Jessica Miller-Merrell | , , , , , , , , , , ,| By
Original content that you’ve created or written on your website is in fact your own. Just last week I came upon a website that was using an article I wrote without giving me proper credit. During a phone call with one of my clients last week, they mentioned a media company’s website and video interview in our course of conversation, and I decided to take a look. There beneath her video interview was a copy (including picture) of my blog post word for word with the exception of one sentence.
When Your Blog is My Content
While this isn’t the first time I’ve had this situation happen before, I was upset. I work hard to provide interesting and relevant content on my blog and website. It’s my passion and something I enjoy doing. Copying someone else’s work without verifying and citing them for the content at the very least or asking to reproduce is like putting pictures of someone else’s children in your office and calling them your own.
- Calm Down. I’m glad I took a moment to breath, calm down, and get my bearings on the situation. I took ten minutes to clear my head and look at the situation objectively. This company is someone my client knows and trusts. I don’t want to jeopardize that. I have less clients than I do blog posts and for me blog posts are easier to come by than clients.
- Just Ask. That’s in fact what I did. I choose to call the company and leave a message directly with the contact person listed on the website before following up via email. Asking them to site you or credit you for the article first is the best way for me to play nice in this type of situation. I provided them my phone number, full name, and website address.
- Play Nice. Decide whether calling someone out on the carpet outside of a friendly email and phone call is worth jeopardizing your reputation or brand. How will this one situation impact you financially and also be sure to consider the cost and time if you make the decision to legally pursue the culprit if they choose not to do as you ask.
The rise of blogging and social networks has certainly led to an increase in these types of situations because of the ease of access to information as well as led to an increased awareness of copyright, plagiarism, and content theft. Blogging typically has zero cost and barrier to entry because of sites like Blogger, Posterous, and Wordpress. Many internet bloggers, writers or webmasters are not classically trained to cite, list, or credit authors, ideas, or articles as well as blogs appropriately. It’s the bloggers responsibility to educate and train themselves on the rules surrounding this process. The best defense is a good offense, so it is important for bloggers and writers who publish online to protect themselves as well. Either way–here are some resources to get you started.
- Copyright, Blogging, and Content Theft from ProBlogger.
- Blog Plagiarism Q & A from Daily Blog Tips.
- How to Defend Your Blogs Copyright from ProBlogger.
- The 20 Best Free Anti-Plagiarism Tools from The Blog Herald
I’m optimistic that my blogging story will have a somewhat happy ending. The company representative left me a message over the weekend apologizing and asking that I confirm the correct spelling of my last name. The jury is still out but look for a part two blog entry to keep you posted.
Check out more information about blogger legalese and ethics at another article titled Liabilities, Licensing and Legalese.