Friday, August 21, 2009

The thievery of Wikipedia

Supposedly Wikipedia is on a mission to make knowledge free. But thanks to its dishonesty and thievery, Wikipedia is actually causing the cost of knowledge to rise ever higher. According to BBC News, Derrick Coetzee stole more than three thousand digital reproductions of artwork curated at the National Portrait Gallery in England and uploaded them all to Wikipedia. (The article gave his name rather than his screen name).

So what's the big deal? Think about it: when was the last time you had to scan images into your computer? Even with today's scanners, it still takes time and money just to scan in a few snapshots. Consider what it takes to digitize a large art collection. In order to pay for the labor and equipment, the Gallery licensed its high-quality images for reasonable fees. But now that Wikipedia has stolen three thousand of those images, who will pay the Gallery's fees when they can just get them for free from Wikipedia? How will the Gallery be able to afford its digitization project now? Will the Gallery allow even its low-quality images on the Web now? In exchange for three thousand high-quality images, Wikipedia has cost us access to millions of images at any resolution. No museum will want to share its digital files anymore.

Wikipedia's long rap sheet already had libel on it, and now larceny is added. Murder seems less farfetched with each coming day.

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