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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.