5 Ways Re-Posting Other Bloggers’ Content Rips Them Off


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I’ve heard that imitation is the highest form of flattery, but that is definitely NOT true not when it comes to re-posting original content that is scraped (taken without permission) from someone else’s blog. It’s happened to me, and eventually it will happen to you. I wish I could say I take it in stride, but that would be a stretch.

Yeah, it makes me mad.

Sadly, when I contact re-posters with a request that they take down my content, they always respond that they had no idea re-blogging complete posts was a no-no. Well, not only is it wrong to publish an entire article someone else has written – verbatim, in its entirety, without the originator’s explicit permission – it’s illegal. Even with an attribution crediting the original blogger and a link to the original post.

Copyright: know the law
All original works have a copyright the minute an individual creates it, and ownership does not require the © symbol or an official registration to be recognized. Copyright applies to all mediums, including print and digital, and protects the interests of the originator by preventing others from using their work without permission. Material posted on the Internet is also covered by copyright.

Under U.S. copyright law, a copyright owner can reproduce, distribute, sell, rent, lend, perform, display, communicate and/or adapt the work, and can authorize others to do the same. However, aside from specific circumstances, performing any of these acts without the copyright holder’s permission is an illegal infringement on their rights.

That means the verbiage in someone else’s site/handout/book/flyer/you name it belongs to them. It is THEIRS. Others cannot legally distribute, reproduce, or share it (that includes re-pasting into Google+) without the originator’s permission. If and when they do, it constitutes an act of plagiarism.

Exception. The doctrine of “fair use” allows restricted use of copyrighted material without acquiring permission under these established, specific circumstances: If the reproduction is used for comment, criticism, news reporting, scholarship, teaching, or research. So it’s okay to use a quote for educational purposes (as in your post is using the quote to teach readers something, and the other’s blog post helps explain it). Proper attribution and a link to the original article would still be nice. This publication explains the basics.

5 ways re-posting other bloggers’ content rips them off
Bloggers who “borrow” content steal reputation, social authority, money, and time. And, if the perp gives attitude when contacted about it, they’re also stealing somebody’s zen. What else?

  1. The blogger doesn’t get credit for their hard work. “Credit” equals reputation, website traffic, social media shares, and enhanced social authority.
  2. The blogger doesn’t get the page views that can help draw potential advertisers and popular guest bloggers. Maybe even literary agents, if they’re interested in going trad.
  3. The blogger (often) doesn’t get the SEO-enhancing benefit of a back link from the blog that’s re-posting.
  4. The blogger doesn’t get the siphoned-away readers’ eyes on their books or products or affiliate sale links.
  5. The blogger wastes valuable time tracking the culprit down and communicating that they’ve essentially ripped them off.

Bottom line: Absolutely do not re-post someone else’s full blog post or other content without express permission from the creator. Re-posters should only proceed after they’ve been in contact with the originator, have asked for permission to run the entire piece, and have received the okay. Even then, it’s common courtesy to explain to readers that the article is a re-post, then link to the original blog. Clearly. Where it can be easily seen.

Note: Google no longer penalizes for duplicate content (in this situation); the search engine determines the post date and gives the originator credit by listing the original article in search results, and not the duplicator. In most instances, anyway.

The right way to link to someone’s post
When curating content, use only a couple of paragraphs from the original post. Below that, add the verbiage, “Link here to read the entire post,” or “link here to read Twitter Tips For Newbies.” When referring to a downloadable giveaway, direct people to the original blog to obtain the copy. The originator’s site gets the visitor traffic. They did the work, they deserve to reap the benefits.

When in doubt, ask. Message the blogger on Facebook, tweet them, cruise their blog and find an email address, or contact them/leave a comment on their blog. Some bloggers invite everyone to re-post content. Even then, give credit and a link to the post so they get the benefit of link-building.

Want to find out if people are re-posting your content?
Content Scrapers – How to Find Out Who is Stealing Your Content & What to Do About It. Quote: “Content scrapers are websites that steal your content for their own blogs without your permission.”

Approaching re-posters
My friend Tammy Salyer shared a generic letter she uses to contact re-posters. You can read it here.

Additional resources
Content Curation: Copyright, Ethics & Fair Use. Quote: “Best Practice #1:  Reproduce only those portions of the headline or article that are necessary to make your point or to identify the story. Do not reproduce the story in its entirety.”
How To Copyright A Blog in 3 Easy Steps
The Copyright Symbol, Misunderstood: 4 Common Myths That Hurt Your Blog

Readers, have you ever experienced content scraping? What did you do? Leave a comment and share!

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39 Responses to 5 Ways Re-Posting Other Bloggers’ Content Rips Them Off

  1. Lisa Orchard March 10, 2014 at 3:12 pm #

    Great information Molly! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  2. Kathryn March 10, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

    The bit about Google know who to give credit to in their algorithms is good news.

    Don’t forget about DMCA take down notices. They can be inexpensive and effective. Your work does not need to be registered in order to issue a take down notice to the ISP hosting the infringing material.

  3. Chris Mentzer March 10, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

    Hello Molly!
    Another fine article and one that is very important. If I re-blog someone’s article, I try to recreate the first paragraph and have a link back to the original article. That way both sides win.

    • Molly Greene March 10, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

      That’s right, Chris – and all bloggers LOVE it when you do that. Thanks so much for sharing!

  4. Lila March 10, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    Good to know! The only time I reblogged a post, it was with express permission from the originator of the post. But I do wonder if the “reblog” tool on WordPress misleads people into committing the offenses you outline. The fact that the tool exists seems to validate the practice.

    • Molly Greene March 10, 2014 at 3:55 pm #

      Thanks Lila and yes, you’re probably right that the mere suggestion of a re-blog tool probably leads people to think re-posting the entire blog post is okay. WordPress should change the name to “re-blog an excerpt” tool 😉

  5. Steve Vernon March 10, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    Hi Molly,

    I know that WordPress allows bloggers to “re-blog” in a way that still links back to the original blog.

    Is that kosher – or is that breaking some blogging rule?

    I figure you are talking more about somebody cutting and pasting an entire blog entry and sticking on their own blog – but I figured I’d better ask.

    • Molly Greene March 10, 2014 at 3:52 pm #

      Thanks for asking, Steve! You and Lila both mentioned WordPress’ “re-blog” tool, which I have never used – but here’s what WP says about it: “When a post is reblogged, it shows up with a link back to the blog it came from, the first image in the post, an excerpt of the post’s introduction (if it contains text), and thumbnails of any other images that the post contains.” So the re-blog tool just re-blogs an excerpt + the link to the whole post, which is the kosher way to do it.

  6. Belinda Pollard March 10, 2014 at 3:43 pm #

    Another one that doesn’t make me happy: a blogger took one of my most popular posts and reworded it here and there (badly). That one’s harder to prove than a 100% scrape, but it still isn’t going to make you any friends.

    I didn’t know that Google no longer penalises duplicate content, Molly. That’s good to know. I’ll be more open to “re-publish” requests in that case.

    • Molly Greene March 10, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

      Rats! Yes, that would irritate me, too. You could run the post through a plagiarism checker and share the results with the blogger. As for duplicate content not penalizing the original poster, it seems Google’s “Penguin” update changed the algorithms – but it’s not foolproof. I’ve still seen re-bloggers rank higher in Google results with a re-post of one of mine than I did with the original. GAH!

  7. Mikel March 10, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

    Thanks for the tips. I’d like to stick a link to this post on my blog, the same thing I’ve been doing for other blog posts I think are worth sharing. Am I following your suggestions well enough to get your permission? Thanks

    • Molly Greene March 10, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

      Thanks Mikel … in your case, you’re doing what every blogger loves, which is a brief excerpt + a link to the originator. No permission is needed, but thanks for asking and yes, you have my permission!

      • Mikel March 10, 2014 at 4:18 pm #

        Bueno! Muchas gracias from Guadalajara, Mexico.

  8. Anne R. Allen March 10, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

    I don’t worry much about people re-blogging my posts as long as they spell my name right and link to my blog. Most bloggers go by the “creative commons” rules, which say you can use content as long as you credit and link.

    I think if you don’t want people to copy any of your content, it’s best to put a copyright notice on the blog in a prominent place. You might even state that this is NOT a creative commons blog.

    I get reblogged on the Passive Voice quite often (like today.) He takes several paragraphs and some meaty quotes from the piece, but always credits me and it always brings a surge of traffic to my blog and a whole lot of new subscribers. so I don’t worry that much. I’ve also been reposted on Publitariat and some of the other big curated blogs and it’s done nothing but good for me. Usually a get a Google alert, so I know it’s happening and can go over and invite people to my blog.

    But having somebody steal my content, reword it and claim it for their own–which seems to have happened to Brenda–that would really get my hackles up.

    • Molly Greene March 10, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

      Kudos to you for feeling that way, Anne, I applaud you. I don’t feel the same way for the most part, and I strongly disagree about the creative commons rules. Creative Commons licenses are something the originator chooses to participate in,not something that is applied across the board to all original content. Here’s a link to a post that explains creative Commons.

      Here’s a post that explains how to ADD a Creative Commmons license to your blog if you want to freely share the content.

      As for the Passive Voice, Passive Guy always uses just the meat of the post and a link. And yes, I’d welcome that attention from such a super high-traffic blog any day! 😉

  9. John Paul McKinney March 10, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

    Many thanks! A news item a few weeks back cited research that suggested there is no more cheating in college today than there was years ago. I now wonder if peoples’ understanding of “cheating,” e.g., plagiarism, has changed.. Maybe it isn’t considered wrong if it’s taken off the internet, or if I paid to have my paper written for me. Thanks for all the good posts you do. JP McKinney

  10. Larry Crane March 10, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

    Nice article Molly – I’m curious about Paper-li. They peruse Twitter and pull entire articles, and report them as a newspaper item. They don’t ask permission. They just link to the original blog post, or to someone else who is “sharing” the post in its entirety. What do you think about that?

    • Molly Greene March 10, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

      Hi Larry … all the Paper.li issues I’ve seen just show an excerpt with a link.

  11. Deborah March 10, 2014 at 5:08 pm #

    Under the impression that youtube videos can be embedded as long as reference is done. Is that still the case?

    • Molly Greene March 10, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

      Thanks for asking Deborah, but I don’t know the exact restrictions re: re-posting video from youtube! I Googled it to see if I could find an explanation but I’ve come up empty-handed.

  12. Dannie Hill March 10, 2014 at 5:38 pm #

    Hi, Molly. Well, I’ve learned something from you, again. I agree with what you’ve said about re-blogging. I too was going to mention the re-blog button on some wordpress sites. To me that’s permission to re-blog post, but as you explained it give credit to both blogs.

    I rarely re-blog but do mention the author of a good blog and link their name to the post. Seems to work.

    • Molly Greene March 10, 2014 at 6:31 pm #

      Thanks, Dannie. Don’t get me wrong, now, I LOVE LOVE LOVE it when any blogger uses an excerpt of a post I’ve written and links to my blog for readers to see the rest. I’ve also given permission several times for my entire posts to be re-blogged, and I’ve sought permission to re-blog others’ posts. I think it’s just a matter of principle for most other bloggers – we like to have control over where our content (meaning the whole post) is displayed, and when. It would be like someone taking a short story from an author’s site and re-posting it on theirs, with an attribution at the end and the author’s blog link. You can’t tell me every single fiction author you know wouldn’t be ticked off about that. 😉 Thanks so much for stopping by!

  13. Debbie A. McClure March 10, 2014 at 6:25 pm #

    Excellent advice, Molly. I often include links to other writer’s blogs on my posts in order to demonstrate or share a point I’m making. I never re-blog though. I then try to remember to send a quick email or note to the original author, letting them know I’ve included a direct link to them/their original content in my blog as a “heads up”. I hope this satisfies all parties, since my hope is to share information and other bloggers with my readers. Hopefully that way I can contribute to their growing readership along with my own. Do you think this is an acceptable practice? I certainly don’t wish to offend anyone.

    • Molly Greene March 10, 2014 at 6:43 pm #

      Hi Debbie, absolutely, I’m NOT talking about links to blogs, as I said in the post. Every blogger loves links and in no way am I trying to discourage that. I almost always use links to other blogs in my posts, as well, and will continue to do so. I’m just talking about re-posting an entire article without permission. Hope this helps!

  14. Brian Rouley March 10, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    One of a few posts I created in response to finding a most offensive example of exactly what you are saying….

    It is so disgusting that someone actually thinks they should benefit by stealing a writer’s work. It should only bring shame to the perpetrator.

    Here’s another, written on the same day.


  15. Hannah March 10, 2014 at 11:16 pm #

    Great info Molly! I am zooming off to read the next article you recommended- Content Scrapers
    Thanks for sharing, really.

    • Molly Greene March 11, 2014 at 9:43 am #

      Thank you so much, Hannah!

  16. Aya Walksfar March 11, 2014 at 2:35 am #

    Great article, Molly, but then I’ve been a fan of yours for some time now. Also went over to Amazon and bought Mark of the Loon. Looking forward to reading it. The opening hooked me and then the sample chapters pulled me in. Have a great week!

    • Molly Greene March 11, 2014 at 9:43 am #

      AYA!!! Thanks so much for your support, both here and for my book. Mwah!

  17. cindy March 11, 2014 at 10:26 am #

    I have had blog posts and book reviews reposted as the thief’s own work. All my books are on pirate sites for free. It is upsetting and I have contacted people, but not all I’m sure. With all the free content I have out there, I’m sure someone has slapped together an ebook by now. It’s a sad fact of the digital age. My one comfort in this is that I know and the legal system (even Google!) knows the work is mine, so if it ever makes a fortune (unlikely) I will be able to re-claim it with ease.

    • Molly Greene March 11, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

      RATS! So sorry to hear this, Cindy. And yes, it is a sad fact of the digital age. May their karma get them!

  18. David Evans March 11, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

    Hi Molly,
    Your blog post came at an opportune time. Thanks very much! I am starting a blog soon, and I’ve been concerned about losing control of it, or having other people rip it off. I have recently gotten on google+ and heard about a service they have called “google authorship” that helps to identify the original author of a post. i haven’t looked into it very far yet, but plan to. Do you know about this service, and is it a help for establishing one’s authorship of a particular blog post?

    Thanks for your help!

    David Evans

    • Molly Greene March 11, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

      Hi David! Google Authorship is a plugin you can add to your site that helps identify your content as yours. It won’t stop people taking it, but it will allow Google to credit you by having your version show up in search results. Hope this helps and best of luck on your new blog!

  19. Garry Rodgers November 1, 2014 at 11:37 am #

    Great post, Molly!

    Not only is reposting without permission a violation of copyright and illegal – it’s just plain morally wrong.

    I’ve been hosting a lot more guest bloggers lately who have great content that directly relates to my theme. Every one of them was more than willing to allow me to re-publish their information. All it took was to ask and, it goes without saying, that I promoted their product/service along with the piece and clearly gave them credit.

    Some advice for all bloggers – all you have to do is ask. I’m going to name drop here because I had Seth Godin (of all people) do a guest post on my blog last week. He’d done a piece on ‘How Would You Like To Die?’ last year. I stumbled upon it and it was so relevant to my website theme. I really wanted to share the information with my followers so I took a gamble and sent him an email explaining who I was and why I wanted to re-post it. He got back to me right away and graciously gave me not only permission, but great compliments on my site.

    As an example for your followers on how I re-published and promoted another’s work, here’s the piece I did with Seth – http://dyingwords.net/tag/seth-godin/

    Like getting so many things in life – you just have to ask 🙂

    • Molly Greene November 1, 2014 at 12:39 pm #

      Thanks Garry, and good for you for reaching out to well-known bloggers to ask if you can share their material! Great marketing plan, well done. Thanks for the comment!