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On Online Referencing

I’m not sure if anyone else has ever used the phrase "online referencing." If not, maybe I should copyright it. What I mean by my new phrase are these websites that serve as a collection of material or information, that claim to "try to make users’ lives easier."

Take, for example, the Daily Jolt. The Jolt is a website that collects information like news headlines, weather forecasts, links to academic resources for students.

The idea is to attract visitors by enticing them with information that they "need," and while they access this information, they view ads that make the publishers a considerable sum of money. We have two, or now three, of these online reference sites born and bred right here at UMass.

The first was the simple and effectively-named, "UMass Links." Quickly thereafter, a second version followed, this time playing on the school’s name with, "ZooMass Links." The third, and most recent, edition is a new company called "CampusLive."

These three are now in direct competition with each other, with the exception that ZooMass Links and CampusLive are owned and operated by the same people.

There is a lot of money to be made here. The ads are targeted at a very specific genre of viewer, and as it turns out, there is a high demand for the service. Each of these sites simply collects and arranges information. They don’t author anything. What implications are there for providing other people’s copyrighted material? So far, none.