RANT against Stealing Site Content

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Jeff Tirey
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RANT against Stealing Site Content

Post by Jeff Tirey » Thu Jan 08, 2004 6:30 pm

My goodness! It's terrible that you would do such a thing! Why, if somebody were to contact me privately by IM, I would not be able give them copies of, oh, say, Anabasis or Homer that I already obtained in this way, thus saving them lots of time, because I would never do anything so horrid! <insert innocent angel emoticon here>
I'll be frank here, attitudes like this disappoint me. I'm not going to edit your comments because A. You've been on this board a long time and I respect you and B. because I'm not willing to even think for 2 seconds that I can actually control how people communicate. So if anyone wants to PM/IM/EMAIL Lex for free digital copies of Greek text - go for it because we can't and won't stop you.


But Here's my long rant about why I feel strongly that this is not a good thing.

I recreated Textkit because I felt an obligation, almost a duty, to give back to the Internet what it had given to me. My entire career, a career that supports my family, was ONLY made possible by the thousands of people and hundreds of websites that for no other purpose other than to share knowledge decided to spend time answering questions in forums, writing tutorials and creating free software from which I could learn. I have never had a single computer class or purchased one technical book and yet I'm a web developer who has been lucky enough to work full time since I started 5 years ago.

Textkit was created because some very special stars all aligned.
1. I had web skills
2. I enjoy classical languages
3. I could get free legal advice
4. I'm fortunate enough to afford a production scanner. They are not cheap and I think some jaws would drop around here if you knew exactly how expensive this site was to create and operate. I don't do this for money, I do it because I want to somehow validate my classics education and basically do to oi kaloi.

I'm usually very quiet about myself and the production side of things. This is because it's in my nature to lead a private life. Yet, I'm being more open right now because when I see how others are without shame willing to admit to and share web site content that they have taken, I can't help but have empathy for the lifted website because it makes me think about my own time and effort spent creating free content and how I would feel if others distributed Textkit content elsewhere.

I have no idea how expensive the Perseus project is but it's fair to say that it's not cheap. I'm willing to venture that it's the most expensive classics site ever created. I'm pointing out that it's expensive because the content is free and its massive collection of high quality content is simply stunning. Perseus is Rome. I pay it my respect by linking to them and encouraging visitors to explore their content. When Perseus arrived on the scene it was an epiphany. I felt, "So this is what the Internet can do!" My personal opinion is that Perseus hasn't even seen its golden age - that is still yet to come. If we're lucky, someday there will be a world in which every computer is small, cheap and with wireless high speed connections to the Internet. When that day arrives I'll be learning Plato in the park from Perseus.

In the meantime, I do not take from others things that are not mine to take. And I do not give to others things that are not mine to give.

When you take a website's content and share it with others you deny that site of its visitors. Visitorship is the very blood of websites. Without it project expenses are difficult to justify, with it they flourish. Textkit’s own guideline on the footer every page is “The redistribution of Textkit files and content is prohibited” You might think, “Why is that, these are public domain books.” The reason is very simple. We want site visitors. I could have just put all the PDFs in a boring file server – but how interesting is that. Not very. With visitors our site grows and things that are not possible today may become possible tomorrow.

So if you enjoy Perseus content this is what you do >> http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/

Ok. I'm done with ranting. Perhaps my opinions are trivial to some, but I thank all for reading this and as always, thank you for visiting Textkit!


Jeff
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Post by Moerus » Thu Jan 08, 2004 7:38 pm

Many others are very happy with this site and support you, Jeff.

So: perge quo coepisti!

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Re: RANT against Stealing Site Content

Post by Lex » Thu Jan 08, 2004 11:18 pm

Hi Lex,
First off, I'm VERY sorry for replying in your thread :oops: :oops: :oops: I thought this was my own. So if you need to restate your post please do so.
jeff


Hi Lex, yes we're going to have to disagree.
lex wrote: When I copy data, the original owner still has his copy, so I can't quite fathom how it could be considered stealing.
No, that's not the point at all with why it's important to protect and respect site content. You're right, copy Smyth's Greek Grammar all day and it's not going to harm me one cent. But if those copies make their way to other servers and other methods of distribution where the user could have just as easily come here to Textkit for it then then I'm absolutely wronged. Because a new visitor has been taken from us. Web content's value is in the visitors it brings to the site everyday. With visitors so many things are possible like this very forum and still new site features that are yet to be.

lex wrote:So you would be upset if I gave somebody a copy of my collection of TextKit downloads on a CDRW, to save him the trouble of downloading them? I just don't understand this. These PDFs already have your URL on them, and I don't hack that out, so it's not like he wouldn't know about TextKit. By distributing these PDFs, I would actually be providing the site with free advertising!
I like to think that I'm reasonable and this sounds reasonable to me, so no I wouldn't mind. I understand that not everyone can download a 40MB file and if access gets in the way of learning I would rather have CDRs floating around. But our distribution policy is really intended not for this scenario but instead to put would be content lifters on notice from taking anything here and posting it on another server. We have to be clear about how we wish our content to be used.

Back to that rather long rant about Textkit and why it came to be, I guess I said that because I want to make it clear how difficult and time consuming it is to create quality content. You obviously valued Perseus content enough to go through the Anabasis and Homer copying page by page - a task that probably took awhile. And this is where we're different I suppose. When I look at other websites' content that I like, I respect their hard work and I follow their guidelines. If I don't like a website's content then I don't return.

Now, right or wrong and for whatever reasons, Perseus has guidelines about how to use their content. I can't speak for them so I won't. But it seems discourtesy to me to take their content and then offer to give it to others. Whoever uses those files will spend less time on Perseus and Perseus losses the chance to communicate with them.

That's how I see it.

Jeff
(sorry for replying inside your post again :oops: .)
I, Lex Llama, super genius, will one day rule this planet! And then you'll rue the day you messed with me, you damned dirty apes!

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Post by Keesa » Fri Jan 09, 2004 12:42 am

This is a difficult topic for me to discuss. I'm going to do my very best to post gently, but I ask you all right now for your forgiveness if I say anything that offends you, or say anything in a way that offends you.

I agree with Jeff. I agree with him completely and wholeheartedly. He and the others like him have put their time, their hearts, and their money into developing this site, and sites like it.

I probably misread you, Lex (in fact, I hope I did!) but are you saying that you don't believe that intellectual property has no value? That copying it and redistributing it do no harm to the original author? Quite frankly, this attitude (if it is your attitude; again, I hope I misread!) terrifies and disgusts me. My entire life is built around this worthless intellectual property. Granted, I work in words, and Jeff works in-well, in whatever computer people work in to bring us sites like Textkit and Perseus. But the idea is the same. Are you saying that it's okay for you to take the stories, articles and books that I write and copy them, even redistribute them, to anyone you want, without my permission and without compensation? If you copy my story, let's say, and give it to someone, then someone has a copy who otherwise would have had to buy a copy, which would ultimately have benefitted me as the author. Jeff's restitution are the "hits" (am I using that word right?) that he would have gotten if the person had visited his site and downloaded the content themselves. I call that stealing.

Is plagiarizing my work not stealing? I still have my original copy, after all. It's not as though you've taken anything physical from me. But regardless of whether or not these things are physical or not, they are mine. I agree that these rights have been blown way out of proportion by large corporations, like the music industry, who are trying to line their pockets, but that doesn't make your stealing (yes, I call it stealing!) right, nor does it justify it in any way.

Again, I am so sorry if I've offended anyone. I just feel very strongly on this. Intellectual property is property. Some of us live off of it.

And just to emphasize my point, that this is whole issue truly is important, Jeff, may I have your official permission to copy the lessons in Latin for Beginners and First Greek Book to my notebook?

Keesa
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Post by benissimus » Fri Jan 09, 2004 1:02 am

Lex, I think you have an interesting and defensible argument there, and no one is going to stop you from copying from other sites. However, I see it as extremely belligerent and ungrateful to say that you will continue to do this to Textkit when Jeff has just plainly asked you not to, whether you agree with his principles or not.
flebile nescio quid queritur lyra, flebile lingua murmurat exanimis, respondent flebile ripae

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Post by mingshey » Fri Jan 09, 2004 1:47 am

I'm a bit embarassed.
I agree that redistributing a web content is wrong, and I see why and how it can do harm to the web site. But why the post on how to get a clean hard copy(for personal uses) should be deleted?
Well, I think it's because the process involves copy and pasting the contents to another electronical format which enables redistribution. But it's a different issue from whether you do redistribute it or not.
Anyway, web-lifting is not a problem of technology; it's too easy. It's a problem of moral, and law(but I think it's moral that keeps people from the web-lifting, that is, law cannot detect every secret web-lifting).
And Perseus has more value than providing the mere text of the classics. The powerful morphological tool cannot be copied and even if you have a hard copy of the text, you have to constantly visit the web site to refer to the tools. Not that it's okay to steal the text. If only it enabled changing display and print font, this issue would have arisen in the first time. It was about getting a non-ugly hard copy.
Last edited by mingshey on Fri Jan 09, 2004 1:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: RANT against Stealing Site Content

Post by Bert » Fri Jan 09, 2004 1:55 am

jeff wrote: I recreated Textkit because I felt an obligation, almost a duty, to give back to the Internet what it had given to me.
I have wondered many times (out loud; to my wife), what makes Jeff create and maintain this site.
There seems to be nothing in it for him besides a lot of work and expenses.
Now I have a bit of an idea why.
I feel bad that there is no way that I can give back to textkit what textkit is giving me. All I can do is buy the few books I buy through the 'support textkit page'.
Thank you Jeff and co.

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Jeff Tirey
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Re: RANT against Stealing Site Content

Post by Jeff Tirey » Fri Jan 09, 2004 5:18 am

Bert wrote:
jeff wrote: I recreated Textkit because I felt an obligation, almost a duty, to give back to the Internet what it had given to me.
I have wondered many times (out loud; to my wife), what makes Jeff create and maintain this site.
There seems to be nothing in it for him besides a lot of work and expenses.
Now I have a bit of an idea why.
I appreciate hearing that. It doesn't feel like a lot of work - slow and steady. It's also fun. And for expense, I'll have to have my "Sale of the Century Booksale" someday. They only way I can justify buying all of these books is because I'll sell them. So you can thank me then :-)

I'm happy to see signs that the project is shifting gears and expanding as more people find us and contribute their own unique skills and time. The ultimate goal is to have a site that produces its own content through the collective contributions of its members. This includes everyone who takes the time to answer questions in the forum. That last round of PDFs we posted were all sent in by visitors. The tutorials project is moving along well. There are only a handful of tutorials right now, but I don't see why there can't be hundreds someday. Also, I'm working too with Will on the study group project - his server admin and Unix skills will play a critical role in helping me get the mailing list software installed on the server.

Heck, I'll just say it now, Textkit plans to provide free mailing list support for any group that conducts Greek or Latin learning. It'll be commercial free so it won't cost the group leader anything and there won't be any banner ads in the mailings. We don't expect anything in return. We're doing it because both we can and it's just another way to broaden our primary purpose which is to provide free Greek and Latin learning tools to anyone who wants or needs it. There are still yet more project ideas slowly simmering on the backburner.

But getting back to this thread, none of this is possible without traffic.

Jeff
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Post by Lex » Fri Jan 09, 2004 3:19 pm

benissimus wrote:Lex, I think you have an interesting and defensible argument there, and no one is going to stop you from copying from other sites. However, I see it as extremely belligerent and ungrateful to say that you will continue to do this to Textkit when Jeff has just plainly asked you not to, whether you agree with his principles or not.
Actually, I have never shared TextKit files with anybody else, since everybody I know who is interested in classical languages happens to be here anyway. However, if I did know somebody else who was interested in classical languages, and didn't have a good high-bandwidth connection to the Internet, I would give him a copy on CDRW. I would also tell him to check out TextKit when he gets the chance (not because I feel obliged to, but because it is a worthwhile site).

It's not that I am ungrateful or being belligerence for its own sake. It's just that I don't feel a moral or legal obligation to use a website in exactly the way the author intended. I'm sorry if that offends.
I, Lex Llama, super genius, will one day rule this planet! And then you'll rue the day you messed with me, you damned dirty apes!

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Re: RANT against Stealing Site Content

Post by Lex » Fri Jan 09, 2004 3:43 pm

Jeff wrote:Hi Lex,
First off, I'm VERY sorry for replying in your thread :oops: :oops: :oops: I thought this was my own. So if you need to restate your post please do so.
jeff
Oh, well. It seems enough people read my original response for them to be aware of the gist of the discussion.
Jeff wrote:No, that's not the point at all with why it's important to protect and respect site content. You're right, copy Smyth's Greek Grammar all day and it's not going to harm me one cent. But if those copies make their way to other servers and other methods of distribution where the user could have just as easily come here to Textkit for it then then I'm absolutely wronged. Because a new visitor has been taken from us. Web content's value is in the visitors it brings to the site everyday. With visitors so many things are possible like this very forum and still new site features that are yet to be.
Hmmm, how do I say this without people accusing me of being a male reproductive organ again? I understand where you're coming from. And I personally would not make the PDFs you created available on another server, simply out of respect for you, and from the fact that I value TextKit. But I don't believe that doing such a thing would "wrong" you, in any formal sense of the word. Since I don't believe in intellectual property (IP), I don't believe that you have the right to control what others do with the information they gather from this site. In other words, storing TextKit PDFs on another server would not be violating your rights.
Jeff wrote:Back to that rather long rant about Textkit and why it came to be, I guess I said that because I want to make it clear how difficult and time consuming it is to create quality content.
I understand that. I program for a living myself. It's just that, although I believe that "mixing ones labour" with something material (to use the Lockean phrase) does give one property rights to it, I don't believe that applies to information. That being the case, I don't believe I am morally obliged to honor a web site author's wishes. I do so with TextKit, not out of a sense of moral obligation, but out of a sense of gratitude, and a desire for TextKit to stay around for a long while.
I, Lex Llama, super genius, will one day rule this planet! And then you'll rue the day you messed with me, you damned dirty apes!

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