Friday Night Blog Fight

There's a new blog spat emerging. It's between left wing bloggers and Pajamas Media. I've received several e-mails today telling me that TalkLeft is in the dust-up. But, really, I'm not. I've been aware for several months that PJM excerpts or links to TalkLeft posts occasionally. And I don't mind at all.

Here's the deal: Pajamas Media, which highlights blog posts in their center space, is trying to be more non-partisan and excerpting posts of left-wing blogs, (with multiple links to the originating blog). Several of these blogs are upset and demanding PJM cease the practice immediately.

I am not upset. When PJM picks up on something they see on TalkLeft, they always do so in a way that encourages their readers to click on the link provided to TalkLeft where they can read the entire post. They post without any kind of commentary or mocking. I welcome the opportunity to reach beyond the choir and I appreciate the extra traffic from their readers, who might not otherwise read TalkLeft.

It's clear from the left column on their site that TalkLeft is not a member of PJM. Perhaps because I regularly check the site anyway, I know that the center column is not meant to suggest that individual authors have posting privileges. It's more of a "best of the day" type feature. The bloggers who are complaining think that it appears to readers that they have posted the item on PJM when they haven't.

I don't see it that way. To me, PJM is more of an aggegator, albeit a selective one, with editors picking their favorites blog posts and driving traffic to those sites.

I'm no patsy when it comes to others posting TalkLeft's material as their own. TalkLeft's material is copyrighted and reprinting of even excerpts without attribution is not allowed. Reprinting entire posts or TL's original, copyrighted graphics even with attribution is not allowed without permission. The few times I've been made aware it has happened, I've e-mailed the re-printer and asked them to remove the post or graphic.

I just don't see that what PJM is doing is objectionable. Others can disagree, but that's my position.

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    Re: Friday Night Blog Fight (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri May 12, 2006 at 11:39:18 PM EST
    I'm totally with you on this one. Getting the message out to wider audiences contributes to the free exchange of ideas and allows people to debate the merits for themselves. With people gravitating toward partisan news sources that fit their ideological outlook while abandoning dissenting views, any contribution to a partisan site that provides balance is helpful for furthering comprehensive education on the topics.

    Re: Friday Night Blog Fight (none / 0) (#2)
    by demohypocrates on Fri May 12, 2006 at 11:44:40 PM EST
    PJM is acknowledging TL and similar blogs in a way which I think is admirable. They are properly sourcing alternative opinions in their proper context, and not trying to misrepresent their context. That is a win win. I disagree with TL on just about every issue but I do appreciate the way they try to make it a reasoned argument and not a playground fight. I am on the right, and want more of a voice on this piss poor administration.

    Re: Friday Night Blog Fight (none / 0) (#3)
    by Arlen on Sat May 13, 2006 at 12:14:21 AM EST
    I completely understand your point, Jeralyn. Although I don't read PJM on a regular basis, I do visit Drudge on a daily basis. Just because he's conservative doesn't mean he doesn't often link to interesting news articles. Sometimes I'll grumble under my breath about the bias in the headlines he'll write, but it's certainly bearable. Which is probably one of the reasons why so many liberal blogs have him on their blogrolls (and heck, HuffPo is on his).

    Re: Friday Night Blog Fight (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat May 13, 2006 at 12:23:12 AM EST
    gotta go with talkleft on this one. in fact, i read the post hoping that she would name names, as to which of the uptight lefties are getting their panties in a bunch over getting free traffic from somewhere! heavens! expanding your readership with unasked for help? who would ever condone such dastardly deeds? as i'm on pretty good terms with a handful of conservative bloggers myself, i am of the "everyone's entitled to their opinion" school of thought. and if there's anyone at all who shouldn't be whining about somebody quoting their stuff, it's bloggers.

    Re: Friday Night Blog Fight (none / 0) (#5)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat May 13, 2006 at 03:57:58 AM EST
    which of the uptight lefties
    Hmmmm, now who could that be?

    Re: Friday Night Blog Fight (none / 0) (#6)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat May 13, 2006 at 07:45:33 AM EST
    Yep, I agree with other commenters: TalkLeft is right, and good for Pajamas Media for broadening its fare.

    Re: Friday Night Blog Fight (none / 0) (#7)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat May 13, 2006 at 08:14:39 AM EST
    Thanks for this. I could not see the problem that Wings Hilzoy had. I figured I must have been missing something becasue it seemed to me like fair use with both an attribution and a link.

    Re: Friday Night Blog Fight (none / 0) (#8)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat May 13, 2006 at 08:35:24 AM EST
    I am not a blogger, but as I understand it, a lot of my favorite bloggers could use a buck or two, and in fact, sell advertising on their sites as best they can. Will write for money. If I were a blogger that needed a buck or two, while I would love for another blogger to send traffic my way, I would be reasonably upset if a commercial, VC-funded competitor of mine were excerpting portions of my writings on a page of theirs that: A) Sells advertisements B) Includes prominent links to others that do not include me, esp., when those others compete for the same readership and also sell ads. All of this would seem to dilute my brand value, and my added value to my advertisers. The "payment" for this is one link that is somewhat hidden. It is not the link from the Headline/Title which goes back to PJM. It is not the next link to the blog itself which is not specific. It is not the third link which also goes back to PJM. It is in fact the last link. And again, the "blogroll" links are present on every page. As an excerpt but with no other context, I am not sure how this fits into the fair-use exclusion of copyright. Since they sell ads on the page, I am pretty sure it does not. I would think that if I were the competitor working with VC funding and a hope of becoming a public company that while I would find the behavior borderline legal, I would also find it unethical. I would try to set up some sort of affiliate/republishing program that would ask for permission, and in return give some sort of monetary reward to the original author. I would also redo the template to make it clear this was not a PJM author and make the links to the post more prominent and the links back to PJM less prominent. I would also include a quick ratings poll for the reader (did you find this interesting, and should we invite this author to PJM) as well as a prominent link for the author to click to talk back to the webmaster. And finally, with every excerpt of such a non pjm author, I would make every attempt possible to contact that author and alert them. Like via email, or a trackback.

    Re: Friday Night Blog Fight (none / 0) (#9)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat May 13, 2006 at 08:41:09 AM EST
    I would think if I were a non-PJM blogger or an ads distributor like blogads suing pjm for copyright violation and brand dilution I would ask PJM for their click through percentages. What percent of "read more" click throughs on any given day went to pjm vs. non-pjm authors; and for that day what were the percent of pjm vs. non-pjm articles. I would also want to know similar details for the blogrolled. Full disclosure: I am just an engineer, not a lawyer nor blogger nor marketing guy (marketeer?). Fuller disclosure: I dislike Roger El. Simon and an proud of being banned at his site under the handle, "Moses Whine" after just a handful of comments.

    Re: Friday Night Blog Fight (none / 0) (#10)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat May 13, 2006 at 09:01:41 AM EST
    Also, while I certainly have no clue, I think there is a difference from being linked to by Wolcott at VF or Alterman at MSNBC and by PJM. But I am not sure that it matters if there is a difference or not. I don't think fair-use is like trademarks. I think you can be arbitrary in how you police fair-use violations of your material without turning it over to the public domain. But Wolcott and MSNBC make it clear you are not a VF or MSNBC author and primarily expose your blog to non-blog readers. PJM readers are already part of your target market, blog-readers and the enormous pjm blogroll can only serve to take clicks to you, away from you.

    Re: Friday Night Blog Fight (none / 0) (#11)
    by orionATL on Sat May 13, 2006 at 09:19:52 AM EST
    i like very much like the calm, confident, and inclusive approach that this post expresses. approach

    Re: Friday Night Blog Fight (none / 0) (#12)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat May 13, 2006 at 09:20:53 AM EST
    I think if PJM made it clear that links in the center are NOT PJM-affiliated, but merely a blog round-up, there would be nothing to complain about. But right now I can see why some people are a tad upset -- if TalkLeft hadn't explained this and I had gone to PJM on my own, I would be wondering right now why Jeralyn had gone to the dark side...

    Re: Friday Night Blog Fight (none / 0) (#13)
    by squeaky on Sat May 13, 2006 at 09:54:52 AM EST
    Don't fix it if it aint broke. Jeralyn is not afraid of getting kooties, wish more were of like minds. rebmarks- I do not see your logic. If a reader is familiar with a lefty blog that is quoted on PM all it would take is a mouse click to find out that they have not gone to the dark side. It is easy to jump on the pile reflexively, as I have many a time. Nice to see Jeralyn take the lead here with her clear thinking. Fresh air and sunlight as usual.

    Re: Friday Night Blog Fight (none / 0) (#14)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat May 13, 2006 at 09:35:22 PM EST
    off topic, deleted. Please save it for tomorrow's open thread.