Steal This Blog Post

Peter Kim recently wrote on the plague of plagiarism. I don’t really see it as a plague, having your work copied is merely a byproduct of producing digital content. Many fight it. I’ve put it to work for my music and I do the same for the words I write.

Steal this blog post.  I’m not joking.  Copy-paste this post onto your own blog or site. You can credit me if you want to (this blog is registered under a creative commons license meaning you’re encouraged to do this) but if you don’t want to, that’s just fine.

Why?

I want to see my ideas spread

I don’t necessarily care if my name is always behind them. It’s nice to get credit, and a majority of people actually do credit – but that’s not why I’m sharing ideas. Seeing them spread, whether I’m credited or not is reward enough.

The people smart enough to sort the wheat from the chaff don’t read scraper sites

I’d be shocked if anyone is actually subscribed to true scraper sites.  And if anyone stumbled across your content that was scraped, it’s blindingly obvious it was scraped. If people can’t figure this out, they’re probably not the type you want to connect with anyway.

The engines are smart, they know what the original content is

This post will outrank those who steal it verbatim at a later date.  Any site outright stealing content is not going to acquire as much engine authority as the original site.  There are enough intelligent people threading the web in meaningful ways that long-term this counters attempts from those who leech but don’t contribute.

It’s going to happen anyway

Over time, several readers have pointed out to me that other sites outright copy-paste posts from this blog. I’m well aware.  The web makes copy-paste simple enough that others are going to steal your content. You might as well embrace it rather than play digital whack-a-mole and go after it (you’re fighting a losing battle).

So what can you do to embrace it?

Put the scrapers to work for you

Use Yoast’s great RSS Footer Plugin so that if anyone uses your feed, it will be clear the content is coming from your site. Also if you do the related links thing, make sure to put them inside your posts itself instead of using a plugin (unless your plugin is actually adding those links to your RSS feed along with posts).  Then if someone scrapes a single post, they are going to scrape a whole bunch of links along with it even if there aren’t links in your post.

Use creative commons

I’m not going to say creative commons is perfect. But at least it encourages re-use with attribution. If it even reminds just a few people to attribute who otherwise would not have, it’s a good thing. Remember that creative commons does not replace copyright, rather, it allows you to modify your copyright terms so your work can succeed in a digital world, legally.  A creative commons license is in essence a marketing tool if you think about it.

If they aren’t stripping out your links, do nothing

Your site and all the other sites you link to will enjoy free links.

If they are stripping out your links or not crediting you, send a friendly email

You’d be surprised how often a friendly email asking others to credit works.

If authoritative sites use your post ideas, well…it happens

On December 3, 2008 I wrote a post titled how to overcome writer’s block. On September 1, 2009 SEO Book wrote a post of the exact same title.  Chris Pirillo wrote the same post on September 10, 2009. It’s not an altogether original post idea in the first place so I’m not going to claim original ownership (and I doubt they will try to either) but I want to illustrate that this situation will happen to you too. Enough people are participating that good ideas – original or unoriginal – don’t happen in a vacuum.

Bottom line?

Embrace the reuse, remixing or even outright theft of your content or ideas – fighting it is in most cases a waste of resources and is something that’s usually not a big deal. As a digital content producer, the sooner you make peace with this, the better.

The web is in many ways a naturally a self-corrective mechanism. With the ways social media and search engines are evolving, if they want to continue to inspire independent content producers to put their work out there (something they need to survive) they will continue to provide greatest benefits to the original creator. If you stop and think about it, the current state of the internet does an exceedingly good job of this which is amazing considering the complexity of the system.