By Kim Shepherd, Chairwoman
With Tom Brennan, Manager, Creative Services
You have a successful home business for a lot of reasons, one of which is a habit of posting regularly on social media. Congratulations! However, unless you have a marketing or legal department in your living room, you may not be aware of some important considerations regarding plagiarism.
Plagiarism has been around since about one day after the invention of publishing, but today it is so easy to copy and paste that we often don’t think about the ethics. After all, most sites have a “share” button right there. All of this creates two areas of risk for any business: avoiding copyright issues when borrowing from others and protecting your own content.
On the face of it, it may not seem like a big deal, but the consequences can be considerable. If someone thinks you stole their idea, they can sue you, particularly if you profit from using or even posting that idea. On the other hand, you can invest time and money in developing content, only to have it used by a competitor — and now they’re cashing in on the idea instead of you. That happened to us at Decision Toolbox, and we almost lost a client because of it.
Most people want you to pass on their good ideas — it’s a driving force behind social media. The problem comes when you don’t give credit where credit is due. Here are some tips for avoiding plagiarizing. If these sound suspiciously like what your college English professor tried to teach you, it’s because they are.
1. When planning your content, go for a balance of borrowed and original ideas. Interesting posts can come from your response to another person’s idea, whether you agree, disagree or want to piggyback on it.
2. Take careful notes as you gather your thoughts, including keeping track of sources (I know — ugh).
3. Cite your sources. You don’t need a bibliography at the end of your blog posting, but you should include the author’s name and website. For example: “Writing on HomeBusinessMag.com, Marc Dane stresses the importance of having an eCommerce platform that ‘enables you to track, sync and process offline transactions’ as well as online ones.” You can also embed links directly to sources.
4. Even if you paraphrase, you should cite your sources. The intellectual property lies in the idea, not just the particular words.
Protecting Your Own Ideas
There are copyright laws to protect content owners, but rather than waiting until it happens, you can be proactive about protecting your content:
1. According to Mike Periu (AmericanExpress.com), you should include a “terms and conditions” page on your site covering uploading and downloading content to and from your site.
2. Use tools like Google Alerts and Copyscape to monitor when and how your content is used on other sites.
3. Olivia Rose (blog.kissmetrics.com) advises those who post regularly to use Google Search Author to establish authorship and get credit in search results.
4. If you are a victim and want to fight back, Ginny Mineo (blog.hubspot.com) recommends getting a screenshot of the pirated posting, including the offending site’s URL. Then a first step is to email the site’s webmaster and politely but firmly ask them to remove the content.
5. If that fails, you can threaten to file a DMCA takedown request with the search engines (Google, Bing, etc.), and sometimes the threat alone does the trick (no one wants to be banned from Google searches!). If that doesn’t work, you can move forward with the filing.
When it comes to plagiarism, it can cost you whether you are the victim or the perp. Fortunately, these simple steps will help you avoid being either one.
The post Online Content: Tips for Borrowing Responsibly and Protecting Your Own appeared first on Home Business Magazine.