Good content is the key to a successful blog. I always assumed that meant good, original content. It’s fine to be inspired by others and to appropriately cite their work in your own blog. A link back to another blog actually improves the search engine rankings of that blogger. But it’s not OK to take their content and reuse it without attribution or permission.
I’m thinking about this today because a friend and fellow blogger recently had one of her blogs “lifted” by another blogger the same morning it was published. The “reblogger” gave her own pseudonym in the byline, although she did put a link to the original post at the bottom. As if that was enough to right the wrong of stealing someone else’s article.
I’m fairly new to blogging and haven’t heard much about this before, but what I have heard usually involves people going through old content and repurposing it for their own blogs—not ripping it straight from the morning’s headlines.
Bloggers love to tell other bloggers what to do, and one of the most persistent themes in the industry is that blogging is the #1 requirement for a successful internet empire that generates a huge income or, at the very least, good search engine rankings for a website. Rankings are bread-and-butter to many bloggers, especially the ones who try to make money from ads and affiliate links (more on that in a future blog). They constantly fuss over site statistics and rankings and try to measure intangibles like influence and popularity.
So there is a lot of pressure to come up with good articles, and to do it every day if you’re a professional. Yet all of us struggle at some point with our content. We do get frustrated and blocked. We worry that we aren’t building an audience, or that we can’t hold on to the one we’ve already built.
Maybe that’s when some bloggers turn to theft.
Still, I have no sympathy. There are thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands, of articles, ebooks, webinars, and courses designed to teach us how to master blog writing, especially generating good content ideas. A lot of this advice is good and completely free; I get some of it in my inbox every day. There is also the common and very successful practice of inviting guest bloggers to provide fresh ideas. These are just some of the honest ways to improve a blog.
Anyway, what do you do when your blog post is ripped off? After noticing the theft, my friend did some quick research and added this language to her site:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Creative Commons is “nonprofit corporation dedicated to making it easier for people to share and build upon the work of others, consistent with the rules of copyright. We provide free licenses and other legal tools to mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share, remix, use commercially, or any combination thereof.”
A detailed explanation of the specific license she chose can be found at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/. I encourage all of you to check it out and to consider protecting anything you publish on the internet.
Hopefully that claim will give would-be cheaters something to think about in the future. It’s not a guarantee, of course. My view is that it’s more like putting a “club” anti-theft device on your car. Professional thieves know how to get around one of those, but they’ll find it much easier to avoid the hassle and move on to the next car.
In closing, I have to ask why someone is bothering to blog—and whether anyone is reading—if they can’t come up with their own ideas or interesting new slants on others’ ideas. After all, the point of social media is to be personal, to have an authentic voice. Ironically enough, that was the theme of my friend’s stolen blog. (Read the original post by Lori Randall Stradtman here.)
This happened the same day I read another blog complaining that Twitter is full of rehashed content. Is this a trend in social media? Are the critics right when they say that the blogosphere is getting unoriginal and over-crowded?