I’ve been stewing over this one for over a week now. I can’t believe it’s even necessary to write a post on this topic. What am I even talking about? Well, there are folks out there that want to control content on the web. I’m not talking about editors checking for grammar or typos. I’m not talking about YouTube checking for copyright violations. I’m talking about this consultant I met who wants to track the folks that take content off a site, use it for their own purpose, and then continue to track that content to see how it’s used. On the face of it, that does sound interesting to see who does what to your stuff.
The part I’m stewing over is that this consultant wants to be paid for what you do with their stuff. Yeah, it’s financial gain this consultant wants for himself and his clients. No, they don’t care about collaboration, education, and the free-spirit of the Internet. What they care about is getting paid. They want to post their music (or whatever) online and get paid for you listening to it. They want to get paid if you take it. They want to get paid if you change it. They want to get paid if you republish it somewhere else. They want to get paid, paid, paid. And paid some more. It is just greedy behavior.
The consultant claims that the artist’s hard work is stolen off the web and others are gaining from it. Well, then don’t post it on the web if you don’t want others to use it. The web needs to be a source for collaboration, to be open, and free to share and be shared. People should be happy that their content is found and that someone else likes it enough to use it for something else.
So, if you’re a developer and a consultant approaches you to develop applications that track the movement of content, please ask them what their end goal is. And if that end goal has anything to do with getting paid because someone uses something they found online to do another thing with it, then Just Say No.