As a blogger, the most unpleasant thing I have to deal with is plagiarism. I’ve lost count of how many times my content has been copied – images as well as text – reviews copied word for word and used. Without credit. Without permission. I watermark all my images and while some copycats have the ‘smarts’ to cut out the watermark, some don’t even bother to do that and just use the watermarked images as their own.
I put a lot of effort in my blog. If a photo session doesn’t result in quality images, I don’t post and re-do things all over again. I invest in equipment – camera, lighting etc. to get the best images and it angers me no end when I see people use these images as if it were their own. I spend hours writing every review, I cover every possible aspect of a product I can when I write a review. And I spend so much time on my posts so that every one of them is useful and informative to my readers. I do not churn out half baked, incomplete posts just for the sake of increasing my content. And it is shameful how people use another person’s hard work like this.
I’ve seen my work being used by newbies, established bloggers as well as 2 reputed beauty brands. The brands were gracious enough to apologize and remove the content/give credit when I wrote to them. The newbie bloggers also removed the content though citing ignorance as the reason they copied – saying they didn’t KNOW they can’t copy content (umm..really?). In the most recent incident (that created a bit of a splash on FB), a blogger with a fairly big following had used images from not just my blog but various other blogs in her reviews. On confronting her about it, she went out of her way to explain and justify how she did not know that the images belonged to me. The blog in question is called Guilty Bytes and she had used images from my Lakme 9-to-5 Lipstick post. She has now taken down her post containing my images.
I do not want to go into the details of each interaction that I’ve had with the people who’ve used my work. Some feign ignorance, some try to justify it by saying that they took it from Google Images and didn’t know about the ownership (even though they crop out the watermark). Some say they picked it from another ‘source’ (though there is no line of credit anywhere). I just wish people would take responsibility, apologize and stop justifying their actions. And equip themselves with a little knowledge about how these things work –
– If you are a newbie in this arena, you need to know that Google does not OWN images. Google is a SEARCH engine and gives you search results. You cannot pick up any image from Google Images and use it as if it belongs to you.
– If you see a watermark on an image, it is most definitely NOT yours to use. If you really want to use that image, first step is to contact the admin of the page/site where the image has been picked from seeking permission to use the image with due credit to their site.
– And if for some reason you are unable to get in touch, always leave credit by using the words Image courtesy : <source> in your post. Or put a disclaimer under your post saying – I do not own the images used in this post.
– And if by any chance you hear from someone who claims that you’ve used their images, apologize and take down that content. Do not make excuses for what you’ve done. Don’t try to justify it. You’re not committing an ’emotional’ crime/hurting people by using their work. Its LAWFULLY wrong. For the tediousness of the process, people don’t like going via a legal route but if someone does, you’ll be in big trouble. It happens with magazines and newspapers plenty of times.
– And for beauty bloggers in particular, it makes no sense to write a review about a product claiming you’ve used it and then using someone else’s swatches and product pictures. If you are absolutely unable to click pictures of the product, use an image picked up from the brand’s official website and mention the source. [/note]
Unfortunately, there is very little one can do prevent one’s content from being used. You might come across something that you recognize as your own but more often than not, its hard to keep check. One of my readers (also a blogger) recently mentioned Online Plagiarism checkers which I wasn’t aware of until now. I’m going to try those and see to what extent they work. If you have any thoughts on this topic especially on how to keep checks on plagiarism, do share your ideas in the comments below.