Blogger Legalese and Ethics

When Your Blog is My Content

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When Your Blog is My Content

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Blogger Legalese and Ethics

Table of Contents

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 BloggerPosterous, 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.

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.

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  1. Jessica-
    I am sorry to hear that. Unfortunately, this will continue to happen. Honesty is best policy for sure.
    Hope you find closure to your situation. I know how hard it is to come up with original content. Give credit where Credit is due. Have a great week!

  2. Jessica, that stinks. I’m sorry that happened to you. It happened to me recently as well. But Trish is right – you handled it with class which is more than I can say for people who copy other’s work. Keep us posted.

  3. My sympathies to you Jessica. As a journalist for ten years I lost count of the times my copy was used after about a week.

    The journalism world is full of examples of this to the extent it has become an accepted part of journalism life. Even if your work is cited/you get a link, once quotes are in the public domain they can and will be used by anyone. The result is this makes it incredibly difficult to build up personal reputation when so many other media use your original content and consumers get confused as to the source.

    As more blogs are created, depressingly I can only see the problem exacerbating. I hope your particular situation is resolved to your satisfaction and you did go about it the correct way.

  4. Great post!! I had actually been wondering about some of these issues, and now I have to bookmarked as my Go-To when I have a question. Thanks for the info!!

  5. Frankly, I think you’re being awfully nice to people who have stolen from you. It’s part of my brand to stand up for myself and my content! When I find lifted content, I contact the “borrowers” directly and say, “If you had only asked, I probably would have said yes, but since you didn’t bother, take it down.” Most have complied.

    If that doesn’t work, I’ll contact the web host with a link to my copyright statement and original post and insist that the plagarized version be removed from the site. A well-placed mention on Twitter that a website is lifting content can also be effective, as my followers may comment on their site, “Gee, this story looks awfully familiar. Your readers can read the original story at (link).”

    A “good Christian woman” reprinted an entire story of mine on her Good Christian Woman Facebook page. (Oh, the irony!) One guy took an entire story and just changed a few words. He actually had the gall to ask if there were any remaining phrases that sounded too close to my story that he I wanted him to change, while maintaining that he had not copied my story!

    1. Nani,

      Thank you for the comment. What I didn’t tell you when I wrote this post is that the content thief stole the article and posted on their website to promote my current client. In order to maintain a relationship with my client, I contacted them first as I mentioned in the post. Of course, things often change and currently, I don’t think I would handle this situation in the same way if it happened again today.


      P.S. People never cease to amaze me and unfortunately those that are the worst offenders happen to be the ones you least expect like the example you mentioned.

    1. Agreed, Shally. Still pisses me off though and is happening at an alarming rate especially in our HR and Recruiting space.

      Thanks for the comment. I visited your company site this week. Looks like you are doing well with your new venture. We should actually meet or talk on the phone sometime. I feel like I know you and your family and yet we’ve never actually met.


  6. I know a TON of bloggers that have this issue. It is really a big issue among deal bloggers and ppl stealing matchups. I passed this info along to some of my blogging friends 🙂 It is very information and halepful!

    1. thank you, beth! I wrote this a couple years ago. but it is still relevant and is happening at a faster rate now that my blogging traffic has really picked up. I’m now hearing about friends who’s Facebook Fan pages are being stolen and recreated. It’s just shameful. We are trying to do a service to our respective communities and others are tearing us down. Well, I won’t let them. I know you are stubborn just as I am too.

      As always, I appreciate you taking the time to read.


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