social media content theftA couple weeks ago on LinkedIn, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek blog highlighting negative social media behaviors. A week later, I submitted the same post to Business2Community who accepted and published the content almost immediately. (I am not a fan of linking to my own work, but in a couple paragraphs you will understand why I am breaking my own rule.) I am always honored when Business2Community publishes my work. I know there are a lot of people submitting work, not everything gets through, and sometimes there is a delay in publishing due to the amount of content being submitted. Both LinkedIn and Business2Community are fantastic resources that bring a lot of visibility, and I “heard” the good news of the B2C publication via twitter.

Twitter

Twitter is an interesting bird. I receive alerts on my phone of @ notifications. I click, smile to myself, go to thank the person, and then begin checking for other tweets. Lo and behold, the blog post is being tweeted out at a rapidly increasing rate. Time to get busy. Click click click.. ummmm what is this?? Someone scraped my blog?

What is Scraping?

This is how Google defines scraping:

Some webmasters use content taken (“scraped”) from other, more reputable sites on the assumption that increasing the volume of pages on their site is a good long-term strategy regardless of the relevance or uniqueness of that content. Purely scraped content, even from high-quality sources, may not provide any added value to your users without additional useful services or content provided by your site; it may also constitute copyright infringement in some cases.

Note copyright infringement. I call that theft, but copyright infringement sounds more politically correct. What bothered me the most was these sites were posting my work as their own. So. Not. Cool. What was worse is these sites claim to be SEO companies; the kind of “SEO company” that charges good hard working people for SEO and backlinks to these websites they are supposed to be helping. I also call this theft, but for political correctness I’ll call it a difference of opinion on what constitutes good business policy and ethical behavior practices.

Exhibit A

 

Exhibit B

Exhibit C

Exhibit D

Exhibit E

I am pretty sure you are seeing a theme here. Exhibits A-D are virtually the exact same design with minor changes (name, colors). I tried to protect the not so innocent by blurring out their website info. I did leave Click India Life up because they are the only ones who emailed me an apology and promptly removed the post on Facebook and their site.

My Point?

Too many people, too many companies, too many “social media managers” fail to listen. Too many content curators put good content out there and it is blatantly stolen. I do realize once I put content out into “teh interwebz” there will be people who believe it is free for the taking. It isn’t. And if you aren’t listening, you will never know when your ideas, your thoughts, your concepts are taken and claimed by someone else.

Solution

  • Begin listening! Set up “listening protocols” using advanced searches (Boolean), twitter, and your other social media sites.
  • Contact Google
  • Submit a DMCA takedown notice
  • Be Polite

Listening is part of the social media conversation, but it is also protecting yourself. Being creative is HARD, but it is a joyous endeavor. It takes a lot of work and energy. Don’t let people steal your work. Don’t let them take your joy.