Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Stolen Content: Why Should I Care?

In response to my plea to bloggers about stolen content, the comment came up that someone didn't really care if their work was stolen. I respect that perspective, but I do want to respond to this in a new post, hence today's addition. I've found out a lot of things as I've researched this topic, and I want to share what I've learned/think with everyone else

I also want to take a quick moment and point out that I am specifically talking about posting someone's entire post (or a great part of it) word for word without giving credit or getting permission from the author. Quoting a small bit of a post and then linking back to the owner is not stealing, and it doesn't apply in this situation.

So your blog content has been stolen. Does it really matter? That's a compliment right? That someone likes your work enough to steal it?

Wrong. Most of these sites (usually called "spam blogs" or "splogs" for short) are completely run by automated software. It's not a compliment to your hard work at all. Your blog just happened to be the one picked out of literally millions of other websites to be slurped from. In the event that the site isn't automated, the blog owner happened to find the right combination of keywords to get his/her blog higher in your post, and that's why you were chosen. It's not a compliment, it's just bad luck.

Why would someone be looking for certain keywords?

The name of the game is money. Many of these blogs use things like Google AdSense to make money. By using certain types of keywords, these sites can appear higher in search engine ratings (this is called search engine optimization, or SEO). Higher SEO = more traffic, and more traffic = more money.

So why should I care about that?

Well, maybe it's just me, but how do you feel about someone making money off of something you created instead of you? If that doesn't bother you, then I guess it's kind of a moot point. Personally, if someone's going to be making money off my writing, I want to be the person making that money. Also, the splog in question may be beating your blog in the search engine results, meaning you're getting cheated out of blog traffic you worked to create.

The money doesn't bother me, so it doesn't matter. After all, you take a risk when you post stuff on the Internet.

That is true, you do take a risk when you post stuff to the internet. You may think lightly about someone stealing your content, and that's fine. But that doesn't change the fact that it's just plain WRONG. Would you feel the same way if someone broke into your house and stole your computer/TV/iPod/etc.? So maybe that's comparing apples and oranges a little bit, but it's the idea behind the act that counts.

I once heard a quote (can't remember who from) that said "the only thing needed for evil to triumph is for good people to stand by and do nothing". It's the same way for this. If we want it to stop someday then we need to stand up for our rights. And it is a right. The content your write for your blog is automatically protected under copyright laws. You ARE the owner of that content. It's against the law to steal your content. But if we don't stand up for our rights as protected under that law, does it matter if the law was broken? And if no one stands up for a law, then is it effective? A law that no one follows isn't a law anymore.

Let's face it. Most of us would feel awful is something like this happened to our own blog. But there are (and always will be) some who it just doesn't matter to. So if after reading this you still don't care if your content is stolen, that's fine. Everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion, and I respect that. But I feel that I would be standing by and doing nothing if I didn't point out the reasons why I care. I am willing to fight for my rights as a blogger, even if I am alone in thinking that way.


Unknown said...

Great post! You bring up some really great reasonings and points.

Elie said...

Great post-You are talking about plagarism and it is wrong.

Jamie said...

I would care too.

fredamans said...

Great post!

Jackie said...

Alyssa, today once again all valid points and yes Elie is right it is plagarism and in any form that is wrong. The money making angle is even more upsetting because if someone else profits off the back of someone else's work to me that is worse than coming in my house and stealing my hard won belongings..

jackie b central texas

misskallie2000 said...

I searched trying to find a quote and could not. I read somewhere that this quote was from Germany during Hitler's picking up Jews. "No one said anything when they picked them up, it doesn't involve me, until they started picking up people like me"..or something similar to this.
That is what this reminds me of, until these people who say, so what, are involved, they will continue to say "So What", doesn't involve me..
I agree, plagarism is wrong and you have to stand up to the ones who commit plagarism. If we don't stand up now, we will have nothing to stand up for later.

Mandy said...

Great post! I totally agree with you.

GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

Great post! Plagarism is wrong and it's unfair to the people who worked hard on making that content in the first place. Keep fighting-I'm with you!

Amanda said...

I would definately care. I work hard on what I write, and they should too.

Unknown said...

The name of the game is money. Many of these blogs use things like Google AdSense to make money. By using certain types of keywords, these sites can appear higher in search engine ratings (this is called search engine optimization, or SEO). Higher SEO = more traffic, and more traffic = more money.
Huh, that answers the question of why someone would steal blog content. I had been wondering about that point.

A Bookshelf Monstrosity said...

I've only been blogging since October, and I didn't realize that "splogs" existed and routinely stole other peoples' work. Thanks for highlighting this timely problem.

Emily said...

Great post! I think that we as bloggers have to realize that our blogs are a significant investment. Maybe not of money necessarily, but definitely of our time and creative energy. What we put on our blogs is our own product and is for us to decide how to use. Thanks for posting this!