Hey! Write Your Own D**n Post!

Last Updated Apr 30, 2010 11:31 AM EDT

A while back, Google Alerts pointed me at an entirely different blog that had lifted my entire post "Reach ANY Executive in 10 Easy Steps". The entire thing, verbatim, without even my name on it, but with a link, at the bottom, to the original post.

When I sent him an email complaining that he'd stolen my content, he sent back the following email:

Sorry if I've offended you for reprinting your blog post. I act as a "clipping service" for my clients and pass on relevant or interesting articles to them thru my blog. NEVER said "I wrote this".....my clients know I'm only collecting interesting articles for them to read. Gave a link to your blog at BNET at the end of the piece. Perhaps I should have listed the name of the whole blog as well.. But since this upset you, I've removed the article from my blog. Please accept my apologies...
If he had written a sincere apology, I would have let the matter drop, but "I'm sorry if I've offended you" is one of those weasel-word fake apologies that tries to put the onus on the person who's "offended" not the person who actually did something highly offensive.

What really ticks me off, though, is the statement "since this upset you" -- as if there were something weird about being upset when somebody steals from you. Yeah, I was upset. I was more than upset. I was livid.

No, dude, you are not "acting as a clipping service." You are taking copyrighted material that was posted on a commercial website in order to generate advertising revenue, and then reposting it in order to promote your business. What you are committing is copyright theft. It is a crime.

Providing a link to the original blog (even if you list the "whole name of the blog") doesn't make it anything else. Sticking "Courtesy of BNET" doesn't make it better, either. Even if you had stuck my name on the repost it would still be stealing.

Here's another site that's simply stolen my work and reposted it... and still hasn't taken it down, even though I left a comment and personally called the individual who posted it, who promised me that it would be taken down. Incredible!

Here's the law: one can summarize somebody else's work in your blog and you can repost a brief excerpt as long as it's for the purpose of providing commentary on the original post. (That's called "fair use.") One cannot just cut and paste other people's copyrighted work and stick it into a different website or incorporate it into somebody else's training materials.

Cripes, you'd think that people would understand simple stuff like this, because it's what they teach you in kindergarten: Don't take things that don't belong to you.