Why You Shouldn’t Steal Content

by admin on July 16, 2010

Edited to add:

Please note the edit at the bottom…

I’m on vacation in Wasaga Beach, ON… I’ve got a killer tan, a new tattoo and apparently, a new fan of our awesome content creation over at Outspoken Media. Namely, the folks at Blast Creative owned by Brenda Segna.

I forget how I stumbled upon it, but the Blast Creative Facebook page (click the social tab or look at the handy dandy screen shot I took for when it is undoubtedly deleted) completely ripped all the internet marketing service descriptions from the services section at Outspoken Media (and they weren’t the only ones – one gloriously smart company didn’t even remove our company name from the lifted content).

Ripped as in they simply replaced our company name with theirs without even an attempt to edit it otherwise.

Now, I know Lisa Barone is an amazing writer, but when you promote your company by telling folks that the CEO of said company is:

“…an award winning journalist with over 20 years experience. Brenda’s writing career as a freelance writer is what taught her to write with an amazing clarity. She is also a Webmaster and Search Engine Optimization Consultant who uses her talents as a Writer to help BLaST Creative address client needs from both business and text content perspectives.”

and then STEAL the content of another company – especially mine – to get clients, I kind of take issue with it. Developing a site comprised solely of technically unique content may be bad, but developing a site – or brand – with stolen content is much worse. Building a brand on someone else’s dime is fine – but building a brand on someone else’s work is a big mistake.

If you steal the wrong person’s content [waves] you could end up with huge branding issues – damaging your online reputation and costing you credibility with your customers or clients – if (and more likely when) they find out about it. Not only that, but copyright violations can indeed be deemed a felony offense with the right circumstances in play.

How to write [your own] quality content

First, learn what truly unique content is. Then subscribe to the feeds at Copyblogger and Outspoken Media. In my opinion, Brian and his crew, along with Lisa Barone (bias admitted, but I thought this prior to partnering with her – thus WHY I partnered with her) are two of the most knowledgeable voices in producing web content available to you. You’ll find posts like:

The thing to remember when writing online content, especially “service pages” or other content that essentially define your brand to potential clients, customers or the public at large is that you need to find your own voice. Without it, your content is doomed to merely be an imitation of someone else’s – even if you *didn’t* blatantly steal it.

What to do when your content is stolen

I could regurgitate some information here, but Lorelle did an extremely comprehensive post on it already, so why not simply let her explain it.

Edited to add:

Since this post went up, I have received countless emails from Blast Creative/Brenda Segna… first angry and knee jerk in reaction.

Then I finally received an apologetic one (several of them), admitting the mistake. They cited an intern as having lifted the content and while in the Internet world, that is almost “the dog ate my homework” for an excuse I believe Brenda “gets” that it was ultimately the responsibility of Blast Creative as a whole regardless of who did or didn’t lift the content. The stolen content has been removed.

I won’t delete the post as content theft is an important topic and one that should be addressed and I feel this post offers helpful advice to folks creating unique content and trying to protect their own. Additionally, Brenda cannot take back the multiple emails she sent trashing me to folks who retweeted the post in her first angry reaction to my post. But what I will do is remove their company name and that of their CEO from the post title and URL slug so that it won’t rank high up for their names.

This post originated at the Sugarrae online marketing blog, home to online marketing consultant Rae Hoffman.

Why You Shouldn’t Steal Content

This post originated at the Sugarrae online marketing blog, home to online marketing consultant Rae Hoffman.

Why You Shouldn’t Steal Content

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