Hollywood Tuna accusing Egotastic of poaching content

by Paul William Tenny

The origin of the domain name mediapundit.net was the result of me opting for brand name over keywords. Practically anything with "film" or "tv" or "television" in it doesn't sound cool, interesting, wasn't memorable, and always ended up being too long for comfort. I didn't put much more thought into it than that, and yet the domain is well suited to reporting and commenting on a wide range of topics.

Since TV, film, games, news, books, and blogs can all be covered by the term "media", I'm using it an excuse to talk about one of the lamer things I've come across in the past few months. Blog fights are often the stuff of adolescent rage or territory marking by petulant grownups pretending to be children.
There are three different types of blogs in my mind, that determine how much credibility a site has when it comes to claiming ownership of ideas and content:

Link Aggregator
These blogs spend all their time searching the web for new and interesting things to link to with a narrow focus that appeals to a certain segment of surfers. Slashdot, and practically any blog owned by AOL/Time Warner (via Weblogs Inc.) and Gawker are examples of link aggregators. You won't find much more than a paragraph or two written by the author, always talking about the link (always with a picture), which you've got to follow in order to find the actual content in question. The thing they are linking to may have taken an hour to find, but they only take two minutes to post about.

Quote and Comment
I used to have a more clear and concise name for these, but right now it escapes me. These blogs write about something they read on the Internet by surrounding a blockquote with a paragraph or two of their thoughts. They take little effort to find or write content. They almost always quote wire reports (AP/Reuters) or other blogs that have written the kind of original content that they wish they could, but can't or won't.

Original Content
As the label says, these sites write entirely original content. You won't often see posts under 600 words from these sites, and they are very well regarded in the blogging community as thinkers and people that actually care about what they write about, rather than writing only for attention or profit. I try to be this, but I'm still working on the "well regarded" part.

I find some entertainment value in the LA blogs, but have zero respect for them or what they do in general. Finding great content of some theme is undoubtedly a lengthy, boring process, so I'm not sitting here saying it's not real work. It is, but is it respectable work? Is it noteworthy? Is the sum of your effort something so unique that when somebody else also does it, they are ripping you off?

How can that be the case when LA's by their very definition spend all of their time simply finding and pointing out other people's work? Naturally, I find it bizarre and somewhat ridiculous that one LA blog would accuse another of stealing their content -- because what content are they even talking about?

It's painfully ironic when one LA blog which does nothing but make ad revenue from linking to work they don't own and didn't make, accuses another of having all the same links and trying to make a business out of doing precisely the same thing. And here I thought that was a little something called competition.

There's nothing new about people knocking off other people's ideas -- it happens all the time and always will. When one blog decides to be an LA that focuses on female celeb pictures (as in this case), and finds some measure success, ten more are going to pop up to get a slice of that pie. That's how business works -- the one that does the best job will likely find the most success, because ideas are worthless without the people that can take them and actually /do something/ with them. This is a theme that writers above all others ought to understand, regardless of what it is you're writing or why.

There has to be dozens -- if not more -- female celeb picture LA's on the Internet, all doing exactly the same thing for the same reason with the same content. There are only so many female celebrities to go around in the United States, and only so many photo agencies taking pictures of them.

In this instance, Hollywoodtuna is accusing Egotastic of poaching links immediately after 'tuna posts them. I don't really care if that's true or not, even though I fully expect it to be, but how can one claim some level of ownership over a paragraph of generic text describing a link to content you don't even own? I'm sure the major sites license the pictures, although some don't and get away with it on a regular basis, but it's not exactly their content exclusively.

It's doubtful that either site was the first in this game, and neither is likely the market leader. Blogs in general don't operate by any standards that aren't set arbitrarily by the owner, so there's little point in leaning on some unwritten rules of the road or gentlemanly conduct -- that went out the window the moment Jason Calacanis (Weblogs Inc.) discovered you could turn blogs into a viable business.

I don't suppose it really matters what I think, but LA blogs least of all have any claim to originality here, either with the content the link to nor the business model that was pioneered by others. Incidents like this are akin to Reuters calling out the Associated Press, or the New York Times calling out the Washington Post for writing about the same story, or one TV network bashing another because they both have serial dramas on the air, or they both have game shows.

I'm not defending these actions as legitimate by any means, but really this "calling out" crap is about as inane as you can get, and we're talking about /blogs/ on the freakin /Internet/ here. You really have to work hard to reach those depths of lame.

If there's anything I've learned about blogging is that when another blog trashes you, the best possible thing you can do to maintain any level of respectability and professionalism is to simply ignore it until it goes away. And it will go away, because there's little to gain from heckling a brick wall, which is all this really amounts to in the end.
in Celeb, Feature, Internet


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