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Desi bloggers take on Yahoo India

Image courtesy SandeepaMarch 5 was a big day in desi blogosphere; on that day, a hoarde of desi bloggers took on that giant named Yahoo! (India) and toppled it. Three cheers for these strong women!

What had happened was this: these enterprising yummy ladies have set up some fantastic food blogs, replete with great pictures of some mouth-watering creations. One of them, Mahanandi even won the IndiBloggers award for the Best Food Blog! If you see her blog, you'd know why - fantastic pictures, simplistic instructions the most inept cook can follow and some great recipes are what this food blog comprises of. The blogger, Indira, obviously takes great pains with her content and its authenticity.

But one of the foodie bloggers, Surya Gayathri, got a rude shock one day when she discovered that Yahoo! had pilfered the images and content from her blog and posted it on the Yahoo! website - with no permission and certainly no acknowledgement. This tale of woe was narrated by fellow foodie bloggers Indira and Inji Pennu. What this plucky bunch did next is super: they got round all their friends and used the power of blogosphere to gun down the mighty Yahoo! They started a 'Start Plagiarism' campaign, which quickly gathered momentum and on March 5th, staged this online protest.

One has to just click the links above to see how many people joined them in this protest. The blogs also put up some nifty cartoons to drive the message home. It is no wonder that Yahoo! quickly capitualted when they ended with egg on their faces. They retracted their filched recipes and sent an apology to Surya Gayathri.

Of course, they used the time-tested defence of pointing the finger at some other partner website.

"The reproduction of the recipes, which were taken from a blog in Malayalam run by a housewife in Kerala, in Southern India, sparked an online protest among bloggers.

A Yahoo spokeswoman said the reproduction of the content was inadvertent and blamed the incident on a company it hired to develop content for its Web site, Webdunia.com (India) Pvt. Ltd."

Yahoo! is not the only site to go down the filching route to beef up its content. According to these bloggers, sites like Sify, Bawarchi and other food websites are not above lifting the images and using the content to suit their purposes.

This win hasn't come easy for these bloggers. When first notified of this content theft, Yahoo! reacted by deleting the offending content and hoping that no one would notice. When that didn't work, the tactics took a turn for the worse, when

"they send their trolls, insulting many bloggers out there who supported us, very well knowing, we are ‘Indian girls’, we cannot stomach insults and we would cow down! I haven’t read so much filth which were put as ‘comments’ in my entire life. It caused me a lot of pain and anger and tears, especially when I saw the same type of filthy comments on couple of my friends blogs too! I, one time even thought of just disappearing from it all. It was that bad. "

When that failed, and news of the March 5th protest reached Yahoo!, apparently they tried to have a mini discussion with a select few. Bloggers like Inji Pennu stayed away from this and went on with their mega protest - and won!

This is definitely a big win for these spunky ladies and for us bloggers as well, who have been victims of plagiarism before. The precedent has been set and I can safely say, with due apologies to Neil Armstrong, that 'this is one small step for a woman but a giant leap for the bloggers'.

But the reality is, these bloggers may have won the battle but the war is far from over. Combing through the Yahoo! content, many more instances of such pilfered content are apparently found dotted across the website. It seems that we have barely scratched the surface of this copyright issue. How are we bloggers to protect our content? Can anyone tell?

Edited to add: According to the latest blurb from Mahanandi, Indira's blog, Surya Gayathri hasn't received a personal apology from Yahoo! Furthermore, there are more instances of content and image theft by several Yahoo portals. So, these bloggers have decided to up the ante. Visit their discussion board at Dining Hall to join them in their protest.

Posted by DesiGirl 8:54 pm  

7 Comments:

  1. Indira (Mahanandi/Dining Hall) said...
    Hi Desi Girl,

    Many thanks for this wonderful post and for your supporting words. I greatly appreciate it!

    Few corrections. Stolen recipes were not from my blog.
    What happened was - total 6 recipes were lifted and published on Yahoo word by word from Surya Gayathri's food blog. She blogs from Kerala, India. She together with another food blogger Inji Pennu of Ginger and Mango and Malayalam associations of bloggers mobilized and motivated us all to stage a protest day. It worked and Yahoo issued an apology to Surya Gayathri.

    thanks and regards,
    Indira
    DesiGirl said...
    Indira,
    I have now amended the post to reflect the change as specified by you. Pls update me on any changes / further protests.
    Inji Pennu said...
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Inji Pennu said...
    Hi there,
    Yahoo has mumbled some apology without specifically naming Su's blog. They havent NOT sent her any apology yet.

    The fight is not over :) We want them to send her a proper apology and post it on their "portal" But, the fun part is more and more bloggers are finding that their contents were stolen too!
    DesiGirl said...
    Hi girls,
    I have now made the changes to my post here as well as at desicritics.org. My DC publisher has posted the article to Digg and Indipad websites too. Please Vote!
    flaashgordon said...
    Bravo !! Woman power on the occasion of Women's day eh?!!
    കേരളഫാർമർ/keralafarmer said...
    :)http://www.globalvoicesonline.org/2007/03/12/hindi-blogoshere-yahoo-plagiarises-from-blogs-and-cops-shake-hands-with-goons/

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