on internet parasites

You all know how I feel about the massive proliferation of advertising in our world, cluttering our view, crowding out real discourse, polluting every aspect of modern life. I do realize advertising serves a purpose, especially on the internet, where we all expect everything to materialize for our use at no cost. But the ubiquity of advertising in our lives depresses me, and oppresses me.

And if it's one thing I hate more than advertising, it's when people exploit other people's creativity for their own profit and give nothing in return. When Toyota or Honda uses a song in an ad, they have to ask permission, and they have to pay for it. If someone uses my blog to sell ads - and only to sell ads - they should ask, too. And if I say yes, they should give me something in return - something more than a link.

I wish bloggers didn't sell ad space on their own blogs; I'd like to see blogs, as a medium, be completely advertising-free. I have many reasons for that, which I won't get into here. However, I fully recognize the right of every blogger to conduct her blog as she sees fit.

But no one should use material from someone else's blog for commercial gain without the blogger's permission, and without a revenue-sharing arrangement. No one pays us for blogging. But no one should profit from our blogging, either, unless they share that profit with us.

There are several sites out there purporting to be blog "directories". Here's how they work. A guy compiles a number of blog feeds and puts them all on a page. He sells as much advertising as he possibly can. He pockets the cash. What do the bloggers get? Zippo. Directory Guy claims he's offering a service to bloggers. But what he's actually doing is selling ads around content that he poached.

Many bloggers may agree with Directory Guy. They may believe that anyone who shares their work is doing them a favour by bringing their blog traffic. They may never have written professionally, and perhaps being paid for their efforts is the furthest thing from their minds. But that doesn't mean they're not being exploited.

If a non-commercial site such as Common Dreams or Progressive Bloggers shares your posts, they are providing a service for both readers and bloggers. But if, for example, Salon or Rolling Stone or The New York Times wants to use your work, that's a business arrangement, and you should be paid (and retain your rights to the material). There's a difference between a free, non-commercial site and a profit-making venture.

I write for free, and I write for pay, depending on the situation. If someone else is profiting from my writing, they should be sharing some of that with me. And if Directory Guy needs "content" for his revenue-generating website, because he has no ideas and no ability to write anything of his own, then he should: one, ask permission to use my material, and two, compensate me for my efforts.

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