You work hard coming up with new ideas, or crafting your own take on an idea that inspired you. You write, draft, edit, draft, cut out your favorite paragraphs to tighten up the content, add an image, publish, and voilà.
Someone steals your content.
The Klepto is always on the prowl on the internet. He’s going to build his online empire by using the creative works and ideas of others. He never gets around to creating any of his own content. Stealing works for him.
First, let’s agree that the ease at finding content online makes defining “stealing” tough; people are going to disagree. There’s a difference between outright stealing and some of these other forms of derivative works, so let’s try to put some things in context.
The Murky Waters Of Inspiration
We are all inspired by others. Does that mean it’s stealing?
- The Remix: Creatives will disagree on what is acceptable when it comes to mashups or remixes, but according to Kirby Ferguson, Everything Is A Remix. Pulling a lot of content together to create a new whole isn’t necessarily wrong. It never hurts to ask permission and give credit.
- The Research: Researching a topic online means stumbling upon multiple sites and blogs from which we will pull ideas. Quotes and word-for-word copy must be referenced and linked to the original source. Broad concepts that are heavily used, even if reworded, should also be referenced and linked. It’s like a research paper. Don’t flunk this one.
- The Rework: One way artists learn is by painting copies of the masters. Their own style comes into play, and of course, when the painting is finished, they don’t claim to have a real Renoir on their hands. It’s their version of it. You can rework another’s content if you have permission and if you give credit. Imitation is a form of flattery, but make it one you have permission to do.
- The Retweet: Social media is all about sharing. Don’t edit out the source of how you came to share that golden gem. Leave in the Twitter username or the Facebook page from the original find.
Most bloggers once in a while forget to attribute (don’t be that blogger!). If you see your content used as above but without attribution, contact the blogger. Ask politely for a link. Most likely you’ll get a positive response. If not…
Blatant Unquestionable Theft
There are moments where there’s no question you’ve been ripped off by The Klepto.
He’s a plagiarizing, copy-pasting fool, shuffling from your site to his. He quotes you without a link, or steals your complete list from a how-to blog post. He takes your ideas, he takes your actual content. If he tries to hide the theft, he does it barely. He doesn’t provide shoutouts, hat tips, linkbacks, or any kind of attribution. His readers will never know you exist. He employs your creative genius to work for him for free.
Sometimes he hides behind the idea of “sharing” on Social Media, but strips out any reference to your Twitter username or Facebook page. He doesn’t want to give anyone credit for where he found his content. He doesn’t think he’s doing anything wrong, since he’s not claiming the material as his, but he’s profiting off of your content curation skills without acknowledgement.
The Klepto. Doling out anger and headaches and wasted time at a blog near you. Because now you have to do something about it.