Do You Borrow Content?
Do you borrow content? There has been quite a lot of discussion recently about “borrowing” content. There are different names and more than a few software applications for it. Some call it curation while others call it spinning. Spinning, in my opinion, is by far the most evil form of borrowing content around. Some of these software scour the internet to find topics with your keywords in them. They then grab random sentences from dozens or even hundreds of articles online and put them into a document for you to upload. Quite often this content is gibberish. However some people don’t care, all they want is something on their site and for people to click on an ad or CPA offer so they can earn some money. Others will return you an article which you can ‘spin’ to be 70% original. It’s still stolen content no matter what name you put on it. Even at 70% original, it’s not yours.
I believe there was recently a very well-publicized product launch for software that would do all of this, including posting it on your site. I deleted every email I received about this launch and unsubscribed from more than a few, to me, unscrupulous people.
Those ‘random sentences’ belong to someone else. That person has undoubtedly not given permission for some software to come and extract parts of it. He or she has not given you permission to use those random sentences. This is not “borrowing” content, this is content theft. And content theft is not just confined to text.
Using images that you do not have the rights to also content theft. I didn’t realize this for a while and always posted a link back to the site where I found the image. I have now been reliably informed that this can still get me into trouble. However there are no warnings on either Google or Bing images. So I am in the process of changing my images, a slow and laborious process. I wanted to have an image of JK Rowling that I could adapt and put in here with a quote by her but the ones I wanted stated no derivative work and no commercial sites. So the featured image is plain.
I have been hearing more and more that the single greatest threat to content marketing is content marketing. Read that sentence again until the message has truly sunk into your brain.
The other side of the coin is ‘content curation’. This is where software goes out and again finds articles related to your keywords. The difference with curation is that you link back to the original article and you provide some commentary on it. The original author is credited with having written it.
I’ve heard so many people say that writing fresh content every day is time-consuming. Of course it is, for some it can be very hard work. I’m lucky in that I can write about many different topics easily. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t take time, it just means that I can write easily. I was taught (and have taught my children) that anything worth doing was worth doing properly. That could be washing the dishes, exercising at the gym or anything related to your place of employment. My place of employment happens to require me to write original content every day so I do it to the best of my ability. My kids have excellent work ethics and are often praised for the job they do.
If you continually curate content and only provide a sentence or two of introduction and explanation, people will never learn who the real you is and many of them could click through to read curated article in full. This means you’ve lost that reader, probably for good.
In my weekly wrap up articles, I do not curate at all. I provide a link back to the original site and then give my take on what I liked about that site. I might quote a phrase but it is always attributed to the original writer.
In always writing my own content, I retain authorship. The people who read what I’ve written are getting to know me, warts and all. Hopefully I am providing value to my readers and they will come back again and again.
I am also demonstrating my knowledge about various topics and my goal has always been to help others understand things.
So I’ll come back to my original question. Do you borrow content? If so, I hope I have given you a greater understanding of the pitfalls you might be facing. I am not a lawyer so I cannot advise you but I suggest you do some research yourself to see what could happen if someone decided to get nasty. It’s really not worth the worry.