by Yvonne DiVita, BlogPaws Co-Founder and blogger at Scratchings & Sniffings
There's malice in wonderland! What do I mean by that? I mean, someone…multiple someone's, at times … is stealing content from other bloggers, like me! Or you!
It's a reoccurring issue across the net, and here at BlogPaws. "Isn't everything on the Internet free?" someone will assert. "It's the Internet… how can it not be free?" Meaning, "I can use this, can't I? And, if I forget or neglect to cite the source, well, that's okay. It's the Internet."
The short answer is a resounding, "NO!" in all caps. The long answer is a bit more complicated. Jodi Stone, from Heart Like a Dog, recently wrote a fantastic article on her blog discussing this issue and sharing her experiences. She's given us permission to share that post.
Before I add Jodi's post, I want to say one little thing – one of the learning points of her post, not related to the copyright issue, is the quality of Jodi's post title: Speeding is Against the Law. I'd like YOU, dear pet blogger, to comment here on why that title is a learning point, and what you learned from it. Thank you.
Now, here's Jodi's post and a comment from me at the end of it:
I apologize in advance for the length of this post.
Blogging has no rules.
At least none that I’ve ever come across. With that being said, I think most of us would agree there are some basic expectations about the content that you create on your own blog. It’s yours, right? You wrote it, laboring over every word, read it and re-read it before you hit publish. And you expect that people will read what you wrote, perhaps make a connection with you. Maybe something you’ve written will encourage someone to consider something they would never have considered.
That’s why we blog isn’t it?
To make connections, educate people and develop a sense of community.
But what if someone violates the expectations?
What I’m speaking about here is something called content scraping. The first time content scraping crossed my radar was a week ago. If you’re unfamiliar with the term (don’t feel bad, I was too) I’ll sum it up:
Content scraping is someone going to your blog, and copying something within a post, whether it be the entire post or a small snippet and putting it on their blog as if it’s their own. You can read more about it on here.
Don’t be impressed, I read about it at Something Wagging. She found it first.
I heard it again on Monday on the Peaceful Dog blog, Kirsten apparently had an entire blog post copied word for word without benefit of crediting it back to her.
In the comments of both posts I said something along the line of plagiarism is stealing and stealing is wrong. I agree with Pamela, my content is out there for all to see, and read. If you use it though, give me props, add a link back to my blog and you and I are good.
Taking someone’s work without attributing it to them doesn’t fly in my world. Nor in Kirsten’s. She took the appropriate steps and the blog was shut down.
But what about pictures?
I remember over the summer, Roxanne from Champion of My Heart had one of her photos used in a promotion. If I’m recalling correctly, she posted something on facebook and the person/entity in question offered to take it down.
Sunday night a fellow blogger had quite a lengthy post on his facebook page. I’m not sure if any of you follow the Idiot or not. About a week ago now, he was locked out of his wordpress account.
An excerpt from his facebook page:
The Idiot Speaketh
“As many of you know, my “THE IDIOT SPEAKETH” humor blog was recently deactivated by WordPress. After four days and five email requests, I finally have received word from WordPress on why my blog was dropped.
Digital Content. (DMCA)
Basically, in the current digital world, any photograph, graphic, artwork, cartoon, video, audio file, etc. that YOU did not create yourself, is considered copyrighted. You cannot publish any of these materials unless you have the expressed consent of the person who created the content.
This would include basically all of the content on GOOGLE IMAGES, BING, YOU TUBE, etc. If you did not put the material there, you do not own it and cannot use it.
So, all the images of places, animals, people, celebrities, politicians, cartoons, etc. in the FIVE years of the blog, are the reason that I was dropped. Apparently, considering that I had probably published 10,000-15,000 photos, cartoons, graphics, etc over the course of the five years, WordPress received enough requests from copyright owners that I was considered a habitual offender.
Some of you are OK, because I know that you do not use any photos or graphic materials on your own blog. Many of you only post photos of your family or pets. That is fine, those are your photos. If you did not create your Header or your Avatar yourself, beware. If you have used GOOGLE or any search engine to download photos or materials, beware. If you have posted videos from YouTube, beware. If you have reposted funny cartoons, beware. You may be safe because you do not have the large amount of material on your blogs, but you too are liable to one day find your blog gone, forever.
On the other hand, I believe I did just as 95% of the blogging world does on a daily basis. You can read through hundreds of blogs and can instantly recognize that there is no way the blog author created all the digital material themselves. Do the people who write religious blogs only use the pics of Jesus that they took themselves? Do they only publish paintings of Jesus that they painted themselves? Did they write to the Vatican for permission to use these materials? Common sense says no.
I won’t use the “I was just doing the same thing everyone else was doing” defense because it won’t matter to WordPress. Everyone on the highway speeds but speeding is still against the law.”
Mostly I only use photos of my own dogs, occasionally I will use a picture from one of your blogs (always with a link back) and very rarely I use an image I retrieve from google, but I always try to link back to the page I found it on.
Ganked from Something Wagging.
But I don’t get the express written consent of the author.
What do you think about this? Are you of the mind that I am, that if I attribute the image or content to the author or website I ganked from it’s okay or do you agree with WordPress that express permission is required to use someone else’s content? Does it make a difference if someone is profiting from your material?
(Note: The excerpt from the Idiot’s facebook page is used with his written permission.)
YD: my comment:
There’s a lot to be learned from Jodi’s post and all the
comments it generated, so I hope you’ll hop over to her blog and read it
completely from beginning to end, especially the comments. And, for the record,
I actually like it when bloggers share my content (a sentence or two, or one
paragraph perhaps – it’s called ‘fair use’) with a proper link back to me. And,
I’m not guarding my pictures with a sentry. Just let the world
know you got it from my blog.
That doesn’t mean everyone needs to be that way and
photographers definitely need to be more strict. I’m just saying that, as a
blogger, you may use some of my content, as long as you give me credit. To
learn more about the thinking behind sharing on the web, visit the Creative Commons
website and see what they offer and suggest. Remember to RESPECT your fellow bloggers by NOT using content without following the "fair use" guidelines and citing where it came from. It's not hard to ask permission now, is it?
Yes, you may use 'some' of this post as long as you follow these RULES from Creative Commons.
p.s. to the 'rules' of blogging, generally, they're called guidelines and bloggers post them in their sidebar – see the guidelines on my petblog here: (scroll down a bit, they are on the right hand side, mid-page) http://www.scratchingsandsniffings.com/ They don't include copyright information because that's where Creative Commons comes in.