News Aggregation Ethics

Egyptians these days are addicted to news, after years of oppression Egyptians turned out to be really passionate about politics and generally anything and everything taking place within Egypt. Soon enough news aggregation services started popping up, services such as mogaz/3aagl (100% aggregated news), and pseudo news agency such as rasd (10% original content-90% aggregated news). These services rely on social networks to spread news they believe to be important which are usually linked to cached copy on their site. Driven by ad generated revenue they are expanding exponentially. But how ethical are they?

Plagiarism is defined in dictionaries as the “wrongful appropriation,” “close imitation,” or “purloining and publication” of another author‘s “language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions,” and the representation of them as one’s own original work

Whenever one of their editors spots an interesting news material they copy it into their website and post the link (to their copy) with a concise summary on Facebook and twitter. These editors also monitor Twitter and Facebook closely picking interesting tweets or photos copying them to their side (and watermarking the photos) and then sharing these links again on twitter on facebook. As far as I can tell their revenue is generated mainly by the ads they post on every news piece, given the number of hits they must be getting everyday that revenue stream must be substantial. You can tell by the number of editors they’ve been hiring over the past few months.

I believe they are not ethical, they are basically robbing the content providers from the ad based revenue they’d have recieved which have been used to produce more and better content, instead of using links leading to the original content producer’s site. Also the way they report on tweets is rather alarming, given that they add their own water mark on photos they harvest from twitter, perhaps they justify it by stating that they are twitter reporting, reporting on twitter rather than stealing its content, still I can’t accept such a justification. Additionally they keep stating that they shouldn’t be held responsible for anything they post since they aren’t the content producer. It just doesn’t feel right, they pick content from content providers, post it, get paid for the clicks they get, but when the content is offensive or causes any sort of issues they claim that they state that its not theirs and hence shouldn’t be held accountable.

The interesting thing is 3aagel.com appears to be aggregating news pieces from AlMogaz so I guess that’ts karma, perhaps I should create a website that aggregates news from both of them.

In 2009 Google News were accused of stealing content from various news sources (through Google news and Google reader), law suites followed however Googled emerged triumphant for a simple reason, they only included a news snippet with a link to the original content, in other words, they followed the decent approach, and if anything they increased the number of hits the content provider is receiving.

”I want to make one thing incredibly clear – we do not steal content.” He said Google contained ”snippets” with a link to the originator’s website, in line with copyright law.

Al Mogaz is owned and operated by Orange Studios, a web design company responsible for building several websites (news sites mainly), and apparently almogaz isn’t their only news aggregation website. Orange Studios is an Egyptian company operating from nasr city freezone so it can be held accountable for copy right infringement. 3aagel.com is listed to be owned by an individual rather than a company.

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