IN 2005 the Mail & Guardian launched a news aggregation site Amagama. At the same time it hijacked content from users on its own free Blogmark platform, and thus work posted under a non-commercial creative commons license scheme. The company thus simply appropriated the material and republished it sans permission under its own copyright and sold the result to advertisers.
Around the same time the company destroyed my book review of ‘A Secret Burden’, and locked me out of my own blog, claiming the piece had offended an apartheid-era war journalist.
When it came to the new online world of digital journalism and blogging, writers such as myself were simply peasants. Our new overlords, ‘data jockies and cyber-cowboys’ such as Vince Maher and the late Mathew Buckland, saw us as nothing more than a means to make money, monetising content without any thought of sharing a penny with the creators of said content.
I struggled to retrieve my writing on this blog (see how Medialternatives came into being) and the matter of the destruction of material and the use of my content, was never settled. The offending item remains destroyed. (See Toby Shapshak bleating about AirBnB deleting and then undeleting his own review). Needless to say Amagama was closed down after a not well-publicized bun-fight in which I invited hackers around the world to spam the site.
At one point spambots were opening accounts and flooding the site with the digital equivalent of canned beef, to the extant the M&G servers fell-over from the weight of electronic gristle. Not surprising considering I had attempted something similar back in 1994 when I launched the world’s first Internet Riot in protest against John Major’s Criminal Justice Bill.
Write a chapter on Electronic Civil Disobedience if you so wish.
Now Hoosain Karjieker, ‘CEO of Mail & Guardian Media and chairperson of a nefarious entity known as ‘Publisher Support Services’ has approached the competition commission claiming ‘platforms like Google and Meta have been using publishers’ content at no cost to grow their market dominance.’
“The main objective of our challenge is to protect the future sustainability of the local news industry. The proposed draft legislation aims to ensure fair and equitable remuneration for South African news media businesses, large and small, for the use of their content.”
Well hooray for you M’lord, since your racist, parasitic company has a history of similar abuse of its position and most certainly does not give a fig about the plight of online content creators.
For years publishers have abused the default position when it comes to the Copyright Act. Any so-called unsolicited content submitted for publication is deemed to be the work of the publisher. The drafters never envisioned a situation in which the Internet existed, nor did it envisage a position in which writers published their own content.
In 2022 the Australian High Court was asked to find whether or not search engine Google was a publisher, since it linked to online content. The question as to whether or not Meta and Google are publishers remains a sensitive one, since depending upon how one answers this question, the result impacts upon whether or not the company’s ‘revenue and royalty’ model is a legal one, especially if original content creators are deprived of income. In this age of fractional investment schemes it stands to reason that a revenue sharing model would be the only fair way forward.
Google however threatened to block publisher’s links, in effect to shut-off Australia if the company was pursued with any tentative revenue-sharing schemes. The issue of fair use / fair dealing (how much one can publish before running into copyright issues) is dealt with to some extant by the latest amendment to the Copyright Act. IMHO, the way to deal with the problem is via resort to WTO/Davos and previous settlements with book publishers.
Vince Maher is currently the Group Executive Head of Digital at MultiChoice Group, a subsidiary of Media24, an apartheid company which rigged an unlawful decision before the Labour Court in 2010. At the time, acting justice Halton Cheadle was in business with Kagiso, a media company supplying content to Multichoice. The corrupt ANC party apparatchik proceeded to rubber-stamp a ‘racist religious inquisition’ into my identity with the resulting condemnation of the outcome by myself, as absolutely false, devoid of any truth, and alienating of press privilege.
For the record I am a secular humanist, not an Orthodox Jew per se.
You can read about my experience with Amagama here.
And my experience with Media24 here.