When You “Borrow” From a Blogger: A Rant About Plagiarism

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It happens all the time. More often than not in the world of daily content churn. Photos, videos, recipes, ENTIRE BLOG POSTS are borrowed and rebranded without permission in order to earn eyeballs. Even if you give the original creator (token) credit, you are stealing from them. Stealing traffic, stealing Facebook views, stealing likes, stealing social media credibility, stealing THEIR livelihood.

And just in case your moral compass is THAT broken, stealing is stealing even if there is no harm.

But there is harm.

You see, the reason bloggers go to such painstaking efforts to create interesting, educational and engaging posts, labouring over the perfect photos that capture their stories in pictures, researching keyword phrases that will draw in new readers, monitoring social media for trending topic, is because traffic, likes, subscribers, followers, fans, etc. add up to money in their banks.

Oh, but it’s not that much. Just a few page views stolen. Just a couple hundred new Facebook fans. Just a viral video that isn’t connected to the original author. How much money can that possibly add up to? Everyone knows that ad rates are way down so the blogger probably doesn’t rely on them for their living.

WRONG! They are just the numbers and statistics that bloggers use to market themselves to brands. Just the credibility that they use to land the ambassadorship with the travel destination or the sponsored post with the fashion brand. Just the dollars and cents that add up to a mortgage payment, lessons for the kids or an extra weekend away with the spouse.

JUST don’t do it.

If you don’t have the time or ability to create your own content, here is how to properly borrow content:

Share the Original Video From Their Facebook Page — Click on that good old share button and let Facebook do the rest (by maintaining the link back to the original source). That way you both benefit. You share something that your fans will enjoy and reshare (possibility crediting you as the source) AND the blogger benefits from increased exposure. Anything that breaks that link to the source is theft.

Post the Recipe Title and Thumbnail With a Link to the Full Version — Write a blog post with a list of your favorite recipes and include the recipe name, a thumbnail image and maybe even a short excerpt from their post, but do not, I repeat DO NOT, copy and paste the entire post and give them an attribution at the bottom. That’s bullshit and you know it.

Ask Permission to Republish the Post — Write a nice note to the blogger telling them how much you love their post and how perfect it is for your audience, and politely ask their permission to publish it on your site. Explain all the details of what you intend to do with it and how you intend to repay their kindness with blatant promotion of their site (and maybe, just maybe, they will say yes, but if they don’t, you no publish, are we clear?).

Hire the Blogger to Create Content for You — Pay the blogger directly for their content or ask them to create content exclusively for your audience. Bloggers earn their living by creating killer content for themselves and very often, others so if the content you are considering stealing is such a perfect fit for your audience, chances are the blogger is too.

The bottom line is if you are sharing content that you did not create yourself, you need to ask yourself if the manner by which you are sharing it benefits the content creator. If it doesn’t, whatever you are doing is stealing and you need to seek their explicit permission to share it.

And readers, please take the time to track down the original source before resharing content from pages if it doesn’t look like it’s related to the page (i.e. the radio station page that is sharing viral cat videos). Yes, it takes a little more time, but a quick google will usually lead you to the original source. Your personal Karma thanks you (and bloggers thank you).

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When You Borrow From a Blogger

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About Author

Carla Young, momeomagazine.com Publisher If there’s living proof that women can have it all – and then some – it’s Carla Young. Building her multiple businesses on a virtual work-at-home model, Carla is an inspiration to other mothers who want to start a lifestyle business. During her early days as a mom entrepreneur, Carla made every single mistake in the book (and a few new ones for good measure). Realizing that “doing it all” was unhealthy and unsustainable, Carla started by getting organized to the extreme, developing support systems for both her work and family. After other mothers started asking how they too could enjoy her lifestyle, Carla launched momeomagazine.com to support moms at work, at home and at play (because every mommy deserves a little me-time)!

8 Comments

  1. YES YES YES!! I will preach and shout from the rooftops for people to stop stealing my content! I’ve never had it happen (to my knowledge) where a whole blog post has been copied, but I’ve had 2 plagiarized and have had my photos and graphics uploaded to Facebook time and time again without my permission. No one seems to “get” why and says “everyone does it” when I call them out, report them and ask them to take it down.

  2. Great post, Carla! I love that you actually share some ways to properly borrow content. More often than not, it’s just outright theft of a post/recipe, but sometimes it’s an honest mistake and not understanding that you can’t just “share” something by copying and pasting it to another blog. So this is great information for people who “don’t get it” …yet. I particularly like the FB tip,

  3. As someone who has been battling plagiarism (and made a business out of it) for over 10 years, I’ve learned a lot of frustrating things about it.

    The biggest and most worrisome is that bloggers don’t have much protection when it comes to search results. While TechCrunch can be scraped to high heaven without much issue, small to medium sized bloggers can be deeply hurt easily.

    The other is that a healthy majority of the plagiarism takes place from robots. Automated tools grabbing content from certain sites or containing keywords they like. The next tier is evil humans who know what they’re doing is wrong and don’t care. After that you have idiots who genuinely feel that it’s the correct way to “share” content.

    You can battle the last with education, the others need a heavier hand.

    Anyway, I’m sorry that you’ve been battling these issues. If there’s anything I can do, feel free to drop me a line!

  4. That’s telling that you’ve been able to make a business out of dealing with plagiarism. Thanks for sharing your insights! I’d love to know what bloggers should do if (or rather when) they do have their content stolen.

  5. Thanks, Sandy. Unfortunately, there isn’t consensus on the right way to borrow content, but most agree that if the blogger benefits from it, they’re okay with their content being used.

  6. Unfortunately, Sarah, stealing photos and graphics is very common. A friend once had personal family photos “borrowed” for a bus ad in a foreign country!

  7. I know it is wrong to cut-and-paste someone’s blog in one’s own blog–with or without giving credit to the original author. Are you also saying it is wrong to use the “Press This” plug-in or “Re-blog” button? I assume the blog author welcomes the re-blog if the button is available on his/her site. I only ask because all of the bloggers I know personally–and there are a lot–are novelists who want as much exposure as possible across the internet, so they are okay with reblogging. I have re-blogged twice, but not to pass it off as my own. I have done it to support my author-friends, always redirecting to read more at their sites. (Yes, I do click-to-share on social media.) When I put it on my blog, I have more people sharing over several weeks and months instead of a single Tweet.

    I’m not disagreeing with your opinion. I’m only curious to know if you consider this is stealing from or promotion for a fellow author.

  8. There’s nothing to argue with here. I used to go after those people, especially after one time when someone co-opted one of my posts that had some of my personal pictures on it; I was livid! I wrote enough DMCA notices and got a lot of sites shut down… but it took a lot of work and time away from doing other stuff.

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