Content (Curation) Is King

Last month I wrote “Hands Off Our Content” after a series of alarming examples of big brands stealing content from independent bloggers. The main offender was NickMom.com, the site associated with a new programming block on Nickelodeon that launched last night.  People were shocked.  How was it okay for a major corporation, one that makes its living off of moms and kids, to steal pictures, ideas, and content from parent bloggers? It caused a bit of an uproar with related posts popping up around the internet, and for a couple days I continued to update the post.

Then the Senior Vice President of NickMom reached out to me to apologize and assure me that they were reviewing the situation and would update me with any information about what they would do to both right their wrongs and also prevent them moving forward.  At her request I waited patiently.  I stopped updating the post.  I stopped looking through the site to find more stolen content (and it’s there because while I stopped looking, people didn’t stop sending links to me of what they had found).  But that was  September 20th and I have yet to hear from anyone at NickMom about the findings from their review.  

And worse, while they initially pulled the content that we pointed out was stolen, they stopped doing so a couple days into our communications.  The content stolen from Mamadweeb.com has been pulled, but this image stolen from Not Just a Housewife remains even though I alerted NickMom that it was taken without permission (which I confirmed by speaking with Stacy, the blog owner).  Notice that NickMom used their “funny text” to completely cover Stacy’s watermark, which she placed on the photo to protect it from being stolen.  When I asked SVP of NickMom, Bronwen O’Keefe about additional stolen images such as Stacy’s, she told me that all concerns about stolen images must be directed to copyright@mtvn.com to await processing and only issues directly from the copyright owner will be addressed.

I emailed to confirm that they were no longer going to address the images found by the community to be stolen, and she confirmed this to be the case.  You don’t find your own work and report it yourself, they won’t pull the post.  Great.

I heard from Stacy that she would be emailing NickMom to ask them to pull her photo, and I can only assume that her request is stuck in the review process that Ms. O’Keefe promised me was taking place.  At this point I don’t have much hope that her stolen content will be pulled nor that NickMom will change it’s ways.

So why does this matter?

First, it’s wrong. It’s stealing, plain and simple.  But for those of you who need more than one of the ten commandments to get on board with my line of thinking, let me offer this…

For independent content creators, content is king.  It is our craft.  It is our passion. And with a little luck and a lot of hard work, it is how we make a living.  When larger sites and companies take our content without permission or payment, they cut off a revenue source.  Here is an example that I found just last night.

This is the Facebook page of a NY Times Bestseller written by two major network television producers.  Clearly these are two women who understand the power of great content, which is why they posted this image on their book’s Facebook page.  I found this posting because it was being liked by friend after friend and was appearing over and over in my newsfeed driving great traffic and tons of likes to the Facebook page for the book.  But when I clicked on the image to find the original source and also give traffic to the person who created the content, I found that the authors/producers listed the source only as Pinterest.com. 

It is not okay to list Pinterest.com as the source for the content you are sharing just as you would not list Google.com as a source.  Imagine getting to the Bibliography of your college term paper and listing “Library” and the address where the building is located.  That is precisely what these authors did.

Still not sure it matters?  How about a visual:

 

I would like to think that the instances I named in “Hands Off Our Content” were isolated, but seeing this latest affront to content creators last night on Facebook reminds me that content curation is now the norm.  Forget being rewarded for original thoughts and ideas.  We now live in a land where he who has the most Google juice wins as previously content driven sites like Babble.com have sunk to posting cute kitten videos they found around the internet in the quest for higher traffic numbers and shows like Ridiculousness exist solely because of “found content” discovered while typing random search words into Bing (in case you’re not following, Bing.com? Also not a source).

I know I’m not alone in feeling this shift in the blogosphere. Last month Allison at O My Family shared some very similar concerns in her post “I Hate What Pinterest Has Done to Blogging.”  I hear the complaints and see the eye rolls at conferences, in Skype rooms, and posted in Facebook Groups.  My fear is that this is just the beginning and that there is nothing we can do about it.  Causing a ruckus last month stirred up a private apology via email, a couple of phone calls, and a pledge to “look into it” from NickMom, but I have yet to see any real action or public statement of responsibility. Asking for the real source of the photo on that book’s Facebook page killed the thread.  Pictures of kittens posted and re-posted and re-posted again drive more traffic than, you know, content.  Is that it, bloggers?  Do we just wave the white flag and admit that content curation is king?

Update: After additional requests for the actual link to the pin mentioned above, the authors linked correctly in the comments of the Facebook post and apologized for not being “cool.” While I’m not sure they took the issue seriously, I’m happy they added proper source credit.

 

Written by: Amy

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51 Comments

  • EmJay

    Folks (content owners) need to be very specific in their request to have content removed. Under the DMCA (Copyright law) the request has to have specific statements in order for the the online publisher to have to remove the content. You can waste several exchanges trying to get is just right. I’m an IP attorney in a Fortune 100 company and spend a lot of time “negotiating” with the big online media players when something we own is posted in error. Send me an email I can send a template letter that should help facilitate the process.

  • I am honestly to the point of feeling exasperated on this whole situation. This doesn’t feel complicated to me. Don’t steal. Don’t use images without permission. When you DO get that permission, credit properly (WITH LINK). I noticed now that NickMom isn’t even linking their via or saying site names. They just say via the person’s name, no link. Maybe people are submitting these pictures. I am not holding my breath that is the case. I have concerns the new tactic for their “Via” crediting is to eliminate the pingback bloggers will get when their image is used. And we know all those images crediting Reddit, etc. will never ping the content creator.

    So I am rambling, but this is all so disappointing, especially coming from huge corporations or people with huge corporations.

    I also understand and appreciate the advice offered by your other commenter regarding DMCA requests.

    Here is what troubles me, though. We should not HAVE to send proper DMCA requests to MAJOR CORPORATIONS to stop stealing our content or others’ content. They should be doing the right thing. A blogger who behaved like this would be called irresponsible (and held up by traditional media as making the case that new media publishers don’t know what they are doing).

    I know even at the smallest newspapers I worked for, we had regular copyright training that was mandatory. So big, huge media companies like Viacom and NBC surely do as well.

  • It’s the age old argument that nothing is ‘new’, but with the ease of taking content on the internet it is becoming a larger and larger problem.

    Somehow it’s become normal and acceptable in some circles to take content from others and pass it off as your own. It makes me furious, sad, and frustrated. I understand repinning, tumbling, et all can drive great traffic and a great way for people to curate content, but taking content is not ok. Citing a linkback isn’t even ok. You need to respect that little © and ask permission to share.

    I’m obsessively careful about content and photos that I share. It’s time consuming, but well worth it.

    • My concern is that as larger companies like Viacom and NBC continue to take and use content without permission or proper credit, this will just continue to move towards becoming the norm. In the case I cited in this post, Viacom (NickMom) simply went out over the blogger’s watermark. And I’ve certainly seen watermarked photos stolen and posted without permission with no regard to how obvious it is. I worry that this is it…the tide has turned and we’ve got no leg to stand on to protect our work.

  • Absurd. and insulting. Anyone can flag videos in YouTube for copyright violations. In what world does a corporation as large as Nick say, “eh, if we don’t get caught, the stolen content stays.” ?????

    I think all of the glitz and fake traffic will be around in one way or another, but there will always be a place for honest voices. (says me, Pollyanna)

  • No we don’t wave the flag and give up at all. In fact NOW is the time like never before where there has to be a governing body of standards and ethics that can go to the journalistic, public relations, and marketing mat to lobby for best practice and industry ethics. Now is the time to be exceptionally vocal and inform our communities of what’s behind the brand and for everyone to know where they are willing to let their actions speak louder than words. If you despise a big box retailer, you don’t shop there. If you know that a brand like Nick Mom steals content and hopes no one will remember long term, you tell your children they can’t watch that channel or play with those co-branded toys. Believe me they were always better off with PBS to begin with, not to mention actually playing, reading, and a million other things they can do that don’t have to be commercialized. Explain to them why and I promise you in their precious eyes ~ its simple ~ you don’t steal. Even your child knows that’s not right ~ how hard can it be to convince a board room full of parents?

  • I think it is going to be many years before this issue comes under control. While it is easy to understand “do not steal” and to credit others, the internet is still the wild west for lots of laws and rules. I think it will happen, but it is just going to take a long time.

    In the meantime I think to continue to do it the right way to set an example for others is important. Also, as I mentioned at Type-A Town Hall, we need education that is easily accessible to bloggers/social media users that will teach them the right way and wrong way to do all of this. The majority of us are not trained writers or journalists and have never really been taught other than what we learned in high school when learning to write a term paper.

  • As sad it is to say, I don’t see NickMom making a permanent change. They appeased us for those few days because of the backlash we were creating AT THE MOMENT. They’re a conglomerate and with the show’s premiere last night, they know that any type of controversy now will just fuel people to watch. Unfortunately, I saw a lot of moms tweeting about watching the show last night, and these are mom bloggers that have read and followed your posts about the situation, as well as Kelby’s and the guys at How To Be A Dad. It’s turning into a “you can’t fight city hall” situation.

    Personally, because i’m stubborn, I’ll continue to blast them about their actions with our content, no matter what others may be doing, or not.

    • Amiyrah, I saw that as well last night with NickMom tweeting back thanks to them. It saddens me that some bloggers would rather get a digital pat on the head from NickMom then protect their industry.

  • I am shocked at the fact that NickMom has done this – THEY who belong to the company who has invested millions in their fight for copyright protection – what’s the difference between what they have done and piracy?

    Is this happening because they think our content is cheap? Is it because they think we cannot fight? This is a question of being big and thinking they can get away with it.

    We can’t sit by and watch this happen, as you say, Amy, this is our craft and with some luck it’s also how we make a living. At the very least, we need to protest and do whatever is necessary to protect our IP. It may not look like MTV – but it’s evidently valuable enough for NickMom to steal it.

    And for all mom/dad/lifestyle bloggers – this affects all of us.
    MONICA

  • It is an amazing story and if the negative press continues it will probably bleed over onto Universal. Just imagine if Touchstone, which is owned by Disney, were doing this?

    I wonder if it’s because, as Robin pointed out, most bloggers are trained in some form of journalism-and that the offending brands are not or simply have a social media ‘expert’ doing the trolling?

    Would putting the watermark in the middle of the photo do any good, or is there software that can simply remove it?

    • I’ve been told that anyone who has a clue how to use photoshop can simply remove a watermark. Of course NickMom just goes right over top of them.

  • This is ridiculous. What are we going to do about it? Because we have enough influence collectively to turn this ship upside down. Let me know when and where and what I have to do and I’ll be there with pink camouflage on.

  • What I don’t see anyone mentioning is that content “curation” got traction from members of the blogging community who figured out how to boost their own credibility by referencing other people who actually make stuff. This began to be a problem when who you know began to be a more valuable asset than what you created.

    • And along the same line, I’ve seen more and more bloggers move from writing several paragraphs of content to creating pinnable images with just a few descriptive sentences, all with the hopes that those pins would drive traffic to what…a cute caption? A picture of lunch? Even that plan seems to have backfired as pins are shared without the link back to the source.

  • your efforts aren’t for naught…because of your posts and Kelby’s posts and all the others, Nick Mom will never get any ‘clicks’ from me. It’s the only way I can tell them that what they’re doing isn’t cool. Sure, Pinterest has changed things online but they didn’t write new copyright laws. Those still exist as they did before and I’m pretty sure a judge isn’t going to roll over like a kitten looking for a belly scratch just because curating is what the popular kids are doing now.

  • also, tag me as a blogger who creates captioned images. These are a way for me to share what’s happening visually, I can make them funny, it’s still a creative outlet and they take time to create. No matter what the format – they’re my content. I’m not looking for these images to go crazy on pinterest (I pin a generic image to share them) but rather for them to bring clicks from Stumbleupon. It’s that traffic that earns me a few pennies and sometimes gains me a permanent reader.

  • Because I believe in hope, I still feel like at the end of the day we can turn this around. Maybe not through NickMom (clearly, they don’t care and have not felt the boycott of the blogger world in their pocketbook…YET.), but definitely through honest conversation about what it takes to create content. And how to best share content we love so that the creator of that content feels that love.
    I think that Molly hit the nail on the head with the idea that now, more than ever there needs to be industry standards. Thankfully, Kelby is working on that, and I think those of us lending our voices to her effort will lead to permanent change.

  • […] View Full Article… resourcefulmom.wpengine.com […]

  • Anyone who still has content being used by this website needs to send them an invoice demanding payment. How quick do you think they would be to come after bloggers who were using their content?

  • With our new Best of EverythingMom Magazine, we are, in fact, curating content. But, we have a dedicated staff member who reaches out to each and every content creator featured for permission FIRST before we feature them. Every author is credited properly. Not just in our magazine, but on Facebook , Twitter, Pinterest and on our site directly.

    We believe in sharing, gathering and curating. And we believe in ethics, support and encouragement. Sad to see that others don’t.

    • Michelle, thank you for commenting. Content curation done right provides a great one-stop shop for readers (who want everything mom in one place 😉 ), a wonderful platform for bloggers to find a new audience for their work, and a viable business for the content curator who has built a notable traffic base. The fact that you have a staff member in charge of asking permission before featuring the content shows your dedication to this space. You know I’ve been a fan of yours for years and this is just one more example of EverythingMom.com getting it right. Hopefully other sites will take note!

      • You’re so kind, Amy – big love back to you! I still think there is a lot of learning for everyone. We always try to “get it right”, but everything is constantly evolving.

  • I think, as bloggers, we all need to find a cohesive way to fight back. A brand ambassador blogger stole a whole post from me in April. It took calling her out on twitter to get her to remove my content from her blog. As long as bloggers are stealing from bloggers, the big brands are going to think they can get away with it too. It is all just so frustrating and sad.

  • I am so frustrated when it comes to kids! Okay, I wouldn’t want any of my hard work (images) stolen, but I post a lot of pics of my kids and our life on the farm. I would feel so violated if someone was using a pic of my kids for their own personal gain. Grrr…

  • Erin

    Amy, I just shared this, one of the best distillations of the entire issue that I’ve read, with our entire marketing and design team. Well said.

  • Just an FYI to all, removing copyright notice information (know in legal parlance as Copyright Management Data) is a violation of DMCA and carries with it liability of up to $25,000 plus attorney fees. I highly suggest if this has been done to contact an attorney familiar with copyright law.

    It’s bad enough people are posting to Pinterest and tumblr w/o referencing original creator, but removing copyright notice is just such a blatant disregard for the creator/copyright holder.

    We focus a lot on this issue with Pinterest not having original source links, but don’t forget that tumblr, Facebook, and other photo-sharing sites do this too. The concept of crediting the original source is not new, you’d think with the internet being as old as it is people would have caught on by now.

  • Janet

    Thanks for another great post, Amy.

  • Curation. That has become my new hated “c” word. Have you noticed what’s going on with sites I used to love, like Salon? While they have great original content, their sidebar now connects to other sites like HuffPost where the vast majority of the content is written for free. Even Babble, which still pays for original content, is “promoting” it at spaces like Yahoo and HuffPost, where the authors get no additional pay for having it at another site. While this isn’t quite the same as the NickMom example where content is being outright stolen, it is clear we have gotten to a place where there is virtually no value in well-written pieces and cross-posted crazy kittens and purchased traffic is the story of the day. As someone who identifies primarily as a writer, I’m just about ready to crawl in a hole.

    • Find a hole big enough for two and that’s supplied with wine and dark chocolate and I’ll join you, Joanne.

      • I’m going to go way out on a limb and say you might want to look for a bunker, not just a hole for two. This is sad. I suspect they’re all following the advice of some “social media guru/maven/expert/specialist/thesaurus supplied name”.

  • This is becoming a bigger and bigger issue everyday. Everytime I see a photo on a website I like, I wonder if they actually stole the photo. It’s out of hand. Thanks for this post.

    • Lindsay, I feel the same way. I can’t view a single funny or touching photo on facebook or pinterest without wondering where it came from and whether or not the photographer knows it has been posted.

  • I run a fashion blog on the site (of my regular mom blog) and I used to grab photos from Pinterest and credit back to the pinner….trusting that they had credited the original source. But I quickly realized that is not the case. People will actually download a photo and upload it to Pinterest. Terrible. Now I hunt through Google Images until I can find the original source as often as possible.

    Bottom line is that credit needs to be given where it is due.

    • Crys, thank you for pointing this out: “People will actually download a photo and upload it to Pinterest. Terrible.” I’ve been trying to convince people of that as one of the dangers of Pinterest, but not everyone believes it. I’ve definitely seen it done as well.

  • I’m not a blogger, so my interest here is as a reader/consumer and I want to know if it’s appropriate to contact Nickelodeon advertisers to complain that they are sponsoring content theft. Because that’s what I want to do. I feel cheated as a reader if the blog I’m reading has stolen content, much like I’d feel cheated if the bike I bought my son was stolen property.

    • Terri, I love that analogy and think it is absolutely fine to reach out to Nickelodeon and their advertisers to let them know your feelings on the subject. Our home was already not a huge Nickelodeon supporter, but we have now become a Nick free zone. The bottom line is that I can’t ask my kids to live with a certain level of morality and then work with and support companies that don’t align with those values.

  • […] as the worst of the curation sites. The blogger at Resourceful Mommy, in a post called “Content (Curation) Is King” gives examples of a corporate site stealing from independent bloggers. She shows that […]

  • I think a class action lawsuit would make them take it seriously and course adjust the industry. Big companies hate lawsuits.

  • I had this happen to me recently – I was looking on the CES website for dates of certain events and came across a page that had 4 of our photos (with our copyright) on the page promoting one event and then when I went to that event’s website – there were my photos only this time they were cropped and no photo credit oh and their Facebook page cover were the photos as well – again, no photo credit. The sucky thing – these people know me (i.e. my brand) and could have asked – but they did not. I emailed one of the members of their board and he was shocked and then the ball started rolling — they just assumed it would be OK? Sure, if you ask. But since I provided media coverage for an event that cost ME money to go to and produce content for – why would you think you could use my content to promote your event without compensating me?

    Not understanding copyright laws (which my content is marked) and just ignoring the creator and their time is a big battle that is brewing and there are enough bloggers with awesome creative content out there who can come together and make a statement.

    Power to the Momma’s!!! i.e. they may think we’re the little people but together we can be stronger and more powerful than a NickMom or other organization.

  • […] you should be fine! .wrc-widget-wrap { } .wrc-widget-tabs .ui-widget-content { } Content CurationContent (Curation) Is King | Resourceful Mommy» Matt Cutts Announces Google Algorithm UpdateCurated content: Here today, gone tomorrow? – […]

  • Cathy C

    NOT COOL Time for the moms to start a social media compaign to get them to deal with this issue and past and present and future, and to set an example to other brands that might think this is acceptable practice. Petition Tweet, Blog and FB campaign etc. I’m in.

  • […] few weeks later, Amy issued a follow-up post about content curation, using the NickMom scandal as a case study. Since her readers were already […]

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