Copyright, the Web and SEO

I am constantly amazed at how many people seem to think that in the digital space it is okay to cut and paste other people’s work. They will cut and paste full blog posts written by others onto their site and use photos without the proper permissions, neglecting to credit and link the sources.  I’ve seen this with my students, which results in an immediate ‘0’, but more concerning I’ve seen this in grad students work, grad students who are being paid as editors of online publications. Worse than that I have seen established businesses doing this, even production companies that are trained in copyright law and will threaten legal action the second anyone shares their video content on youtube.  What they don’t seem to realize is pirating other people’s writing and photographs on the web is the same thing.  It is copyright infringement. This is why you need to hire professionals to manage your digital voice and not assume that an intern or your IT person has the skills to be the front line voice for the company in the digital space.

To put this into book terms, this would be like somebody stealing a whole chapter of someone else’s book and sticking it into their book.


Hard at Work Coming up with a Complimentary Solution


Not only is it copyright infringement and shows you lack all creativity, but it also dings you with search engines.  Search engines, like Google, discount your site when they find duplicate material elsewhere on the web. So it does not pay to cut corners in this way.

Professional Photographer, Ralph Velasco photographing Dan & Audrey of Uncornered Market in Egypt

Now if there does happen to be a post by another organization or individual on the web that you wish to draw eyes to on your site, here is how to do it, to be complimentary, meet copyright law and prevent getting blacklisted by search engines:

  1. Write an original introduction of your own introducing the blog article you want to highlight;
  2. Share a quote from the blog article you wish to highlight;
  3. Post a link to the original blog article you wish to highlight; and
  4. End the post with some original writing of your own.

The same goes for photographs.  If the photo you wish to share on your site does not have the Creative Commons license on it, ask the photographer’s permission, credit and link them, and compensate them for it’s use. If it does have a Creative Commons license on it, then you still need to credit and link the photographer, preferably to their professional site.

Remember quality content takes time to create and it needs to be respected and credited.  You wouldn’t want your content pirated, so don’t pirate the content of others.



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