6 Crazy Cases of Content Theft

I guess that everyone involved in content marketing has come across some cases of content theft. The more content (and great content for that) is demanded the more people struggle to produce the necessary quantity and quality of content themselves, and apparently more people are turning to content theft as a source for content. Bad idea!

To be honest, every case of taking advantage of other people’s work without giving credit is bad style. Some of the examples of stolen content have left us virtually speechless for their brazenness and lack of shame.

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1. Published Content reappearing on a different blog without link to the source

The first time I saw this happening was a guest post of mine published with Jeff Bullas that had a Link back to our site exploreB2B. Suddenly an unknown traffic source appeared in our analytics tool. Checking the source of the traffic, I was surprised to find my article republished on a blog I had never heard of and without linking back to the original article.

I guess this happens millions of times on the web. While this is always bad for the blog who believes it publishes original content, at first glance, it appeared relatively harmless for me as it stated me as author (although I would probably not have chosen to guest post on this blog.)

At second glance, it can also hurt my reputation as an author as it might appear to the blog to which I gave the guest post (in this case Jeff Bullas) as if I had submitted the content to multiple blogs as a guest post – which I did not and would never do.

2. Published Content reappearing on another blog without mentioning source or author

This has happened to my brother, co-founder, and colleague Jonathan, who found one of his articles on a strange blog without giving credit to him as author or the source where the article was taken from. He contacted the blog and asked them to either take down the article or name him as the author. No need to say: He never heard back from them.

There is no way of excusing this behavior: This is theft!

3. Published content reappearing in a different language of bad quality (kudos to Google translate)

This is something that I have seen on our now offline publishing platform exploreB2B. But I have also seen it elsewhere: An article in bad German appeared, which I recognized as a poorly translated copy of a piece of English language original content.

It proved that there is no limit to people’s creativity in trying to use other people’s work.

I admit in this case I think the thief is hurting himself more than the author. The quality of a machine translation is never good enough to give you any credits for this content. But this does not make this behavior any better: It is theft!

4. Published content reappearing in slight rewording

There is probably a thin line between getting inspired by other people’s content and plagiarizing content and tarnishing it by refurbishing. This kind of content theft is often hard to identify.

Two cases were brought to our attention where the connection to the original articles was apparent: The copied articles had the same structure, same message and same wording – apart from a few slight changes in sentences.

If you don’t have anything to say yourself: don’t! Other people’s thoughts and knowledge do not make you a thought leader it makes you a fraud!

5. Taking excerpts from other people’s work without giving credit

Reusing quotes and statements from interviews without giving credit to the original interview as a source is theft. It is the same as taking sentences or statements out of other people’s articles:

Conducting interviews and creating content is work. It is not your work, so do not sell it off as yours!

Let’s be honest: We all get inspired by content we read, comment and share on the web. We see content and think: Wow, this is a great topic and a great piece of content. It is part of content marketing to let ourselves get inspired and provoked content on the same topic, in the same line or sometimes answers, excerpts or comments on existing content.

But the least we always have to do: Give credit to the people who inspire us, created content we comment on or people we quote.

There is simply no excuse to try the easy way out of the content creation trap by just copying and stealing pieces of content that do not belong to us.

Using other people’s work without permission and/or giving credit is theft!

6. Unpublished content published under a different name without authority

Now this is the lowest it can get: An article handed in for a guest post was not published by the blogger. Instead, it appeared under a different author’s name on our publishing platform exploreB2B. We only became aware of this incident, because the original author contacted us and asked us what was going on.

Good content and the ability to create outstanding content that other people like and pay attention to is a valuable asset for brands.

Finding your own or your company’s assets in the form of your creative work used for someone else’s benefit is hurting your business or personal brand.

In content marketing your content is what is building your business – stealing is a crime!

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Your content is what is building your business. Content theft is not going to make you a trusted expert in your niche: Stealing is a crime!

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  • http://procurementsolutionsgroup.com Omar Khan

    Thank you for a very informative article and for high lighting an alarming trend in blogging. Occasionally, we offer free white papers, Power Point slides or special reports on cost reduction and procurement topics on our website. Someone pointed out that they have come across a similar article based on our Power Point but didn’t think of that as plagiarism because we had offered a free download of the subject matter. My question is: whether the person who used it to spin his own article was committing an act of plagiarism or not?

  • http://peaceofwriting.com/ Veronica Moore

    One of the worst (or maybe best?) cases of content theft I’ve seen was when my company came across one of our videos dubbed in Spanish by a company in Mexico. Fortunately, we had a logo watermark on it and our company’s website listed at the end so it was obvious that it was our video. Still pretty bad though!

  • Laura S

    At least we can take pride in the fact that our content was ‘so good’ the thieves couldn’t be without it.
    Just found 3 of my articles, written for the clothing brand I work for, copied word for word on two different websites! Plus, one website linked from the blog to our brand products…on their own ecommerce website! The cheek.

  • http://www.barbsbooks.com/ Barbara Radisavljevic

    A lot of my content has been stolen, and it does make me feel ripped off. Content theft is almost impossible to stop.

    • bobby slay

      You’re right Babs.

  • loriakin7protection

    … and lets not forget when you find your picture or photo on someone elses article or profile and you can still see your original watermark on it… Aaahhhh priceless!