A study published by the Fair Syndication Consortium, an industry body backed by major media outlets in the United States, has found that blogs aren’t primarily responsible for content theft.
The study found that blogs account for less than 10% of “reusing” sites online (that is, sites republishing media content without permission), which the report notes is despite blogs “often [being] cited as having the most reused content.”
The published version of the study (pdf) reads more like an executive summary and doesn’t break down methodology, nor indicate the types of sites that are engaging in wholesale content theft. However the finding on blogs will be a huge blow to those in heritage media that argue that blogs don’t create original content, and likewise are mostly engaged in wholesale content theft.
One interesting aspect of the report, misrepresented in some media outlets, is the role Google (and others such as Yahoo) plays in content theft. Take for example the normally excellent Paid Content, who headlines “Fair Syndication Consortium: Google Responsible For Over Half Of Unlicensed Newspaper Articles” and states that “the FSC’s study finds that the biggest single offender was Google, which the group says was responsible for running more than half the unlicensed newspaper content” and that “the FSC said that Yahoo and Google together account for nearly three-quarters of total unlicensed reuse.”
The report doesn’t actually say Google is responsible for “running” the unlicensed content, only that Google monetizes more than half of the unlicensed content. It’s an important distinction, but one that should be made.