how to (and how not to) reference a blog post or article that you like
There’s a good way and a bad way to share an article or blog post you find interesting.
The good way:
The good way is by linking to the article in your own blog post, or on Facebook (or elsewhere). After all, people who write for an audience love that something gets attention and is found useful or entertaining, or is of some value. I can’t immediately think of a scenario where an author of an article on a website would not like others to read it. So please feel free to share to a wider audience.
A really good way to further a discussion, is to perhaps quote a line or two from the article; add a link to the original article with a credit … and then add your own spin on things with your own images. Your own words, and your own images.
The bad way:
The bad way of referencing the work of others would be wholesale copy-and-paste efforts. It is plagiarism. Blatant theft. Nothing less than that. You’re presenting yourself as a better photographer (and writer) than you really are. You’re lying to your clients and you are lying to your audience.
Even with a link and credit, this is bad, because:
- Google can penalize websites for duplicate content.
- You’re getting traffic and attention for someone else’s work.
So even if you copy the entire article and images, and link to the original article and reference the author, it’s still not a good thing. It might not quite be plagiarism because you feel you did credit the author, but it’s still not the proper way to do it.
If you like something you see on a website, do reference it and link to it – but when you quote the article, only quote a fraction of it. After all, as photographers we pride ourselves on being creative – so create your own!
plagiarism and image theft – you will get caught!
With the pervasiveness of Google, there really is no way for anyone to steal text and images without being found out. Even when you think you’re being clever in swapping words and phrases around, sites like CopyScape will reveal what percentage of the plagiarized text corresponds with the original. If you need to find copies of an image, TinEye will show duplicates of images on other sites.
A ping-back from a WordPress blog will make it known that you used linked text and images. And then even a basic Google search will reveal your theft. This is how I discovered a while back that one of my websites had been ripped off in its entirety!
And how embarrassing would it be to be outed on a site like Photo Stealers in front of thousands of your peers? Nevermind the embarrassment – getting busted for stealing images and text could very well mean the end of your career as a photographer. Just don’t do it!
USA photographers – register your work with the Copyright Office
Even if you can prove your images are your own, without the images being registered at the Copyright Office, you have to prove damages. And this is highly unlikely to be worth your effort when you compare the legal costs this would entail.
To claim statutory damages, you have to have your work registered with the Copyright Office. I would say this is essential, especially in this time where there appears to be a free-for-all appropriation of others’ work. You have a three month window in which to register your work, and within which you can retro-actively do so, and still claim statutory damages.
the latest incident in a never-ending saga
At least once a week I discover someone who uses one of my images, or text lifted wholesale from my site.
The screen-capture at the top is the latest - my article how to use flash at sunset was lifted off my website in its entirety, including hot-linking to my watermarked images. But what makes this perhaps even more egregious than usual, is that the culprit, according to his bio and his Linked-in profile, is a “Fine Arts Professor”, and “taught Photography and Fine Arts” at a University in China, and is “currently undertaking a Master’s in Fine Art in Photography at San Jose State University”.
Very accomplished for someone who has to whole-sale steal material from my site, and from other photographers.
- his website with plagiarized work (I’ve since changed the URL for my images so that they don’t appear on his site.)
- his Facebook page where he blatantly promotes the articles with plagiarized material that appears on his website
- his Linked-In profile boasting of his accomplishments, incl teaching photography.
- his bio with more puffery.
Why someone would do this, I have no idea. But I have screen-captures at every step. So we’ll have to see how this one plays out.