Way back when Brainripples first sprouted, I told you that the pirate’s life just isn’t for me. I respect other people’s work, and I request permission before I use another person’s creation. Spending months tackling the delicate permission/consent request process for an upcoming book has afforded me an even deeper appreciation for the importance of respecting every author’s work.
Recently I’ve experienced increasing instances of content theft online. I’d like to say that it’s because folks just love my work so much, they forget to ask before they use it. Unfortunately, in just about every instance my work appears to have been “scraped” for a “splog.”
“Scraping” can refer to automated content theft: as I understand it, software is used to extract blogging content as it is syndicated (e.g. RSS).
“Splogging” refers to “spam blogs”: blogs which scrape content and repost it at a website, often filled with advertisements.
The reason this happens is simple: typically this is an attempt to make a profit by using other people’s content to drive traffic to a website (often filled with advertising).
So why am I talking about this uninspiring and somewhat unfortunate topic at Brainripples?
We all have different motivations for creation. Whatever our reasons for creating (and blogging about our creations), such creation requires time, energy, effort, and often a very personal investment in our work. Speaking for myself, it’s disheartening (to say the least) to find my work used without my permission solely for someone else’s profit. (Ever heard of the term “starving artist”? I may not be starving, but I’m not relaxing at a beach resort either.)
I’m writing about content theft at Brainripples to help share a little of my learning. There are already some outstanding experts out there blogging about content theft prevention who offer helpful advice, ideas, and resources for how to protect your work, how to handle content theft, and how to understand copyright.
Here is a selection of these resources. If you have some of your own to share, please feel welcome to let us know in the comments! (At this point, I can use all the help I can get!)
Lorelle on WordPress is a champion in knowledge sharing. Check out her articles:
The BlogHerald has recently posted a couple helpful articles as well which I refer to regularly:
You can get helpful details about copyright from the US Copyright Office, the Creative Commons, the ever-expanding Google, and numerous other online resources:
You can read a summary of the original legislation for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 at the US Copyright Office Legislation page. Below is a direct link to the .pdf version of this document (note: when you click this link, you will launch (or be prompted for) Abobe Reader):
These are all just starting places. As Lorelle VanFossen of Lorelle on WordPress tells us, “The first step in learning about what you can do when someone steals your content is to know that it will happen […]”.
I’m not an expert yet. I’ve only had to tackle about 10-20 instances of content theft (knock on wood!!). That’s probably just a sprinkle of sand on the beach compared with the ocean of trouble that some of the more popular bloggers have to swallow.
I’m of the mind that art begets art: we artists have been generating ideas off one another since humans first put chalk to rock. However, if someone likes my work so much that they would like to use it directly in their own work, the process is really simple: all they have to do is ask for my permission, and wait for me to give it; (as Geraldine Hartman kindly demonstrated yesterday when requesting to use a piece of my photography. Thanks Geraldine!).
Don’t get mad: know your work, know your rights, and take action. Then, get back to creating!