This Week in Elder News: 29 March 2008
The End of Myths About Older Workers?

Crabby Complains (Again)

Crabby Old Lady has two complaints (well, she has many more, but two will do for today) that relate to blogs and computer program designers. Here goes.

Copyright
Crabby has whined before about scrapulous scraper websites that steal her stories and attach Google ads, but she never expected to find it from an elderblogger. Crabby was shocked to see an entire TGB post republished without citation or link, and presented as the blogger’s own.

On thinking it over, Crabby wondered if perhaps bloggers (of any age) who haven’t had the need in their pre-blogging lives to concern themselves with copyright might not understand that people (and corporations) own the rights to their original written and graphic work – in any medium including online – and it cannot be used without permission.

So, in the interest of education, Crabby will enlighten those who need it.

No one may reprint another’s work without permission, and presenting it as your own is plagiarism. Period. In general, that’s all you need to know. However: one of the exceptions to copyright law is called the fair use doctrine which allows snippets of copyrighted material to be used with citations to indicate those are not your words and in the case of blogs and the web, it is polite – and expected - that a link be provided to the original work.

Links are the life blood of blogs. Without them, blogs could not exist. They are both what hold us together and help us move out around the World Wide Web to find new and interesting things. Quotations are crucial for passing on the good stuff, but using another person’s words without acknowledging the source and linking to it is not acceptable.

You’ll find more than you ever wanted or need to know about fair use at Wikipedia.

Adobe Photoshop Elements
When Crabby suffered a big-time computer crash last year and needed to reinstall programs, the disc for Adobe Photoshop Elements, which she has happily used for many years to tweak photographs and create graphics, was lost.

There are other photo/graphics programs and some are free, but Crabby longed for Photoshop Elements. She knows it so well she could almost operate it blind – and now it appears that is how Adobe expects her to use it. The newest version she bought looks like this:

Photoshopelements

Don’t be fooled by the small image. Full-screen size is just as difficult to read. In previous versions, the program was designed with the normal dark text on white background. Now Crabby can’t read the links, labels and dropdown menus.

She emailed Adobe explaining why Photoshop Elements 6.0 is unusable and asked if there might be a version an old person could use. She received a terse, one-sentence reply saying they will not be redesigning the user interface.

No "sorry" from Adobe. No offer of an old version with reverse colors. Just “Screw you, Crabby Old Lady. We've already got your money.”

Most people older than 40 have trouble reading light text on a dark background and even people who are younger complain. Do you suppose it doesn’t matter to Adobe, supposedly a commercial enterprise with the goal of profit?

Having wasted her money on what she considers defective design, Crabby has been testing free photo programs for several months. They are each adequate in their way, but slower or missing features Crabby likes in Photoshop Elements. Grrrr, says Crabby Old Lady.

[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Just Nobody Now explains why (he's) Not Eliot Spitzer.]


Comments

Whew! I'm glad I asked your permission to post a link to the video of Jill B. Taylor! I can't believe someone would steal an entire post and not credit it. Perhaps that person is just clueless?

Ronni,
I just reviewed some online photo editing tools on Web Teacher. A couple of them might work for you.

Kenju...

Crabby Old Lady spent most of her career working in TV and print and on websites where other people’s work is often used, so she has a lifetime of dealing with copyright issues and proper use of other people’s material. But she thinks bloggers who didn't might honestly not know the rules.

I think the content scrapers are reasonably familiar with basic copyright concepts, but thanks for being so gracious about it, even if it made you a bit crabby. ;-)

Your use of the word plagiarism triggered a memory that ought to be a posting on my own blog, so thanks for that, too.

Now I'd better go write it...

I use PICASSA to store and edit my photos. Although it doesn't have all of the tweaks that ADOBE offers I find it adequate for the average photographer. It's free and has many options.

I also use MOVIE MAKER to create a disk. I move my photos from PICASSA to that site and it's a breeze to put them in the order that I want.

copyright is always a problem-- even with book authors. Good you let the person know as you are right, they might not have realized. I never mind someone taking my words as long as they do credit me. With my photos, I have asked that they ask permission but given how easy images are to search, I imagine they get taken sometimes without people even thinking. The risks of using the internet.

I am shocked that Adobe has redesigned their Elements software so poorly. I love my Elements 2 (and occasionally use Elements 3 for redeye and spot mending). I bet you could find either one of these on e-bay. Good luck. It's so annoying to find that something that works well has become obsolete.

Blessings,
Sharry

I really like Irfanview, a free download. So far, it's done everything I want to do with photos.

And, thanks for the Wikipedia link. I also refer to this one from time to time: http://w2.eff.org/bloggers/lg/

Well said. Plagiarism is a crime. That's why there are copyight laws. Makes you wonder though how much of that person's work is original. I hope you gave the offender hell.

You should be able to get an old version of Photoshop on EBay for a reasonable price. And thanks for the reminder (it seems like it can never be put out there enough, unfortunately) about plagiarism and fair use. We all benefit from your reminder.

From doing presentations in a former life and finding them copied with the heading cut off in someone else's presentation, I believe that plagiarism is one of those things "we have always with us." But you're helping to educate those who don't want to be unethical and just don't know any better. Thanks.

Sharry and Peg - thank you for the Ebay suggestion. Crabby Old Lady found version 5 for an excellent price.

Anyone looking for online photo editors in addition to Picassa and irfanview mentioned above, do follow the link to Virginia's site; excellent reviews of three more. Here's the comment I left at her place:

Thanks, Virginia, for these reviews. For me, Photoshop Express is out of the question due to that awful light text on dark background. (Don’t professional interface designers understand usability anymore?)

The other two look good except, for example, when I’m traveling on trains or planes as I’ll be doing later this week.

Maybe one day I’ll find them useful, but probably not until wireless is universal. Where I live, I regularly get knocked offline when the power goes down for a couple of hours and I rely on batteries and my hard drive to get work done. (Yes, life can be primitive in Maine.)

Hi Crabby,

You say, "No one may reprint another’s work without permission"

Creative Commons helps with this. You retain your copyright, but also give permission for others to reuse your content, as long as they abide by the terms that you specify.

More here:
http://creativecommons.org

--Steve

Dear Crabby.......Elements 5.0 uses white or grey. Beg, buy, or borrow this program. PS is the standard, and no others are as good. I'm so sorry.

Dear Crabby,

They say that ignorance is bliss, but I doubt it. Why should anyone feel that they can take your writing and publish it on their blog as their own? I'm sure they know better and are depending on the vastness of the internet to cover their tracks.

Peg Thompson wrote a comment to you recently that said exactly what I would like to say, but don't have the writing talent to pull off.

I have never had anything to do with TV or publishing or anything like that but just knew by instinct that it would be wrong for me to write those words and pretend they were original with me.

I wrote to Peg and asked for, and was very kindly given, permission to use her words. Now, if a blog and publishing novice like myself knew it was wrong to use someone else's work without permission, then everybody knows and those who do it are just trying to get away with something....

I think you are right that a lot of people don't know copyright rules and some need reminding frequently. I think just about everyone I know has had someone steal their words. When we find out we let them know they have been found out. If they are going to copy our words they should at least give credit to the author.

I just went to Look at Adobe Photoshop Express and the opening page was white on black. It also didn't play well with Safari. I will continue to use Element 2.

I had hoped that I could just let this go, but given Crabby Old Lady's statements and then especially the ones from the commenters here; I must speak.

I am the offending "plagiarist", "breaker of copyright laws", or
"I'm sure they know better and are depending on the vastness of the internet to cover their tracks" person. If I were indeed one of those people or a "scraper"; I would not have even been bothered by this and just moved on.

I am none of those things nor am I totally clueless to copyright laws. I am however, a person who sometimes rushes through tasks and forgets to double check everything I've done.

Seeing the post about the Young@Heart group that Ronni had the other day; I remembered that I first learned about them when I was working for an Area Agency on Aging for many years. I was thrilled to see that they were still so active; in fact having a movie about them.

I quickly copied from Ronni's post and added in the YouTube videos with every intention of crediting Time Goes By; as I have done on many occasions in the past. Ronni and Time Goes By is one of my favorite sites and I so admire Ronni's work.

After quickly publishing my post, I received an email from Ronni about her outrage with my "plagiarism" or "theft" of her exact words. I immediately got back to Ronni and quickly corrected my oversight and apologized . But once again in my hurry to make things right, I inadvertently left in a couple of sentences of Ronni's (which I thought were from the Young@Heart website because of the similarity and I had already credited).

I realize that I am now making the unknown offender known; but it has hurt me to see myself framed in such terms. Understand that I am greatly disappointed by my own mistake. However, I am equally disappointed by Ronni's harsh response and unwillingness to accept my several apologizes and clarification.

My hope is, in my emails to Ronni and in my posting this, that I can be forgiven for a stupid error in not being more judicious in my checking my post. I would rather be labeled stupid, as I know I have done stupid things in my life and will probably do so again; rather than be labeled a plagiarist or thief, which I am not.

Pardon my length in reply, but Ronni isn't the only "crabby old lady"; at times we all can be forced to be so. My crabby old lady only came out when she felt maligned for something she did not nor would ever do.

Uncomfortable. Makes me feel like I'm right back at the office, my former life in cubicle hell. Angst.

Ronnie was on point. I'm amazed that you actually trouble-shoot around power outages to publish your blog! You saved me from purchasing the Adobe product, as was my intent when at Border's tomorrow. Now I'll research from the comments/suggestions above.

Carol Ann...

It is not that I don't accept your apology. Here, however, is my problem with your explanation above and in our emails:

1. When you removed my post at my request and rewrote it, there still remained another paragraph or two of mine without indicating they were quotations from another blog.

2. I've quoted thousands of blog posts over the years and don't understand how an entire post could be used without attribution even in haste. We all know our own words versus other people's.

I don't mean to be obtuse or mean, but since you say you are aware of copyright rules, I believe "in haste" pretty much to the degree I believe Senator Clinton confused a little girl's poem with sniper fire.

3. I was more shocked at finding my post on your blog than at scraper sites because one of the many good things about the elderblogger community is its lack of involvement in the wild west atmosphere of some of the blogosphere and certain portions of the web in general.

As I stated, I believe that some people probably have no experience with copyright, so I used the example of this incident to write about them.

No one likes to see their hard work appropriated by others and the internet, with copy-and-paste and linking tools, makes attribution quick-and-easy. Plus, linking is of value to readers because it allows them to follow on to a blog when they find a quotation of interest.

I suspect, after all this hoo-haw, no one who's been hanging out here for the past day will ever make a copyright error. And if I haven't been clear, I do accept your apology.

Guess I'm gonna wiegh in on the copywright issue here. I agree with Ronni that using the exact wording without attribution, block quotes and a link is improper.

However, it is not always possible to get an author's permission to use their words in exact form. So if you are specifically responding to them in your post then the best you can do is block quote it with attribution and put a link to the article.

Because the Web is huge, fast, and complex some authors just don't reply to requests due to time constraints or other reasons. This does let them off the hook for comments about their writing on the web.

So I agree with one part of the complaint but not the other. Once you put it in the public domain for millions to read, it is unreasonable to think that some will not quote you.

The best you can hope for is credit. After all isn't imitation the highest form of flattery.

Good luck on TEE VEE Ronni,

Rich

Rich...

Let me be clear again: anyone can quote any written material in small portions WITHOUT GAINING WRITTEN PERMISSION as long as the source is cited and, on the web, linked.

And few bloggers would object to using an entire post as long as it is clearly indicated that it is not your own and there is a link to the original blog where it appeared.

Dear Ronni -- I am so sorry that happened to you. Your blog is peerless on the topic of issues of aging, and I wish advertisers would find its merit so you could make a nice dime off of it. I am sure it absorbs hours of dedication like a sponge.

I believe we are moving toward a post-literate society in which many of the literacy competencies that you and I have held of value will no longer be worth much. I do think we must credit those from whom we have borrowed and to whom we refer. I hope that doesn't change too much. And I hope you receive an apology from the blogger who did this.

It is a tribute to Ronni's fair-mindedness that she consistently allows postings that veheminently disagree with her. Right on, Ronni! In a cheeky manner, I should like to address Ronni's statement, "No one likes to see their hard work appropriated by others...."

As with many generalizations, this one does not hold absolutely true. I, for one, cannot be stolen from because in my blog I pretty much give carte blanch. I say, "5. Unless otherwise indicated, each reader has my permission to copy anything from my blog postings (including these "rules") as long as it is done within the spirit of the above Rules 1 through 4. If you use material that I have copied from another source, and if I have included attribution, you are required to also include attribution. You are not required to give attribution of my words to me--as long as you use my words in a respectful manner (I will be the judge.) Misrepresentation of my expressed views, attributed to me or not, is prohibited."

Of course, I get off easy--Ronni has, easily 20 or 30 times as many readers as I which is much harder to balance and control. Ronni does a great job of it, in my opinion!

As a retired English teacher, I always give credit and provide links to any material I use; however, I did get in trouble in the early days of my blog (2002) when I was naive and didn't realize anyone could access my blog who hadn't been told about it.

At the Governor's Academy for Teachers of Writing, we were to interview another member of the group and write an article about as aspect of their life as a teacher. I reproduced mine on my blog without any changes. The subject of my article read it and sent me a scathing email threatening to sue me! All she had to do was ask me to remove it, which I did. What I should have done was change her identifying information.

She lives in another part of the state and is the mother-in-law of a former classmate's daughter. Because my blog was about my progress during cancer treatment, many people read it. Otherwise, I doubt she'd have ever known it was on there. I learned!

Jill Bolte Taylor is one of the new 2008 TEDTalks, right?

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