First my disclaimer: I am not an attorney. Since I am not an attorney, I’m going to write this post as an opinion. On LinkedIn, a conversation started with the following question:
Is it legal to repost articles and other content that I find informative on my blog (of course giving credit to actual author) or should I speak with author first…
There’s a pretty simple answer to this but I was absolutely mortified at the response of the masses in the conversation. The majority of the people responded with advice that is was, indeed, legal to repost articles or content that they found informative on their blog. Repost articles? content? Without permission? Are you nuts?
The legal argument is ongoing on what constitutes fair use as well as how far a copyright protects a company or individual if your content finds itself onto another site. As someone who writes a ton of content, I can absolutely tell you it’s wrong. I didn’t say it was illegal… I said it was wrong.
Incredibly, Tynt provides me with statistics that my content is copied over 100 times a day by visitors. 100 times a day!!! That content is distributed often by email… but some of it makes it onto other people’s sites. Some of the content are code samples – probably making it into web projects.
Do I personally repost content? Yes… but always with permission or by following the policy of the site that created the content. Please notice that I didn’t say attribution. Throwing a backlink on content that you posted doesn’t constitute permission… permission must be expressly provided to you. I often have marketing technology companies pitch me on their platform or software… rather than do the difficult work of writing a full review, I often ask them for highlights they’d like to make it into the post. They provide them… with expressed permission to publish them.
Outside of copyright, I tend to err on the side of utilizing Creative Commons. Creative commons expressly defines whether or not the work on the site can be copied with attribution only, without attribution, or whether it requires additional permission.
In an age where every business is becoming a content publisher, the temptation to copy and paste a post together with someone else’s content is strong. It’s a risky move, though, that is getting riskier by the day (just ask the bloggers being sued by Righthaven). Regardless of whether or not the lawsuits are valid… getting your butt dragged to court and having to enlist an attorney to protect you is time-consuming and expensive.
Avoid it by writing your own content. It’s not just the safe thing to do, it’s also the nice thing to do. We’ve invested a lot of time and effort into developing our sites (as do many companies). Having your content lifted and presented on some other site… attracting both attention and sometimes even revenue… is just plain sleezy.