The Basics of Copyrighting Courtesies

  • 0
  • January 15, 2011

Over the past week, I’ve discovered content from Site Sketch 101 being published elsewhere around the internet. I first discovered this while doing some research to see how well I was ranking for some keywords I was targeting on Google. When I typed the phrase into Google, I discovered that someone else with an article of the same title was ranking for that phrase.

I decided to click through to see what they had that I didn’t only to be shocked by the results. They didn’t have anything that mine didn’t have because it was mine…it was a 100% duplicate of my article on their website.

I was upset to say the least because their copying of my content had cost me a key position for a keyword rank on Google, it cost me the resulting visitors to my site and the revenue that may have resulted from it.

It’s always in poor taste to steal the work of another artist and duplicate or redistribute it without permission. Very poor taste.

Of course, there are some times when you find a resource so valuable that you feel compelled to share it with your friends at your blog or website, but as you share content from another author with your readers, there are some courtesies you should follow to both protect yourself and to show genuine respect to the content creator.

  • Clearly Credit The Author: It’s not enough that you hide a link somewhere in the text back to the author’s work. When citing someone, the credit needs to be clear and obvious.
  • Link To The Original Content: The best way to implement our first courtesy of crediting the author is to link back to the original work. Again, make the link clear and obvious. Don’t make your reader guess where the link leads.
  • Make The Quote Stand Out: Don’t try to sneak material into your writing hoping that people will just assume it’s yours. Place quotation marks around your quote, use the blockquote function in WordPress or set it off with italics.
  • Never Copy Full Articles: Unless you have specific permission from an author to republish their work, it’s never a good idea to copy an entire article onto your website. Most serious authors will likely not grant permission to copy their entire work.
  • Use A Paragraph or Two At Most: If you’re using more than a paragraph or two of text, you need to contact the author for permission. Explain to them what portion you want to use and where it will be posted. Then yield to the author’s decision.

Below is an example of a quotation taken from another site being used in a way that would be considered in good taste:

Here’s where it gets interesting: how much extra would you pay for a plane that was guaranteed to be always on time, or a surgery that was always guaranteed to work? Suddenly, the same math… doesn’t work so well.

Seth Godin – The Certainty Premium

Next week, I’ll be sharing with you some information about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, how it applies to bloggers, how it protects copyright infringements and how to take action against content thieves in a way that the law will support.

I literally downloaded Title 17 of the United States Code and did my research the old fashioned way so stay tuned and I’ll break it down for you kindergarten style.

Disclaimer: Of course, I’m not a lawyer so I’m not offering any legal advice and I certainly make no warranties on my information, but I’ll share with you what’s worked for me.

    About Nicholas Cardot

    It's my personal quest to enable every person that I can to unlock that dormant potential concerning their online influence. Also, I'm a geek.

    62 Comments

    • Vivek Parmar says:

      Many new bloggers do these types of mistakes knowingly or unknowlingly. always in search of traffic and want an instant traffic, so they start doing this. One more thing some blogs use auto blogging feature and this helps them to get the full content from other blogs by only scrapping their feeds (to stop scrapping feeds stop full feed in wordpress)

      • Nicholas Cardot says:

        An author shouldn’t have to turn off full feeds and disable giving the full version of their content to their readers to stop someone else from doing something illegal and unethical.

        He or she should be free to distribute their content in the fullest form wherever they want without fear of loss.

        I offer a full feed at this site and I will continue to do so. To stop people from stealing it, I will act out according to the law. I certainly won’t change the quality of what I offer or how I offer it.

        • Amitash says:

          I offer a full feed too. My readers (not many) will have the privilege to read it directly from their syndicators instead of hopping into my blog.

          • Nicholas Cardot says:

            That’s the same reason I offer it. I want to make it as easy as possible to get the material. The less hoops they have to jump through, the better it is.

    • sarah says:

      Excellent. Glad to see you’re using this as an opportunity to teach and help others. Thanks!

      • Nicholas Cardot says:

        At first I was upset, but it was a great opportunity for me to learn about copyrights and how to take action to protect material. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise.

    • Gibson Goff says:

      Yeah, there’s no getting around this one, Nick. Some newby, hack one or two sentences is one thing. Still no good, but someone literally strips you article and slams it up on their site?!

      Clear intent. And it must be dealt with accordingly.

      Sorry it happened to you, Bub. Looking forward to your follow articles and how you dealt with it. Thanks, Nick. Keep the faith, Bro.

      • Nicholas Cardot says:

        Thanks, Gibson and please don’t be sorry for me. It’s been a great chance for me to learn and hopefully the situation and the resulting information will be able to help others who experience similar issues.

    • Murlu says:

      Usually I don’t even bother spending time to get ahold of these type of people but when it means that you’re getting a bump in rank – that’s when it gets on your nerves. It happens all the time unfortunately.

      I always try to lead into certain resources within my posts so if I’m talking about a particular technique and I want to share a bit of additional resources, I’ll make note that there are other posts out there by including the blogger’s name and title to their post.

      • Nicholas Cardot says:

        Most of the time, I’ve never notified them in the past either but when I noticed I was being outranked by my own content, I decided to draft up a formal complaint notice and send it out to a bunch of offending web hosts. The results were pretty great.

    • Radu Tyrsina says:

      But you should also rejoice :)
      If you got copied it means the content is great :D

    • Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing says:

      Stopping the full feed is a horrible idea, partial feeds are a horrible idea, but I digress..good to stick to your guns Nick.

      On a side-note – does this end the debate on whether Google is able to distinguish? Apparently they didn’t here.

      • Nicholas Cardot says:

        I’m sure that sometimes Google is able to distinguish, but if they steal the article right away, Google may not know which one came out first, plus the authority of the domain may weight into it and much more.

        Honestly though, I’m just thinking out loud and don’t really have any idea if they know or not.

        • Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing says:

          Still, I’d keep this handy as a possible example. Like so many others , this is another Google debate that rears up every few months.

    • Chris Longley says:

      Well I am the owner of the site in question here!

      Its a pity that Nicholas could not contact me directly to raise the issue and I would have happily removed the content.
      But he choose to take a high handed route. Maybe we could have had a discussion on something about SEO that might have bought some positive points although from a negative issue.

      In fact if I knew the keyword data he was talking about, I am quite sure I could convince him of a positive effect on his SEO efforts. Indeed, I did republish his full SEO`d linked titles right back to his own web pages…and thats negative SEO? Many would claim the contrary.

      A check of my page title the content is on and SEO results would clearly prove I am not trying to steal his thunder or content, as he likes to call me a content thief.

      I noticed Nicholas was a successful Blogger and wanted to provide information to my visitors about such. More than likely people could have let my site as an entrance to SiteSketch. Nicholas is a SEO protaganist so maybe he can reveal from his server logs how many visits he did receive, if at all.

      The only thing I find really strange is that Nicholas purports his great natural communical skills and blogging success. I would have hoped that this communication skills could have been used more directlly and approached me first, instead of treating me like somebody who isnt worthy of communicating with.

      • Nicholas Cardot says:

        Chris, I’ve noticed that this is the second time you’ve worked to call me out publicly at my own site which I don’t mind at all. Your thoughts are valid ones but I’d have a few points to offer.

        First, I contacted your hosting company because the copyright on your site said 2008 which led me to believe that it had been set up some time ago and wasn’t being regularly updated. It’s also not a high handed route because hosting companies are required to immediately contact their customers so that the issues can be resolved. By going through the legal department of the hosting company results are guaranteed.

        Second, you weren’t the site I mentioned above that was out ranking for my keyword. I’ve sent out about a dozen of those same notices to other sites. The most common responses have been something like this:

        1. I bought this site and that content was already there. I’m very sorry about this. I’ve removed it and I’ll be sure it doesn’t happen again. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

        2. A guest author submitted that article. I had no idea it was from your site. I understand how frustrating this can be so thank you for letting me know about it. We’ve removed it. It won’t happen again.

        3. I didn’t realize that it was inappropriate to use your articles in their entirety. I’m happy to adjust or remove it immediately. Thank you.

        4. Call me out publicly on my website for defending the use and distribution of my content.

        Actually, to be fair, only one person has gone with option number 4.

        There is nothing high handed about giving someone a fair warning. I’ve seen others sue outright for copyright infringement. I don’t believe in that. I send a firm warning and I don’t apologize for it.

        Then as a learning opportunity, I’ve posted some guidelines to help the readers here share content without upsetting the authors of the material. I didn’t publicly call anyone out on my website. You’ve now done that yourself.

        Also, I’m on vacation right now and when you emailed me yesterday, I was literally on a plane. By the time I landed you had already come out publicly stating that I was ignoring your emails. I apologize that I didn’t have access to them while on the plane.

        • Chris Longley says:

          Nicholas,

          You are on holiday so I won`t disrupt your time off with my distractions. But I would love to reply further at a later stage.

          I`ve called you out as you put it because i am transparent in as much I can try and show my website so to see that the page in question isnt SEO`d to ourtrank you. It will still rank on Page 1 even when i remove your links/content. But i would answer this in depth.

          I certainly wont make up some lame excuse and hide behind that.. I just bought the website and i didnt know…Ahemm indeed.

          One questions I can answer. Can Google define the difference of the original creator of the content……well essentially you are asking can G check the server timestamp of a html document creation? Well, yes I think G is clever enough to do that. So there lies the answer. The oriiginal document may not be the the original indexed file but it will eventually be the one that is solely attributed to the website that created it. But website ranking goes beyond content material anyway. Crawl rates wont matter either. Duplicate content penalties are a myth. Duplicate pages get ranked due to inbound links and page age.

          I can see why you are miffed about being out SEO`d by your own content in other sites, fair enough.

          I omitted the the courtesy of explaining the origin of the content on my website. My play on this is that yes you did benefit from the seo value from the links from my site…that in fact helped your ranking for those posts. Thats undisputable in SEO terms. I only take the last 5 posts….so the last post 5, gets removed on your next new post…so I dont hold on to the content forever. Thats what RSS is about and great for your seo efforts!

          Page titles and content alone are great for non competitve terms……in content anchor text, high ratio of IP address variations and domain age are really what makes websites rank. Not all things are equal in SEO….the variable is competing pages IMHO.

          Enjoy your holiday. I will remove your content/links by Monday 12 noon as this when my ISP is theatening to shut it down.

          You are a communicator. I suggest dealing person to person on such issues would be a more friendly approach.

          • Nicholas Cardot says:

            Although I appreciate the feedback, I’m not going to change the way that I deal with copyright infringement.

            I started by emailing individuals the other day with informal requests to have the content changed or removed and people literally said that they wouldn’t remove it so I did the research and decided to stop wasting my time.

            Although it may seem unkind, sending a fair warning is more than appropriate. It’s the legally prescribed way to let someone know that you’d like something changed in regards to a copyright infringement.

            The truth is, it’s my content. And although I don’t mean to be unkind, whether or not we disagree on the SEO’d nature of the content or of the copyright courtesies surrounding the issue doesn’t matter. I own the content and I get to determine how it’s used. If you don’t like my policies on it, I’m sorry, but it’s my content. If you think I’m wrong then fight the DMCA complaint and we can let the law decide.

            I know that sounds harsh or rude, but I honestly don’t intend it to be. The truth is that I have to assert what I believe is my legal right to protect the content that I’ve worked hard to create and if it becomes an issue, I will take legal action to defend what I believe in.

    • Collier Ward says:

      Thanks for the reminderc, Nicholas.

      One aspect of my site is too find and display architecturally based stories (content “aggregation” and “curation” are the terms, I believe).

      I go out of my way to credit the original source whenever I can. Sometimes a photo (or even the text itself) will appear to be “borrowed” from somewhere else without proper citation.

      Can you offer any advice on content that has come unmoored from a citable source?

      • Nicholas Cardot says:

        That’s a good question. I would at least mention that it doesn’t belong to you and that you don’t know who it’s from. Maybe mention where you saw it or mention that the source is unknown.

        To be honest, I don’t know an answer I’m guessing based on a good faith intention to be as honest with your readers as possible.

    • Dino Dogan says:

      Got to love a good scuffle. On a serious note, I read this in awe at how people will rationalize everything. Even stealing somebody’s content. But I guess if Hitler can convince himself he was doing the right thing than why not douchebags that steal content.

      For those interested, you can use http://copyscape.com/ to check if your stuff is reprinted elsewhere on the web.

      • Chris Longley says:

        Dino,

        I think Nichloas gave some valid reasons of why this might occur and lead to offending content removed. Maybe some of these people are decent but inexperienced…..do they still qualify as douchebags for that? Ignorance doesnt necessarily equate that they are bad people.
        Is it really necessary to make an anomally between Hitlers crimes and stealing website content? There is no real comparison.
        Anybody can site behind a computer and dish out offending remarks. I like Nichloas (and his content) because it proves people can write eloquent logic and reasoning to engage other users.
        Clearly some cannot.

        • Nicholas Cardot says:

          I agree with you, Chris. I believe that many are not tool bags but rather are misinformed or inherited the content. Most I’ve worked with have been very happy to adjust.

      • Amitash says:

        That was awesome Dino.. Loved it. and this is the first time, im reading the comments for a much longer time than the article itself.

      • Nicholas Cardot says:

        I’ve actually discovered Copyscape as a result of some tweets that I sent out about this. It’s a really great resource for tracking this type of stuff.

        Although some are downright wrong about the way that they took the content, some just did it because they purchased the site or because they didn’t know what a fair use of someone’s article is.

        I don’t necessarily think that they are all bad which is why I’m happy to send out the DMCA compliant take-down notices. They’re effective and most people who get the notice are more than happy to comply.

    • Tom Huntington says:

      Go Nick!

      Your upset certainly makes sense. I am more than a little shocked to hear your story. I continue to be an idealist, I guess.

      What I’m impressed by is your response and the balanced clear guidance you are offering. I know I may be reading this into your post, but it sounds like you are taking the “education response” (i.e. maybe this person who did this just didn’t know any better. O.K. I’ll make my best effort to educate him/her and in the process anyone else out there in the blogosphere who may not know this either). I find your post so inspiring. I know I’d just be pissed off and reactive, and it would not have occurred to me that the person who did it didn’t know they were stealing-lying-misrepresenting themselves. As a man who thinks there are no character issues, just skill issues, I really like your educational response!!! You’re a role model!!
      Tom

      • Nicholas Cardot says:

        I have to be honest. At first, I was just really upset, but as soon as I started contacting people, I began to learn quickly that many of them just didn’t know or that it was a mistake. Perhaps they were just saying that to take the heat off of themselves or perhaps they were being honest. I don’t know their motives but I like to believe in people so if they were glad to take it down then I’m glad to believe them.

    • Derek Jensen says:

      That’s just irritating! I’m sorry to hear the content here is being copied for no apparent reason. No reason the blogosphere is getting bloated and cluttered. It’s because people aren’t coming up with their own content.

      Guess they aren’t trying to make it anywhere.

      I thought I’d rant. Haha

      • Nicholas Cardot says:

        You’re always welcome to rant. You make a good point though. People want to make it big online but they absolutely refuse to do the work that it takes to get recognized. It’s really a shame if you ask me.

    • Amitash says:

      This happened with me as well. We have to talk to the miscreants and let them know.

    • Adebola says:

      @Chris,

      “You are on holiday so I won`t disrupt your time off with my distractions…”

      Are you sure you didn’t disrupt Nick’s time off with your long post? It will surely take so much time to read that. lol

      It is good Nick pointed this out and chose to educate rather than call people names or take a legal action.

      So many people may be reading this blog who don’t know what they are doing but now I am sure they know!

      keep up the great work Nick!

    • Atul Vhale says:

      People who steal content are always new bloggers, they don’t have good experience in writing and blogging. But this really big pain when someone steal your content and still his blog’s keyword get positioned over you.

      • Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing says:

        Not entirely true Atul, many are indeed new and ignorant, while many more are quite experienced…
        They purposely set up “auto-blogs” to scrap content on auto pilot.

        • Andrew @ Build Blog says:

          I agree with Dennis on this one. The site I got shut down recently asa result of copying my posts was a PR6 and had been around for years.

          Andrew

          • Nicholas Cardot says:

            I agree. I’ve seen those auto blogging plugins floating around the internet. It’s really sad.

            What ever happened to the intention of making profit from providing value to people you do business with? I love making money on this site and I’m starting to do well on affiliate sales, design work and more, but I love it because I feel like I’m actually providing something of value to people. It’s a good way to profit.

    • x-tra says:

      Writing a good post take a lot of time and energy and I definitely understand that it make you upset if someone steal your stuff. People should write their own shit. It is ok to get inspired somewhere to write a blog, but people should write their own stuff, with own words.

    • Andrew @ Build Blog says:

      Nicholas,

      I’ve just gone through the exact same experience.

      One blog was copying ALL my posts. I’m going to say that again…the blog was copying ALL my posts.

      Can you imagine how I felt? A blog with all my original writing and images just copied.

      I went through the DMCA process and got the site shut down.

      Andrew

      • Nicholas Cardot says:

        That’s great that you got them shut down. I’m thankful that the DMCA is set up the way that they are. They have an excellent system that protects both the infringer and the owner of the copyright in a way that makes it really safe for both sides to take care of business.

    • Carolee a.ka. Blogging Biz Mom says:

      They copied it all WORD for WORD?

      That is BS…

      Nicholas- I just love how you turn something negative into an educational experience.

      Funny, I was just thinking about copyrighting the other day…I had a spammer ask if they could use my content if they linked back. I marked it spam and forgot about it. Maybe I should go check…

      @Andrew- all I can say is Holy sheep-shit, Batman! That is totally uncalled for!

      I cannot believe people have the gall to do that.

      • Carolee a.ka. Blogging Biz Mom says:

        Just thought of this….

        …back when I was with an MLM, I would craft my own ads…a bit different from the ones the upline had created.

        Imagine my shock when I went to post ads and right on top of the list was MY AD, with someone elses name & website link!

        Very frustrating!

        • Nicholas Cardot says:

          When it first happened, I was furious. But now that I know how to deal with it, I just shoot a DMCA compliant notice over to the offending party and it really takes care of itself.

      • Andrew @ Build Blog says:

        Carolee

        It actually took a lot of effort to find out what to do and then go through the DMCA process and prove they were my posts, etc.

        Worth it though!

        Andrew

        • Nicholas Cardot says:

          I’m going to try to get a post up by the end of the week that shows the DMCA process that you need to go through because as you said, it was a pain trying to figure it all out. Now that I have a nice template to go by it’s pretty easy to take care of it.

    • Shawna says:

      Yep, that would fry my baloney, too. Thanks for the tips on how-to respectfully.

      • Nicholas Cardot says:

        Ha ha. I’ve never had fried baloney. Is it good? LOL

        I was pretty upset at first. I’m pretty happy now that I know how to deal with it.

    • Patricia@lavender says:

      Hi Nicholas

      Sadly some people run their businesses and their blogs the same way….not ethically or with integrity!

      If you have found that someone is stealing what is yours, you can take recourse. A friend of mine had the same thing happen.

      If it had been quoting you or saying a line that was similar, then okay. But to take complete works that is not right!

      Will be reading with interest what your next post holds on all of this. Maybe you could write an email and ask for them to take it down. If they do not, then you can take action.

      I know when I do research especially if I am writing a post that is just on say medical facts; I can’t change results of controlled studies but I can personalise the post with how I write it. Which is completely different to someone stealing your work.

      Patricia Perth Australia

    • Donaire Montiel says:

      So what did you do exactly? Did you just let it go or do something about it? I usually ignore it ‘coz I’m sure one day they’ll get what they deserved.

      • Nicholas Cardot says:

        I definitely took appropriate legal action and I’m working on describing how to do it to be compliant with the law. I’m going to create some sample letters that you can send to copyright infringers and to hosting companies that will get your material removed quickly. It should be up by the end of this coming week.

    • Ryan Critchett says:

      This happened? Man! I’ve never run into something this direct, but a couple similar instances. Someone posted near duplicate content in a forum from an information product I created and sold.

      I’m ok with that, if there was an attribution. No attrib! I let it go. What did you do?

    • Lucy @ VideoCharacter says:

      Gosh, we all know why they do this. They should have asked permission from you if they wanted to post your article. In their post, did they state who wrote the article that’s not in your name?

    • Reza Winandar says:

      Just ask for the author’s permission and you will be fine.

    • ah hong says:

      It’s kinda hard to prevent people from copying our content. Seriously Google needs to think a way on promoting original content in the search result. Nick, maybe you should report that copycat site to Google and let them take appropriate action in penalizing their ranking.

    • Aetiyuel says:

      Totally agreed with your article post Nicholas, I’ve been through this attach of sneaking my material, I guess this article should be promoted on a large scale. Many thanks buddy !

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