If you set out to be original, prepare to be copied
Makemestfu – on Tumblr
Just recently I was reading a blog post that not only shocked me but also made me contact the author directly because she explained a situation that is repeating itself far too often in the blogger sphere and cyberspace: people stealing other people’s content otherwise known as content theft.
Now I’ve already dealt with someone stealing my photo on Instagram which lead me to write one of the most viewed and commented posts on my blog To Watermark or Not to Watermark and that created a heated debate and I found out that many other colleagues had experienced something similar in different circumstances but it is far more common than we think!
It was not my intention to stir the pot but actually to express what I truly thought and felt as if someone had literally ripped something away from me and quite frankly it affected me more than I thought it would. Getting the responses I got from people from all the four corners of the world made me realize that this IS a big issue! It’s like we have to be on the lookout but then again it is part of the game as we say.
Now in Fran’s case, it is another other topic well worth discussing publicly and defend as well. She is currently based in Chile and is known as @lavidanomade on Twitter. She said that one of her readers stumbled upon a post that resembled hers, a bit too much. It was literally modified or personalized line by line! It happens that a so-called “journalist” writing for a cruising website that had literally taken the content of her post working on ships is not glamorous
Photo credit: lavidanomade.com (permission granted by blogger)
translated it into Spanish and did not even give a damn about intellectual property or originality as a matter of fact.
In her defense or retaliation, emailed the site, they apologized but they did not do more than that. She also left a comment below the post to let the author know of the infringement but until this day the post is still live on the web!
Being the researcher I am, I actually Googled the name of that journalist (is she really?) and it’s obvious that the site ranks up among the top 5 sites on the subject. I actually compared both texts side by side and can see why she felt offended! The nerve that other journalist had to rewrite the entire content (even the same length) and make it fancier with nicer terms and photos but that’s not the point!
Fran wrote an open letter to that journalist which is quite moving and makes you want to rally with her and this post is basically my support to her and trust me I am holding myself back from leaving a comment on the copycat site!
What can you do if your content is stolen?
What are the options for us writers, bloggers, and content creators in cyberspace?
Well, first and foremost, one of the risks we take on a regular basis is to expose our creativity and share it with the world which is the main purpose of writing/blogging.
Second, we can put a disclaimer or have a sort of backup, in case some people are way too lazy or have other intentions, like copy paste into rewriting / respinning software (yes they exist and just recently I found out too that there are companies in third world countries that I won’t name that offer such services for pennies) that will do just about anything for a buck.
Actually one of them emailed me and left me speechless, they also offered (as a bonus) to edit my photos (gee, am I protecting my images enough?) so that they look flawless on any device. I was like what the what? What is going on that I’m not even aware of!
All they are offering is to have a brand new article that is perfectly structured with the right SEO keywords so that it ranks high on Google and gets lots of traffic but it will cost you of course. Paying for your content to be rewritten, my goodness, what has the world come to?
After that episode of having my photos stolen, I looked into several options and I am sharing them with you.
1- Intellectual Property Offices
To find out your local intellectual property office, you can check this comprehensive worldwide directory http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/urls.jsp
In my case I am Canadian, thus my creations would have to be registered as literary works the http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/wr03861.html?Open&wt_src=cipo-ip-main
However having close to 400 blog posts times the $50 fee comes up to a pretty good round number and that could be used for other things like paying bills, invest, study or going around the world the world and back at least 5 times. I’ll admit that I’ve not yet decided to register but I might but a few not all. I have placed Copyscape on my site, please see No 5 below.
2- In the USA, the place to go to is http://copyright.gov/
The texts or posts and photos would fall in the category of Literary works and visual Arts.
Legal removal request
If you have a good example and have proof that it clearly violates their regulations, you can submit a claim.
The hosting platform gives excellent tips on how to protect your blog by following their suggestions.
This awesome tool allows you to search for duplicate content on the web. I’ve had it for a few years now and only caught a theft or two but it’s great to have!
6- Disclaimer at the foot of the blog/site
Include a clear note stating that your creations are copyrighted and that it is prohibited to take extracts or any part of your texts or photos without permission.
What does it cost to send an email to the author and ask if they can link back to you or ask for a photo to be used provided that they send you the URL where it appears with proper credit or link back to the original site?
For this post I sent a direct message to the blogger and told her she inspired me to write this. Our tweets were the starting point and because I write and write until my fingers hurt, well I thought why not turn it into a detailed post! It probably has happened to many others, so let’s talk about it in the open.
I just found this site http://www.dmca.com which offers free protection for your website’s content and they’ll even take down the page with your copied content if there is ever one. Add the badge to your sidebar and voilà! Extra protection doesn’t hurt right?
So that’s what I personally recommend to prevent some individuals from stealing other people’s content.
Now it’s your turn to share your two cents!
Has anyone ever stolen your or someone else’s content or photos?
If so, what steps did you take?
If not, what would you do if it did happen?
Please do share your story and I am so looking forward to reading from you!
Until next time, hasta la próxima.
Tashi Delek, All the best