Maybe this belongs on MCBias's Blogging Laws, but Gilbert Arenas's little thievery last week bothered me quite a bit. Arenas's heisting of Ian Edwards's intellectual property was wrong, plain and simple. He should not get a "pass" because he is a "blogger".
People love Gilbert Arenas because he is, in the words of Henry Abbott of ESPN's TrueHoop, "real and genuine". Yes, he is a great player, a joy to watch, and seems more down-to-earth than athletes like Alex Rodriguez or Tiger Woods. In the old days, Arenas might have been the type of player to hang out with the fans at the local pub. But stealing a comedy sketch and passing it off as your own is still stealing. And claiming you helped the person become famous in the process is ridiculous.
What if, for example, Curt Schilling posted an old George Carlin sketch on his blog? Would he be vilified? He is not the biggest fan favorite in the sports blogosphere, and definitely not as "cool" as Arenas. But because Arenas is hip, happening, and the "bee's knees," he gets a slap on the wrist. Will Leitch of Deadspin, for example, pretty much wrote the transgression off, adding "Don't steal, Gilbert" as the last note on his blog post on the matter. Henry Abbott even joked that we should "name Gilbert Arenas U.S. Czar of Intellectual Property".
Now I understand where these other writers are coming from, and blogging is supposed to be a fun exchange of ideas and let whatever happens happen, but what is the difference between Arenas using Ian Edwards comedy routine and one blogger posting the thoughts of another blogger and not giving any accreditation? What if it was Will Leitch of Deadspin, to use a previous example? Leitch's blog is immensely more popular than The Serious Tip, probably getting more hits per day than I've gotten in my nearly one year of blogging. But what if Leitch confessed to stealing my ideas word for word and when pressed on the issue, stated "well, you didn't know him before and now you do, right?" Personally, I wouldn't want someone stealing my ideas in their attempt to make me famous. I don't need that type of help.
As for Arenas's attempt to defend himself by saying Puff Daddy and Ashanti "made careers out of stealing other people’s beats", this is such a sad way to pass the buck it's almost funnier than Edwards' joke. Because so many of us download songs these days, we are lost when it comes to the origin of sampled beats. All we know is we have heard it before. The truth of the matter is, for those who still buy CDs, the source of a sample and the legal authority to use it are spelled out in the liner notes. Unfortunately for Ian Edwards, there are no liner notes on the Agent Zero blog.