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.


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.


Written by: Amy

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