This month I experienced my first copy and paste blogging experience.
What’s that? It’s when someone copies all your photos from a tutorial you have done for a DIY or a project, pastes them into a blog entry on their blog, possibly uses your tutorial word for word or “in their own words” and if you’re really lucky, links back to you to let you know they did it. If they don’t link back and pretend it’s theirs, that’s called blog scraping.
I have read countless bloggers who have posted their experiences of having their content stolen. One of the best reads is was what happened to Susan at Between Naps on the Porch and no matter how far along you are in blogging, you should read her story and advice on how to handle it all. Kristi from Addicted2Decorating also has a great post about this subject.
I had two different posts, copied by two different bloggers this month alone. The only reason I found out about them was when I looked at my Referrers page on my WordPress Dashboard and saw a link from an unfamiliar site, clicked on it and saw my post. The other was a Pingback (WordPress has a feature that when another blog links to you, they notify you). I am lucky that they did give me a link back to my blog as the originator of the content. But both my posts were there.
And I couldn’t understand how any blogger would think that was ok to do.
So maybe this needs to be spelled out in layman’s terms because there are a lot of new bloggers out there that think this is perfectly normal blog sharing. It is not.
Copying all the photos and instructions from a post/tutorial that another blogger did and posting it on your blog is a huge no-no.
There’s a pretty simple reason why you don’t do this (aside from the fact that it is stealing content).
Why would anyone go to see the original bloggers tutorial, if it’s already on your blog?
You basically get that bloggers views and visitor counts to your page. You get people that come to your site to click on your ads thinking you’re posting all this great content. And now you’re now making money off of the content that you did not write. And that blogger did all the work, took all the photos and wrote up all the instructions. And what do they get?
Now blogging rules for social sharing of creative content tend to be pretty relaxed in a lot of aspects. They are in many ways encouraged and spreads the word about a given blog and that bloggers projects, increases their traffic and all that I scratch your back, you scratch my back type of good stuff. Even with that however there are a lot of grey areas in this type of social sharing and you are fully within your rights to not allow anything from your blog to be shared by others without your consent. This is why for example at Link Parties there is usually a disclaimer that says you allow the host blog to use your submitted photo on their site thereafter for featured content. This is to cover their ground and ensure they don’t get a letter from your lawyer down the line. Taylor Davies for IFB (Independent Fashion Bloggers) wrote a great post about Copyright, Content Laws and the Social Sharing of blog material. It is primarily for US laws but it is very useful overall.
Now when this happened to me, the first thing I did was privately email both bloggers and explained the situation. Both graciously took down my posts immediately. They genuinely didn’t understand that this was not normal practice for sharing content. Now in that sense I was lucky because it could have been a lot worse. I also moved my Copyright Policy from my Contact Page and put in my sidebar on the main page of blog where everyone can see it, to show what I allow on my site. Everyone’s site is different so check their policies if you are unsure.
But it did get me to thinking a lot about my digital footprint. About the comfort level we have as bloggers with how much we share, what we share and the digital trail that we leave online of our identity. How trusting we are with the virtual strangers that visit our pages and take a peek inside our lives. One of my tutorials that was re-posted somewhere else were full of photos of my children in them. As a mom and as a blogger, I would never use a photo of another bloggers child without their consent. But as angry as I was and no matter how many fingers I wanted to point at the culprits, the only person I should be pointing it at is myself.
I posted the photos on here. The blame lies with me. We assume that because we wouldn’t do that to another blogger, that they won’t do it to us. Which is frankly utterly naive and completely stupid.
I also thought about my blog content overall. Will I look back and wonder in 10 years if a given subject was a good idea to have voiced an opinion on or shown a certain picture? I read a great post this week from Alex at I Don’t Blog about this issue and her perspective about her online presence. If Facebook was around when I was a teenager, I’d probably be going around un-tagging photos of myself and deleting my self righteous, over confident and under experienced commentary. The adult that I am now is so far removed from the person I was at 19. How will I feel about my posts in another decade? How will my kids feel about my posts in a decade? Who knows if I will even have a blog then. Pressing delete doesn’t eliminate everything.
Your digital paper trail can last a lot longer than you. Sometimes it appears on other peoples digital footprints.
I don’t want to stop blogging. It has been such a great experience and I have met some really amazing people because of this community. But I may be reworking my future content at least where my kids are concerned. So in many ways this could be a blessing in disguise. If you’ve had a similar experience, by all means sound off in the comments and let me know.
And in the meantime, I’ve said this before in my first 6 month Blogging Lessons write up and I still think it’s one of the most important things to recognize when you blog – Pause and Re-Read Before you Publish. Or Tweet. Or Facebook. Or Instagram. Or Comment. Or Pin. Or Tumble. Or LinkIn. Or Blog.
See the paper trail now…