Friday, July 09, 2004

Babe War story copied on pop radio site; the Blogger business model

Well, there is a serious side to our Babe Photo War story.

It was one of our most popular stories (according to incoming web traffic), and it was even mentioned and linked to on a popular evening radio show's website. The radio show is syndicated across the country by one of the two huge U.S. pop radio networks. This network's site sent us some traffic today.

Some thoughts on this:


Now I understand the concept of the tabloid. You want to create an entertaining basket of serious news analysis and lighter stories. Taken alone, no one would ever visit your site. Together, it becomes compelling content. Of course, our news analysis is much more insightful than a tabloid. (And we clearly distinguish real stories from spoofs, which most tabloids do not).


The pop radio show site was and still is quoting my ENTIRE POST on their website. Of course, my posts are subject to copyright (and neither the show nor the network sent me an email, then or now).

The site makes it look they got the post off an RSS XML syndication site that groups popular syndicated articles by keywords. However, that other site doesn't seem to syndicate my site, although I've now requested DFW be added. (And while my post touched on the topic it didn't use the keyword.) And the Google cache doesn't seem to think the RSS site was ever showing that post. My post was most likely manually added by the radio station, which is advertising for the RSS syndication site.

I guess I don't mind too much since:

A) We're not ad supported, so the fact that readers were able to read my entire post seeing only huge radio network website's ads rather than the few miserable links we have here doesn't amount to a hill of beans.

B) They did link us, so we got some readers anyway. (Despite the fact that they could have read the entire story without clicking). This means DFW was given exposure, which is great!

C) We are syndicated via XML anyway.

D) They were helping to make this site famous! Which is a good thing! If this huge radio network wants to make me a household name (and presumably wealthier), they can steal my stuff as much they like and I probably won't complain too much. Make me famous!

On the other hand, it does matter because:

A) There are blogs out there that ARE run like businesses. And we should support them because they make the web a better place. It's actually expensive putting this content forward. I've spent literally hours writing the months of posts on here, and those hours could have gone into something else. I could have consulted for hire or kicked back and watched television (or whatever).

B) It's a lot of fun for me, but I'm always thinking about how to improve the site. How do I improve the site? I add great content. There's only so much content I can come up with. And, as I've already pointed out, coming up with great content takes time. So, the other way to add great content is to find people and pay them for their content. How do you pay people? You need a business model that involves either ads or subscriber premium content.

C) Web ads pay diddly-squat. At most, I might get $0.05 to a buck a day (depending on how annoying the ad). When I tried this out, I found it drove away 10% of my readers (and no, they weren't clicking on the ads). I easily give up $0.05 to a buck to keep those readers on my site. Hence fewer ads. But the some popular websites ARE BUSINESSES and only get 10x or so as much traffic. They can't possibly use web ads to support better content. So they have to look at other business models. Including charging subscribers for premium content if ads don't work. Neither business model works if people steal traffic by pulling posts off one's site and then post them on their own commercial site.

D) I'd be nervous about plagiarise any of this radio network's blog content and sticking it on my blog wholesale. My guess is they'd be upset about the loss of web traffic and web site exposure due to their content appearing somewhere else in its entirety. Maybe they won't mind if I posted a few sentences (a content summary) and then linking them, which would send traffic to them. But if I posted an entire blog entry off their site, my guess is I'd get contacted sooner or later if they thought they were losing traffic and not getting anything in return because of it. I'd be reluctant to try it for that reason alone.

E) This huge U.S. radio network is one of the networks that is in bed with the Bush Administration's FCC (because they probably own more stations than they are allowed to already), and so they propagate the right-wing propaganda that has caused our nation to make many mistakes in recent years and months. I understand the need for a business to be a slave to their masters at the FCC in order to survive these days, but I'm not crazy about them earning advertiser revenue with my copyrighted content.

I guess the bottom is I'm grateful for the recognition and the additional traffic, but wish they'd only posted a paragraph or two (i.e., a content summary). (Or at least sent me an email that they were doing this.)

Beyond that, if there are any radio stations that think they can make me famous (and presumably wealthier so I can spend more time blogging) by posting my content on their site, send me an email -- I'm all ears....

Comments? Outrage? Agents and lawyers providing free advice to add to the discussion (and perhaps secretly plying their wares)?