On Being Cross-Posted

A couple of years ago, I was contacted by someone working on a Darfur campaign about a blog post I’d written called “Can JP Morgan Handle its Human Rights Risk?” She wanted to run my post on the campaign site. The London Whale had just surfaced, and I took my lead from an editorial in the Wall Street Journal asking whether any one executive, even a great executive like Jamie Dimon, “can properly oversee such a large financial institution.” My post questioned the bank’s claim that it is capable of managing human rights risks in its complex portfolio of investments — which was the justification it had offered shareholders for rejecting a “genocide-free” investing proposal.

I’ve received a couple of other requests along those lines since I started blogging. Just yesterday, another organization asked if they could cross-post some of the things I’ve written about the Lake Superior mining boom.

Apparently, in my case, flattery will get you somewhere: I usually agree, as long as I am given credit, the post is reproduced in full, without alteration, and includes a link to this blog. It helps get my work in front of more people, usually people who are already invested in the issues I’m writing about. Besides, I could use whatever extra traffic it happens to generate – it’s not like I’m posting cat pictures or updates on cheerlebrities here — and I welcome whatever new connections and other intangible goods or just good vibes that may come out of it.

I’ve been thinking a little more this morning about these associations — how my writing has led to them and where they might lead my writing; whether this cross-posting might somehow or someday compromise me (for now, I’ve concluded, it doesn’t); and how it differs from, on the one hand, other forms of sharing (emailing links, tweeting, plus-ing or posting on the intellectual wasteland of Facebook, re-blogging, etc.) and, on the other, publication – whatever that means anymore.

I know that I would expect any publication, online or offline, to pay me for running something I’d written; but I’ve made exceptions there, too, so it really doesn’t come down to money, and I am not sure the ongoing debate about “writing for free” really applies here. Besides, most of the organizations doing the asking are run on a shoestring, and I’d be more likely to give them my money than to take theirs.

So maybe the writing is a kind of gift or donation, even if the IRS does not allow the deduction.

2 thoughts on “On Being Cross-Posted

  1. sdv

    That seems like an argument for a soft form of copyright, intellectual ownership, where the writer either singularly or as a collective retains some rights over the text. Which does not necessitate copyright in the strict sense though it may mean that as well. Is that what your intending to argue?


    1. lvgaldieri Post author

      I suppose that is where my remarks here are heading. I find Creative Commons licensing as well as Fair Use, etc. attractive, and I’ve certainly taken full advantage of both, but at the same time I am not ready to let go entirely of rights: for example, I want to retain full rights to my film; I’m stubborn there. But then there are other cases where I am much more flexible and some soft form of copyright, as you put it, suits me just fine. And I suppose I would argue not just for retaining some rights over the text but also for some discretion over its use and re-use. I think that probably means dealing with rights on a case by case basis rather than trying to apply some general rule.



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