The story that Moneyweb is suing Fin24 for plagiarism looked interesting enough for a full read. However, when I got into the guts of the article, it became absolutely fascinating!
For a number of reasons, but let's start with how I got there.
As is the way with these things on the internet, I found my way to the story via something else - this comment on the story by Branko Brkic, which leads off:
I confess I'm a little confused now. Did Branko just re-purpose an online news piece and say it's not OK to do so? I guess commentary doesn't count in this equation of fair play then.The outcome of MoneyWeb's plagiarism case against Media24 will be a turning point for media houses and news aggregators in South Africa.
MoneyWeb vs Media24 will be a precedent-setting case in the context of South African media law. One outcome will protect media houses and publications intent on fulfilling their journalistic duties from aggregating predators. The other outcome would cement the right for SA's biggest, richest and most powerful media entity to harvest the fruits of other publishers' intensive labour. Whichever case transpires, one thing is certain: morally, MoneyWeb has every right to feel wronged by Fin24.
Last week, South Africa's media world was stunned by the news of MoneyWeb taking Fin24 to court for doing what aggregators around the world have been doing since the dawn of Internet publishing: re-purposing of their original stories. The very same stories MoneyWeb writer and editors spent considerable time and effort producing.
My personal reaction, when I heard about it? "About time."
Maybe a side issue. Let's rather stick to the first point I'm trying to make -
I got to the news piece via someone else's commentary piece.
Best I know this "one thing leads to another" route to interesting content happens all the time all over the internet.
(As a final aside, fans of the Huffington Post and The Daily Maverick will probably find some of Branko's other observations in that piece of interest).
But I'll be moving on to the Moneyweb vs Fin24 story, and here is what really caught my eye:
Now as far as I know so far, the Net Income Solutions / Defencex story first broke in mainstream media on 28th February 2013. However, Net Income Solutions first came up on TFSA in October 2012. At that time I did some research and I can tell you, there was very little info on the web about the operation. In February 2013, triggered by the spectacular increase in interest in the thread, I did some really serious research. And there was still nothing in mainstream media. In fact it was abundantly clear that the TFSA thread had the most information available on the operation publicly available at the time.In particular, Moneyweb’s application relates to seven articles published on Fin24 between July 26 2012 and July 4 2013. It focuses on a series of stories broken by Moneyweb on the "Defencex" Ponzi scheme, which Van Niekerk says his website expended a great deal of time and money to secure.
When it came to Google search results for defencex or net income solutions, the TFSA thread was second only to Chris Walker's website, and the rest of the results were... well it was pretty obvious where they were getting their information from.
Best I can tell, Julius Cobbett's first story on Defencex was on 28th February 2013. Even if I look at Fin24's ponzi scheme tag page - it would seem Net Income Solutions / Defencex only came up in March 2013. Moneyweb's earlier gripes would seem to relate to something else then.
But being pretty aware of the way the Defencex story has evolved did make me wonder about a few things.
That's about as far as I can get setting out my thoughts on this just now - need to get on with some stuff that actually does pay the bills. But that should help set the scene for the topic I actually want to scratch around in here - the issues around journalism, social media, plagiarism (/accreditation) and aggregation, and of course that huge question - how the heck do we balance all this stuff and still pay the bills.