Why You Should Care About Plagiarism and Fair Use

in plagiarism •  2 years ago

One of my favorite @larkenrose videos is But What Will Be Done About...? where he asks what you will do to prevent abusive behavior in a society without a ruling class.

Spoiler Alert: Steemit Has No Ruling Class.

And no, I'm not going to count someone's ability to upvote or flag your post as a valid comparison to violent, psychopathic parasites we have in government today.

The Statist society we live in has defined numerous "crimes" which we'll have to form opinions on as we work to imagine and build our own voluntary society. Most Voluntaryists agree, if there is no victim, there is no crime. Saying "Plagiarism is wrong because the government said so" is already a dead argument. What I want to discuss here is whether or not there is a victim when it comes to one person copying and distributing the creative work of another person.

Image Credit: Nisha A, Creative Commons 2.0

Essentially, can I steal something from you if, after my action, you still have it?

I'm not strictly talking about intellectual property here.

in·tel·lec·tu·al prop·er·ty
a work or invention that is the result of creativity, such as a manuscript or a design, to which one has rights and for which one may apply for a patent, copyright, trademark, etc.

For me, intellectual property already fails as a concept because it relies on "rights" and the current legal system in terms of patents, copyrights, and trademarks. These archaic government constructs stifle innovation, creating unnatural monopolies backed by violent force and the threat of imprisonment.

I haven't read Stephan Kinsella's Against Intellectual Property or Boldrin & Levine's Against Intellectual Monopoly, but my friend @tonydreher wrote an extensive review of these works in a three part post in the Nashville Liberty on the Rocks Facebook group. He got me thinking about my values concerning the protection of original ideas and creative works, along with the authors who come up with them.

Here's a gem Tony pulled from Boldrin & Levine:

Summing up: careful statistical analyses of the 19th century’s available data, carried out by distinguished economic historians, uniformly shows two things. Patents neither increase the rate of innovation, nor are the best instrument to maximizes inventors’ revenue. Patents create a market in patents and in the legal and technical services required to trade and enforce them.

Basically, patents are B.S. As a software engineer who uses open source software on a daily basis and is working to move my company to a more open source approach, I often roll my eyes and sigh when people ask me, "So, have you thought about patenting your software?"

Since 2007, we've had one of the most innovative shopping cart experiences, including single page login, signup, and checkout. Years later, we've seen other companies trying to patent similar approaches to what we already created. It's frustrating to think some day we might have to use the State to protect ourselves from those who would use the State against us regarding our own creative work.

But I digress... The point is, I've always been a fan of innovate or die. Keep creating something new and don't worry about someone copying your ideas because by then, you'll already be on to the next big thing, and they'll be left in the dust.

This sounds reasonable concerning software, but what about creative works of art? What about music, digital art, photography, an essay, novel, or scientific paper?

Do we care about plagiarism?

the practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own.

Again, there's no mommy or daddy government here to enforce someone's version of the rules. It's up to us to determine community standards and appropriate steps we, as individuals, can and should take to enforce our personal views on what will prevent harm to the network.

Since joining Steemit, my wife and I have found ourselves helping out efforts led by individuals like @anyx to fight plagiarism, fair-use violations, and identity theft through finding and exposing fraudulant activity. You can learn more about @anyx's effforts and @cheetah bot here and why some of this matters (even if you are personally fine with copying others' digital work). The existential risk created for the entire network is real if we, as a community and as individuals, ignore the creative "rights" authors enjoy elsewhere.

Does respecting "fair use" matter?

fair use
(in US copyright law) the doctrine that brief excerpts of copyright material may, under certain circumstances, be quoted verbatim for purposes such as criticism, news reporting, teaching, and research, without the need for permission from or payment to the copyright holder.

Again, I'm not too concerned about US law regarding the future we want to build, other than the existential risk ignoring it creates for us all right now. I want to touch more on the reasons behind copyright law is it relates to game theory and tribalism. What really matters is trust and avoiding fraud. More on that later.

Let's bring this home with some examples.

Dan Larimer, along with other whales, have, on occasion, been accused of upvoting plagiarized content, much to the chagrin of the #steemitabuse-classic chat channel. Recently he posted an article which originally had a screen grab of a preview of a copyrighted image. He was called out about it in the comments and ended up changing the image to one from Wikimedia Commons. I wonder if he did it on purpose to see how the community would respond. Maybe he's looking for the same answers I am and wanted to know, "Do people care?"

It seems Steemit, Inc does care about creative ownership of digital content and protecting the original authors. From their license we see things like this in an effort to protect themselves from others duplicating their work, changing it, and using it to compete with them:

5.. The software is not used with any forks of the Steem blockchain that are not recognized by Steemit, Inc in writing.

To what extent should the founders of this platform influence us? If they care about protecting original authors, should we follow their lead?

What if you work really hard on a great post you're proud of and publish it with the thrill that little blue Post button gives you. Moments later, you see a huge Steem Powered account publish an exact copy of your post and watch it get upvoted to huge rewards as yours goes unnoticed. Was something taken from you? Are you a victim? Why?

Image Credit: Topher McCulloch, Creative Commons 2.0

Let's say you're working on a post and need some kick-ass images for it. Sure you could read this post by @repholder and go with paid services like Shutterstock, iStock or BigStock, or you could go cheap (like me) and use images from Wikimedia Commons, FreePik, or Pixabay. But maybe Google image search is easier and you don't bother to set the appropriate license filter. You find some stuff and go with it, not bothering to figure out who the original author is or give them credit. I think we've all done this at some point (/me raises his hand). But let's throw in an added twist. The image you end up using is actually the original work of your boss' wife. And she's pissed. Does it matter now?

Do we think differently when it involves people we know or when it involves us directly?

Is the use of other peoples' work without their permission only a problem if they find out about it and feel victimized?

This is where the philosophical veil of ignorance may come in handy. If the situation were reversed, would most people in today's culture be okay with having their hard work copied with a click and used without them getting anything for it?

Side note: you can use Google image search to find images licensed for reuse:


If it's under Creative Commons 2.0, be sure to cite the author and link to the license.

Now, I think, we're beginning to zero in on the point I want to make.

We all want to be recognized for our unique contributions.

This is very important to us as tribal beings. We want others to know we matter and we have value to offer them. If our work isn't attributed to us, we lose the honor and prestige we might otherwise have enjoyed which leads to further benefits including important relationships, opportunities, and financial rewards.

I'm currently reading The Origins of Virtue by Matt Ridley (thanks for the suggestion @cwage!) which touches on game theory and highlights how important it is to signal to the network, "I'm a cooperative agent. Other cooperative actors should work with me so we can all benefit." Cooperative strategies in repeated Prisoner's Dilemma scenarios always outperform every other approach, especially when they group up with other cooperative strategies. Fraud destroys trust and future cooperation. This alone might be reason enough to take the original content of others seriously and work to protect it. If you don't highlight the value others contribute to the network, there is no reason for them to highlight your contributions.

The battle against plagiarism is only going to get more intense in a free society. Some will be offended. Some will go on witch hunts. Some will be confused why people care about property at all.

It's up to us to have these discussions now, while the network is small enough to do so, and give some guidance to the individuals who will be taking up this fight. There is no authority here but the one we create and voluntarily agree to (i.e. leadership, not authority).

After all, this is not the Internet. This is the blockchain. There are... rules?

Image Credit: Michael Luciano (license ?)

So, what do you think? Is Michael Luciano a victim because I used that gif without knowing its license?

Do you now care about plagiarism and fair use? If so, what are you willing to do about it?

If you enjoyed this, here are some other posts of mine which touch on related topics:


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As long as the user that pasted an image URL found at google images does not say "this is my work" it's perfectly fine.
THAT is why google offers the reverse search, you can get the original author in a blink of an eye.

If you, as an author, publish something online, EXIF it, watermark it and INDEX it at google. That makes it hard to be stolen.

"Want to use it at your shitty post?" Go ahead, just don't say it's yours... since everyone can know it's mine in 2 clicks.


"@kevinwong, @lukestokes and @renzoarg,
I am in alignment with all of you on this, and this goes for myself and my own content creation.

No matter how much someone might want to claim that "potential" value was taken, the fact of the matter is there is never any guarantee or way to know for sure I WOULD have gotten paid for something of mine (made an additional sale, etc) just because someone else has a copy of it that was shared and not credited to me.
Humans show direct appreciation to those sharing valuable content who they have direct access to, for the most part,
and so the most natural protection we have against any assholes who--while not necessarily doing anything immoral--might have intentionally tried to nab credit for something one of us did,
is the wide world of the free market of people who DO care who did it and try to credit us.

However, with the world wide web, information sharing is like its own ether, and finding and crediting everyone for everything on every level absorbs a lot of valuable time for others.

SO I think it's often unreasonable (I certainly don't expect it) for certain kinds of content creation to come with the expectation that it is verbally credited every time, so long as the person using it didn't MAKE A CLAIM they created it themselves.

I like to distinguish between immoral and asshole-ish behavior.

If someone copies your idea directly and makes money off of it, that could be considered asshole-ish behavior, but since they physically TOOK nothing from you, and "potential sales" are not actual sales you had or can know you would have had, then it would be IMMORAL for you to use the threat of deadly force to rob, cage, or otherwise retaliate on the person.
If someone invades your home and physically steals items you have, they took property you now no longer possess, that you once possessed. But the fact that your idea can land IN THEIR BRAIN and they can go USE it, doesn't mean you now can violate the body that their brain resides in, by trying to steal from them to compensate yourself for what you felt was "potential" loss.

One is asshole-ish behavior, when someone takes an idea and dishonesty tries to use it as their own, and social accountability and ostracization and shaming can keep people in check in this manner, but
it is never the same as the immorality of the physical theft of something you really possess, and so you don't get to rob them or steal from them physically as retaliation, which is the dangerous mistake statism causes people to make.

There will be lots of "apparent copying" of all kinds of ideas because of communication now and the ripple effect-- people will appear to be saying things that look a lot like what others say, and doing art that looks a lot like others, because we're all being affected and influenced by one another on a much grander scale. The person who did not go out of their way to claim someone else's work was their own should not be punished for being influenced by the ideas or art of others. :)


Thanks Amanda! I really appreciate your perspective and love the points you make regarding remixing of ideas and what goes into creating content in general. What I'm trying to find is an efficient way to navigate the very large grey area between doing nothing, ostracizing/shaming, and physical retaliation.

so long as the person using it didn't MAKE A CLAIM they created it themselves.

But is that claim implied on Steemit? For text, I think it is (otherwise, we should use a blockquote as I did above). But what about for images? What if someone did create custom digital art for every post. Would we want to know that and would that impact our appreciation of the overall creative work? (See interactions @klye has had for examples of how this has already been a problem.)

However, with the world wide web, information sharing is like its own ether, and finding and crediting everyone for everything on every level absorbs a lot of valuable time for others.

It is, but when the whales upvote stuff they assume is legit, they get into big trouble with the community if it is not. If we can't assume content not cited is original, the burden is then shifted on them to check everything first. That's why I think the author doing that work up front (citing original authors) not only helps the entire community save time, it signals "I'm a cooperator who cares about valuable contributions" which benefits everyone from a game theory perspective.

Images are a tricky aspect of it because, outside of the #photography channel, they aren't (usually) a core part of the content piece. As with most things, it's our assumptions that bite us. :)


@lukestokes Are you seeing the glitch above that I see? What the heck? LOL
It shows MY comment that you responded to IS NOW KEVIN'S comment. So now It looks like my original comment is gone, and @kevinwong's is in its place! WTF?!?


Oh, now I see it. Very odd. Seems like it happened here: https://steemd.com/tx/06df4c38bbe7e2f3e2eada56eaa55bd206ae5ac0

There are some weird edits in there, like this one: https://steemd.com/tx/bc5f02c77fd59b80cdbdcdd9c0165533625f1504

You can get your original comment back here: https://steemd.com/tx/224154610197fbe38c05295b5ba48d6c2c20ca60


Hmm... not seeing that, but I do see multiple edits here: https://steemd.com/@dragonanarchist Maybe something got edited? I don't see your original comment which was much larger.


@dragonanarchist: if you didn't make these edits yourself, you might need to check your computer for viruses. The world of crypto is a scary world. Be vigilant. Be cautious. You should have the latest anti-virus running at all times and the latest OS and browser updates.


@lukestokes, thanks, I got the original comment back. Well, I'm not convinced that I didn't accidentally make the edit, only because I sometimes have 30 bajillion (approximately) tabs open, and then I copy and paste stuff a lot when I'm responding to people's comments, etc, so it's possible that at some point I got Kevin's text in that box on one open tab and hit the button to update/edit the post with his text accidentally in there.

It tends to happen more often (things of this nature) when my computer is running slow, and then I am moving tabs and have too many Steemit tabs open. LOL

Normally I catch something that glitched when I was moving tabs or typing and copying/pasting stuff to reply to it, this time I didn't catch it and must have hit an update button I didn't mean to.


@dragonanarchist: Cool. Glad to hear it wasn't a more serious issue. Hurray for the blockchain! :)


"so long as the person using it didn't MAKE A CLAIM they created it themselves.

But is that claim implied on Steemit?"

It's implied on INTERNET: "if I don't sign it, it is not mine; I obviously took it from another source".

Which brings a possible good idea:
There's plenty of "blank" space at the sides of the post, It would not hurt to have a "box" where the sources are displayed at (at least for the images directly linked outside of steemit's URL system).

If they "stole" them (so to speak). It's neither steemit's or the author's problem, but of the page where the image is hosted at.

In the case of text, anything written/typed is implied to have the author rights of the username. Otherwise it is blatant plagiarism. Because, yes, any decent writer uses quotes whenever the text is not theirs (again, use google to find the original source if it's not stated).

We've access to the whole communal collection of human information at the tip of our fingertips. We HAVE to use it.


I agree with Dragon and no publicity is bad publicity said McDonald's.
When I use your stuff, you benefit. It did not hurt Trump.


That works well for images because we have a tool for it (thanks Google!) and for blocks of text (I've often found whole paragraphs taken from other sources). What about entire works?

One thing I'm trying to work through is figuring out what the default assumption is. If someone posts on Steemit, should we assume it's original content? My thinking is, yes, we should. If they link to a source, we'll know it's not. Should we have to reverse search every image and every bit of text before we know we're not upvoting plagiarized material? That's really time consuming. It seems the whales are getting into a lot of trouble from the community for not doing this.


Personally this is my logic - all my writings are original, but images are largely taken from image search - and I tend to want the most appropriate image to illustrate my point, regardless if if the image is marked for fair use. Sometimes I cite the source of the image. but I don't do it these days because it disrupts my formatting (unless I note it at the end, but even then, I find it disruptive to the minimalistic style that I'm trying to achieve).

So yes, just about the same justification as yours. I still don't know what to think about consent when it comes to data that's open to the public like google images.


but I don't do it these days because it disrupts my formatting

Include the source of the image, "in the image". I understand you completely about that, for me it's the esthetics's that play a important role in a post, so to "avoid" that "ugly"(at least to me), Source below the image or in the note at the end, I put it "in the image", people can open the image in a new tab and "land" on the source.


That's an interesting idea, but it doesn't satisfy creative commons where you have to link to the license also... but maybe footnotes at the bottom of the post are the best way to go (along with linking to the original image). Good thoughts all. Thanks.


Well I try to avoid creative commons as much as I can, even if I end up with "bad images", or I'll by some cheapo stock images and edit them to look better, or use images labeled for reuse, or ask a photographer friend, or look in my 23 Gb photography archive... so there are many ways to do it the proper way. At least for me...


regardless if if the image is marked for fair use

But if you knew the author of the image, would you feel differently?


If you do not want people to steal your photos, do not upload them to the internet. It is the survival of the Darwin fittest.

These conversations typically look in the wrong direction. It's not that you're stealing from the original creator, its that you're stealing from your audience. This is fraud and violates the NAP. The question we should be asking is, 'Does posting an image or video without any claims or attributions imply original content on this platform'?


Does posting an image or video without any claims or attributions imply original content on this platform?

Very well said. That's a conclusion I've also come to after reading through and responding to comments here.

Great post. I was not aware of the Google search tool to search by license type. I've been wondering about what different sources there were for images. Also, great point about the existential threat that the government poses to this 'society'. The fact is that Steemit, Inc. is a US based company, and I'm not sure, but this could be considered distribution of copyright material. It's probably only a matter of time before they have copyright claims taken against them to take down posts (from steemit.com, not the blockchain of course). Something that they will likely do, in order to avoid lawsuits.


Yeah, I've been thinking a lot about that. Will they go after individuals or the site itself? Since individuals can't change posts after they pay out, it'll have to be the site. That could keep them really, really busy with so many take-down requests and it could harm the image they are going for which is a decentralized, uncensored social media platform.


Here are some thoughts on this :

The purpose of copyright rules is to protect the interests of the creator. The creator should benefit personally from the creative work done. In a way Steemit is an innovative system which attempts to do this.

The problem is that copyright rules may actually stifle innovation. What I mean is that it can prevent people from collaboratively building on the best ideas of others. Instead of just running with the best ideas in the pool you begin to speculate about its origin. And worry about whether other people will "steal" it. If this mindset inhibits openness about sharing our best insights then we are missing out the best insights available. Thats a problem.

It can also be argued that copyright is fundamentally unnatural since it implies "ownership" of an idea. All great ideas are usually hybrids of other ideas. Often we pick things up along the way without thinking about it. Of course we could always try to give cred to our source of inspiration. But what if I just picked an idea up and dont remember where it came from?

There is also a unique kind of ideas which may be especially interesting to explore : Ideas which are for the benefit of EVERYBODY. If people create these kinds of ideas ( lets call them "ideas for sustainable win-win games" ) then we would WANT other people to copy it. Related to this is also the scenario where many people all over the world explore a subject at the same time. Then there is a very good chance that two or more people come upon almost the same idea at the same time. Should they have to worry about being the first one to get the official ownership? Would it not be better for everyone if they spent their energy on making the form of the idea as great as possible?

The main problem with copyright rules seems to be that the attitude of ownership to ideas does not inspire truly creative collaboration. It blocks the tendency to replicate and mutate structures. And the tendency to replicate and mutate structures is central to evolution in nature.

The ultimate potential of the internet may be as a system of exponential creativity leading to the evolution of human knowledge and intelligence. We can not afford to lose that. If the current forms of copyright rules prevent this there are powerful reasons to investigate alternatives.


And the tendency to replicate and mutate structures is central to evolution in nature.

Well said! This is not something we should stifle.

Recently he posted an article which originally had a screen grab of a preview of a copyrighted image.

I was actually one who called him out on that in the comments (I don't know if I was the first, when I looked later it had become a swan and I had no responses to my comment).

What would you think of making an easier way to give credit to pictures videos etc. It would be nice if we could have an easy way to attribute content to someone without trying to copy, format and shorten url's. I also wonder about fair use, because there is no way people are tracking down people's pictures on google images to see if they can use their work (I know @stellabelle has reached out yo Giphy and you may too, but very few have).

I'm interested in seeing the response when someone uploads an entire movie or cd to steemit. Will the community flag them down or will internet companies remove steemit from their searches?

I'm glad you are bringing this up for discussion, since you have a good inside view about what may be to come given your job at the moment.

I'll keep my eyes on this post


Thanks Ben and thanks for calling out Dan for the image he used. It seems, by his actions, he agreed with your assessment of the situation because he made the change.

I emailed XKCD for an earlier post, but never got a response. I'm really curious about Giphy as well because they seem to just grab them from other sources (such as the one which had the gif in this post).


I am planning on doing an update for the UFC fight piece I did, but am unsure if I can take apart clips and post them or what fair rights/copyrights allow. It's a gray area for me.


This early on, I think best effort would be acceptable by the community, though you could go with strict copyright laws to be on the safe side as far as adding existential risk to the platform. Most sporting events are really, really clear about "no part of this broadcast or accounts of this event may be redistributed without written consent" blah blah, you get the idea. Should we respect that? Is it just a legal thing or is there something deeper there as far as building the world we all want to live in?


Exactly. But at the same time highlights are often left up by the UFC so it seems that a "sampling" tends to be allowed. I definitely do not want to do anything that could harm the platform though. It means a lot to me

I think people generally new comers are not aware of the content that they can post. So what they do is go to google and search out some trending stuff and then paste that content on steemit. I think people who steals others stuff must be given a warning first (a few times). And if he/she still continues their journey in stealing and posting, their reputation value must be dropped and notified to the user.


Yes, that's what I think @cheetah bot does well. It just gives a warning for others to respond to.

Dang, Luke. This is an extremely thought-provoking article. For the most part, at this point, I am simply standing with you on the "innovate or die" train. It is a weird feeling. It may seem like small potatoes, but I have seen several memes I have authored floating around the internet (this is funny because I used copyrighted images to "author" them) and though I am flattered, there is always a slight sting of, Oh!I want people to know that it was ME that made this.

I think what it comes down to for me is this: choice and consequence. If I copy and paste this entire beautiful article you have just written, and say I did it, I stand to "gain" and I definitely stand to lose from several different vantage points. I might make a lot of money here on Steem from it. I might also be found out and my reputation on the platform may suffer. More importantly, I might lose you as a friend. This loss would be emotionally damaging as well as reputationally compromising. You see, without the state to protect me (as it does its cronies, police, and politicians) people are free to "find me out" and ostracize me in myriad ways. In other words, the free market is in many ways a self-correcting machine in regard to "fairness." Not perfect, but extremely efficient.

So, at the end of the day, let the market decide, and INNOVATE OR DIE!!!!
Cheers man. Great read.


Thanks Graham. :)

I feel that same tug of the ego. I want them to know I was first. I want them to know I created that. I WANT TO BE RECOGNIZED! So much of it, for me, comes back to my own insecurities. As much as see those insecurities and despise them, I still find myself trapped by them from time to time.

Great thoughts here. In a voluntary society, it really does come down to friendships, relationships, and mutually beneficial interactions. What a beautiful, wonderful, amazing thing. Let's keep creating more of it.

I loved your last post as well and now I want to get some agorism on of my own and get a portrait done... You know, to feed my ego. :)

I tell you what... You sure make it more clear than all those other posts concerned with plagiarism including mine. Way to make one think deep about it. Also thanks for pointing out the picture liscence, that is very helpful.


Thank you! I'm glad that part was useful to you as well.

Great article @lukestokes! And Thank you for the links for me to help in my quest to self educate myself from copyright infringement and plagiarism and where to find an image that suits what my story is portraying. Ah heck, following you is easier than all the trips down the rabbit hole I been doing for the last week. Now I will do both and maybe find time to practice writing.


Woot woot! Thanks for the follow and the compliment. :)

Saying "Plagiarism is wrong because the government said so" is already a dead argument.

This brings up something interesting, that depending on the government probably has enabled plagiarism.

As it stands now, acts of plagiarism by unknown bloggers is off the radar of the government's black and white solution of copyright laws. It's not like we expect them to do anything about little blog posts. So to whatever extent we depend on the government and don't think about ways to police it ourselves, it works to the plagiarizer's advantage.

When we do it ourselves there's ACTUALLY a mechanism to police it where it's wrong, and to allow nuance and various opinions where there might be room to explore and grey area to think about.

I think ultimately when you plagiarize you victimize yourself. If I post another person's work and try to pass it off as my own, I'll hurt my credibility and then going forward when I post something that's really mine, people will assume some % likelihood that it's plagiarized.

On centralized websites like YouTube etc they can create whatever rules and penalties they think are best. The decentralized solution (which is all that matters going forward), I think, is that people judge you for it and in the long run it's never best to do it.

I do think there is nuance. Like using someone's song to improve upon it, to try a remix or something and crediting the original creator, seems like an appropriate use of another person's content. (And that's what we miss out on today with the government solution. It's illegal for you or me to add some new twist to a famous song, at least not without paying Sony a boat load of money.) That's just my opinion though, whatever emerges from the hive mind as fair and appropriate is all that really matters.

Cool article and a cool topic to get into.


So to whatever extent we depend on the government and don't think about ways to police it ourselves, it works to the plagiarizer's advantage.

Very well said!

Thanks to @kevinwong and @anyx for looking over a draft of this post and letting me bounce ideas off them. I'm quite proud of this post, and I hope it creates some valuable conversations for the community.


Very well done, Luke! IP is an extremely sticky subject, mostly because, as you point out, we tend to only look at it from a perspective involving State actions.

I think Steemit is a living, breathing example of how protecting IP without the State is possible. People generally value original content creators. And we're seeing how they respond to plagiarism, amazingly without any guns or laws involved.

My fiancee, @missjessica, had a post plagiarized a few weeks back. @dragonslayer109 and @gavvet featured the fake post in their original article that day. The community responded, informed him of the mistake, he fixed it immediately, the faker got flagged, and I haven't seen them since. If people are willing to do that for us, this early on, I am confident this behavior will only flourish in the future.



Thanks Derek.

I am confident this behavior will only flourish in the future.

As long as bad actors aren't rewarded. Sometimes they slip through and are rewarded which will only increase the number of bad actors here. Already, it's quite difficult to keep up with because many seem to not really care, unfortunately.


You should be, it's a great post! :)

Luke, I think you'd really appreciate this book on action-based property law by Konrad Graf: https://www.amazon.com/Are-Bitcoins-Ownable-Legal-Theory-Implications/dp/1517410371/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471898671&sr=8-1&keywords=Are+bitcoins+ownable

It does a great job at articulating a cohesive theory of property and ownership and discusses what forms of IP should and should not be protected under the proposed theory.


Oh, very interesting! Thanks, Sean.

Essentially, can I steal something from you if, after my action, you still have it?

If I receive value for something you created, then yes, I stole potential value from you.

Also nice tip on the google image search, I am extremely guilty of using googled photos.


Yes you did. No you didn't. That's the fine hair we need to split.

If you create something, and then go to sleep on it. It's akin to throwing one of your assets at curbside for garbage collection. Someone walks buy, picks it up, dusts it off, repaints it and sells it. The owner sees it at your next garage sale and says "Hey! I threw that out. It was my decision to get rid of it. I want some of the money for that now"

If you are not actively using something anymore, and it was a one-time use, why not let someone else create a value-add to it, make use of it again. This is where humanity wins, and the original creator who failed to innovate justly loses.

It is such a complex subject.


Wow, interesting example. As you said, it's a complex subject for sure. That's why I like to think of it terms of game theory and signaling to others in the community we're at least trying to act as cooperative as is reasonably possible.


But "potential value" isn't really "a thing", right? That's where this approach gets sticky and I'm not yet ready to call it outright "theft."

What if in the future.... there is a use of the Steem blockchain that has a content experience with lots of different authors mixed into one experience..... or one work in the blockchain built on another.... what do you think might be a fair way to attribute the author and the reward pool?


That would be up to those creators, I think. How would they want to be compensated for their efforts?

I believe that linking anothers content for no other reason than to bundle them up as a daily pick is theft. It is very common for an author to express gratitude for having someone link their content, thinking that this will help them.

The fact is that it doesn't and it is obvious. The people linking others content are making an average of 366% more than the authors. It is clearly not working.

So profiting off another by taking advantage of their believing that you are helping them financially when you are not for your own gain is theft.

Lets face it. People are coming to steemit for money and these daily picks are a sure to provide a curation reward for an upvote. The vast majority of the hard working authors are lucky to get $1 while people are upvoting these sure curation reward daily picks.


Can you explain this further?

I have myself shared posts from others via links on my posts, and I never got monetary curation awards.

I'm not complaining - I'm just saying that my experience doesn't accord with what you're saying and I want to understand better.


Can you define theft as you see it? In many cases, promoting someone's content gives it (and the author) recognition which otherwise wouldn't exist. On Steemit, if someone votes for one thing, it doesn't "steal" value from something else.


@lukestokes I have been thinking hard about, and reading anarchy philosophy and to be totally honest I am changing my viewpoint on my previous comment. This is because I can't fit my original argument into my definition of theft because linking someones content does not steal it from them.

From the view of these promotion posts contributing to the growth of steemit I can appreciate that and I suspect that's why they receive whale votes. I just can't reach that point yet where I can totally support them though purely because if you go back and look at every promoted author (the ones in the daily gem picks where profits don't go to the promoted author) the vast majority of them are not getting barely any upvotes or money for their work compared to the daily picks author.

If I were to be promoting authors, I would like to think that my focus would be on bettering my ability to help them over time. This does appear to be happening now in the featured authors posts though which I am totally for.

I hope that helps


I am changing my viewpoint on my previous comment

RESPECT! Thank you for saying that, @skum. Too many people today are too insecure to reconsider their views in even the smallest ways. Intelligent, secure people do it often because they understand the only way to gain new knowledge is to not be 100% right in the first place. Bravo!

I see what you mean about the promotional posts. I think there are a lot of popular bloggers who are on automated bot lists. That means they've put out so much consistently good material, they get voted up automatically. If they use that influence to promote other authors, I think that's fantastic! I'd also like to see each of those authors get rewarded with new followers and more votes themselves. I'd like to think this happens, even if the post being promoted has already paid out. Future posts may be seen by more followers, but even having more followers (especially if they are minnows) will not equal future high payouts.

Thanks again for providing clarification and for being open to new ideas.

Stealing may or may not be stealing. It depends on which rules we are under or which laws & everything we choose to be under or both. There are debates about the details between what is legal depending the country and century and it also depends on what is moral and what is not moral and what is nice to do and what is not nice to do and so on.........
But beyond that, it is important to remember that Facebook steals from us. The NWO steals from us. So many people are stealing all kinds of stuff from us more often than we know. Some people will say I am crazy when I mention these things.
It is good to gain some additional perspective when understanding things. For example, Melania Trump was accused of plagiarizing a speech from Michelle Obama during the summer RNC 2016, last year.
So, people said Melania Trump was so bad.
But if you looked closely at what Michelle Obama said, she was saying some basic things that other people before her said as well. King Solomon once said there is nothing new under the sun. Please consider the multiple layers these things and topics and debates have that goes way over our heads at times like 50 shades of confusion.

It's up to us to determine community standards and appropriate steps we, as individuals, can and should take to enforce our personal views on what will prevent harm to the network.

I appreciate your motivation behind this article and you holding me personally accountable for not being lazy with my image selection. Excellent post.


Thanks Jason! As a possible counter balance to my approach here, you might also want to check out this great post by @jaredhowe: Intellectual Property: A Government Protected Monopoly

Basic summary: property only exists when it's a scare, rivalrous resource. Maybe images found on the internet and easily copied don't apply?


Yeah, that's thought provoking. Need to think more about this. It's a tough one for me to reach a definitive conclusion on. For now I'll try to err on the side of caution in light of the consequences of laws that now exist, whether just or not.

Luke...I really enjoyed reading this article. Your writing style is smooth and easy to follow. Consider yourself followed. Looking forward to more articles by you. Larken's works are well articulated and I'm truly impressed with his book "The Most Dangerous Superstition." I've tried to get people to read this book, but no one seems to have the time to digest anything of import. So, I've been creating videos with TMDS as the script. In today's microwave society, people will gravitate toward a video before they'll crack a book, sadly. I'm on part four and am wondering if I should post them on Steemit. Peace man! Again, good stuff!


Thank you! I really enjoyed Larken's book as well as his fiction, The Iron Web (along with his many YouTube videos). I'm really looking forward to The Mirror.

As to whether or not you should distribute that on Steemit... To me, that would be a question for you and Larken to work out as you clearly respect the author and value his wishes.

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My emphasis is on making it easy to have reference to the line of creation.

Strangely, one of my favorite features of facebook is the Share button.
All I have to do is click on that, and BOOM, the article or post is shared, and the original author automatically attributed.

I think the best way to reduce plagiarism is to make authors WANT you to share their work.
Why? Because they will profit from it.
How? Because the link to them is automatically included, and each share gives them that much more money.

There could be two heuristics:

  1. Reshare, with something like (to make a general number up) 80% of the value of that post going to the original author.
  2. A comparison of the content written by the re-share-er, in that the more content that is written, the lower the percentage of the profit goes to the original author. Into, let's say, 50%, or more, depending on how well (how many upvotes) the post receives.

I've been talking about this for a while.

I also talked with the creators of tsu about it.
There's a lot of things I said to them, and they weren't very receptive.

The same way that @larkenrose doesn't especially mind it if people share his work (because it spreads anarchy, so he wins, and humanity wins, anyhow), so too does it make sense to create a mechanism whereby to invert the incentive and philosophy of "copyright" and "author protection".

What if the more people "copied" and "pasted" the work, the more money the author would make?

This comment is now also here.

up voted and now a follow! Thanks for the great info @lukestokes
full $teem ahead!


Thank you!