Thursday, July 12, 2007

More on Lakbimagate

Prior to last weekend I hadn't even heard of Lakbima. As I live in London that may not surprise you, perhaps you folks that live in Sri Lanka were much more aware of it than I was.

However,this Sunday I'll be reading it online with interest, to see whether there's going to be any reference to the recent events, the bad mouthing, the threats of legal action, the alleged plagiarism and the lack of courtesy. I've even heard a rumour that this Rajpal chap is being blamed for roughly 79% of the energy wasted on Planet Earth.

You know what?

I think many have overreacted to the fiasco, but I understand why. Even though we all have blogs and they, by definition, are out in the public domain and available to all, we all feel protective and possessive over our little pieces of us that we chuck out into cyberspace.

We've made friends through our blogs, we've had arguments with people, we've learned things and had new experiences as a direct result of blogging. Some people look at blogs and bloggers with a bit of scorn, I prefer to take the view that there are all kinds who blog, including geeky twats.

So, even though some blogs get huge readerships and are freely accessible to all, I can understand why people get very angry if they feel that someone has used their blog for their own benefit without first asking permission. I can particularly understand this when the "victim" is a journalist or someone involved in communications, like Theena It would be like someone deciding to busk outside a venue where I was playing a gig.

I received a response from Mr Lakbima after I published my first post on the matter. We communicated via email on the issue for a while and I have been happy to give hiom the benefit of the doubt. I still feel that his actions were wrong, I have told him that but also accepted most of his reasoning. Many will disagree with my actions but that is their right.

For me blogging is something I do for some fun. The fact that someone liked something I had written enough to put it in a magazine is a genuine thrill, it would have been more thrilling if I had got the credit for it, or a link or something. The sure thing for me is that it's not about money, just a bit of kudos. I believe that, should I write anything that the paper wants to publish in the future, any mistakes that were made last week won't be repeated. I remain open minded on this, but I'm prepared to wait and see.

While pondering on the whole thing last night something did occur to me, something I'm surprised hasn't already been mentioned. This whole fiasco has been plastered all over the Sri Lankan blogosphere. From this eloquent and objective looking post on Groundviews to Cerno's posts to Voice in Colombo's well written post here everyone's at it. I've had, and continue to have, my say on it too.

Here's my pondering; if I was the owner / publisher of a new newspaper and I wanted to generate some hot publicity, to get a bit of a buzz going and to create some awareness of my new venture, what better way would there be?

Ask my editor to do something a bit risque. Engage most of the Sri Lankan bloggers, who between them all reach a fairly large readership, anger a few of them, get a few on side, create a huge load of awareness, all by doing something that merely pushes some boundaries without being strictly illegal.

Then, if I were really smart I'd print a big public apology in my next issue. I'd acknowledge my errors, I'd grovel and I'd do everything properly in the future.

And I'd have a load of potentially good writers to use and a load more readers and awareness.



Java Jones said...

You got a point there RD. Although, if us bloggers are pissed off enough with this blatant disregard of basic courtsey and the bad mouthing of one of us for having the gumption to confront him with his lack of professional ethics (leave aside the bad manners), and decided not to contribute posts to this paper AND boycotted it as well, then his efforts may well backfire and his CEO's shit will hit the fan.

drac said...

Even though we all have blogs and they, by definition, are out in the public domain and available to all ...

Your definition of public domain is incorrect. That isn't merely my opinion, I'm afraid.

The US (where Blogger is hosted) and the UK both agree on that much. I am unaware if SL does, though. (Wikipedia has a decent introduction. Note: freely obtained does not mean free to republish).

The US has a fair use doctrine which allows parody and excerption. The UK does not even have such a concept. It wasn't borderline and risque, it was flatout illegal.

Is all publicity good publicity? I personally think not.

Is your car fair game for a joyride if it were parked out in the street? :) I promise I'd look around very hard to find an owner before I jumped in it and sped off. And I'll even return it safe and sound. No. Seriously. ;)

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Java - Yes you're right. Honestly I don't think this was a preconceived plan. I don't think anyone would have been able to accurately predict the reactions and level of activity from all of us SL bloggers. But my thinking is that this could be turned into a big win/win for the paper and the bloggers if handled correctly.

Drac - I bow to your knowledge on that one. I had assumed that, if a blog didn't have all these creative commons licenses and such, then people could do whatever they wanted to with it. I wonder if it would be deemed as illegal if it's an act perpetrated in Sri Lanka.

On the publicity side I agree with you that some types of it can be negative and bad, but I suspect that this episode, whether planned or not, won't have done any harm to Lakbima's readership figures.

Did he really try to contact all the bloggers beforehand? All I know is that I had no contact by way of a comment or anything else. Comments are pretty easy to so, unless you're Java or Cinimod!

If you'd like to borrow my car just ask!

Anonymous said...

So lakbimagate.. Clever boy RD.

Firstly i am not a blogger, i dont believe i will ever be one, and the only blog that i read regularly is this one... (Because it is usually well written funny intelligent and engaging… but enough hot air up RD's arse) i do have some theories and opinions on ..well everything,... but currently this whole fiasco.

Bloggers for me are a bizarre bunch of people. Firstly they start writing, because they hope that someone in this big bad world gives a rats arse as to what they did, think or feel about anything. Because if you didn’t want a readership you would be writing…. a journal. Yes? So lets see now, you want an audience.

Then because of technology everyone (well other than in rural Africa, and some parts of Borella) has access to the usually mind numbingly dull workings of your mind. So we have established public domain. And universal access.

And then someone comes along.. And god forbid publishes your blog that perhaps until such time only 5 people have read, and suddenly you might have a readership of 500.. You must be crushed. Boo hoo, a captive, large audience for the mind numbingly dull workings of your mind.

And in a country where there is no intellectual property laws adhered to, this hypocrisy of outrage is beyond pathetic. Where CNN and Nat Geo appear on local networks with no distribution contracts signed, and pirated DVDs are sold on every corner. Where was the outcry then? Strangely I didn’t hear it. Could the same people be both outraged at their blogs being found in newspapers and yet enjoy Shrek 3 on DVD not purchased from Amazon.. surely not.

Sri Lanka is not a country that has many laws that are adhered to, respect that is shown or rules that aren’t broken, from the very top to the very bottom.

So grow up, stop being so drama, focus on something slightly more important than your fragile egos.

I would add my real name to this, but weirdly none of you use your names either… so honestly why should I?

Annoyed…I guess you will be. Do I care. Not at all.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Anon - Thanks for the nice words, but I didn't invent "Lakbimagate", I saw it somewhere else. But the stuff about my blog being well written, funny etc, well I'll take that!

I'll give my answers to your points one by one:

1. - You're right we all want an audience. But, some of us don't want a particular audience i.e the readers of Lakbima. I'm happy to have people read my blog, I wasn't that happy for people to read something I'd written on my blog put in a magazine with no credit given to me. Yes, my blog name was written (albeit spelt wrong) but I don't think a reader would have realised that the "article" was actually written by a blogger. No reference was made to the source. Obviously this is something that has now been cleared up and I believe that it won't recur.

2. - I'm not sure about the whole public domain and access side of things now. If it is the case that anyone has a legal right to publish something from my blog without my permission then that's fien by me. If they have no legal right then it's not fine with me.

3. - "Mind numbingly dull workings of your mind"?? - Interesting. Here's the thing. Someone told me that they read my blog because it's "usually well written funny and engaging". Is it beyond the realms of possibility that different people would think the same of other blogs? Perhaps there is a particular area that you are interested in, I'd guarantee that there are blogs centred around it, but you may just have to find them. There are some blogs I hate, there are some I love. Positives and negatives.

4. Yes, those same people can be annoyed at this while watching Shrek 3 on dodgy DVD. Clearly. Not that I'm accusing anyone of watching Shrek 3 on dodgy DVD, except Theena, he's got loads of copies. Just because intellectual property laws are not commonly adhered to in SL doesn't, in my humble opinion, mean that people should just accept the status quo. Change will only happen if people voice their opinions, perhaps they will only have strong pinions when they see themselves as the victim, maybe they don't give a toss when the victim is Disney or Pixar or whoever made Shrek 3.

5. - It's probably good that you didn't put your real name. I think I'd like to get to know you more. In a strange pleasure / pain way I think you do care.

Thanks again for the comment


Anonymous said...

RD- Let's agree on one thing, your blog is one of the good ones.Java's is good but too deep for me , as it is like reading the gospel , Jamaican version.

And your logic does make sense.

As for the bloke who wrote and badly wanted to give his name(The guy who watches dodgy DVD's). Isn't it "Ironic " that when people are really bothered about something & And deeply care , what they say is "I don't give a shit" . But when you don't give shit, you are constipate. And that's a very painful uncomfartable feeling .

If you are going to , get to know this guy better please drop me a line @ my fees are very reasonable. LOL

The Eraser

indi said...

It's still shit journalism, however you slice it.

And as Drac says, blogs aren't public domain, everything defaults to copyright. Journalism has standards, and Rajpal's actions and responses don't live up to them. It's just bad journalism.

N said...

That was a mighty long comment from someone who cares not, not at all...