I saw my first example of WordPress’s new “Reblog” feature in use today (I hope JW won’t mind if you pop over for a look). Admittedly when the feature was announced, I didn’t pay much attention, but now that I’ve seen it in action, I’m concerned.
My first thought is that it grabs excessively long quotes. A significant chunk of text. Eighty-six words, if I counted correctly. Now, a long quote from a much longer post (as this was) might not seem so bad. And Reblog does include the appropriate link, credit, etc. But what if the post were quite short, or, say a short poem or an aside. Reblog would have grabbed the entire post. That’s not okay.
While it may sound like I’m nit picking here, I’d remind you of an Associated Press story a few years ago. Their idea of fair use is (or was) four (4) words or less. After that, they charge you. And if you quote the headline or “lede” (first sentence or paragraph) there will be hell to pay, because in a properly constructed news story, the lede is the story. Everything else is just additional detail. Most casual bloggers probably are not professional reporters or headline writers, but Reblog, in grabbing a post’s title and first 85 words, overreaches by quite a bit. Not to mention leaving the impression that doing so is perfectly okay. It’s not.
Reblog also grabs the first image in the post. What if the image is the bulk of the post, the whole point of the post? What if it constitutes the entire post, as on a photo blog? I have real problems with that.
I’ve suggested in a WP forum thread that Reblogs be made much shorter, that they not include images, and that at the very least, administrators be given an option to disable Reblogging of their posts. I think my requests are reasonable, all things considered, but I’m only one person, and WP surely has already run this by some good copyright attorneys. So I’d settle for a “Disable Reblog” option. How my material gets distributed should be my decision, not WP’s.
I like publicity as much as the next writer, but I want readers reading my material here, not on someone else’s blog.
P.S. Oops, I missed an earlier discussion on the WP forums (and more here). Then there was this, more than a year ago. Apparently Reblog is here to stay (and has been for quite a while), without an opt-out option. So I guess you should consider this post just a faint echo of shots fired a long time ago. Sorry to have bothered you …
Correction, May 15, 2013: Reblog grabs all the images in a post. The first image will be displayed full size and the others as thumbnails. It also strips out all the information I’ve attached to the images — title, alternative text, and most importantly, the caption, where image credits are usually posted.