Notes From Hacksville: Is This Plagiarism?

I came across a post on a site called Notes From Hacksville that reproduced in its entirety this article from the Irish Times. Looking more closely, I noticed that they had also reproduced this article in full. And then I noticed a copy of this one.

Impressed, I left a comment congratulating the site’s owners on getting permission to re-publish the article in full, and asking them how they managed to get this concession from the Irish Times.

They deleted my comment.

It seems to me that if bloggers are complaining about newspapers stealing our material, we should also be shouting our heads off when bloggers steal material from others, so I’ll ask you straight: do you think Notes From Hacksville has plagiarised the Irish Times or not?

Is it enough to publish a link and an acknowledgement when lifting the entire text of somebody’s work?

I don’t think so and if they did it to me I’d be very angry indeed.



Here’s an interesting list from

All of the following are considered plagiarism:

  • turning in someone else’s work as your own
  • copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
  • failing to put a quotation in quotation marks
  • giving incorrect information about the source of a quotation
  • changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
  • copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not


Maman Poulet


Notes From Hacksville : Can Blogs Criticise Other Bloggers?

(Hint: the answer is yes, when Hacksville is doing it to others)

Notes From Hacksville : My Response to Blog Bitching and Lies

Notes From Hacksville : Blogger lies, bitching & real taste of the blogosphere

Copyright and related Rights Act, 2000

51 thoughts on “Notes From Hacksville: Is This Plagiarism?

  1. yes, of course it is, its reproduced word for word, and if you handed that up as an artical in an essay for a degree, you would fail, and probably be sued!

    I hate those reproduction sites, that think they are the young modern day newsreaders, “Ohhhh now ill Ctrl c that and Ctrl v it in here, IM GENIUS!”

    fucking twats! Im with you bock!

  2. In response to your ridiculous point, let me clarify a few things:
    – these type of posts are markers for stories that have been read and that highlight points that need to be made. They are not plagiaristic as they clearly state that these are not the poster’s own articles or works and give full copyright and credit to the source of the article. These posts are merely pointing out stories that have been read and that are recommended because of what they are stating.
    – the reason the stories are not linked is because is a subscriber website and I am giving my readers the benefit by allowing them to read the full article by copying the text of the articles.

    If you can’t understand that, the process, or what plagiarism actually means – a piece of writing that has been copied from someone else and is presented as being your own work – (perhaps you would like to point out and quote from my blog where I present the full copyrighted and credited Irish Times piece as my own?) then sticking to bitching and moaning about the things tha actually count. Namely Ahern’s corruption and society’s ills.
    The problem with bloggers such as yourselves is you spend too much time on your ego trips and in comparing your own blogs with others. It’s not a competition, it’s not an ego race. Stick to why posts are made in the first place.

  3. Lette: Agreed

    Hack: What I asked was if you got permission from the Irish Times to reproduce their work.

    When you’ve finished trying to intimidate me, you might answer that question.

  4. I haven’t bothered leaving a comment on this post from Hacksville, since he didn’t have the integrity to publish the first comment I left there.

  5. Further verbiage on copyright and libel
    Posted on Hacksville

    It’s not plagiarism but it is certainly copyright infringement if you reproduce someone else’s literary work without permission whether or not it is attributed and referenced

    Reproducing the (c) 2008 at the bottom of the work is irrelevant since copyright subsists upon first publishing the work and there is no requirement for registration or other notifications.


    There is a fair dealing exception to allow criticism or review but it is unlikely that your piece would fall into either of those categories.

    So you have infringed both the Irish Times and Bock the Robber so far today. You have also wrongly accused Bock of libel which in itself might be libellous.

    I think you owe an apology.

    PS if you delete this comment I’ll post on Bock’s site

  6. Firstly, what you accused me of was plagiarism. The definition of plagiarism is, ‘a piece of writing that has been copied from someone else and is presented as being your own work’.
    Now, all I am asking you is to point out where in my post I presented the Irish Times article as being my own work? And I am asking you if you agree or don’t agree with the ability to cite articles – which are clearly credited – to highlight valid critiques and points being made about important topics such as Ahern at the Mahon Tribunal?
    If you are querying the copyright issue surrounding such citations, then you are missing the entire point of using such articles for posts and blogs that are trying to highlight good and worthy articles that should be viewed in the context of corruption and other areas of question.
    As to your final point about ‘not having the integrity’ to publish your comment, you are once again lying and covering up. Not only did I include your entire post which included far more criticism than your original comment I also included a link back to your site where readers could view your post in context. As to integrity, you still haven’t apologised for your disparaging and wrong comments about my non existent plagiarism. But if you still think it is plagiarism, I await your proof of anywhere I passed off fully credited newspaper articles as works of my own.
    Until then, stick to putting the boot into Ahern and not fellow bloggers who are actually trying to do the same thing. It is the politicians you should be fighting not like minded bloggers.

  7. Sorry, it’s a slow day and the family are away, but isn’t this hacksville post plagiarism?

    You have to look carefully, a misplaced double quotation mark and who knows. This is clearly plagiarism and is not attributed or linked, in fact there is a seamless flow of the Irish Times text and a perfunctory top and tail from the blogger. That’s plagiarism in my book.

    I don’t believe the title of the story or the name of the journalist are referenced either.

    Also note that the (c) 2008 Ireland.Com is irrelevant and actually misleading since Ireland.Com has no interest in the blog post apart from the infringing content. IN fact all it does is draw attention to the copyright infringement.

  8. Hacksville: Can’t you read? The piece is entitled “Is this plagiarism?”

    That’s a question, not an accusation. I asked people what they thought.

    However, if you’re asking whether I think your behaviour is disgraceful, both here and on your own site, the answer is yes. You are not entitled to lift in full a written piece of work from anyone without their permission. That’s a clear breach of copyright.

    Read the Act referenced above.

    You did NOT publish the comment I left on your post. If you had the integrity to do so, you’d probably have heard no more about this.

    I also asked you if you had the authority of the copyright owner to reproduce their work in full.

    You haven’t answered that question yet.

    FPL: The irony hasn’t escaped me that he stole the entire content of this post without my permission, thereby infringing my copyright. I think he’s doing quite a good job of showing the world what he’s made of.

  9. Fair enough if it’s a question not an accusation, but I find the entire process of sniping and bitching to be both tiresome and bullying.
    Do you read any political blogs at all that use the same process of highlighting pieces to raise points? Check this out from Andrew Sullivan as prime example:

    If we bloggers are to keep asking for permission for citing any article that we have read then we would get nowhere. I think you’re losing sight of the bigger picture here which is namely to highlight points of reference, important questions of political and societal importance. Instead this has degenerated into s niping contest about point-scoring. It is this kind of discussion that makes people so despondent about blogging and bloggers.

  10. Hacksville: you came here accusing me of being a liar and attempting to intimidate me into silence, so don’t tell me about bullying and sniping.

    I’m raising an issue of importance to all bloggers: copyright theft. We have all had our material taken by commercial operations, and it isn’t acceptable. It’s also not acceptable to lift and reproduce an entire article, with or without attribution. What is acceptable is to quote sections from it in order to illustrate a point.

    If Irish bloggers are seen to engage in copyright theft, we lose all moral authority when we complain that newspapers are doing it to us.

  11. Look, for the last time, and this has really put a sour taste in my mouth and has shown to me what bloggers can really be like, I am highlighting to readers of my blog articles that I think are of relevance to issues such as Ahern at Mahon.
    I did not consider it to be copyright theft and I still do not as I have seen many reputable blogs (and blogs as part of publications) do the same. I took it as a means of recommending articles to be reading either through links or if the site was subscriber restricted, covering the article itself in the post.
    I did accuse you of being a liar because you had accused me of plagiarism which (I think) you now admit I’m not guilty of.
    You have now moved the issue on to one of copyright theft which I vehemently deny and I think you are failing to see the light in which I am referencing and highlighting the articles. Look around you, read some more, see how others do things. Stick to putting your equally chipped shoulders into Ahern and issues of importance instead of trying to see bad and negativity into everything around you.
    I’m taking a deep breath now. I never thought I would experience such a nasty little episode as this today but I refuse to let it get me into a bad mood or keep annoying me.
    It’s ok to relax and smile sometimes you know.
    Enjoy yourself and let in some air. I know I have to after all of this.

  12. “the reason the stories are not linked is because is a subscriber website and I am giving my readers the benefit by allowing them to read the full article by copying the text of the articles.”

    That’s called stealing.

  13. Not plagiarism but not fair comment either in my view. Selectively quoting and then yes it’s fair comment but copying and pasting whole articles isn’t good online etiquette and you could get done for copyright infringement but at least Mr. Hacksville isn’t auto copying and pasting the work of another just to make money from Google ads.

    Perhaps Mr. Hacksville is new to how things work on blogs and the Internet itself and was not aware of the sometimes stupid copyright laws in Ireland?

  14. Green Ink: It’s hard to read it any other way.

    Damien: This is what Mr Hacksville says about himself on his own site —

    Having worked in the media over the last ten years in print, tv, radio, and internet, I can give an insider’s perspective

    Hardly a candidate for a fool’s pardon, I would have thought.

    Maybe it explains his aggressiveness.

  15. Interesting that Bock has to run the discussion from his side because hacksville who wants to host discussion about interesting articles wouldn’t let his comment through. It’s purely a personal view but I regard it as bad pool to mod out comments simply because they disagree with what you’ve said.

    Green Ink sums it up best, it’s stealing.

    I do love this though “I did accuse you of being a liar because you had accused me of plagiarism which (I think) you now admit I’m not guilty of.” and yet hacksville had earlier admitted Bock hadn’t accused him of this because Bock was merely asking if it was plagarism.

  16. My take on this may be a bit different.
    I have had other web sites simply copy and paste my posts into thier web sites without any link or attribution. That’s not right!
    On the other hand, I have had other web sites take an entire post I wrote publish it on their web site with a link to my original post and stated that I wrote it, not them. Though I may not like their site, that is OK with me because I was credited with writing it and there was a link to my original post.
    I believe in ‘Fair Use’. If you are going to use something from my blog then at the very least credit me with writing it. If you don’t then that’s stealing.

  17. Dan: Just to be clear, the comment I left in his site didn’t disagree with anything. I just asked him how he managed to get permission from the Irish Times to reproduce the entire article. That clearly didn’t suit his purposes, so he deleted it. That was when I wrote this thing, after which he appeared with all his threats and bluster.

    Incredibly childish.

    Brian: That’s fair enough. You have every right to dispose of your posts any way you see fit.

  18. Actually a lot of bloggers, not being commercial entities allow and sometimes encourage further dissemination. But unless they give explicit permission then it is copyright infringement.

    Actually you can generate a creative commons license for your work here.

    I don’t believe the Irish Times allows free copying of its work

  19. What do you call lifting something from one entity and attributing it to another?

    Edit comment…way cool.

  20. Heh. I’m laughing simply at the amount of times ‘Hacksville’ has come back with some stupid retort to try and make Bock seem like the bad guy.

  21. I used to be a regular reader of the Irish Times online until they started charging for the service.I now rely on others such as Hackville to tell me what the IT are saying – what I havnt worked out yet is how to get someone to actually rip out content I want to read..say the match report from Utd v d’Pool..jaysus…maybe I should go and actually buy the paper!!!..

  22. An easy answer, why not ask the Irish Times if they consider Hacksville’s posts of lifting & posting their articles in their entirety to be plagiarism. I’m sure they will have the resources of a good lawyer to sort this one out.

  23. Now look what you’ve done. The poor chap seems to have shut down his blog. Too much is made of plagiarism. There is no such thing as an original idea. Shakespeare was always lifting stuff. Thank god he didn’t have a shower of nit-picking blogmen making a fuss. Oh look! That Will watsisname copied “To Be or Not to Be” from yer man in ye old taverne.

  24. Of course, as we all know, the plays and sonnets weren’t written by Shakespeare at all, but by another man of the same name.

  25. Brian

    I would appreciate it if you did not attribute Limerick Leader articles to me on your site.

    Thank You

    Please remove the existing attribution to the article availible in the Limerick Hub of

    I never have and am unlikely to contribute to your site.

  26. Perhaps a good idea for the blogging world would be a nocopy tag.

    Perhaps a good idea would be for people to develop some manners and ask before taking.

  27. Brian: Here’s a question for you. Are you going to respect the wishes of Maman Poulet, Littlesmoke and others not to list their posts without permission?

  28. Bock,
    without question.

    Personally I was surprised when we got the first complaint. From my perspective we were helping drive traffic to them, increasing their link popularity,etc. We never attempted to for one minute to pretend the content was ours.
    That said, 2 main points have been made as to why people were annoyed with us. Firstly, the fact that were running google ads alongside their content and secondly the fact that the title of the story did not take you to their site but instead you had to click the link at the end where it said ‘Original Post By …’

    What we are about is trying to enable people to create their own communities, group blogs, event sites, social networks, whatever. A big part of that is aggregating the content. We enable people to use us as their blog host (for free) and that makes it easy for people to pull content together into the various different hubs.
    For instance, an enviromental group in west cork can have their posts dropped into hubs for Bandon, Clonakilty, etc. but also into enviromental or political hubs, and so on.

    This works perfectly for people that have their blogs on The problem is that not everyone has their blog on

    Everyone we talked to loved the idea that they could drop their posts into different hubs, etc.

    Niavely, we assumed that those blogging outside of would be happy to see their content get syndicated, so long as we linked through to them for the full story.
    I still feel that getting upset about having your content syndicated is like getting upset because google has spidered your blog and displays you in their search results.

    So, with all that in mind, the answer to your question is ‘of course we will’
    We have already removed dozens of posts and will continue to do so until we have deleted them all.
    We have also stopped taking feeds from which was the feed that seemed to cause the most upset.

    We’ve also got some ideas on how to enable bloggers to plant their posts into hubs on regardless of where they blog and hope to start on those in the coming weeks.

    We hope that Irish bloggers will use so clearly we don’t want to piss anyone off, but at the same time it was hard for us to stand back and let someone who had ‘aggregated’ our content accuse us of thieving theirs.

    At this stage I think I’ve said enough, tomorrow we’ll change the home page of and move on and hopefully put this sorry incident behind us.

    Finally Bock, thanks for facilitating some of this debate on your blog…

  29. Hi Bock,

    I don’t see my reply to your last question. Perhaps my reply was a little long. If a shorter response is what you’re after then the answer is,

    yes, of course…we have already deleted several posts and are continuing to look for others. We’ve pulled the feed from politicsinireland too.

  30. Brian

    I didn’t edit out your replies. They were were stopped by the Akismet spam filter for some reason. I don’t know why.

    Anyway, thanks for responding. Maybe people will come back with their reactions to what you said.

  31. “the fact that were running google ads alongside their content and secondly the fact that the title of the story did not take you to their site but instead you had to click the link at the end where it said ‘Original Post By…”

    And that was the nub of the problem. Politics in Ireland does what it says on the tin. I’d say most bloggers are sick to the back teeth of aggs pinging back to their posts. Pingbacks should operate as a tool for widening one’s reading on a subject, that’s certainly how Bock does it. Most aggs do it to get some traffic from popular blogs in the hope they’ll get ad clicks for pages with no original content. Frustrating for readers, frustrating for bloggers. We might be churning out our stuff for free but this doesn’t give carte blanche for others to make money off it.
    You might have been surprised at the reactions Brian, but a distinction was very quickly made between what you were doing and what PIIre. does and you now accept that yourself. I think you underestimated the annoyance aggs cause bloggers and you may have bore the brunt of that, but at least you’re being reasonable now, even if you did jump in with two feet initially.
    Good luck.

  32. The fact that Politics in Ireland doesn’t do google ads doesn’t mean it’s better than and is not profiting from aggregating blogs.
    All the time it’s aggregating content it’s building value and reputation. This can make it a very valuable site in the long run with a very real dollar value associated with it.
    Just because it’s not an obvious commercial outfit now doesn’t mean it can’ become one overnight.
    I wouldn’t overstate the altruistic intentions of any site who’s aim is to drive extra traffic to itself (and to the content providers).
    Just because it doesn’t do ads now doesn’t mean it’s right that it doesn’t ask for content the same way as doesn’t ask.

    The rights and wrongs of aggregating RSS feeds is a tricky issue. I suppose if you don’t want your content aggregated fully then don’t put the full post in the RSS feed. I know I am a regular reader of some sites through an RSS reader and rarely click on the site, so the site owner is being denied clicks.

    By the way I’m in no way associated with

    PS customise Google is a great ad on for firefox for blocking annoying things like google ads and google analytics.

    PPS Does anybody know what happened to that hacksville fellow. As mentioned above he’s gone off the web?

  33. Having watched how this thing has kindof exploded over the last twenty four hours, I said I’d better do a check with our own local The Limerick Leader as I do almost weekly posts with a two or three line snippet with a direct link to the original post on the Limerick Leader (Limerick Today) website. After seeing this discussion, in a fit of minor panic, I made a call to the guys in the Leader and they’ve told me that they are happy with the way I’m doing it, the two liner with a direct link to the original post. They’re happy with this way of doing things for a couple of reasons, 1 it’s usually to a post by one of their reporters who plays for our first team (It’s directly topical to our website); 2 I have never lifted an entire post and I feel that this is the correct method of doing this, and 3 It’s driving traffic directly to their website.
    It was a matter of a simple phone call, and now I’m happy and I know they’re happy…
    Smiles all round :-)

    P.S. god bless that edit post plugin, I had somehow placed this reply to the wrong post :-)

  34. @JPB that may be true, and I might win the lottery, but at the moment it has no ads and is actually useful for the blogs aggregated, as a lot of blogs have the PII widget in their sidebars, thus linking lots of sites back to the original site. And if Damien ever puts ads on any of his sites I’ll eat my hat, your hat and snatch the hats of several strangers betwixt my wronged jaws.

  35. Green Ink,

    Steady on there we don’t want you choking on all those hats!

    The point I was trying to make was that any site can easily start off as non-commercial and build up it’s reputation using other peoples content. There are no assurances that a site won’t suddenly start becoming commercial.

    The way I see it is that people are annoyed at because

    A. they are using other peoples content without asking
    B. They are an obvious commercial enterprise

    As Brian pointed out Politics in Ireland also don’t ask people if they can aggregate content so both are guilty of “A” (I understand about the way they link back also gets peoples goat but the underlying perceived infringement of trust/copyright/manners etc (delete according to preferred grievance) is the same)

    Now “B” is a harder one to judge. is a startup company with an Idea trying to build itself up. Is it the new facebook? Let’s wait and see. It’s got advertisements therefore it’s commercial.
    Is Politics in Ireland commercial?
    It doesn’t have google ads so it’s not making money that way. The point I was making above is that you don’t need to put ads on your site to be a commercial operation. You could be using your aggregator as an example in order to sell the underlying technology, you could be using it as a platform for personal advancement e.g. “I’m so and so you might know me form the very popular site xyz” Therefore there would be commercial gain from the site. So for this argument you’re commercial (unless expressly registered as a charity or non profit organisation)

    While I’m not saying that the people behind politics in Ireland are like this, I’m just continuing with the counter example site previously provided here. I’m sure there are plenty more sites that can be used as examples. What I am saying is that just because they don’t have ads on the site doesn’t mean they’re not profiting from your content the way is.

    I personally am not one for jumping on a soapbox and calling people thieves just because one thinks one has a grievance, especially not when one could equally be accused of being a thief in the same way.

    Hacksville were obviously not going to get away with what they were doing. Republishing stuff you have to pay for is a definite no no and beside the Irish Times will have a team of lawyers with which to kick your arse. Judging by the speed at which hacksville was taken down from WordPress it looks like the Irish Times layers are regular readers of yours Bock.

    Sorry Bock for usurping your soapbox. Once I start I don’t seem to be able to stop. I must put this up on my own blog (I’m new to this blogging lark so have as yet my blog is quite bare). I wouldn’t be so rude as to whore my own blog here anyway.

    Anyway sorry again Bock and If I see you in Toms over the weekend I’ll buy you a pint.

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