I Can *Borrow* a Copy of That, Right?

The web is full of awesome content, isn’t it?

Stunning photographs, super cute illustrations, insightful info graphics…

Brilliant blog posts, beautiful prose and poetry, articles that answer our questions and challenge our preconceptions…

…and we want to share it all!

My Readers Would Love This!  I’ll Just Borrow it…

So it’s okay, right?  I can just borrow whatever I see online and use it myself!  After all, it’s already online and if it’s free to access then it’s okay for me to share it free, too.  If I’m not making money on it then I’m not doing anything wrong.  Or if I rewrote a few words, then I’ve made it mine.  No.

Hold it right there.  Let’s take a few steps back and discuss just what’s okay to “borrow” and what’s not.

Note: this blog post is going to focus on written words, but if you’re curious about images and how to find ones that you can legally use on your website or blog, try this post: How to Find & Add Images to Your Blog Posts

We can all agree that reprinting someone else’s words or images and adding our own name as the author (or leaving off an author credit completely) is wrong.  Changing something a little bit also doesn’t make it ours.  But what bloggers and others online sometimes miss is that there’s more to it that just whether or not we give proper credit.

It’s not always legal to reprint someone else’s content even if we give credit to them. From the moment a written work or photograph/image is created, the author holds rights to that work, whether they’ve officially registered a copyright with the government or not (at least in the USA, and signatories of the Bern Convention and/or Universal Copyright Convention).

From a blogger/writer’s perspective, many of us spend countless hours developing unique content for our websites that we haven’t granted permission for reprinting for a variety of reasons.

One of the questions I get frequently from small business owners I work with is how to stop others from reprinting their blog posts or website content without permission.  Just linking back to the author’s site at the end of a post/article doesn’t make it okay to reprint.

What Happens When You Copy Content?

Many don’t realize it, or think about it this way, but if you copy content from another website:

  • you may be violating their copyright (if they haven’t licensed the content for reprint)
  • you may be subjecting them to duplicate content penalties in search engines (because your site then has the exact same written content as theirs on that particular post/page) and your website is competing with them in the search engines for the same words and phrases
  • you may be making money off of their hard work (if your site has adsense ads or advertising, or you’re promoting an affiliate link with their content, and you’re using their content to drive traffic to your site)
  • you may be losing a potential joint venture partner, guest post contributor, and general ally in your online world (because you don’t want your first introduction to someone to be them finding their content republished on your site without permission!)
  • you may be opening yourself up to legal liability and law suit or losing your website

Authors don’t tend to appreciate their content being reprinted without permission for all of the reasons above.

If you do it anyway, you’ve put your own website at risk.  If you copy something that permission wasn’t granted for you can end up having your website shut down by your host if the owner of the content decides to go after you for it.  I know people on both sides of having had it happen (people who’ve reprinted or “borrowed” content and ended up losing their site or pages of their sites under DMCA and people who’ve used DMCA to get their content taken off of other websites) and neither side is a “fun” experience.

Another thing to be aware of is that this doesn’t just apply to other bloggers, but any website.  Many news websites are actively going after bloggers who’ve reprinted even excerpts of news articles.  And they’re after money, not just removal of their content.

Look for Permission, Ask for Permission

Instead, look for permission.  Some bloggers and writers license their content under Creative Commons, as Aimee pointed to.  If they do, it will be somewhere on the blog post/article/website.  Or, look for their work on EzineArticles if you find an author you like, or other sites where you’ll find articles with permission to reprint.  If you don’t see permission, then assume it’s NOT okay to reprint and ASK FIRST.

I’ve done this with several of the articles I’ve shared on my blog.  I know writers who I enjoy reading and I just go to www.ezinearticles.com and search for their name.  That brings up articles they’re sharing for reprint.

Many writers would happily grant permission if they were asked!   They might just say yes, or they might say no but point you to other content they allow for reprint, or they may even be willing to write a guest post or unique article just for your website in exchange for the link back.

But What If I *Really* Want to Share It?

I *really* want a Starbucks next door to my house but that doesn’t mean I can go kidnap the barista, haul all the equipment over, and set it back up in my front yard.  I don’t think the cops would buy my defense — no matter how much I *really* wanted it…  Even if it’s the barista who can make the BEST cup of coffee ever, I can’t choose to take it without permission (and payment in this case).

You don’t have to copy and reprint content to share it.

If you find a blog post, article, poem or whatever that you want to share but it’s not available to reprint why not write up a blog post of your own around the topic (using all your own thoughts/words) and then link to the resource for your readers.  You can expand on the thoughts the author’s sharing and add your own additional tips, or share your own experience that explains why you agree with the article.

Or share it on social networks, forums, and other places you interact online.

The author will appreciate that MUCH more and you may even find you’ve made a new friend instead of creating an enemy.

Have You Had Your Content Copied?

I’ve been through it several times.  And while in my own experience it’s generally been useless to contact the copier, I know others who’ve had success with it because the person who copied their content didn’t realize it wasn’t okay and they took down then content when they were contacted.  If your content is stolen, here are some ways you can deal with it:

  • Option One: Ignore it because they can’t copy as fast as you can create more awesome stuff.
  • Option Two: Contact the copier and ask them to remove it from their site.
  • Option Three: If it’s a blogger who’s “borrowed” your work (and you’re very sure — not just the ideas, but your actual words) then leave a comment on the blog linking back to your post.
  • Option Four: Call them out on social media.  I don’t recommend this because it doesn’t seem like a very kind way to deal with the situation, but I can understand why people resort to it sometimes.  It’s an option that could work.
  • Option Five: Use DMCA and contact the website host of the infringing content to have it removed.  Here are the details: What to Do When Someone Steals Your Content

Resources You Should Check Out

Creative Commons Licensing:

Copyright Basics:

Understanding DMCA:

Copyright and Content Protection for Online Businesses:

Now, let’s end a serious post on a fun note.  Here’s a great video on the topic of plagarism from EzineArticles.com:

Spread the Love


  1. It is stunning to me how often people think they can just copy and paste content for their own website and think it’s ok. I used to work for a high profile client and they would steal our blogs and videos and place it on their website, thinking that it would just give us more SEO and better recognition. (I know what they thought, because I confronted them and the website was nothing but good stuff about my client, so it was a good assumption that they just liked my client).

    Anyway, but that’s not cool to just put content that we worked hard on and just slap it on your website. I don’t care what the thought process is behind it, they’re taking away valuable customers and we’re getting left with absolutely no recognition. Not only that, you’re confusing the customers,”Who actually created this content? I see it everywhere!”

    So yeah, not cool. Awesome blog post!

    1. It always surprises me too, Morgan. I’m also surprised by the number of people who will do the same with music, movies, etc. I think people aren’t always thinking it out when they do it — like you mention the one who seemed to think they were helping.

      But you’ve got it — it doesn’t matter what the motivation is, it’s still not okay.

  2. This obviously is becoming more and more of a problem, since more and more people are writing (complaining) about this practice.
    This is, indeed, one of the biggest problems about the web- it’s just too easy to copy and paste. (It was much harder for those indolent ba…..s when they actually had to type the materials themselves.)
    I have protected myself as much as possible – to the detriment of those who wish to just forward certain portions- via electronic shenanigans, as well as via copyright.
    I have even considered hiding certain offensive words (not visible, until one copies and pastes) in various locations of my blog to counteract such acts of vandalism and theft, but,, for now, I rely on the protections listed above.
    Thanks for your thoughts on this matter.

    1. Interesting idea, Roy. I’d be curious what the results of testing that one were. :)

      I remember as a kid my Dad used to say they needed to invent an ink that would disappear if someone tried to copy a page to deter unauthorized copying. The challenge is that it seems every technology invented people come up with a way to get around it…

      Yes, there are some great tools out there like copyscape.com, Tynt.com, etc that help us manage our content somewhat.

  3. Excellent post Michelle. I’ve always wondered what to do about copied content, now I know. I still find it strange that people do it though.

    1. It’d be great if we never had to deal with it, but hopefully if we keep talking about it, we’ll open a few more eyes each time.

  4. Very useful info, Michelle, and fun to read too -I can’t take the picture of the Starbucks’s barista in your front yard.

    1. In my dream world… LOL

  5. Michelle,

    I totally understand the countless hours of coming up with content!! Something that I like to do is read other posts and comment and it sparks an idea in me and I can write an entire post on a spark I got from reading someone else’s posts. The best part is it’s not usually even related to that post. What I mean is it’s not like their post – it’s totally something that was sparked inside me and I run with it.

    Thanks for the great post,

    1. That’s a great way to be inspired, but make it your own, Tammy. :) Sometimes it’s just a couple of words or a sentence that can spark whole bunches of great ideas for writers.

  6. Michelle,

    Your posts are always so useful. I’ve had this happen (been copied…verbatim…with credit given) on a few other sites in the short time I”ve been blogging.

    I didn’t really mess with it. I did leave a comment about it…but I see how it can damage my rating with SEO if I’m penalized for duplicate content. It is frustrating, but thank you for posting several actionable steps we can take to protect ourselves and our comment.

    Appreciate your work.

    1. When we’re given credit it does at least sting a little less, but it can still be frustrating for sure. As long as the search engines found the content on your site first, the duplicate content thing shouldn’t be too big of a problem unless a site is republishing a large amount of your content. :)

  7. Michelle, thanks for this fantastic post on the topic and for including a link to my post here. The video is excellent and it shows how crazy it is that people think it’s acceptable to copy content. I love the slap at the end :).

    1. Isn’t that great? EzineArticles does an awesome job with their videos (and cartoons). :)

  8. Very useful information Michelle. I know Jeanine had someone take one of her articles and post it as their own. I couldn’t believe it. Maybe they didn’t know? Anytime I share someone’s articles I always ask permission and give credit to them in my post. Had one today actually.

    Loved the integration of the video too!!!

    1. Right – when we’ve got permission and are giving credit, it’s completely different. :) That’s one of the awesome things about the web is that we can share so much with each other. All in the way we do it though.

      I’ve had that happen myself, that other bloggers have taken my content, removed my name and added theirs. I couldn’t believe it the first time it happened. Or the second time. Now I’m not as shocked but I’m still frustrated and disappointed.

      Thankfully, there are many more bloggers out there like you who do the right thing than there are the ones who do the wrong thing. :)

  9. This happens to me at least a couple times a week across my three blogs. I do Option 1 = do nothing. It’s not worth the hassle to me. It nearly all instances Google knows who posted first and who posted second.

    1. Both good points, John. Most of the time it’s not worth the emotional energy or time to deal with it. And if Google’s found the original first usually we’re okay.

      The one time I did need to deal with it was when my EzineArticles.com account was blocked because someone reprinted my content without attribution to me, under their name instead — even though it was on my site first, with my credit, EzineArticles blocked my account and I had to work to get it re-activated because they flagged me for plagiarism. It was not a fun experience.

  10. I’m such a newbie to the blogging world and found this post very informative. A question, though. If I want to reference a post, but add my own thoughts and rebuttal, can I say “please see this post/article about xxx for more information” (with a link) and then talk about it? Can you take pieces out of an article with quotes and credit and resond? (e.g., I recently posted about a WSJ article, linked to their website and used quotes from the article with my own thoughts).

    When I have reprinted a whole post or even speech bullet points, I’ve written and asked the author.

    Thanks. I’m new to your blog, and I’m trying to absorb it all!

    1. Quotes really depend on the length and what you’re quoting so that’s kind of a sticky area. The reason I say that is with news articles, there are companies going after bloggers who quote even small amounts (several paragraphs). Here’s a lot of information about it: http://www.righthavenlawsuits.com/articles.html

      So personally I’m careful quoting anything unless I’m sure the content is available for reprint. :)

  11. Hey Michelle it amazing me how people just copy others content like it is just so easy to write content…I really like how your idea on commenting with a link back to you site I got a good chuckle from that one perhaps they would get the point. I must also agree that writing your own piece and linking to a good story or video is a much better way to share thing you like.

    1. It’s definitely a better way to share it. :)

      And I’ve seen the comment thing work quite well, even if the site owner doesn’t publish the content. Knowing that the original author is aware seems to help.

  12. Hi Michelle,

    If it’s not yours, don’t use it.

    If you created it, use it. Simple as that. Although some people lose their moral compass and do things that complicate matters.

    Thanks for sharing!


    1. It really is that simple, Ryan. If only we could get everyone to follow that. :)

  13. Well, so far this week … that’s two of my favorite mompreneurs who are blogging on this topic. I hope there’s not an epidemic of this far-from-stellar behavior going on.

    Michelle, maybe I’m old fashioned or maybe I just place a lot of weight on ethics. But whatever happened to having a conscience?! Don’t worry. I’m not going to rant or rave. But it just baffles me that someone wouldn’t stop and consider the “other guy” and how blatantly grabbing his or her hard work and running with it just might be WRONG.

    I’m really sorry to say it this way — but if you have any kind of half decent upbringing, you’d know (without having to research any legalities or copyright info) that taking something that doesn’t belong to you is stealing and stealing is against the law. My daughters know that and I bet your children do, too.

    Do some people just leave their conscience in the closet when they get online?

    Do you think they honestly believe there’s a different set of rules for the internet versus the real world?

    1. I think there are multiple things going on that contribute to the problem, and really separate issues that need dealt with differently.

      One is people who don’t know any better. It’s so easy to copy content online that many don’t even stop to think it might not be okay, especially if they’re giving credit, they just assume they can copy it with credit. I think education can help in this situation. I’ve encountered a lot of bloggers who just didn’t know any better and once they knew better they did better. Surprising for those of us who were taught better, but it happens. I sincerely hope if anyone is in that group and reading this post they’ll realize it’s not okay and just change their habits. :)

      Then there’s people borrowing our content who I’m guessing these are the same people who may have fudged their way through reports and anything written by copying from the encyclopedia. They might even have an inkling it’s not the best approach but they don’t believe it’s actually illegal — they’re justifying it in their minds with “I changed it a little bit” or “no one will notice.”

      And worse yet, is people who know it’s wrong but just don’t care. These are the ones taking content and putting their own names on it or just copying it and sending out to whomever they want (such as sharing our ebooks and courses that aren’t free). If we look at music and movies online we see the same thing happening. Some people just aren’t respectful of intellectual property rights in any medium.

      That’s why I mention multiple solutions… in the case of the first group just a note asking them to remove our content might be enough. The last group is who DMCA is designed to protect against, in my opinion.

  14. […] No matter what you request as reprint terms, not everyone will follow them.  Consider how you’ll handle it.  I wrote about this yesterday: I Can “Borrow”a Copy of That, Right? […]

  15. http://airplanesanddragonflies.blogspot.com/2011/06/i-can-borrow-copy-of-that-right.html

    I wanted to share this on my blog, yes, I did copy a few of your first sentences, but only to get people to read your blog and this post. I don’t copy anything normally without the blog owner’s permission, but I feel that this information needs to get out there and other blogger’s/copiers, need to read this.

    It’s not fair that they copy posts and share them with their readers without asking the original person who posted the information in the first place and without leaving a link to the original post and blog.

    Not cool of people to claim posts are theirs when they aren’t.


  16. I have never had to deal with this in the blogging world, but as a teacher, I got some research papers turned in that were word-for-word copied from Wikipedia. I was already suspicious when reading the first paper, but when a second student turned in the same thing, I really checked into it.

    1. I can imagine that’d throw up a red flag when the second paper was the same. It’s got to be tough for teachers dealing with that. Makes me wonder if students turning in papers in electronic format and everything having to be run through LexisNexis or something similar is next. It’s very sad that students don’t recognize the value of their educational experiences enough to put in the time and energy to learn.

  17. I posted an article on my blog on the 13th, and that night I received a pingback that it had already been copied and put on another site. I even have a plugin installed that prevents highlighting & right-clicking, so that person must have viewed the source code and copied/pasted that way. They did give me credit with numerous posts back to my blog and the post, but that was really fast.
    Either it had already been crawled by Google and that’s how they found it, or they are one of my subscribers. I don’t know which, but the duplicate content thing does worry me some.
    Good post, thanks!!

    1. That is super fast. Is it possible they were scraping your RSS feed? You might want to add some footer text specific to your RSS feed and then you’d be able to tell easily. :)

      Right, me too. I understand people want to share but even copying several paragraphs of someone’s content and putting it on their own site can cause issues for a writer with search engines, particularly if the search engine finds the other site with the content first.

  18. I have taken content but only with permission from the author. Other than that I have used quotes from a source because author content belongs to them. Don’t assume always though the content is stolen (food for thought) there are article swapping sites that give permission for other sites to use. However the original author is always listed never someone else. Taking someone else’s written word is wrong and hey if someone wants to use my article on their site, that’s fine with me but as long as credit is given and my permission is given.

    Great article! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Yes, there are many great sites to go to for content we’re allowed to reprint. :) And on a similar note, with so much PLR floating around there are times we may run across content that looks similar on two sites that IS similar, but not because it was copied, only because it was PLR.

  19. […] Points June 16, 2011 By Michelle Shaeffer Leave a Comment While we’re on the topic of content theft and encouraging others to share your content legally and ethically online, let’s chat about […]

  20. Good article, Michelle. I’ve had my content lifted many times. A lot of copyright thieves ahve no idea they’re doing anything wrong, and therefore, usually (if it’s not a sploggy site whose agenda is clearly to maximize THEIR ad revenue with MY content), my first approach is a nice friendly note explaining that I make my living doing this, and offering to negotiate reasonable fee for their right to reuse. This usually results in either a takedown of the content or a small fee (way less than the street value of my writing, but something that establishes the principle of paying for creative work, and maintains the positive benefit of my continuing exposure to their audience).

    If it’s something where I am hurt by the infringement (such as the ability to download one of my books in its entirety), I do demand a takedown. Luckily, most of the time, when I see a whole-book infringement, it’s of a book that I didn’t self-publish. So I just send the site URL over to my publisher and their legal department takes it from there.

    1. Smart approach! For the ones who really don’t know better, just a quick email can make a difference and hopefully keep them from making the same mistake in the future. My personal experiences with it make me jaded I guess — I’ve never had an email work. But I’m glad it does sometimes.

      Love that you’re helping people adjust to the idea of paying for creative work. It’s important!

  21. As a relatively new blogger this concerns me. I’m also just getting started on Ezines and didn’t even consider the idea that I could get penalized in the search engines (I really don’t need any dings with the search engines – I’m a newbie!). I’ve made just a few of my posts available under Ezines, though – do people take this as permission to use any of my other content? Am I worrying too much about this now?

    1. You’re probably just fine, Katrina. :) Google’s pretty smart and if you’ve published something to your own website first, then see it here, and then when you republish your content elsewhere and it includes links back to your site, they’ll see those backlinks and recognize the original source. At least, to the best of my knowledge right now. I know their recent update caused some sites like EzineArticles to experience dramatic traffic drops, but their site model is pretty different from us bloggers who are writing our own content and not just aggregating it from many other writers.

      Problems come in especially if it’s your content word for word but without attribution/link to you, and if it’s found first by Google on the other site.

      Two things I can recommend though if you’re concerned:
      – Always publish content to your own site first and wait a bit for search engines to find it there before you submit it elsewhere.
      – When you share it elsewhere, consider minor rewrites so what’s on your own site remains unique. No need to rewrite completely, but just tweak enough that it’s not the same.

      1. Great ideas Michelle – and thanks for taking time to address my concerns, overwrought as they probably are. This is a brand new world to me in some ways, even though I’ve been writing for a long time. :-)

        1. Every day there’s more to learn when it comes to the online world. :) Don’t worry, we’re all still learning!

    2. Whoops, missed answering your other question. People shouldn’t take that as permission. If you’ve made some articles available for republishing than those are the ones that you’ve given permission for. :)

  22. Hi Michelle,
    I’m new to your blog via a link from FB. I’m not even sure now whose link it was LOL. And I think that adds to the problem. We are so used to sharing now because of social media. Everything, and we all know I mean EVERYTHING whether we want to see or read it or not is sent around with ease now. For some, clicking is almost like breathing. Not that it makes stealing content right by any means, it never is. But I think it will be interesting to see how this whole subject evolves in say 5 or 10 years time as the share everything generation gets into the business world.

    So far, if my stuff has been posted without permission, I’m not aware of it and with the quantity of work I have out there, it probably has. However, I did have a web designer tell me “if it’s online it’s fair game” which floored me, and let me know that sadly, it’s an issue even among “professionals”. Needless to say, she didn’t finish my project.

    1. WOW! As a website designer, I would NEVER tell my clients that. That’s just plain craziness. I wonder how much stuff that web designer “borrows” for her clients?
      I recently had a newspaper editor tell me the same thing, as he wanted to use a logo. He said it was on the website, it was “almost public domain”. And this is a newspaper editor, who, by nature of his job, better be well educated about copyright laws. Either he was ignorant, or he didn’t care, and I’m not sure which is worse.

      1. Cheryl, right, people sometimes forget there’s a big difference between hitting the share buttons (which is awesome!) and outright copying (which isn’t always so awesome).

        I personally don’t like the direction laws seem to be evolving to try to deal with this issue. There’s one pending right now which would make those who embed YouTube videos into their websites liable if the original video infringed on copyright, even though the person embedding likely had no idea and it’s the person who created it who should be responsible.

        I think they’re going too far in an effort to deal with it. Enforce DMCA and the laws already on the books and just keep working to educate people is my suggestion.

        That’s a seriously dangerous approach for a website designer. Images on the internet are especially important not to copy since big companies like Getty, Corbis, etc go aggressively after people for it (just Google and you can see all the lawsuits and threats from them) and it’s the website owner who will end up in legal hot water for what the designer did. :(

        Theresa, I agree, I’m not sure which is worse in that situation, that’s pretty bad.

        1. On the flip side, I have a client right now who has received a letter from Getty saying we used an image of theirs on her website. The image was obtained over 5 years ago, and unfortunately I have no idea exactly where I got it from, nor can I prove where I got it. We took it down, but they’re still trying to bill her for it. This is a first for me, and I’m not sure what will happen.
          I always obtain my images from stock image sites, but what if someone put an image there that they didn’t have legal rights to put there, and I inadvertently used an image that I shouldn’t have? Sticky situation, and kinda scary actually. They want big money for it.

          1. There have been lots of reports of that happening, Theresa. :( It’s frustrating, for sure, when we try to follow the law as best we can and still have to worry.

  23. […] Steal their post and publish it on your blog as your own. This has happened to me a few times and it’s very upsetting. I’ve always handled it privately by emailing the blogger. For further reading, I recommend checking out Michelle Shaeffer’s post, “I Can “Borrow” a Copy of That, Right?” […]

  24. Great post, Michelle. I love to share great stuff on the web–that’s why I have a twitter account. I’m very aware of copyright, especially with image theft (being a photographer–and writer) and I am always on the lookout to educate people BEFORE they run into a problem. I’ll definitely be sharing your article.

    1. Yes, photographers have to deal with this much more than writers, from what I’ve seen. :( People don’t think anything of using photos they find online.

      Thank you for sharing it, Marie, and educating as many people as we can is a step in the right direction. :)

  25. A little off topic but follows the train of thought–

    I was in Borders reading a few weeks ago and my local store has a lot of students who do their school work there (college students). i admit, I was listening in on this conversation but mostly because I was appalled–a group of seven students all in the same class were working on a homework assignment from the same professor but different sections of the same class–they were talking about how the professor would never know they’d copied each others work as long as they changed their names on it. THESE WERE EDUCATION MAJORS! They obviously felt it was their right to copy work and present it as theirs. They weren’t even changing a work other than their names!

    1. That’s not only crazy, but saddening because those are the ones who will be responsible for the education of the next generation. :(

      It’s all the same problem — lack of creative integrity. Instead of owning our work and creating with whatever gifts we’ve each got, too many take the “easy” way out that hurts them, those they’ve copied, and their communities.

  26. […] I Can Borrow A Copy of That, Right?Are there nitrites in your food labeled nitrite/nitrate free?Non Toxic Pest Control […]

  27. We have recently discovered a case of one of our HoloDesk images from a concert in Earls Court (Big interactive desk for DJs) has been copied and a competitior has placed it on their web site as their own fabrication and unit. Needless to say the legal team got on to them.

    1. It’s crazy what some people think is okay to borrow. I hope the situation was resolved quickly for you.

  28. Thanks for posting this. I just saw one of my posts (attributed, fortunately), on a site that I would have been thrilled to let reprint it. They just didn’t ask, and now I feel slightly…violated.

    1. It’s an odd feeling, you want to be happy people found your work valuable enough to share, but it just doesn’t feel right when they didn’t ask permission first. I’m sorry you’re dealing with that.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Looking for Blog Post Ideas?My Profile

  29. Hi, first off let me start by saying I’m sorry to the few people that I did copy their post to share on one of my blogs. I’m very embarrassed to say I did think that by spreading their word I was helping. I did make sure the credit went to them.
    I didn’t think about the fact it was really hurting them. SEO wise and by being rude and not asking. I’ve removed them (articles) from my blogs and will forever after be sure to ask first.

    Thank you for being one of the few sites that really covers all things online. I am always learning from ready your blog. You are all safe I wouldn’t dream of copying another article without getting permission first.

    1. Kat, it’s awesome that you were willing to change that. :) And we’re all just learning as we go. I love the quote, “When we know better we do better.” :)

  30. Ok, I have a question and I have totally taken down my new blog (about a week old) as I don’t know what to do?? I read your article today and by the way, excellent article! It has opened my eyes..

    I have a company that is in renewable energy. I hired a blogger to start (a week ago) writing content for me on renewable energy and of course, she writes about LivingHomes, Geothermal Energy, Solar, Wind(Lego make a contribution of $534 million), etc., that she locates form various sources on the net. She was including pics until I just told her (today) to take down all pics until I read up on this stuff! I want to do this correctly. Not to harm/hurt anyone’s feelings, content… my wallet, etc.

    We do not have a blog to make money and there are no ads on my site. There is a link (that right now is being forwarded back to my company’s site) that goes to my green blog(eventually again). In other words, I took it down for now.

    So, If she found an article on LivingHome C6 and she re-writes that article (she is a writer/author of books-so she can write-it would be original stuff) and credits back to the source plus credits the pics. Would that work?

    1. The safest option is always to get permission if you’re republishing something from someone else whether it’s written content or photographs. For some things, that permission may be granted right on the site (like if it says “Creative Commons License” and links to a license explaining how/when you can use it). For other things it may not be listed and you’d want to write and request permission before you use it. I hope that helps some. If your blog is built entirely on other site’s content it might be worth a quick consultation with an internet and copyright savvy lawyer.

  31. Hi Michelle,

    I wrote you late lastnight and asked you a question regarding my blogger. I’m sure you get alot of comments and just haven’t gotten to that one…. yet.

    I want you to know that I took your advice and contacted the photographers of some photos that I had originally posted and they have all responded favorably. I also took down my content that my blogger posted on my renewable energy blog until I get permission. My blog will be back on site, once I get everything squared away!! Again, thank you for this article.

    1. Hi Patty, since it was less than 12 hours ago and on a weekend, no, I hadn’t had a chance to reply yet. :) But I’m glad you’re getting things all worked out since I’m also not a lawyer. ;)

      1. I have more question… this is confusing me.. Ok, my company’s site has been on Google for the past 4 years at number 2 for its keywords. So, no complaints there :0) I had my blog up all of 4/5 days and the darn thing just took the place of company site!! Plus, my company has been bumped completely from the first page of google. Which I don’t like at all. haha.

        What happened there? I don’t know if you would know this answer, but maybe someone(your readers) out there will?

  32. Thanks for a MOST helpful and clarifying post!

  33. I’m forwarding the link to your post to several people. Last year, someone bought the .net to one of my other sites, copied content from the .com version of the site and thought it was OK. Within 2 days, I was able to get their site shut down. I filed a DMCA and Go Daddy pulled the site. I now own the .net version to that site. Thanks for sharing this valuable information.
    Lisa Kanarek recently posted… How to Get the Most Out of Live SeminarsMy Profile

  34. Quick question: Would I need to ask permission to even link back to their site or blog? I understand and agree about copying and claiming to be my own being wrong, but do I need to go through the proper channels for each link I put in my blog?

    And on that note, how would you suggest handling things like youtube videos. If I really want to share one and embed it into a post, would the proper thing to do be to try to contact the user who uploaded it.

    And on that topic, how would you handle things posted on major news sites. Obviously I don’t think they send permission to everyone who asks for it, but what if I wanted to post things like a snippet of an article or a part of an interview. Would simply posting it at a part of a larger article and citing my source be alright?

    Well, I guess that wasn’t as quick as I was thinking. Thanks for the great article.

    1. Hi Jarod,

      Generally linking is just fine. :)

      YouTube videos – when users upload videos they select the license they’re allowing. If YouTube shows you the embed code, then it’s letting you know that it’s okay to embed that on your site. The video owner can choose to turn that option off if they don’t want their video shared. Now, of course, that’s assuming the video maker didn’t violate copyright by using video/music/images they didn’t own. But in most cases, if that embed code is visible then they’re giving you permission to share it on your site.

      News articles I won’t copy, for any reason. First, they are copyrighted just like any other content. And second, that can get you into a different mess of hot water. If I wanted to comment on one, I’d summarize in my own words and link to it. That there’s a company whose business model consists entirely of going around buying rights to already printed online news articles and then threatening to sue bloggers who’ve reprinted even parts of the articles they then own. I forget their name but if you Google you’ll find details. They push people into settling and take their domain names. So I wouldn’t copy any part, even if properly cited. I know, there’s some room for fair use and such, but it’s a risk.

      Again, I am *not* a lawyer so this is in no way legal advice, but just my two cents on what I’ve learned. Hope it helps a bit. :)

      1. Very much so, thank you on a quick reply, especially on an older post.

        1. You’re welcome – thanks for reading and commenting. :)

  35. Yes, this is true that most people aren’t aware that consent has to be given by the IP owner. The DMCA clearly states that reproducing someone’s work without permission constitutes infringement. If you must share it, just link to it. That’s what I do;)


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