The proper place for ethics and codes is in ensuring that a reasonable number of people go to the source instead of just reading your rehash. Codifying “via” links with confusing symbols is solving the wrong problem.
The fact that people have flown into Austin from all over the country to talk about how much credit they deserve for pointing arrows at someone else’s work just shows how far off the rails the aggregation discussion has gotten.
I agree with Marco wholeheartedly on this: Curators do not deserve credit — even if they’re rewriting an entire piece. Authors get credit. And by “author” I don’t mean the person who typed the words. The internet makes it so easy to publish written words (and so many people are republishing them) that it’s fooled bloggers into believing that the words are the product. The words are not the product. I’ll say it again: The words are not the product.
Information and perspective is the product. Flying to Afghanistan is the product. Getting shot at while speaking to villagers through an interpreter is the product. Calling the secretary of state for a quote is the product — even having the number for her office, nevermind the relationship necessary to get a question answered or the savvy to know when that answer is bullshit — is the product. The news story that appears on NYT.com is just a delivery mechanism for that product. It’s the truck that brings the package to your door.
When someone writes a summary blog post about shifting U.S. policy in Afghanistan after pulling all their information from a single news story, they are producing nothing. Non-experts don’t get “credit” for typing up their thoughts on somebody else’s work. Anybody could do that. The thoughts have no value; it’s the information that’s worth something.
Rewriters are just knocking off the product and then delivering it to readers more cheaply because they haven’t incurred the cost of producing the information. In some cases, they’ve just hijacked the delivery truck and driven it straight to your door. And that is the problem that Marco is talking about.