I know that I may seem really naive, and easy going and nice. However, I feel that its only fair that I share this warning: Don’t Fuck with Me.
Look, I may only be moderately smart, (my parents, husband and random people tell me I’m really smart but my kids tell me I don’t know anything, so that averages out to moderate) but I know this: when it comes to the written word and intellectual property, folks, there is NO Finders Keepers.
Here’s the scenario:
Let’s say you wrote a blog post that was pretty freaking good, if you didn’t say so yourself. Let’s say it was one of those posts that flies out of your fingertips, through the keyboard, and smack dab into the world. Let’s say you thought it was so good that you submitted it to some big websites (such as the Huffington Post) so that lots of people could read it. Especially because within its excellence you were taking a stance against a bunch of bigoted assholes.
So, let’s say lots of people read the post, but you never hear back from any of the big websites, but that’s ok because you write to touch people, not get famous (that’s a bit of a lie, but we’re taking the high road here).
So, let’s say that a couple of weeks later another blog post appears on one of the big sites (such as the Huffington Post) that you submitted to, and that it’s extraordinarily evocative of yours, in theme, but not tone. Your first reaction is, ‘Hey, someone completely agrees with me. That’s so cool.’ Then, you start to get messages from people saying, ‘Ummm, I just read that blog post and the author’s ideas are curiously similar to yours.’ And, then, someone calls you and says, ‘You are a moron. That blogger isn’t agreeing with you, she copied you. She used your ideas to write her own post. Not to mention, the title is exactly the same as your first line.’
You’re aghast, your chin drops to the desk, your bra pops and your boobs hit the floor. You. Are. Stunned. You like to believe the best in people, you feel like there’s no way anyone would do that. You decide to write the editor of the website in question a letter, maybe point out that the two posts were similar, that possibly the blogger read yours and thought your ideas were so interesting that she decided to adapt them and expand on them. You suggest that maybe it would be a nice gesture for them to just, you know, link up to your original piece so people knew that she’d borrowed your ideas, maybe apologize and such.
So, that’s the scenario. And its real. What do you think happened?
Choice a: The website apologized profusely, admitted their blogger presented my ideas as their own, and added a line linking back to my blog post.
Choice b: The website never answered the email.
Choice c: The website blog editor told me that my ideas were neither original nor distinct, and that there was no way his blogger had plagiarized from me or anyone else.
(If you chose a or b you are not even moderately smart like I am. Choose again.)
Hello. We live in a digital world. Everyone has access to everyone’s everything. There have to be some standards, some morals, some unspoken rules, maybe a Blogger Code of Ethics, natch.
Thinkers should be able to think and writers should be able to write without worrying that someone somewhere out there in the interwebs will appropriate their thoughts or words as their own.
In this case, since I have no other choice, I will let the whole mess just fade away, lessons learned. I will choose to be impressed that the Editor of the website stood by his blogger, even though he probably should chuck her unoriginal plagiarizing ass to the street. I will choose to be flattered that my thoughts were so great that someone wanted them to be theirs.
And, most importantly, I will choose to not listen to that jerk who said that I’m neither original nor particularly distinct.
Because, aside from knowing that I’m moderately smart, if there’s one other thing that I’m quite sure of, it’s that I’m completely and totally unique.
So, everyone, next time you think someone’s ideas are fantabulous, and you’d like to share them with your readers, remember to use something called a linkback and you know, do a little shout out. Its easy. All you have to do is highlight the URL, right click, and then paste the link. Right into your post. Right where you say, ‘This person’s ideas were really fantabulous so I thought I would share them with you.’
Remember kids, don’t steal. It’s a tiny bit illegal. Not to mention pretty darn dickwaddy.
Have a nice day.