Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Book Blogging Etiquette: Don't Steal Content and Learn to Credit!

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What's "content stealing"?

In the book blogging world, content stealing simply means taking something that you didn't create and not crediting the person who did. Your intentions don't matter, whether you did this consciously or subconsciously - stealing is stealing. Just because it's online it doesn't mean that it's not illegal.

Types of content-thievery:
  • Copy Cat: Flat out copying someone's original content
  • Post Ideas: While these aren't under any copyright, it's just bad manners to take someone's unique idea and come up with your own version of it without crediting the original creator or making significant changes
  • Pictures: Rule of thumb: if you didn't take the photo personally with your own hands, or have permission from the person who took it, don't use the picture. Book covers are usually free to use if you're writing a review, but check the individual publishers before you right-click and copy.
  • Themes: Yes you can steal a theme - by removing the creator's credit you're not only being a dick, but you're also committing the most easily traceable kind-of book blogging crime. 

Wait - I've done some of these??? Help??

If you had no idea and accidentally took someone else's content, don't panic.

IMMEDIATELY remove the content. You can still fill your blog back up with other stuff later.
Consider apologizing to the person. At least that's what I would have wanted, a heart-felt apology doesn't make it better, but it's certainly better than nothing.

Make sure it never happens again. You'll get a reputation if you get caught doing this online frequently. Trust me, people will notice.

What about inspiration?

If somebody's original post inspired you to launch your own post, just add credit. It's polite and it's the respectable thing to do. Even if you're writing about something completely different, it's a nice gesture for that blogger to quickly leave a link to their site and mention that this post inspired you.

Inspiration is not stealing - as long as you're coming up with your own stuff. 

The second you're copying somebody else's words, you're already making a mistake. Variations of other things are perfectly fine, you'll hardly come up with something that has never done before. If you do, congratulations!


Aside from the legal issue, you're not going to become famous/get more traffic/whatever you seek if you're using sketchy methods. The book community is smaller than you think and people will remember you! I even know bloggers that use plagiarism software to scan the internet for copy cats. You don't want to get on those people's bad side.

Also - if you were that person, would you want somebody else to steal your masterfully taken pictures, well-thought out reviews, thousand-times-edited post?
Don't be a dick.

How do I protect myself?
  1. Don't steal. 
  2. Don't copy. 
  3. Learn to credit.
  4. Don't use content you didn't come up with
  5. Don't right-click and save pictures you didn't take or don't have permission to use. 
You may think it's only online and it's not that big of a deal- but what you do on the internet stays here forever. 

What's your opinion on crediting and stealing content? 
What do you consider stealing?

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