Rhetorics of scraping

Michael Fry does not like people syndicating his comic strip, Over the Hedge:

You are stealing. You are taking money out of my pocket just as surely as if you held a gun to my head and demanded my wallet. By making Hedge so easily and freely available you are undermining the economics that make the comics you so obviously love possible.

United Media does not offer RSS feeds of their strips, with or without advertisements, so therefore these scraped feeds are the only way to follow such comics. Fine, they don't want this scraping to happen, that is their right, but I do find the rhetoric that is used here, completely and utterly stupid.

Why the fuck would removing advertisements be the same as holding a gun against someone's head!?! That is blatantly absurd - the former is the same as going to the toilet during commercial breaks, the latter is a threat to take a life of a person! There is nothing similar in these two cases. There's also the delusion of "lost sale" here... If the Hedge is not available to me via RSS, I'll just simply stop reading it. There is no "lost sale" in advertisements in this case - and even if I went to that site, I would have ad blockers in my browser.

The other side of me just wonders, why is "making Hedge so easily and freely available" undermining economics? If your economics consists of making life difficult and expensive for the users, then perhaps yes, but if your point is to sell books - aren't you better off telling everyone about your great thing? You know, advertising?

Anyway. There are many services that still do this scraping thing, all over the world. All it requires is a few lines of Perl or Python for anyone with an inch of coding ability. If you can read the HTML, you can scrape it. My fear is that once content producers realize this, they will start to offer their products embedded inside Flash files, or custom image plugins, or perhaps in DRM-protected videos (containing nothing but the image). Perhaps all text will be sent as images to stop scraping, or all sites will be turned to Flash. This will kill usability on so many fronts it's not funny anymore, and drive away users instead of getting more of them.

But what should be understood that scraping as such is not legal. You can, by sending a simple email, to shut down an offending site. You can stop it, once it starts to happen, using normal legal recourses. You just can't prevent it without losing your customers. Please don't even try...




Comments

"United Media does not offer RSS feeds of their strips, with or without advertisements, so therefore these scraped feeds are the only way to follow such comics"

No ei varsinaisesti ainoa tapa. Sarjakuvaa voi lukea selaimella osoitteesta http://www.comics.com/comics/hedge/. Vai onko selain jo liian ysäriä? :-)

"The other side of me just wonders, why is "making Hedge so easily and freely available" undermining economics? If your economics consists of making life difficult and expensive for the users, then perhaps yes, but if your point is to sell books - aren't you better off telling everyone about your great thing? You know, advertising?"

Voisiko olla, että se "economics" on tässä tapauksessa mainosten myynti sarjakuvaa näyttävälle saitille? Tämä on se tapa, jolla kustantaja tässä tapauksessa saa tuloja (ja toivottavasti maksaa siitä jotain piirtäjällekin).

Voi olla, että RSS:n käyttäminen fiksusti voisi mahdollistaa erilaisen bisnesmallin, mutta minusta yrityksen (tai sarjukavapiirtäjän, tässä tapauksessa) pakottaminen (laittomasti) johonkin toiseen bisnesmalliin ei ole fiksua tai kohteliasta. Jos valittu ansaintamalli on tyhmä, eikö sen toiminta joka tapauksessa tyssää jossain vaiheessa?

Taiteilijan retoriikasta olen yhtä mieltä kanssasi.

--KariHaakana, 25-May-2005


Joo, tuosta jäi pois teksti "with RSS". Tosin minulle tuo on melkeinpä ainoa tapa enää; selaimella sivulle meneminen on liian ysäriä ja hankalaa.

Erityisesti, kun järkevä tapa levittää sarjakuvaa tässä tapauksessa olisi keksiä tapa tuoda mainokset mukaan RSS-feediin, eikä hermostuttaa lukijoita typerällä retoriikalla. Mutta pointti oli lähinnä se, että scraping on liki mahdoton estää, joten sitä ei ehkä kannata edes yrittää. Sekoitan tässä nyt kaksi asiaa tapani mukaan...

Mutta eipä tähän muuta voi sanoa kuin lainata t-paitaa: "Your failed business model is not my problem."

--JanneJalkanen, 25-May-2005


25 May 2005 - Feed Suspended

This comic has been suspended at the request of the comics creator. Please see the link for more detail.

Yep - at least TapestryComics.com has stopped the RSS feed. Which means for me that I won't be reading Hedge anymore... I just can't be asked to go to a site every day - that's the reason I don't read Viivi & Wagner either.

--Kolibri, 25-May-2005


"Your failed business model is not my problem."

Niin tai siis eihän se bisnesmalli ole epäonnistunut, ainakaan vielä, kun palvelu kerran pyörii. Malli ei ehkä ole sellainen kuin sinä haluaisit, mutta se ei vielä tee siitä laajemmassa mitassa epäonnistunutta. Eihän?

--KariHaakana, 26-May-2005


Liian aikaista sanoa.

--JanneJalkanen, 26-May-2005


Russell Bearttie taitaa pohdiskella samoja asioita..

http://www.russellbeattie.com/notebook/1008477.html#comments

en ole tosin varma, koska en asiaan ole niin tarkkaan perehtynyt.

Henrikki

--194.136.183.15, 27-May-2005


Okay, my rhetoric was over the top. I apologize. But I'm pissed off. Your going to the bathroom during commericials analogy is off (or Tivo-ing through commercials). I'm not requiring anyone to actually read the ads or buy anything. I'm just requring everyone to understand that advertising pays the bills -- that you can't get something for nothing. By stripping the strip off the site without advertising you are saying that you deserve my product for free. You don't. And I don't have to make it available for free. And the economics of the comic strip syndication are such that we don't have books to sell or licensing. Hedge is a modestly successful strip. We make money off newspapers and the web. We're working on providing a UM RSS feed with ads attached. But it takes time and costs money.

Michael Fry

--Michael Fry, 30-May-2005


The "going to the bathroom" analogy is actually something uttered by a senior Turner executive (read the story here). It's the usual example that one digs out when someone goes really wild on defending advertising to the point of absurdity.

My point is that it's really, really, really hard to stop scraping (i.e. the practice of taking parts of the contents of a web site), illegal as it is, and I fear the day when someone figures out a "technical" solution for that problem. Because it's likely to make the life of the readers so much more difficult. Witness all the different DRM solutions that require you to understand "key management" and "authorizing computers".

This is why it is more productive to work with people who are innovating on your work. They have the capacity to make your work appealing to an even larger audience - they are not doing it because they are evil, but because they want to spread your work. They are *fans*, not thieves. They may not think about what it means to the author, but they sure get hurt when they are accused of theft and "pulling a gun on the artist."

I'm not offering any easy solutions to this. I do believe there will eventually be a balance somewhere here, but one thing is sure: the internet is different from traditional media, where few communicated to many. The ground is far more level here: many are talking to many, and perhaps the old ways of collecting money are not as effective here as they used to be. And I believe that the ones that are the first to experiment and embrace the new do have the best chance of ending up on the top.

But it's good to hear that you are working on this. Good luck! (And I'll continue buying Hedge books; I probably won't bother reading the online version until you have RSS available, though... I can get so many others to fill my daily fix of comics.)

--JanneJalkanen, 30-May-2005


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"Main_blogentry_250505_1" last changed on 25-May-2005 11:23:04 EEST by JanneJalkanen.

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