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On Editing The Tumblr Source

This is a response to Kim’s post about this interesting “Source Box” conversation. My original talk from last month is here

Who’s going to check and verify the metadata of every single one of the thousands, perhaps millions, of reblogs every day?

Agreed, on second thought, Tumblr is different than WIkipedia and therefore shouldn’t be treated the same. However, a hierarchy system of editors is a great idea, but I feel like they are already stretched thin curating content, let alone policing it. Even Google with 40,000 employees can barely keep up with DMCA takedowns.

"[it’s the] responsibility of the reblogger to verify… reblogs … [which is] why I want the prompt to mention the previous person in the chain."

The problem with this is that Tumblr’s beauty is in it’s simplicity. No ads or step-by-step directions. If Tumblr started to list previous editors or have DMCA directions, then it would be annoying for everyone.

"I have doubts what percentage of Tumblr users understand the concept of the Source URL in the first place, or even the concept of attribution."

I 100% agree with this. I doubt many understand it. I only did until recently, and I publish almost all original content.

"I think Tumblr can setup Verified Author for popular original content creators"

I think Verified accounts (almost like Youtube partners for original content) or Twitter Verified pages wouldn’t be a bad idea. It helps publicists and news programs to accurately report a story. It also allows the platform to monetize easier because anonymity has no weight when it comes to CRM’s (although as I’ve said before, Tumblr’s beauty is how it’s not riddled with CPM’s).

"Another thing I thought Tumblr could do with Verified Authors… is charge them"

I’m not sure this would solve the Source Attribution problem. That being said, I think this is a great idea and something I think most channels would sign up for, assuming there was some worth to it (traffic data wouldn’t be of interest, at least to me). FWIW most platforms with longevity pay their users, not the other way around. iTunes, Yelp, Youtube, UstreamTV, and many more all have partners. The thinking is that they can’t afford to lose the 1% of original content that keeps the 99% coming back.

if someone clears out the Source URL during their reblog, it will automatically get replaced by this new Editor-supplied one.

This is a great idea and holds the linkbait-er accountable for their actions. However, this would only work if the trackback URL was retroactive. If someone finds an infringement after 20,000 notes, then all 20,000 notes should update with the correct attribution when changed and locked. Otherwise, someone can set up a throwaway Tumblr account with an unverified email, change a link URL and never get caught.

And finally, this leads me to my final point: What happens when the original uploader (the 1st note on a Tumblr post) is NOT the original creator? Tumblr should allow content creators to claim the content that is rightfully theirs. Much like how Youtube has it, that you can file a takedown notice or claim a video as yours. Tumblr should allow something similar to this.

I’m against filing takedowns against infringers. I would hate being responsible for closing down a Tumblr blog - many people are passionate about their blogs (and reblogs!) and don’t realize they’re infringing. Actually, they’re usually fans and are only doing you a favor by spreading the world.

But if there was a link, or a way to “claim” something as yours (even if you didn’t have a Tumblr account) then that would make the community a lot stronger. It would also leave the DMCA policing up to the content creator instead of Tumblr. It also wouldn’t make Tumblr overbloated. A single link is much better than a directory of edits.

I don’t scour Youtube and Tumblr all day looking for infringers, but when I come across something I simply send the uploader an email saying “please attribute this to me” or I make a copyright claim. The copyright claim isn’t being a bully because I never file takedown notices or sue anyone. I simply make a claim that it’s my copyright because I want my name and link next to it.

People can still just save the original content to their device and re‑upload it, or just copy and paste the text into a new post. These will probably pop up more quickly than Editors can fix.
I agree. Something like Youtube’s automated Content ID would be the answer, but that consists of users uploading every piece of their work into Google’s database, so new content is checked against that library to see if it’s duplicated or copyrighted. That would be overkill for Tumblr, especially since it’s more than just video - Tumblr is fragmented (books, painting, music, movies, etc.).

Also, Youtube has 1 video per page. Some Tumblr posts have 10 GIFS per post. So things would get REALLY sloppy REALLY quick if movie studios, etc. started claiming copyright on all the posts. Tumblr would lose the sexy simplicity that makes it so useful in the first place. Like, there’s this post of mine from tonight that could be considered copyright infringement, but I’m assuming it’s covered under fair use as a non-commercial parody.

So maybe it’s fine the way it is? Although it does feel broken to me, and many others. When you explore Tumblr in 2017, there should be a way to find out who the content belongs to so you can hire them for work from the attribution. In short: Tumblr’s “explore” page shouldn’t just be a useless art gallery, it should be a database. So maybe that’s what Verified Accounts should pay for? Maybe that’s another revenue stream for both Tumblr and content creators?

Either way, I think the best is to allow authors to claim a post as their own work, and then the URL retroactively updates on all previous notes. Tumblr is a super small company, so something like this has to be built to scale and not use Tumblr’s limited resources. It’s an interesting conversation as creators and platforms adapt on what works best in this new digital world. It’s going to take some trial and error, and many conversations.

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19 notes

  1. spirit-worldwarrior reblogged this from fororchestra
  2. simplisticsky reblogged this from fororchestra
  3. fabullama reblogged this from fororchestra
  4. misharoux said: This could all be saved if people just remover the sourcing links when they reblogged. If it’s truly the source it will be there on reblog, problem solved.
  5. fororchestra posted this
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