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Hey, that’s MY blog post!!! July 26, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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A reader came on our blog, Poor Richard’s Almanac, with what we thought was an eminently sensible question. Unfortunately, we didn’t have an answer.

The reader noted that we publish a whole heck of a lot of original content, and wondered what we did to protect ourselves from being plagiarized. Plagiarism is just a fancy word for somebody stealing your original content and using it, without permission, generally as if it were their own, whether reposting it to their blog or dropping it into a term paper or what-have-you. He added that he too posted lots of original content and was concerned about protecting it from folks who have no scruples about helping themselves to other people’s research, hard work, style, and ideas.

We certainly couldn’t blame him. No writer, photographer, artist, or other creator of original content wants their work usurped and used without proper credit (and, as we’ll see, some don’t even want it used with credit). Publishers have long been vigilant about this, going after people who attempt to plagiarize their authors’ works, knowingly for profit or innocently passing information along, with a battery of lawyers. As far as blogs go, though, you’re on your own.

We’ve seen lots of attempts by bloggers to protect their content. Most put a copyright disclaimer over every photograph so it’s harder to copy. As for the writing, we’ve seen various versions of “this content protected by…” We’ve seen each post copyrighted with all rights reserved. We’ve seen hilarious threats of retribution from various gods, superpowers, sci-fi entities, even H.P. Lovecraft horror figures (thanks, Jodi, yours is the best!). We’ve seen very sober and lengthy warnings inviting violators to meet the original authors in court for copyright infringement if proper credit was not given and prior permission was not sought, in one case adding that such permission was never granted even when sought. (Hmmm.)

But does any of this really work? At a guess, no. Someone who’s immoral enough to steal your content is, in our opinion, unlikely to be deterred by a bunch of threats, however creative, dire, or legal they sound. After all, how would you ever know that someone had stolen your content, unless it suddenly appeared on a hugely popular blog or on the news? We certainly wouldn’t.

Mind you, the stolen-for-term-paper thing is under much better regulation now that most teachers and professors have recognized the potential. They regularly search the internet for phrases from term papers that seem a bit suspect, not exactly what they’d expect a particular student or any student to say, and they’ve become quite good at tracking them down to their original sources.

But the ‘stolen from your blog for my blog’ thing isn’t so easy or straightforward. We try to protect ourselves here at Poor Richard’s Almanac by being eccentric and writing about issues of interest to us in a very idiosyncratic way. It’s hard for any of us to believe that somebody would really want to try to steal our content. But if they did, we don’t know how we’d ever find out, much less do anything about it.

So we’re asking every blogger to tell us, and the reader who asked us, what you do to keep the unscrupulous and lazy good-for-nothing scavengers and scalawags lurking out there from appropriating your blog’s content for their own evil ends. Have you found something that works? How do those “protected by” thingies work? Enlightenment, please!

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Comments»

1. mb. - July 26, 2011

I write original patterns, mostly for quilt blocks but also other sewing projects, some knitting some recipes. I also make use of other people’s patterns & ideas & sometimes post about them. I try to set a good example by always credited the person or blog as well as linking back to the original post if I can find it. If I used part of an idea, I say that & give credit whenever I can, but sometimes I don’t remember where I got an idea (I KNOW I heard someone tell me to use balsamic vinegar to give pastry dough some punch, I wish I knew who told me because that person is a GENIUS) & I try to be honest about that, too. After that, I don’t worry about it.

Putting my patterns up for free has done nothing but good things for me; I get offers to teach that I never would have gotten before, I have made contact with people I never would have made & they have often had suggestions on refining or even better ideas of their own. Last month a friend on another continent heard my name mentioned in passing on a local television program as being the originator of a particular technique & that is all the credit I ever would have wanted anyway.

Thanks, mb, these are very good points. Maybe they’re some of the reasons why we’ve never tried to safeguard our own posts, either.

2. Jennie - July 26, 2011

I think your content is safer than some just because of the way you write. “Here at Poor Richard’s Almanac….”, “Our Friend Ben always says…”, etc. By mentioning very blog-specific things so often, you make it harder to copy-paste, and almost impossible to automatedly grab and republish all your content without it being obvious. Blogs with very generic content (how to do this, how to do that, with no personal experiences included) are a lot easier, even if there’s a copyright at the bottom.

(Disclaimer: Even though it kind of sounds like it from this, I promise I am not a content stealer!)

How perceptive of you, Jennie! We so appreciate your following our posts closely enough to see this! We (obviously) agree.

3. Tatyana - July 26, 2011

Good morning! Here are some suggestions.
1 – you can use Copyscape. It helps me.
http://www.copyscape.com.
2 – You can use a code to protect your content ( you can find it here: http://amitjainonline.blogspot.com/2009/04/disable-prevent-copy-on-blog-or-site.html)

Good luck!

Thanks, Tatyana! MUCH appreciated, as always!!!

4. Steve Sturtz - July 27, 2011

There is nothing I can do when someone in Texas uses my data because it is out of context. Yet, I know I am the only one who did the research and has the data.

So…I do nothing, knowing that she and God know.

Grrrr, so sorry that’s happened, Steve!


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