their site that they see as their intellectual property. Can’t say that I blame them overall, except that it never works. For instance this:
A l’heure où l’armée guinéenne montre le vrai visage d’une garde prétorienne de soudards au service de la barbare dictature sanguinaire du capitaine Moussa Dadis Camara, après les affreuses tueries de l’épouvantable lundi du 28 septembre 2009…
…is from this article. I didn’t have to use any cut and paste options to get at it. I just viewed the source of the page and copied it from there. Anyone can do this. Security: Fail.
It also happens to be the case that blocking right clicks makes it impossible to copy the link to then cite the article. I had to click on the link and then copy it out of my location bar. All of this protection just creates obstacles for those who actually wish to spread the information from these articles beyond the scope of the website. Much like those who believe that everything on the web is free for use without attribution, the other end of that spectrum is to believe that what you put on the web is only yours and that you must contain absolute control over it. This later opinion is one of the dinosaur relics from the print era, which is thankfully dying off due to the work of organizations such as Creative Commons, although they have great, vast leaps to make in being established most everywhere in Africa.
So, as a web developer, I’m asking all the other web developers out there to stop doing these silly hacks that block access to your content. If you make works easy to disseminate and cite on a website, you’ll gain a great many more readers than if you don’t, because there are always going to be those who outright steal from you and you’re simply not going to stop them, but you can better enable those who wish to work with you. Any systems you create to block dissemination can always be foiled quite easily and we have much bigger battles to fight, such as getting rid of Internet Explorer 6, which still runs free and proud across the African continent.
As a side, but still very much related note, you might want to check out Afro-IP which is a blog devoted to African intellectual property law. A good read for those curious.
As a definitely less related note, but the reason why I was looking at the above Guinean link, take a look at Konakry Express. This a blog on Maneno that we’re working to help promote and get more authors writing on. People need to know what’s happening in Guinea as things are going pretty badly there in terms of the government and upcoming elections in January. There are very few voices reporting on what’s happening whether they be independent or traditional news.