Another Look at Content Curation

[posted by Alice]

I have now been using scoop.it for a couple of weeks, and I find that it’s a helpful way to gather resources, much the way Pinterest enables users to pull together a collection of appealing images. But because I’m a supporter of bloggers and their right to make an income from the content they create, and a supporter of the National Writers Union’s “Pay the Writer” campaign, I decided to do some research about how content curation has affected bloggers and whether or not it’s considered to be copyright violation.

Bloggers’ opinions seem to run the gamut from Frederic Martinet at actulligence.com whose post “Curation — it’s shit” calls curation “revoltingly bad” to Kay McMahon at Kay’s Traffic Blog who has a more measured estimation in her post “Is content curation theft?” She answers that curation is not theft if it’s done fairly and legally, giving attributions to the original source and providing comments to add value to the curation. But even Ms. McMahon has a very low opinion of Pinterest, “whose very existence seems to depend on facilitating the theft and ‘sharing’ of other people’s content,” often making it difficult for users further along the line to track down the origin of “pinned” content.

At other blogs Pinterest seems to be regarded as the worst of the curation sites. The blogger at Resourceful Mommy, in a post called “Content (Curation) Is King,” gives examples of a corporate site stealing from independent bloggers. She shows that Pinterest makes this easy by obscuring the original source of images posted there. The Resourceful Mommy blogger says this kind of content theft matters because “When larger sites and companies take our content without permission or payment, they cut off a revenue source.” Comments at the end of the Resourceful Mommy post echo these concerns.

Though here at Digital Gloss, I’m trying to gather resources about digital publishing, I don’t want to participate in a trend that will undermine the livelihood of other writers. Therefore, I’ll use scoop.it as a private resource and nothing more, and I have deleted the “scooped” post mentioned in my September 23 post.

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2 Responses to Another Look at Content Curation

  1. Hi Alice. Guillaume here, one of the founders at Scoop.it. The question you’re raising is a very important one to us so I thought I’d just jump in and share our views on that:

    1. At Scoop.it, we do a lot to ensure our users operate under Fair Use which has been common practice for decades and is a legal exception of copyright. Fair use allow people to quote a copyrighted material under certain conditions without prior consent of the author. It is a vital component of freedom of speech and it is for instance what makes it legal for a journalist to quote another’s article. On Scoop.it, this translates by the fact the content suggested for a post is ALWAYS a short excerpt from the original blog article or that a video will only be embedded if its author allowed that to be done on YouTube for example. The platform NEVER suggests to publish the entire original content but at the very opposite encourages users to add their context and point of view to enrich it.

    2. The feedback we have from bloggers and media publishers is extremely positive. Content Curation is actually a way for good content to surface and prevail over low quality pieces (from content farms for example).

    3. Ever since we launched and as per our copyright policy, we received less than 20 take-down notices that we diligently complied with as we strictly operate under the US DMCA. This is to be compared with tens of millions of scoops which have been published on the platform.

    As with any innovation, there are good and bad practices on Content Curation. While blogging platforms actually didn’t set any boundaries, Scoop.it actually was designed not only to help curators to do that very specific publishing activity but also to guide them towards best practices by automatically adding links to original content, mentions of the original source, etc…

    I’d be happy to discuss more about this important subject and to hear your or your readers suggestions: always eager to hear feedback! Thanks.

    • digitalgloss says:

      Hi, Guillaume, thank you for your thoughtful response to my post. From what I have seen of scoop.it, I do agree that the content is “ALWAYS a short excerpt” and “NEVER suggests to publish the entire original content but at the very opposite encourages users to add their context and point of view to enrich it.” I also find that scoop.it is an excellent tool that has enabled me to gather resources in a user-friendly and genuinely engaging way. I did decide, however, not to allow scoop.it to populate the Digital Gloss blog with content, though that seemed at first like a good way to get the blog jump-started again (after a fairly long hiatus). It looked nice, but it seemed to run contrary to my belief that writers should be compensated in some way when others use their material. I know this is contrary to much of what is happening in the digital world today, but that doesn’t make it right.

      The bloggers I encountered who had negative opinions about content curation were largely referring to Pinterest. Because Pinterest is an image-intensive site, it’s not possible to use short excerpts. Bloggers have complained that their content has been used without attribution (in one case by a corporate site — NickMom.com). I’ve never seen that kind of thing on scoop.it. I intend to continue to use scoop.it as a private resource.

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