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Hands Off Our Content

UPDATED: 9/15/12 1:30 p.m. ET

We have continued to receive information about other images used without permission including this back-to-school image from NotJustAHousewife.com.  You’ll note that the bold text over the picture covers up image owner Stacy’s watermark.

We have also heard from NickMom who apologizes, assures us that they are taking this issue very seriously, and appreciates that the blogging community has brought it to their attention. They are taking the time to go through their current policies and processes to make any necessary changes as well as to decide what, if anything, needs to be done to right past wrongs.  I hope to be given the opportunity to update the Resourceful Mommy readers once decisions about these issues have been made.

In the meantime, if you have copyright concerns about an image on NickMom, please email copyright@mtvn.com. They have assured me that every email sent to that address is acted upon.

UPDATED: 9/14/12 – 5:00 p.m. ET

A funny thing happens when you shed a little light on an issue. Suddenly everyone around sees the issue and starts to connect the dots and you realize that one or two somewhat trivial items are actually just pieces of a much larger, far more insidious puzzle.

In the days since I posted “Hands Off Our Content,” I’ve received countless emails, Facebook, and Twitter messages from everyone from attorneys to people who have worked in the copyright industry for years to artists and writers who have had their content stolen. Please take a moment to read this post from The Laughing Stork which alleges that NickMom has been adapting their work as well.  To read it is, in a word frustrating.

I’ve also heard from people who have spent some time on the NickMom site and have found images taken from blogs, images apparently taken not only without permission, but also without notification.  

Images of people’s children, taken and used by Nickelodeon on their humor site without the permission of the parent. Of their children.

I spoke to Annie from MamaDweeb.com who learned today that an image of her daughter Lucy was taken from her site without permission and used in  a post by NickMom about Unhappy Birthdays. Annie didn’t know that her daughter’s image was posted on NickMom on September 12th – the same day that the blogging community asked NickMom to stop stealing content – until her friend Jenn saw the image and recognized little Lucy who many of us have met at blogging events.

Annie had this to say about the infringement of her writes: “I did NOT give permission. That is my Lucy, my link.  Posting a pic without permission is stealing. I wish NickMom knew this.”

Sources tell us that other bloggers have had similar issues and were able to get NickMom to remove images, but we have not been able to verify this.  We did notice in our research that quite a few blogger images were posted on NickMom, and we are led to believe from Annie’s experience that those bloggers also did not grant permission for their use.

We reached out to NickMom’s press department regarding this issue and as of yet have not received a response.

For any bloggers who find their images on NickMom, used without permission, I would like to direct you to the NickMom Copyright Compliance Policy.  Please also consider reading How to Send a Takedown Notice and how to fight back against blog scraping. Consider cc’ing NickMom’s webhost when you send the letter to have your content removed. Sadly, it seems that many bloggers are going to need to do just that.

UPDATED – 9/14/12 – 8:30 p.m. ET

NickMom is no longer displaying the post that includes the picture from MamaDweeb.com.  Annie from MamaDweeb shared that she is grateful that NickMom has removed the photo of her daughter, Lucy, but she has heard nothing from them.  They have not apologized, nor did they let her know they were removing the content.

Original post follows…

I first encountered the NickMom site when someone shared this image with me that they found on Pinterest:

NickMom calls this board “Guide to Your Fellow Facebook Moms” and uses fake accounts to mock certain personality types.  My concern?  My good friend and colleague Kelby Carr has spent several years in social media building the Type-A Mom brand, which she uses professionally.  I shared my concern regarding the use of someone else’s business/brand name and the only comment I received back was, “Who cares? It’s funny!” and then my comment was deleted.  I have since commented again asking about both the use of the brand name as well as my deleted comment. We’ll see how long the comment is allowed to appear this time.

After such a negative first experience with NickMom I wish I could say I was surprised to see the following, but the truth is that I was not.

NickMom apparently hired the creator of the site Pleated Jeans to create the following graphic, again for their humor site:

Just like the stolen Type-A Mom brand, I knew I had seen this image before, only better executed and much, much funnier.  Where did I see it?  Several months earlier at HowToBeADad.com

Yes, T-Rex vs. Baby “creator” Jeff changed Godzilla to a T-Rex, but even his dinosaur was – let me just call it what it is – completely ripped off.

Check it out:

The T-Rex on NickMom is just a slightly adapted T-Rex taken from Qwantz.com, which is an adaptation of this famous pre-historic beast.  Oh, the tangled webs… Why not just draw your own dino?

NickMom has been made aware of the copy-cat issue, but they have thus far done nothing to remedy the situation, nor have they apologized to Charlie and Andy, the owners of How To Be a Dad.

I spoke with Charlie from HTBAD about the NickMom situation, and he had this to say:

“If someone is jazzed about something we do, and posts it on their personal page – MORE POWER TO THEM!  We hope it rocks some socks.  But when a brand or large community uses it without asking first, modifies your original work, or doesn’t eve tag you in the social space it’s being displayed, we have a problem.”

And apparently the situation with NickMom isn’t their only problem.

Earlier this week NBC’s new show Guys with Kids posted a picture – another How To Be A Dad original – on their Pinterest board and Facebook page.  The picture?  A parenting parody product called the Baby Hjolster.  Now I agree with NBC that the fake product is hilarious and a perfect fit for their new show, but NBC did not credit the guys from HTBAD as the creators. Instead they pulled the image from a site appropriately titled FailBlog who had not only posted Charlie and Andy’s work, but had removed all HTBAD branding, replacing it with their own site logo and URL.

Everyone familiar with the original work from How To Be A Dad began commenting on the Guys with Kids Facebook page, and just as quickly as fans of HTBAD shared their righteous indignation, NBC’s social media team deleted the comments.  Eventually NBC saw the writing on the wall, quite literally, and not only stopped deleting comments, but changed the image to properly credit How To Be a Dad.

My concern – why did NBC post something in the first place that is from a site blatantly taking original art and rebranding it as their own?  Shouldn’t NBC know better?  Shouldn’t Nickelodeon and Viacom know better as well?

With image sharing at an all time high thanks to Pinterest, and Facebook feeds completely transformed from status updates to clever pictures, what can content creators do to protect and monetize their work?  I think it’s time for the blogging community to stand up to brands who have taken a “But everyone’s doing it!” cavalier attitude towards content ownership.

UPDATE:

NickMom reached out via their Twitter account with the following in response to this post:

While it was my understanding that both NickMom and Jeff from Pleated Jeans were aware that the copied work had been discovered prior to this post, I will have to take they didn’t know until today.  I checked their account regarding “reaching out to @HowToBeADad” and found this:

As for Type-A Mom? An dismissal wrapped in an apology:

I love that NickMom is responding, but am disheartened by their cavalier and casual response.  They always give credit where credit is due?  Clearly not. “Can we still be friends?” I’m not sure that impinging on a person’s livelihood by absconding with their creative content merits this schoolyard language.

And while you can’t unring a bell, you certainly can do more than remove content from one site. What about social media platforms? What about the fact that the image has already gone viral and appeared on other sites without credit to How To Be A Dad?  Will there be a post on NickMom apologizing and crediting the original work at HowToBeADad.com?

I think NickMom believes this is over. I think that for the sake of the blogging community, this has to just be the beginning…

UPDATE – 9/13/12 – 6:20 p.m. ET

“The content on NickMom is created by a number of freelance writers, and our editors were unaware of the HowToBeADad post until ResourcefulMom brought it to our attention. While we disagree that our posts were the same – creative minds can independently produce similar expressions about the common experiences of parents and their children – we took down our original post out of courtesy. At NickMom, we want to continue to contribute positively to the blogosphere and to respect the rights of the creative community.  We look forward to sharing our take on the world of parenting with you.”

- Source: NickMom

And there you go. I asked if they wanted the contact information for How To Be A Dad and they said they had it. Funny, because Charlie and Andy have not heard from them. I asked if they wanted the contact information for Type-A Mom. They said they’ve had that for years. Kelby has not heard from them either. They also asked that anyone wanting them to respond officially for blog posts should contact them at nickelodeonpressdepartment@nick.com.  They will not respond via Twitter to those @’ing the NickMom account.  I think you should all email them. And you should all blog about this. Because if you feel the same way that I do, their official statement is dismissive and insulting.

 

Comments

  1. 106

    It’s odd that such a huge brand would stoop to this level and then not take responsibility for their actions.

    I have been meaning to ask you how you deal with people ripping off your original idea of Twitter parties. You invented it but no one ever gives you credit.

    I find more and more bloggers stealing content and calling it their own too. Some bloggers don’t want to put in the work and see a successful blogger and then just rip off their ideas. Sometimes it’s not the content they are stealing, it is the whole concept (happened to me and the person is probably here lurking around). They can’t be original or unique. Their readers don’t know it either and the originator never gets the credit.

    • 107
      Amy
      Follow on Twitter: ResourcefulMom
      says:

      The only time the Twitter Party thing bothers me is when someone else tries to take credit, which has only ever happened with one man who the whole world knows had nothing to do with the launch of twitter parties. Apart from that, I think everyone knows that I created them and more importantly, still work hard to provide great results for clients. Creating a marketing concept is definitely not something that I could ever protect or keep others from implementing. That would be like saying no other store can send coupon mailers to homes because my store did it first. But taking creative content and changing it only slightly and calling it your own is completely different. And yes, I see more and more bloggers doing this sort of thing – “re-blogging” and the like – and why not when brands like NickMom are telling them it’s okay?

  2. 108
    Keri Wilmot
    Follow on Twitter: toyqueen
    says:

    We have had the same issues for years with images. My husband is a photographer who copyrights all his images. Initially they were copyrighted or watermarked in more inconspicuous places. We have found a few images of our son, used in original blog posts I created on our website with his permission, that have surfaced internationally in baby products catalogs. For months these companies saved thousands of dollars using his images, rather than buying them or downloading them from the appropriate channels. My mother still complains every time his copyright is plastered right across my son’s face, but copyright infringement and the stealing of content is awful and you have to take all necessary steps to protect your work.
    Keri Wilmot recently posted..Step2 All Around Art Easel For Kids

  3. 109
    Mom Rolls Eyes says:

    Charlie and Andy have a right to be upset, but Type-A Mom is a publicity chaser who needs to get over herself. “Type A Mom” is a very common phrase that existed long before her conference.

    • 110
      Amy
      Follow on Twitter: ResourcefulMom
      says:

      As any business person can tell you, use of a name in business and use of a phrase in conversation are two very different things. And if you read carefully, the issue I call out is the decision of the NickMom social team to delete comments on Pinterest questioning their use of the name Type-A Mom as a social account.

  4. 111
    Sara Haaf
    Follow on Twitter: vloky
    says:

    Seems like they missed the ethics and copy write classes. I studied advertising and web design and this is basic stuff. When did people become so freaking lazy?

  5. 112
    Janice (5 Minutes for Mom)
    Follow on Twitter: 5minutesformom
    says:

    Just catching up on all of this now. I am in shock at how poorly they have handled this matter. Great social media move team — piss off the top parenting bloggers while trying to create a parenting site. Good grief.
    Janice (5 Minutes for Mom) recently posted..Customize Your Next Vacation with Tripcanza

  6. 114

    You know how they could make good? COMPENSATION. Who are these freelancers Viacom has hired? Who is ensuring that plagiarism isn’t occurring? If the shoe was on the other foot, the little ol’ blogger would get a threatening cease and desist message.
    Donna recently posted..Sponsored Post: How to Plan a Weekend Getaway — On a Budget

  7. 115
    Trisha McKee says:

    I emailed them. I find that appalling and beyond unprofessional.

  8. 116

    I’m disgusted is an understatement.
    Recently an article that I wrote and contributed to another site was taken by another blogger.
    It takes a lot to leave me speechless, yet here I am.
    Rose recently posted..Mixing Bowl Wrath

  9. 117

    What a horrible company
    Emily recently posted..New Coupon – $1.00 off 2 Healthy Balance reduced-sugar juice

  10. 118

    The bottom line is that too many people fail to understand the work, creativity and OWNERSHIP that goes into a blog. A letter to the president’s office copied to the chief legal counsel should lead to a change in policy without need for a lawyer. Likely to happen faster and be more compelling to the underlings taking privilege with the work of others.

  11. 119

    This is so discouraging and upsetting, but I guess we shouldn’t be shocked. Recently I was searching for virtual assistant type jobs and was sick to my stomach to see multiple contracts available for web content scrapers. Wow.

  12. 120

    Wowza. This reminds me of my 9 year old. Maybe I should explain to Nick Mom that an apology does not count if you roll your eyes or if you use a “BUT” apology. The apology is invalid if you say “I’m sorry, BUT you deserved it.” or “I’m sorry BUT I had no idea I was being a moron.”
    And, no, we cannot still be friends.
    Thank you for shining a light on this!
    Kerry at HouseTalkN

  13. 121
    Jude
    Follow on Twitter: bokubeauty
    says:

    I have seen this NickMom floating around in the blogosphere a lot lately. It kind of reminds me of that Happy Bee website that was trying to get advertisements from Mom Blogs. =\
    Jude recently posted..Black Head Banishing Ritual

  14. 122
    Lucretia Pruitt
    Follow on Twitter: lucretiapruitt
    says:

    Holy crap. Only just now catching up on all of this. NickMom should be ashamed and mortified. As a media company themselves? You’d better believe they’d be all over IP theft in a heartbeat *if they owned it.*
    Foul.
    Lucretia Pruitt recently posted..No Time Like The Present To Plan For The Future

    • 123
      Amy
      Follow on Twitter: ResourcefulMom
      says:

      People have come to us and told us that they have received cease and desist letters for posting Nickelodeon owned images in response to requests for media coverage. So yes, it is our understanding that when the shoe is on the other foot, it stomps down hard.

  15. 124

    How is making fun of moms funny?
    Headant recently posted..Finding the Best Customer Service as a Special Needs Parent

  16. 126

    In NickMom’s defense, the guy (from pleated-jeans.com) who created the T-Rex graphic for them has been creating similar T-Rex graphics for a LONG time:

    http://www.pleated-jeans.com/?s=Tyrannosaurus+Rex

    • 127
      Amy
      Follow on Twitter: ResourcefulMom
      says:

      The link you posted that is supposedly the work of Jeff from Pleated Jeans takes me to a top post that is actually a painting by a Czech man named Zdenek Burian. Jeff just slapped some vulgar captions on it like any 12 year old could do in Paint. Then he had the audacity to file his creation under the tag “Original Content”. So thank you for that link. Your defense is a wonderful way to wrap up and slam dunk my case.

  17. 128

    With so many stock photo and free stock photo/photo sites (like Flickr Creative Commons to name just one) that require only attribution most of the time, why would someone NOT? I ensure that images from my blog are either a) mine or b) attributed on every post for at least the last two years, usually with the image itself linked to the original stock photo/photo sharing site. Some even allow derivative works, which these are! It takes 2 minutes or less, folks. If you strive to be above reproach, you never get nipped in the bud.
    Carrie B recently posted..Monday Morning: Citrus Cleaner, Giving Thanks

  18. 129

    Spending the time it took to read and re-direct to other sites and understand this problem re-affirms the sentiment I have pondered concerning “Mommy” blogging and making money: IT IS JUST NOT FOR ME, BUT I WISH YOU THE BEST OF LUCK IN your talent and I hope all your goals, desires, and achievements equal the time and effort you put into this endeavor!

  19. 130

    That’s sad! I can’t believe that all of this is going on!

  20. 131

    Ohmigosh. I had no idea this was going on. How hard would it be to just list a darn credit to the original source??

Trackbacks

  1. [...] stealing content from other bloggers and then passing it off as their own. Amy put together this incredibly detailed and thoughtful post about the [...]

  2. [...] skills to remove the part of the mark that appeared on the subject’s legs. Last year, in a well-publicized battle with NickMom.com , many bloggers found their images being used without permission or attribution by NickMom. One of [...]

  3. [...] year I took on Viacom, a media giant, because they were scraping blogger content without permission as well as using [...]

  4. […] on its fifth year. It is now more inclusive for both moms and dads, with Type-A Parent. And then this happened. Nickelodeon’s NickMoms trampled all over my brand name. They blatantly ripped off How to Be a […]

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