Inspired? Or Are You Just Stealing?

imageWhile a large amount of my friends return to work today (with varying degrees of reluctance), I have the day off as it is a teacher training day which I’m not needed for. I’m grateful, not because I feel like I need to have more of a holiday (because, let’s face it, a holiday of any length is never enough), but more to try and get rid of the head cold that has plagued me on and off throughout the holiday period. Thankfully, I appear to be coming to the end of it, and after two weeks of coughing, losing my voice and feeling like my head is full of cotton wool I’ll be glad to see the back of it.

I took the opportunity to jump onto Twitter this morning – it’s always a fantastic way of catching up on missed posts from my favourite bloggers and I enjoy the views that I receive from sharing my own links with others.

However, one title in particular caught my eye, and my heart sank. I clicked on the link and discovered exactly what I expected – it was one of my posts. Except it wasn’t… it had been very carefully rewritten and reorganised with enough changes for it not to be immediately obvious, but without going into detail, I knew it was mine. Unfortunately, it’s been done in a way where I can’t call them out on it.

This isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened – while I’ve been lucky over the years to not have my content directly stolen (and I’ve read many horror stories from those who have), there have been a number of occasions where I have published something, usually in the form of a How To or a listicle, only to find an almost identical post appear elsewhere on blogs that I know regularly follow Suzie Speaks within a day or so.

Of course, with millions of active blogs in the online world, I truly believe that many ideas have been exhausted to the point where there is now little that is completely new and original. Indeed, when I suffer from the dreaded Bloggers Block I seek ideas from others, crediting them in the process, and some of the most viewed posts on this blog are ones that have been written in response to or inspired by the work of fellow bloggers. And many have done the same the with me. I never mind that – in fact I find it hugely flattering. There have even been instances where another blogger and I have posted about the exact same topic at the same time, but the content has been completely different and we have laughed about the coincidence.

There are no set rules for blogging – what works for one person may not be as successful for another – and the etiquette used by many bloggers is wide and varied depending on how long they have been writing, but what should be common sense above all is this:

If you’re going to start a blog, make it your own. If you’re stuck for ideas, feel free to be inspired, but don’t copy something, change it around and claim that it is yours. Credit where credit is due. Have some integrity.

Note: the same rules apply to images, and after reading a rather eye-opening and frightening post by a blogger who was sued for using an image that wasn’t hers without permission, I will be removing those that I aren’t mine from this blog…

What about you guys? Have you had content used and re-edited by someone else?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks.

91 thoughts on “Inspired? Or Are You Just Stealing?

  1. That’s definitely not a good experience, Susie. Definitely give credit where credit is due. I often use other’s post or articles for inspiration, but I always credit, quote and link back. It’s only polite after all. 🙂

  2. It’s very disheartening when this happens, I’ve had a couple of poems badly rewritten and passed off as someone else’s work before, along with photography used without credit, in the last few years.

  3. I’ve only had one, but they chose to poach one of my terrible posts. I deleted that post and sent an ugly note via their contact page. Other than that, everything has been perfect; and most bloggers conduct themselves with integrity and give credit + link back. I love getting inspiration from other bloggers, and I’ll do the same.

  4. Sadly “theft” of original material is very common. I even had some software development (400 hours work) copied and renamed (That was rectified). i just feel sad for those individuals because they know exactly what they are doing. My conscience is clear. I sleep at night. I am very happy with me. Those attributes are priceless to me and will not be sacrificed.

  5. That’s stealing if you inspired you give homage to the original poster I’m inspired often however I always share a link to where the idea came from most of the time it is music or something I’ve seen on the news

  6. I’ve dealt with my novel being pirated which was super fun awesome, but at least, I was still given author credit even if I wasn’t seeing a penny for my trouble.

  7. It depends how it’s done. At least if the person had re-blogged and credited you then that would have surely been more acceptable. But it is stealing. As for the images thing – I think it depends how you use that too, if you claim it as your or don’t say it isn’t yours then technically it’s stealing. But there are so many images available now it’s hard to resist using an available image and I have done that.

  8. I’ve never had anything stolen but I do worry about those coincidental postings. I’ve actually tanked a couple of my own drafts after seeing similar posts on blogs I follow. Recently, after having just completed an “open letter” type post I was convinced was unique, I visited a blog and read their latest…an open letter on my topic! Because I felt so strongly about what I wanted to post, I commented on hers, mentioned my own ties to the topic, and asked if she thought it would still be okay if I posted. We had a bit of a laugh too, and she actually encouraged me to post.

  9. I’ve been fortunate to only see the amiable side of the blogging community. I’ve only ever received one nasty comment, which was misspelled and riddled with hatred. Still, it got me down more than I expected, considering it was so poorly done. I bet it felt like a terrible betrayal to see your intentionally stolen content. I’m sorry this happened to you, and that it happens at all. I thought we bloggers were better than that! Great blog, by the way!

  10. Funnily enough, I saw a post just the other day about someone stealing his work and claiming it as their own. The one who stole the work did remove it I think but had made a hell of a fuss and tried to deny it was copied, despite it being word for word!
    I never understand people like this. Yes, we all get stuck for ideas, but if I have been inspired by someone, I will credit them, even though my post is totally different.
    I also saw the post about the images where the blogger was sued for using one that was not hers. I have gone through mine and changed a load of them to ensure I have credited them properly or changed the inage!

  11. Oh, Suzie, I am so very sorry. I would not know if this ever happened as I truly don’t have time to check many out, but I would feel so very sad to know. A stab in the heart. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Going to Twitter it as a reminder to others. It ‘may’ help….

  12. Oh no, that’s terrible! I hope I’ve never stolen anyone’s ideas – occasionally been inspired by, but like you say would credit them with the idea!
    Is there anyway you can ask them about it?

  13. Not long after I first started blogging, I joined a group of bloggers in order to be part of a blogging community. Well, I wrote one particular blog that was very well-received, both on my blog site and on the community site. And one blogger in the community re-wrote it – changing it “enough” but not really very much at all, and posted it under her name. I wrote to the person who managed the community site and asked her to remind the community not to steal other peoples’ ideas. She wrote a very weak admonishment – one with more emphasis on we should all be “generous and loving” instead of condemning plagiarism. I contacted the plagiarist myself, and got a mild apology but not a deletion of her post. I left the community.

    • That’s awful! I’m in a Facebook group but was admittedly a bit dubious about joining it at first because of this sort of stuff. However, the blogger that runs it is very trustworthy and isn’t shy about putting someone in their place!

  14. This has happened to me this weekend but I can’t prove it. I got notification to say someone (not a follower) liked my six word story post and had also liked my entry into the story challenge. But they must have liked/un-liked several times (finally un-liking!) as I got several notifications. I’ve now noticed they’ve entered a six word story that is essentially one of mine from my longer post but with a few words changed. The essence is still there though and it’s far removed from their first attempt which they seem to now be saying was an entry ‘in error’. I mean come on, it’s six words, make up your own!!
    I do worry about my photos too and should really watermark them. My other half said I should take it as flattery and to a certain extent I do but if someone was to get more credit, more opportunities or make money from something that was mine, then I’d be very cross!!

  15. I once had someone share one of my poems in the form of a tweet, with no credit… so essentially stealing… and have had one of my images lifted from pinterest and shared on another blog with no credit or link back. It is upsetting, especially given the amount of time/thought goes into creating. Are you sure you can’t call them out?…(politely suggest that they have reworked your material) especially if the title they’ve used is the same, or almost the same as yours.

    I’m sorry you’v had it happen, whatever the outcome… a rotten start to your bloggy year 😦

  16. Oh my! I try to give credit where credit is due in the first paragraph, even when I reblog, because sometimes I have others think the post I just reblogged is one I wrote! ~ ~Elle

  17. That’s horrible to hear about, Suzie. It’s such a shame that people claim credit for all our hard work simply by changing a few words. I always watermark my photos and place copyright notices on all my posts. I know it won’t always work but it can usually be a good deterrent.

  18. I had a blogger steal some of my posts once. They weren’t even thorough enough to change the links within not to point to my site. I called them on it and got no response.

  19. It may be more for all I know, but I know of one post a couple of years back that was stolen verbatim without credit. I only discovered it by chance when I googled the topic and the copying site appeared near the top of page 1 (and, doubly annoyingly, higher than my original!) I emailed the blog owner and the post was taken down but I never received so much as an acknowledgement, let alone an apology. God only knows how many other people they had ripped off and whether they’re still doing it.

    There are only so many ideas in the world and it’s pretty much inevitable that anything we write has already been written before or will be written about by someone else in the future. But we each have our own individual voice with which to tell our stories, and why we can’t acknowledge people when they provide a source of inspiration for our own posts is beyond me. It’s surely good etiquette and it’s a good way of engaging other bloggers in a positive way.

  20. That is terrible! I get a lot of hits on one of my posts and have often wondered how often it has been plagiarized. I could set up a sentence in “Google alerts” to check, but I haven’t bothered.
    I would have left a message in ALL CAPS in the comments, although great minds do think alike at times. Popular subjects do float to the surface more often than random stuff.

  21. I think it can be difficult to draw the line between copying and inspiration. With your background as a teacher, I’m sure you’ve seen some very clear cases of plagiarism. Inspiration is a bit tougher though. Look at music or film – sometimes it is very obvious what peoples influences were when they created something, as those influences show through. The question is, did they do enough to differentiate it and make it their own?

    I find in the blogging world that sometimes I read a post, and it resonates with me and gives me some sort of an idea that turns into a post. I try hard to put my own spin on things, and present it in my own way. And I would like to think that if the person who inspired my post reads it, they would make a connection to the inspiration while still seeing that I have done something different with it. Then again, maybe they *would* think I was copying. I can’t truly say.

    • If you put the two together they are extremely similar, but i’m sure there are those that would disagree (there always are). I’ve been inspired by others and done my own post on a topic they have, but I change the format and write my own stuff.

  22. I’m sorry to hear about this, Suzie, it would drive me nuts. I’m also just wondering what are your feelings about blogs which summarise or paraphrase someone else’s blog post or article, even if they do include a link? These usually include a full credit to the original piece, but remove any real prompt to actually visit the original piece, due to the fact that it’s been entirely summarised. I’ve seen this a few times, and have very mixed feelings about it myself.

    • That’s really interesting, and I’m sure there will be loads of people that disagree with me, but as long as a link is included where the material was sourced from, in the blogging world I don’t see there being an issue. I’ve done it several times, bu I ask in advance if im unsure…

  23. As a still relatively new blogger, there are so many different things to watch out for! I didn’t realise there were so many, I know that some are just common sense, but I worry I’m not doing things right and it’s hard to know where to find the answers!! (I do read forums and bits – but often the answers aren’t always the ones you’re looking for). Thank you for reminders in this post, albeit negative on your part. That must be so annoying. But it’s also just plain rude.
    I hope that you don’t experience any more.

  24. Wow, that stinks. A lot. As far as images, 99.99.9 percent of the images on my site are mine for the very reason that people are so litigious these days. It’s a shame really. Can’t sue me for using my own material no matter how good or bad it is, ha!

  25. Frustrating. I have always tried to cite the source of my inspiration whenever I can, and I always provide links to any statistical data I reference. If I ever unknowingly encroach on anything remotely similar to your own original work, please call me out on it!

  26. Amazing how many thieves there are, in all endeavors. I used to design artwork that became fabric that became active wear, a lengthy process that involved many companies and several countries. Think bathing suits for men and women, Hawaiian-type casual shirts, etc. As an artist, I was supposed to get back any of my original work that was produced by a manufacturer. There was no monetary gain, just a tiny “badge of honor” of having the artwork that had been purchased by a known designer.
    Over the years, none of my art was ever returned to me, and I questioned the woman who’d become the art department lead. She told me that none of my original work had ever been used. She also said it must not have been returned to our company. I knew that wasn’t true but had no proof. One day I had to look through some older products and there I found my work – except that Boss Lady had manipulated my original work. She’d changed just enough that she could claim it wasn’t mine – but hers! Where I’d painted turtles, she’d changed them to fish. Where I’d used one color way, she’d changed to another. She’d assigned me the wrong information to intentionally have me paint something incorrectly, then made the “corrections” herself, and called the new designs her own. Shortly after that incident, I left the company.
    Why would she do this? Pure and simple jealousy. I’d been hired by a previous department head and had no formal art training (I had a degree in English.) This woman hated that I had a gift for art that hadn’t been trained as she constantly flouted her art degree. Once she became Boss Lady, she had little reason to fire me as my work was excellent, but she carefully constructed a work place that was both physically and emotionally unwelcome. I am so glad I left.
    Suzie, maybe you’d like to re-publish your original post, making sure the original post date is prominent, and make a link to the newer post on the thief’s site. You could make an innocent comment: Gee, this post from I Steal is almost exactly like mine! You have a huge following. I bet lots of people might find this breach very interesting, and might want to call out the thief for exactly what they are – on their own site. A kind of, their hand is in my cookie jar, and look at that – my camera is clicking, and so are my friends.

    • So sorry you had to deal with that Sharon! It’s so frustrating when someone does that in the workplace, you both know that it has happened and there is nothing you can do about it! I’m not going to comment directly but needed a rant, and this is what the blog is for!

    • I reblog others all the time and share their links on social media – the author can turn off the reblog option if they don’t want anyone to do so – but on WordPress I don’t think many people mind as it helps to boost traffic

      • That’s true. I really should try it. I think I have re-blogged twice in the year I have been doing this, and every time I almost went into a state of panic.

  27. Seriously i was about to write a spec script and put it on my blog. You never know who will see it (in a good way). I figured if someone ever stole it I could just sue since once you write something it’s copyrighted (at least in the US), but who wants to go through that? PS- I hope the person who did that to you sees your post hahaha.

  28. Oh my, I just don’t understand how some can be that low and steal someone else’s content. That’s just plain ignorant. I’m glad you found it but I would have had to leave some kind of snarky comment to at least let them know I was onto them. That really sux!

  29. I find inspiration from other people’s posts and comments all the time. But I always like to put my bitter spin on it, so I hope that people don’t mind that. Like you said, somedays you just don’t have an original idea for yourself, so you use other’s for inspiration, but stealing a post outright really sucks. Sorry to hear that happened.

  30. I’m very sorry to hear that Suzie. It must have been an awful experience. I too love to get inspired, but I don’t want to steal. If I like someone’s post so much, that I feel others need to read it – I re-blog. If I borrow a picture, I carefully write the source underneath. (Unless it’s a featured author picture and I got it from the author him/herself)
    But stealing like this? It’s a shame!!

  31. The only stuff stolen from me is by myself – I repeat the same things so often!
    I guess that is price having a really successful blog.- so when it happens to me -I will consider myself in that club.

  32. Ooh. I write a lot of posts about my life and experiences but I’ll also read a post that inspires me or write in response to someone’s post. I always link to it. I’ve had a few occasions where someone will blog about the same topic within days (and vice versa) but the posts were written earlier and we laugh about it. Sometimes bloggers are on the same proverbial (or literal) page. I have had one post that was VERY similar to mine posted and had the same title. That one wasn’t so funny.

  33. No freaking way? See shit like this flabbergasts me. What’s the point of stealing content? There can’t be any gratification if that post went viral, surely?? I’d feel disgusted if I did that and then that ended up being my most successful post. I’d be heartbroken. But then as a creative person I can understand the pain if I’d had my work stolen. I haven’t – to my knowledge but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been.

    That being said I agree one on point – there’s no new content. I’m doing James pattersons writing masterclass and he said the same thing – there’s no new content it’s just rebadged in a different way. Sad to think that though.

    I am so sorry this happened to you.

  34. Ah that really sucks Suzie, I hope it wasn’t anything I’ve written! I love getting inspiration from other blogs but I always, always credit them or speak to them before asking if i can do something similar! It’s flattering that they think you’re posts are so good they want to pass off as their own but frustrating they’re getting credit for your hard work! Fingers crossed they read this and think twice next time! xxx

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