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Content belongs to the organization that creates it

February 21, 2011 - Art Smith

When it comes to the Web, content is king, and that content belongs to the organization that pays to have it written, designed, photographed, videoed and uploaded to the web.

With literally billion of pages of content on the Web, it can be a challenge to keep track of who is using what.

Some people live with the misconception if it is on the Web, it’s free to use as you please. Not true. Even though it may be free to read, it’s not free to take or more directly, free to steal.

Part of the problem is it is so darn easy to steal content off the web. Photos simply can be copied. Taking a story off the Web is normally as easy as using copy and paste. Making it easy doesn’t make it right.

I’ve seen publications that actually have actually credited Google Images as a source for a photo they printed. That’s a little bit like crediting the public library as a source. Google doesn’t have a staff of photographers running around taking photos; it simply displays small versions of photos that link back to their rightful owners.

It’s when someone copies that image and then uses it on another website or publication that theft of intellectual property occurs.

Most sites, including this one, have what’s called a Terms of Use or a Terms of Service that prevent such behavior. The terms are hard to enforce, but they basically say you can’t display or use the content as your own.

We have asked several people over the years to take content down they simply lifted off our site, and then displayed it as if they owned it.

Sometimes they lift items and use them for other means. There is a book of old photos of Marietta for sale in area stores. In it is a map that was taken off our website, without permission, and used in the book. An area gift shop was for a brief time selling photos that are part a series of photos on

The wholesale lifting of any content for any use other than for personal use normally will get the unwelcome attention of the content owner.

 Legit sites normally will ask if they can repost a story. They also normally would provide a link back to the story on our site when they do so. Linking to a site is something all content owners encourage.

Steve Colbert, the comedian and talk show host, is currently making a big deal because the Huffington post was posting his content — his show — onto its website.

He countered by reposting the Huffington Post as the Colbuffington Re-post. He’s doing it all in fun, but as satire does, he raises some good points about real issues.


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