What I Did When Someone Stole my Blog’s Content

S is for Stealing ContentBy Laura Christianson

I am steamed.

A few minutes ago, I received a “pingback” on the blog post I published Monday about redesigns to the major social media outlets. (A pingback is an email message that includes a link to a website or blog that links to your article).

Interested to see who was linking to an article I’d labored over for many hours, I checked it out. The site had reprinted my article, in its entirety.

Not only that, but the site’s owner placed her own byline directly above my article. And she made no attempt to link back to the article on my site.

Even worse, the site that reprinted my article was another social media marketing company! A company that I had liked on Facebook (and have very recently dis-liked). Aaarrrrgh!

As you can imagine, I took immediate action. I posted the following comment on her blog, beneath my article:

Please delete this article from your website immediately. The content, in its entirety, has been stolen from the Blogging Bistro website, where it was originally published March 18, 2013 at http://www.bloggingbistro.com/facebook-google-youtube-pinterest-twitter-get-major-redesigns/.

You did not ask for nor receive permission to reprint the article; thus, you are breaking copyright law.

I can’t believe that a marketing company would have the audacity to steal someone else’s content. You should know better.

I sent a similar message via email directly to the blogger/marketer. A couple of minutes later, I received the following reply from her:

We apologize as we weren’t stealing your content – we linked to your website and state that it is your information in the post. We had planned to also link to your Facebook page tomorrow via a scheduled post. We can remove it if you wish. Didn’t mean to ‘steal’ we were simply sharing an informative article.

The blogger followed it up six minutes later with this message:

I never took credit for it at all. It states clearly in the article that it is yours- with links AND images. I will remove of [sic] you don’t want the shared/promoted exposure that’s your choice.

Can you see the steam shooting out my ears?

After double- and triple-checking my article on their website and taking screenshots of the entire article to see if I’d missed my own byline and the supposed link to my website (neither of which were visible to the naked eye), I replied:

When you reprint an entire article without asking or receiving permission from the author, that is stealing. Check copyright laws on this. I’m not seeing a link or any attribution to the original source — just your own byline and my article, reprinted wholesale on your site.

For future reference, whenever you share someone else’s content, you are allowed to publish a limited excerpt (length of excerpt depends on the length of the original article — for a blog post, it’s usually a couple of lines or a very short paragraph) with an attribution to the author and a link back to the primary source.

But you can never, ever reprint an article, song lyrics, poem, book chapter, blog post etc. in its entirety without written permission from the author.

Disguising “stealing” as “sharing” wouldn’t go over well in court. Please remove the article immediately. If you want to compose your own original promotion of the article along with my byline and a link to my site, you have permission to do that. That would be genuine and honest sharing.

To her credit, the marketer immediately took my article off her site. She replaced the reprint with an appropriate intro, link to my article, and credit line.

If she hadn’t, I would have been sorely tempted to use the power of social media to alert her clients and prospective clients (and the rest of the world) that this woman has no qualms about stealing other people’s content. She really wouldn’t have wanted me to go there.

So, readers, did I do the right thing? What would you have done?

Image courtesy of morgueFile

  • http://bloggingbistro.com/ Laura Christianson

    Way to go for speaking up, Angie. If we don’t say anything about these issues — whether the person did it intentionally or it was an honest mistake on their part — we can’t expect things to be made right. I urge you to continue speaking up rather than allowing yourself to grow bitter over it. From personal experience, I can testify that bitterness is not healthy for the spirit, mind, or body.

  • http://bloggingbistro.com/ Laura Christianson

    Way to go for speaking up, Angie. If we don’t say anything about these issues — whether the person did it intentionally or it was an honest mistake on their part — we can’t expect things to be made right. I urge you to continue speaking up rather than allowing yourself to grow bitter over it. From personal experience, I can testify that bitterness is not healthy for the spirit, mind, or body.

  • Pat W. Kirk

    Oops. I’ve been guilty of that. Promise it wasn’t meant badly. As you said, it was on Google images and didn’t appear to have a copyright notice.

  • Pat W. Kirk

    Oops. I’ve been guilty of that. Promise it wasn’t meant badly. As you said, it was on Google images and didn’t appear to have a copyright notice.

  • Diana Flegal

    I agree with Richard, but you applied the well worn adage this industry has to live by- “do not burn any bridges”. Well done!

  • Diana Flegal

    I agree with Richard, but you applied the well worn adage this industry has to live by- “do not burn any bridges”. Well done!

  • Linda Wood Rondeau

    It’s a crazy world out there. Some blogs have the option of reblogging at the bottom of their posts but it is an automatic link back to the original blog. I always let the original blogger know that I have reposted with the option of voluntarily removing the posts if they so desire.

  • Cyn Mobley

    This may post twice — apologies in advance. I had a reply typed out but then it disappeared when I logged in.
    I’m an attorney and a published novelist, though not specifically an intellectual property attorney. I’ve read the statutes, and I’m not aware of any exception to copyright laws for music for worship services. The rules for music and lyrics are more stringent than those that apply to novels and blogs. There’s fair use, there’s satire, there are other exceptions — but not worship exceptions. I’d be pleased to be corrected if someone has a cite to an applicable statute.

  • Linda Wood Rondeau

    It’s a crazy world out there. Some blogs have the option of reblogging at the bottom of their posts but it is an automatic link back to the original blog. I always let the original blogger know that I have reposted with the option of voluntarily removing the posts if they so desire.

  • Cyn Mobley

    This may post twice — apologies in advance. I had a reply typed out but then it disappeared when I logged in.
    I’m an attorney and a published novelist, though not specifically an intellectual property attorney. I’ve read the statutes, and I’m not aware of any exception to copyright laws for music for worship services. The rules for music and lyrics are more stringent than those that apply to novels and blogs. There’s fair use, there’s satire, there are other exceptions — but not worship exceptions. I’d be pleased to be corrected if someone has a cite to an applicable statute.

  • http://bloggingbistro.com/ Laura Christianson

    Linda – Interesting about the “reblogging” option. Excellent idea to let the original writer know you reposted — I assume you’re doing this only for blogs that do include that “reblog” option. If they don’t, you should consider the article copyrighted, in which case you would need to obtain permission before reprinting it.

  • http://bloggingbistro.com/ Laura Christianson

    Linda – Interesting about the “reblogging” option. Excellent idea to let the original writer know you reposted — I assume you’re doing this only for blogs that do include that “reblog” option. If they don’t, you should consider the article copyrighted, in which case you would need to obtain permission before reprinting it.

  • http://bloggingbistro.com/ Laura Christianson

    Diana – Thanks. Missed you at Mount Hermon! People were talking about you… in a good way, of course.

  • http://bloggingbistro.com/ Laura Christianson

    Diana – Thanks. Missed you at Mount Hermon! People were talking about you… in a good way, of course.

  • RhondaHurwitz

    Laura, great blog post. And as is often the case, the comments of your readers made it twice as good! I have a professional interest in this topic related to my client, icopyright.com — perhaps I could interview you for a future blog post. Will contact you offline!

  • RhondaHurwitz

    Laura, great blog post. And as is often the case, the comments of your readers made it twice as good! I have a professional interest in this topic related to my client, icopyright.com — perhaps I could interview you for a future blog post. Will contact you offline!

  • http://bloggingbistro.com/ Laura Christianson

    Thanks, Rhonda. Just received your email and will get back to you after reading your article.

  • http://bloggingbistro.com/ Laura Christianson

    Thanks, Rhonda. Just received your email and will get back to you after reading your article.

  • Judy Vandiver

    Laura, I took a long break from writing to take care of a friend with leukemia. Recently I have reopened my website and facebook page and was reminded of so much you taught me at Mount Hermon in 2011. Reconnected to your site, but now I have a question about pingbacks. Do I have to set something up on my page so that I receive pingbacks? I’m reading everything I can on your site. Thanks for all the great information.

  • Judy Vandiver

    Laura, I took a long break from writing to take care of a friend with leukemia. Recently I have reopened my website and facebook page and was reminded of so much you taught me at Mount Hermon in 2011. Reconnected to your site, but now I have a question about pingbacks. Do I have to set something up on my page so that I receive pingbacks? I’m reading everything I can on your site. Thanks for all the great information.

  • http://bloggingbistro.com/ Laura Christianson

    Hello, my Texas friend with the cool jewelry! To make sure WordPress alerts you about pingbacks, in your Dashboard, go to Settings>Discussion and check the box that says “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks).”

  • http://bloggingbistro.com/ Laura Christianson

    Hello, my Texas friend with the cool jewelry! To make sure WordPress alerts you about pingbacks, in your Dashboard, go to Settings>Discussion and check the box that says “Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks).”

  • Judy Vandiver

    Laura, thanks… now how did you remember that I love jewelry so much. (My daddy used to call me Gaudy Maudy! I like my bling!)

  • Judy Vandiver

    Laura, thanks… now how did you remember that I love jewelry so much. (My daddy used to call me Gaudy Maudy! I like my bling!)

  • Haloot

    I need your advise. I am about to put a feature in my website which is the real estate news. My plan is to get maybe 3-4 sentences of the news from other website and when the reader click the read more the reader will be redirected to the website where I copied the news. Is it ok if I do that or I still need to ask permission from the owner? Thanks..

  • Haloot

    I need your advise. I am about to put a feature in my website which is the real estate news. My plan is to get maybe 3-4 sentences of the news from other website and when the reader click the read more the reader will be redirected to the website where I copied the news. Is it ok if I do that or I still need to ask permission from the owner? Thanks..

  • http://bloggingbistro.com/ Laura Christianson

    I would definitely ask permission from the owner — it’s just a polite thing to do. Also, if you’re excerpting 3-4 sentences, copyright could depend on the length of the original article. For instance, if the entire article is 5 sentences long and you quote four of them — not good. But if the article is 35 sentences long, quoting 3-4 sentences may be okay. Regardless, I’d get permission first. Most people appreciate incoming links, but they want to make sure that the sites that are linking to them publish quality content and are reputable.

  • http://bloggingbistro.com/ Laura Christianson

    I would definitely ask permission from the owner — it’s just a polite thing to do. Also, if you’re excerpting 3-4 sentences, copyright could depend on the length of the original article. For instance, if the entire article is 5 sentences long and you quote four of them — not good. But if the article is 35 sentences long, quoting 3-4 sentences may be okay. Regardless, I’d get permission first. Most people appreciate incoming links, but they want to make sure that the sites that are linking to them publish quality content and are reputable.

  • http://www.jamhands.net/ Ali

    This happens to me on a weekly basis at least. It is so frustrating. Between facebook and random blogs stealing content, it is millions of views that have not gone to my site. The few times I have asked people to remove my content they have stolen, they get extremely angry and urge their hundreds of thousands of facebook fans to visit my site and leave nasty comments. It happens to most bloggers eventually and it sucks every time. :(

  • http://www.jamhands.net/ Ali

    This happens to me on a weekly basis at least. It is so frustrating. Between facebook and random blogs stealing content, it is millions of views that have not gone to my site. The few times I have asked people to remove my content they have stolen, they get extremely angry and urge their hundreds of thousands of facebook fans to visit my site and leave nasty comments. It happens to most bloggers eventually and it sucks every time. :(

  • Lynda Jones

    Way to go! Good for you! I’ve had my blog and website duplicated, with a few words changed so it’s not exactly the same, and there’s not a single thing I can do about it!

  • Lynda Jones

    Way to go! Good for you! I’ve had my blog and website duplicated, with a few words changed so it’s not exactly the same, and there’s not a single thing I can do about it!

  • Anne Rogers

    All photos are copyright of the photographer, whether or not they carry the copyright symbol. Unless you know they’re cleared for use, they shouldn’t be used without permission.

  • Anne Rogers

    Certainly in the UK you must have a licence to use worship songs/lyrics in church.

  • http://bloggingbistro.com/ Laura Christianson

    Agreed, Anne! People assume that just because an image is on the Internet, that must mean it’s not copyrighted and that they can use it for free, anywhere and everywhere. That is definitely not the case.

    Same goes for songs, lyrics, and articles, book excerpts…