Monday, November 26, 2012

Has Social Media Changed the Scope of Plagiarism?

Plagiarism is the difference between borrowing content and stealing it: passing it off as your own. 
Ideas, however, cannot be copyrighted. Many can come up with the same idea at the same time, but not all of them will act on it. It is copyrighted when the idea is put into a physical form. Then it’s the physical form that’s copyright material (the text, song, movie, etc.), not the idea. 
On the physical material, especially in written work, writers quote other writers’ works all the time. They are protected when they credit the other writers and cite where the material came from.
So when you use another person's work, you tell people where the passage came from. How difficult is that? 
It is interesting when you hear of reporters getting fired from high profile media positions for not adhering to this simple concept.
If the material is found online in a blog or website, those words are the copyright of the author. You may not be able to find the author (as in the case of many things that go viral), but you can find the initial source (website/blog), so you cite that source. You don’t just copy and paste the information into your manuscript and forget about it.
Those are the mechanics for publishing and media in traditional form.
But what about the Internet as we know it today? We see items circulating all the time, where the original photographer or author of quote is lost about 12,000 shares deep.
YouTube is a great example. Who doesn't love YouTube and sharing videos? We see a skit on Saturday Night Live that we want to share, but then NBC and YouTube zap the post for copyright infringement. Pissed, you look for another link to share the same video. The same held true during the recent Olympic Summer Games Closing Ceremony in London.
These are today's realities. Copyright material has somehow become creative commons. 
But think about that for a moment. That could be a good thing. If today's marketing is about engagement, don't you want people to share your stuff? The more disciples you create, maybe, just maybe, when you do create a new project, people will actually help you move it.
If I were NBC, I wouldn't keep sifting through YouTube to zap recordings of its content. Instead, I would post on the website the snippets of content you know people will want to share, with a blessing. That snippet is an opportunity to add a message, a contest, anything that might keep them coming back to your website and sharing more. 
Seth Godin is a great example of being shareable. His blog is so popular, he soon discovered that he didn't have to use a traditional publisher to sell his next book when he had a built-in audience from his blog. 
Copyright infringement seems to be at the whim of the author.
By the way, feel free to share this blog with everyone you know. 

1 comment:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.