Don’t Steal My Stuff, Dude!

Did you know that content gets stolen all the time on the internet?ID-10064688

And I don’t just mean identity and credit card theft.  I’m talking about content.  A few years ago I was curious to find out how National Geographic Traveler magazine found my photo on my obscure little blog.  I did a search on Google for fish tacos, and sure enough, near the top of the Google images page was my photo… on someone else’s website!  I was shocked and immediately did a search on copyright infringement.  I learned that this is very common, and websites educating us on how to protect our intellectual property abound.  I also learned that not only are there rules and laws about it, but there is also etiquette.  Many of us are more than willing to share our content but only under certain conditions.DSCN3908Many people don’t even know they are stealing someone else’s intellectual property, whether it’s photos, music, recipes, or even just words we’ve jotted down.  It’s so easy to copy and paste content that many are unaware there is anything wrong with it.  In the case of the fish tacos I contacted the woman, and she opted to remove the photo.  Recently, I found a blog that had copied all of my posts and photos word-for-word from my other blog.  After hounding them with several emails, they finally responded to me that they would credit me for the content they had borrowed, and we were all happy.  While gracious about it, I still got the feeling this other blog owner felt somewhat entitled to my work.

A blogging friend from Romania recently reached out to me and informed me that a Romanian website had translated 10 Reasons Your Dentist Probably Hates You Too, received a lot of traffic, and had not credited me for the work.  I let it go, thinking it wasn’t worth the hassle to try to sort it out in a different language.  Some things just aren’t worth my time.

But it wasn’t until recently that I was truly appalled by another dentist’s behavior.  Lily over at Like Your Teeth sent me a note saying that she recognized my post on Facebook.  A dentist in India had copied part of my 10 Reasons post and posted it to his business Facebook page word for word… without linking back to Lolabees.  Lily and I both added to the comments attributing his post to this blog.  I then sent him a private message informing him that this was my intellectual property and that he needed to properly credit me for my work that he was using.  The next day after hearing no response from this dentist, finding that he had deleted both comments attributing “his” post to me, and (to top it off,) seeing that my post brought him the most traffic he’s ever had to his page at over 200 shares, I got pissed.

Then it was simple.  I reported it to Facebook, and within 24 hours, they disabled his post.

So there, thieving bastard!

Anyway, the point of this post is to spread a little awareness.  If you want to share a blogger’s content, look on their page for any copyright or Creative Commons guidelines.  This will help you understand what you need to do in order to use their content.  Most are happy to share as long as you credit their work back to their blog.  And please help be watchdogs.  If you recognize someone’s post, let them know, so they can get the credit they deserve.  We work hard to produce our content, and it’s the right thing to do.

Image courtesy of [image creator name] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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35 thoughts on “Don’t Steal My Stuff, Dude!

  1. That stinks…..but hey, look on the bright side….your content and photos were so good, folks copied. That use to happen to me all the time in homebuilding. I’ve had other builders and homeowners copy my plans/designs/décor right down to the wall color. It used to really piss me off and hubby would need to calm me down. I guess it means we’re really good at what we do. It would be nice to get the credit though 🙂

    1. Thanks, Ingrid. Very true. Isn’t it funny that when I think of it in the context of your home building, it seems flattering? I can see how that would be frustrating, yet flattering. Did these other builders take credit for it? I assume homes don’t get copyrighted. 😉

  2. Good for you for taking action and protecting your children, so to speak. And thank you for educating your readers without pointing direct fingers and being spiteful. That makes a big difference in helping people understand about copyright and learn how simple it is to protect your content. Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Lorelle. Interesting point you make about not pointing fingers at my readers. That never even occurred to me because I feel like they are the ones who “look out for me.” All along I’ve believed that the people stealing content are not my readers. 🙂 I just think so many people also don’t even know about copyright issues and intellectual property on the internet. I didn’t until I researched it. A few years ago when this first happened to me, I used your website to resolve the problem, and it’s still bookmarked on my computer! It’s a great breakdown of the whole issue, so thanks for that resource.

  3. Probably the most interesting thing that I’ve noticed about my blog and its’ usage is that on the Wikipedia page for the book/show, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, is a link to my blog. I think it’s because I have a photo of some of the detectives in the book in one of my blogs. But I took that from Google images. It’s all one big circle.

    1. No way! Oh, the irony. I went to look for it but couldn’t find it. It was unclear which was yours, and there were too many links for me to click on each one to find yours. That definitely exposes the realities of how the info gets on Wikipedia. It is one big crazy circle.

  4. It’s more pervasive than many realize. Here’s an article from wired.com about attempts to thwart IP thievery: http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/02/copyright-scofflaws-beware/
    It’s not unusual for Google to get all sorts of requests to shut down sites or pages that allege to contain copyrighted material. I think in a week, upwards of 3 million requests arrive and Google believes most of them are legitimate. I don’t mind people using my material on the Internet so as long as the “borrower” credits me by name or via a link to my blog. It can get really ugly when someone uses your words or images for commercial purposes. Take a look at the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, which is a formal treatise to educate people about piracy. As for the rest of us, well, be vigilant and if you know something that doesn’t belong, and you know who it belongs to, then e-mail the owner. We can think of that as our WordPress.com community patrol.

    1. Thanks for the link to that article. The numbers really are amazing. No wonder why Google has zero customer service. Oh, wait, that’s a different topic. 😉 But seriously, that # is not surprising. It’s just so easy to do without knowing anything is wrong with it. You’re right about doing our part– that’s exactly why I wrote this post. Maybe a few more people will be more vigilant.

  5. Bastards! I’m glad you turned in that Facebook hack. I’ve seen some of my photos on sites where the text is in Chinese and I had the same reaction as you did with the Romanian site – not worth the trouble.

    1. Right!? I had to turn him in because he was so blatant about the theft. Otherwise, I might have let it go for the same reasons you mentioned. It’s good to know, though, that Facebook takes these things very seriously, and it took no effort to get the problem fixed.

  6. Damn! Hell yeah, biatch!!! Lol Lol! 😀

    I actually exclaimed that out loud when I read “So there, thieving bastard”.

    I have to admit a little guilt about this. It’s so easy to do an image search and download and use what you need straight from Google! I mean, there’s nothing personal, it’s just what popped up on my screen, it worked, and I used it.
    I shouldn’t do that.

    But, of course, that is a far cry from the facebook wackoff that did this to you. I’m thrilled with your taking control of this situation. I just gotta, tell ya… I love justice. Even hope somebody sneezes in his cheerios tomorrow morning.

    1. Haha! Love out loud reactions!

      I may have shared some songs on my IPod once. Oops. I guess that’s the point. It’s so easy we can forget it’s wrong. BTW- did you know that WP has a feature you can set up that will allow you to search on your draft page for photos? It will also provide the link for you. Pretty awesome.

      The guy was so douchey that I had to fight back. I didn’t mention this b/c it was TMI, but I had commented on his FB post thanking the gal who linked to my blog. I hit send and then realized I wanted to say one more thing, so I had to write another comment. The a**hole actually had the audacity to delete the 2 comments attributing the content to me, but he left up the comment that had nothing to do with attribution, so all of his fans could see one more person adoring his brilliance. That was it. Them’s fightin’ words.

  7. Excellent post and information. I have had some of my photos snagged right up…out of my posts! I have since posted a copyright notice of all photos and content. THAT won’t really stop someone if they want it I guess! Yes…there are thieves everywhere…TB’s! Nice job in setting things right!

    1. Thanks, Victoria. That was the same reason I decided to add the copyright notice to mine. We don’t learn until it happens, I guess. You’re right. It still won’t stop most, but at least you know you’ve done your part to uphold communicate your standards. Who would think thieves would want to steal any of our blogging material!? But yes, they are everywhere…

  8. You’re right and my blog I do give credit to contents I use from other peoples written word but I must confess I do not always link back the picture as I get them usually from Google images and I see the same picture on more than one site. So I am not sure who is actually the real owner. I am not sure how to remedy that and will now think twice about using a pic without giving credit where credit is due. I wrote to one person in Germany who had wonderful pictures he took and contacted him and even added a nice link on my front page for others to visit. He was very appreciative and now have a new friend to boot.

    Okay I confessed now is that you in the ski mask at the beginning of this post?

    1. I have had that happen too, where I didn’t know who to link back to. I think in those cases, you just do what you can, and sometimes you can’t give credit.

      In fact, that is me in the mask. 😉 It’s actually from a free photo website. You can use their photos for free as long as you link back to their website in your post. Whenever I use there photos, I have a link posted at the end of the post that is actually a cut and paste link that they provide. It’s a great site. Here is the link from this post…
      Image courtesy of [image creator name] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
      (The link may not work in this comment b/c you have to go into html mode to add it.)

  9. PS, the picture in my Gravatar has been stolen and used on many Dog websites,they never asked. That is my dog and he gloats about, pbffffffffffffftttttttttttt

  10. hi from ecuador!

    your retort at the end made me chuckle. yes, it is so frustrating when others plunder our posts and don’t ask permission or give credit. i found you/this post from today’s wordpress article about using other’s photos.

    so how do you feel about reblogging? i would love to share this with my readers.. some truly understand and others don’t.. i think sometimes people will pluck an image from pinterest and say, ‘it came from pinterest’ without any clue that the owner of that image never intended for it to be there. they don’t say, ‘this pinterest or google image came from this photographer..’ – they just credit the big boys.

    your post reminds me that i should take time to search for images and content to see how far they’ve wandered from their rightful home! – the last time i checked pinterest, i was shocked.

    lisa/z

    1. Hi Lisa,
      Ecuador… definitely on my list! I see that post attracted your and my attention. Like I said, Grr! 😉

      I am a huge fan of reblogging. Thanks for asking. Share away! I’d love that. I think wordpress has set up some really nice features to help prevent their bloggers from “stealing,” and this is one of them.

      Funny you say that about Pinterest– just yesterday I was saying that Pinterest was so cool because the photos always go back to the link. I only use it for recipes, and the recipes always link back to the website. You can’t get the recipe without clicking on the photo, which links to the site. Now I can see how that would be different with just photos. Not cool. I really believe it’s lack of understanding or laziness that leads most people to do this.

      I do occasionally search for 1 of my posts. In fact I just did it this week and found another dentist from India who copied the entire post onto his FB page and linked his website in it. He got almost 400 shares for it! Anyway, it’s not as big of a deal for me b/c it’s not my business, but it still bothers me.

      I guess the only way to help is to keep spreading the word!

      1. yes, sometimes it’s just a case of informing others of the etiquette. long ago when my elementry art students protested that i did not allow them to use published photos from magazines for art competitions. I would state, “Does it seem fair that person saved his money for a good camera.. traveled half way around the world. Stalked the animal, printed the photo (before internet!) and had it accepted… and now you are going to swipe it and copy it and use it as your own? That’s wrong!’

        Education is the link, and WP has helped with this post about using other’s photos.

        Thanks so much. I look forward to sharing yours!

        Lisa/Z

  11. I landed here through Zeebra, and the pinterest issue.

    I see that you like reblogging, but in my opinion, the practice encourages content theft. My issue is less with images than with the written word, but when someone reblogs my post I treat it in precisely the same way as I would if they’d right-clicked an image – as content theft. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who allows reblogging to go on with their words or images is giving a tacit word of permission for other kinds of content theft. Using the word “reblog” doesn’t change the reality of what’s happening – someone is using my material without my permission.

    One problem with reblogging is that, while the source is connected to the first reblog, it’s stripped out after that. Beyond that, I simply do not want my material published on another site. Period.

    If I get a notice that someone has reblogged my material, I never, ever post that trackback “reblog notice” on my blog. I go directly to the person who has done it and tell them to take it down. I explain that while wordpress may think it’s hunky-dory, I don’t. You’d be surprised how many people are shocked – they assume that since WordPress allows it, it must be just fine.

    People will say, “Oh, it’s so nice – someone liked your stuff so much they wanted to share it.” Perhaps. More often, I’ve found it’s that someone is so lazy they’d rather post someone else’s material. There are entire blogs filled with nothing but reblogs. There’s a way to share without reblogging – it’s called linking.

    It’s interesting – I’m seeing more and more people who are serious about maintaining the integrity of their content placing very clear “Do Not ReBlog” notices in a prominent place on their blogs. I certainly have.

    1. Hi Shoreacres,
      I’m so glad to hear your perspective on this. You’ve definitely piqued my interest on this topic even further. I haven’t heard this before, but I see it must be a growing sentiment. You make some great points about getting permission to reblog, even if WP allows and encourages it. It would be a nice feature to add to actually require permission to reblog. I am learning that even with that, it’s still important to ask.

      I did not know that the original post is stripped after a second reblog. That defeats the purpose of why I support a reblog. The reason I like the reblog is that it requires you to go the the original blog for the full article. To me, that is much more valuable than someone copying my entire post but adding a link to my blog. If they give it all away, no one will ever go to my blog for the content. It’s probably different for people who have different purposes for blogging. I do it mostly for fun, so for me it’s more valuable to have more people read my content than not.

      As far as linking vs. reblogging goes, I do believe a link vs a simple reblog is more thoughtful. In fact, I almost never read re-blogs, and I HATE blogs that only reblog. I don’t really get the purpose of those. I agree, it’s lazy in some cases. I have on occasion linked to other posts that have inspired me, but only 1 time did I reblog someone else’s post because I loved it so much. It’s interesting that my stats were so low for that post. My posts don’t often get reblogged (I don’t exactly write about a topic that most bloggers care much about,) but when it does, I see very few links to my blog from a reblog. So I think it’s a common sentiment that most readers don’t care much about taking the time to read a reblog. I go to a blog to read that reader’s content, not something they’ve reposted from someone else, so in a sense, the whole program isn’t very successful, is it?

      Hopefully more readers will at least get to read your comment! We all have different boundaries about what/how we want to share our content.

    1. I don’t know! I just remembered an Italian friend of mine notified me that an Italian site was using it too. This world is getting so small. I also didn’t pursue this Romanian site either because all of the comments were pretty angry about what I had written (I used google translate to read some of them,) and I didn’t want to deal with the backlash, so I let someone else claim it! Haha! 😉

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