I am like a hawk when it comes to news feeds. While I don’t have thousands of feeds to monitor, I do manage to keep an eye on the big players. What does this have to do with anything? Well, it is a prelude to the fact that after I see something from a paper like The New York Times, I also end up seeing similar content from blogs. Most likely those blogs are using that very story. This is a natural progression of many blogs—especially technology, political, culture, gaming, and financial blogs; among others. However, I do have an issue when these blogs fail to do something that keeps things honest.
This means that, reluctantly, I have to point out the fact that many bloggers—even some of the more respected amongst us (I won’t disclose names)—fail to give proper credit to their sources of content. I also notice blogs only crediting other blogs for sources. This all becomes a giant problem as we must ask ourselves a few questions—where exactly did this content originate from?
Now, is most of what the blogosphere doing illegal? Absolutely not, and I don’t believe it should be, but I do think there needs to be some sort of standard set for things like this. I want the professional blogging industry to keep things honest and fair.
This is why I urge all bloggers to give credit (in the form of a link; even a simple text link at the end of a post is sufficient—in my opinion) when posting content that originates elsewhere. There are also other scenarios where you should give credit for content that is being used under fair use laws.
Cases in which you should give credit:
Stories and Ideas
I think it should be a requirement for people to link to articles that they write about based off an existing article. I see so many bloggers obviously writing about content that is featured in newspapers and other media formats, but these bloggers fail the link to the original. It frustrates furthermore if these bloggers are trying to claim the research and content as their own. If you were a columnist or contributing writer for a magazine, but saw another author get the credit for the work, wouldn’t you be at least a slight bit upset?
Whenever I use an image that is not public domain (which is a majority of the time), I will give the creator credit for their work. However, bloggers should be careful as photographers are really not fond of people using their work with no credit whatsoever. Oh, and please do realize that just because a picture is licensed under Creative Commons, does not mean you are free to simply use the photograph. Read the license, understand the license, and if in doubt, contact the creator for permission; most will gladly agree with a simple link as credit for their work.
Video is quickly becoming one of the more prominent types of media to share on the web. With the ability to embed video easily, it makes things much easier. I still make it a habit to still link to the original author when I post embedded video, but in the case in which I can’t locate the original author, I will give as much information as I can. I think it is more of a courtesy than a requirement, but I would still urge you to give credit in the form of a link to the original author.
When it comes to quoting someone, things can get complicated. You could (and probably should) introduce the person in the introductory sentence of a new paragraph, and then proceed to explain what the person has said. However, don’t mess around with quotations. If you call out someone, be sure to get your facts straight. Libel is something you don’t want to play around with. Who ever knows when one simple blog post could have you facing the judicial system.
Put Yourself In Their Shoes
In the end, just ask yourself how you would feel if someone used your content without your permission or even a simple form of acknowledgement. Perhaps, then, many of these bloggers that seem to forget about that content they “borrow” will have a change of heart.
Trust me, I personally know how it feels. I’ve seen several blogs that originate from China that have felt compelled to copy my content word for word without even a link of recognition. They managed to “borrow” my images and bandwidth as well. Please, in the hope of growth and reliability in the blogging industry, give credit when credit is due.