First, there was a tweet. This,

@beastoftraal Just curious,did u give rights 2 2 use ur music reviews,4 their album pages such as:

The tweet, by Kamal Aakarsh referred to my music reviews (from Milliblog), being used as-is, but in an incomplete, unaccredited form, in a popular streaming music website, MusicIndiaOnline. I was flagged about this by some of my blog’s readers via email too.

I went to MusicIndiaOnline and noticed several soundtracks pages where my reviews have been used – again, clipping even the already-limited 100 words I have written and of course, with no credit. No. I do not have a writing deal with MusicIndiaOnline, if you’re wondering about that.

So, like any content owner, I was aghast.

Exhibits that showcase infringement (click on the thumbnails for larger view – the text you see at the bottom of each image is mine).

There may be more – I do not know.

Now, I use MusicIndiaOnline now and then for streaming music, though I tend to use more, these days. I found a ‘Support’ page on the site, powered by osTicket and opened a ticket. Here’s the discussion so far, with them.

As you may notice from the conversation, I have a few things to point out.

  1. The first thing I’d expect from a party that has inadvertently (if I buy their ‘freelancers did it’ theory, that is) copied content from my site is acknowledgment…that there is an issue with unaccredited content. There is none in this case. Their first response is merely, ‘We will inquire about this issue and revert back to you‘. Fair enough – it is a largish website and they need time to find the truth. But, once the issue has been inquired, the next thing is an apology – because clearly, there is plagiarism. There’s none, in this conversation.
  2. The startling thing is the next sentence, which actually goes, ‘Will it be okay with you if we give due credit to you? It will be very nice if you have no problem with that. Please let us know’. ‘…nice if you have no problem with that‘? Where did that even come from? If there was at least an apology, I could have, perhaps, considered writing for them! But here, this sentence jumps out at me after a mere offer to inquire!
  3. The next is even more strange. It says, ‘As you have pointed out now, we ask formally your permission‘! I have not pointed out that I want them to ask permission. I merely said that I ‘may’ have considered if they had sought permission before lifting content.

I have issues far beyond content plagiarism here. The way they frame their sentences as if doing me a favor irks me big time. I agree that I stand to gain in terms of increased page views, if reviews are credited in their site – theirs is a wildly popular site – needless to add. But I suppose they could have started on the right note with me…or anyone with whom they want to have a deal for syndicating review content.

This is not just content theft – it is also an extremely ignorant and poor display of conversational skills.

Besides, even as we’re having this discussion through their ticketing system, the infringing content remains. The least they could have done to win my trust is remove the infringing content and then enter into this conversation.

But, to give credit where it is due, they have removed the infringing content within 24 hours of pointing that to them. I only wish they had got a better person to deal with me. Or, even better…known about the infringing content without me pointing it out and sought my permission before all this happened. I like their site and completely understand that not syndicating my content (with my blog’s link) is entirely my loss, given how much more traffic this could have generated for my blog. But, I stand by my reason and can live with it.

These days, however, when people are complaining vocally about infringing content not being removed, I guess MusicIndiaOnline acting within a day is indeed laudable. I do understand that most of such content is outsourced and there is little that site owners can do to ensure that they are sourced appropriately – it can be cumbersome.

To put an end to this issue, I have thanked them via the same ticketing system for acting promptly. Their gesture is worth a note of thanks, in my opinion.