Attribution: How content creators get screwed and why it needs fixing

raceNote: this article first appeared on Drowned In Sound on September 3rd 2013.

Last week, Music Ally published a relatively small but nonetheless notable story: Daft Punk had surpassed 100m streams on Spotify – quite a milestone for both the band and the streaming music service.

The following day, the same story about Daft Punk appeared on the Music Week website. What was notable, however, was that Music Week had failed to credit Music Ally in any way. To all intents and purposes, it looked like news Music Week had generated themselves. The day after, the same thing happened on Music Ally got in touch with both sites and pointed out that they had originated this story (that is to say, they hadn’t received a press release along with many others and run their version of this news – they’d happened to notice the stream count and turned it into a news post). Both sites ultimately amended their articles to give due credit.

In that instance, the issue was resolved perfectly amicably. However both episodes are fine examples of an ever-growing problem, namely the lack of attribution in online content creation. Ask any credible website of note and I’m sure they’ll give you at least one example. Drowned In Sound famously saw most of their interview with Paul McCartney reprinted by the Daily Mail with no credit given. Buzzfeed routinely run stories driven from Reddit – as do so many other websites that it would be entirely fair to describe Reddit as the primordial ooze from which 90% of viral content flows. Every day, photos, jokes and more are shared on social networks, with the creator of that content blissfully unaware.

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