Have you ever had your material hijacked, stolen or plagiarized? What are your rules for quoting, distributing or sharing your content? In the last week, I’ve been acutely aware of several different types of sites that are thriving on using others content for their own gain (financial and web traffic). Some bloggers subscribe to the Creative Commons thought and others hold to traditional Copyright laws.
How would you feel if a post you wrote about a wine business topic ended up in the next issue of a wine magazine? You might be excited for the exposure, but would you expect to be compensated for your work? At the minimum you would expect to be credited for the article and have your contact information displayed. Chances are the magazine is making money off of you, so payment as a freelance writer would be the norm.
How does this work on the web? As bloggers, we’re often excited to be referenced on other sites and such references are the goldmine of SEO rankings within Google. Circular references and linkbacks (especially on popular sources) are key ways to boost your search engine rankings. Recently, I’ve seen a wave of aggregate sites that capitalize (even prey) on the content from wine writers. In my opinion, some of these models go as far as stealing content. Here is a look at four common uses of your content. How do you feel about these types of sharing sites?
Paper.li sites, while bordering on the spammy, are innocent ways to aggregate content of the people you follow on Twitter. My understanding is that you create categories and content buckets (hashtags) that collect the tweets of the people you follow. These items are posted on a newspaper type page that showcases the content.
- The Pros: Post includes a synopsis with a direct link back to the original content. The Layout is a quick easy read of the articles that interest you. An archive of previous days is easily accessible.
- The Cons: The tweet is not always accredited to the person who wrote the content. I may be sharing something that a fellow writer wrote and the Paper.li will attribute the article to me (at least in twitter image).
Sites like WineBusiness.com and the newly launched Today in Vino attempt to provide a resource of top wine news information. At Wine Business, editors sift through hundreds of daily content items and surface the stories that they determine to be the best. The site has become a trusted industry resource for the best stories on wine. Being featured here can certainly increase SEO rankings and traffic count. Today in Vino syndicates news from top wine blogs but also allows writers to upload their own content. The site allows readers to vote on articles which create a social hierarchy of popular content. Each site provides a direct link back to the source content with only a brief synopsis of information.
“Dear Nectar Wine Blog,
Many of the top Wine blogs have agreed to syndicate their RSS feed to us, and I would now like to request permission to re-publish your RSS blog feed on our web site too.
The benefits to you include…blah blah blah…
Each RSS post we syndicate is headlined with a long-term, one-way, link back…blah blah blah
In short – we provide increased awareness, online marketing, and promotion for your brand, blog, and/or web site.”
Really? It all sounds good but when I went to visit the WineMiles.com site, I was appalled with their model. HUNDREDS of blog posts in their entirety were on their site. An easy RSS feed reader grab results in instant quality content from various sources across the web. While they claim to provide a link back and reference to the original content, with 100% of the post on their site, why would someone want to link back? With full posts from Dr. Vino, New York Cork Report, Washington Wine Report, Vinography, Vinotology, Palate Press, Good Grape, etc – why would I even need to visit their sites? WineMiles has banner ads on their site and is essentially making money off of other peoples content. To their credit when I asked them to limit my content to a 100 word synopsis with a direct link back to the original source, they immediately complied. But, how many of the writers even know about their content here? Do you care? Are you up till 1AM writing to pad the pockets of some lazy aggregator geek? Visit WineMiles.com and see if they are sourcing your full RSS feed.
Site and Content Hijacking
While I’ve yet to discover a blatant theft of my material, I have seen tweets from several friends who have found their content surfaced on other sites with no back reference to the original content. How do you handle these issues? Hundreds of amazing pieces of content are written daily on the internet. More news crosses my “desk” on twitter every day, than I would even care to read in an issue of any major wine magazine. Because this quality content is published online, theft and plagiarism is as simple as a copy / paste. As a community we need to police these types of sites together. What culprits have you seen? Is there a central place we can aggregate offenders? With 500+ wine blogs, the community should ban together to police the theft of content.
Most, if not all of us work a day job and burn the midnight oil with a glass of wine to provide daily and weekly content. The passions and hobbies represent our dreams and creative outlets. The content should be properly represented and credited. I’m hoping that as a community we can police these hijack sights and limit their use of our content.