Wednesday, October 28, 2009

#1 Copywriting Rule - Don't Steal Content

Within the last month, I have witnessed at least a dozen cases of blatant theft of copyrighted material. In most cases, they were articles taken off websites and reused elsewhere under different authors' names. In another case, an agency took the copy I wrote for a client on one website to use it for someone else's website. In the latter case, I can't claim copyright infringement because I did the writing as "work for hire," but my client can take action against the offending party.

Don't get me wrong - I think the sharing of ideas is a wonderful way to learn from others, but stealing their work is not acceptable any any circumstances, particularly when passing off the work as your own. Instead, take the time to provide original material. Here are some ways to do that:

1. Research your topic of interest online or at your local library.
2. Interview experts.
3. Consult books and periodicals that address your subject of interest.
4. Subscribe to relevant trade magazines.
5. Do field research. For example, if you are writing about a new fitness program, try it out.

The bottom line - don't steal content. You might not get caught today or even tomorrow, but you will get caught. The Internet provides tools for writers and other content providers to discover whether or not their content is being used on unauthorized sites or by unauthorized parties. The penalties can be steep...including the loss of your reputation. Make it original, make it yours. Your readers will appreciate it.

Virtually Yourz,
Dana Neuts

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