Hello Bookworms, today’s post is a little different, but I am really excited to discuss it with all of you. In this book blogging community, we work hard. We work incredibly hard. With so many artistic, incredible and gifted individuals in this community, it is an honour to be a part of it. Evidently, it can be tough to create original content, but that’s what makes it all the more rewarding once we can. So it’s easy to imagine how upsetting and disheartening it is when you realize your content has been copied.
I’ve been wanting to make this post for a few months now, but once there was an issue with a blog copying my stylistic choices(it has been resolved) I concluded I needed to write it. This post isn’t going to be centred around me or going into detail as to what happened, I’ve just noticed that this is a bit of a “taboo” topic or one that just isn’t often discussed. If another blogger is going through this, or someone wants to be educated on when their content crosses the line, hopefully they can refer to this post.
What is Inspired Content?
Now, inspiration is ALL over this platform! I get inspired whenever I open up my reader, look at my friends’ blogs or read one of their posts. And this isn’t a bad thing. Being inspired by others is the exact opposite, it’s what drives creativity and allows us to grow as creators.
For instance, putting your unique spin on a discussion post you saw someone write, being influenced by someone’s blog aesthetic and then trying to find your own are all examples of being inspired. So, taking inspiration from someone else’s work is acceptable, but in order to avoid copyright, the finished product(whether it be a post, an image, etc) has to be something original made by using your effort, creativity and skill.
What is Copied Content?
When someone copies your blog design, aesthetic, or most likely worst of all, content; to put it simply, it ruins the fun for everyone.
I’ll be the first to admit that when I plan to redesign my blog, I browse through a few of my favourites, checking out their own design choices and aesthetics so I can get inspired and essentially use that to create my own spin.
Now there is an entire section of copying that I haven’t touched, which is primarily lifting chunks of someone’s text onto your website and passing it off as your own. I won’t be talking about this because we all know this is wrong. There is no blurred line here, it’s simply plagiarism.
Here are a few examples of copying in the blogging world:
When researching for this, this lovely post from paper fury was incredibly beneficial.
- You are browsing blogger’s websites for inspiration for a redesign, you notice a blogger using some adorable graphics/images, copy and paste them and pass them as your own. You do not credit, link to the blogger or even ask for permission.
- You have an idea for a post but realize that you have seen it on someone else’s blog before. Without trying to tackle it from a separate angle or even crediting the blogger for their idea, you write the post without acknowledging their work.
- You see a blogger talking about a new discussion post or series they are thinking of starting but write it and post it without crediting them and essentially stealing the essence of their idea.
It truly makes me happy that you guys enjoy my content, but when someone copies it, it is the opposite of flattering.
What’s the difference between inspiration and imitation?
And this is the reason why I’ve made this post. Deciphering the line between the two, although difficult is possible. Taking inspiration is normal. Every creator does it. That may possibly be the best part of this community, looking around and reading these amazing posts from such talented creators inspires me. It is 100% fine to be inspired by somebody’s post, or maybe their blog design. Approaching a discussion from a different angle because you’ve seen it being done a different way is completely fine, enjoying a blog’s aesthetics is normal. But going out of your way, to copy. Now that isn’t. And it’s something that needs to be acknowledged.
I don’t want to use this post to talk about what happened to me because that wouldn’t be fair to that blog nor do I feel the need to share it with the world. All I will say that it was quite a stressful experience, I went through a lot of emotions throughout it, from denial to sadness to rage? It was incredibly hurtful to see my ideas and “brand“(take this word lightly) be taken away from me.
It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.Herman Melville
Again, for a few blogger specific examples, here are a few instances of being inspired by someone and staying in the realm of respect and not copying:
- You have just started your blog and begin by writing a bunch of “generic topics“(I don’t mean generic in a bad way, just ones that nearly every blog has done) such as your tbr, WWW Wednesday, tags or such that’s completely fine and acceptable!
- You read an interesting discussion and find that you would like to add something to the conversation and decide to write your own spin, you credit the blogger and add something thought-provoking to the conversation!
- You are inspired by an aesthetic of someone’s blog or the colour palette they use, so you develop your own palette.
Specifically, imitation is laziness and disrespect, stealing someone’s idea with no acknowledgement of their hard work and originality.
I completely understand that starting a blog and finding your own voice and “brand” takes time. This blog has been my baby for years, it’s basically me in text form!
How to avoid copying?
There are several things you can do to ensure you avoid copying someone or something that inspires us. If something inspires you, try to delve deeper into that sentiment. What specifically is giving you inspiration and why?
If you are spurred/inspired by a specific blog or a person and are dead set on their ideas, try messaging or contacting them. They may be okay with you utilizing a few of their ideas or images. Depending on what you are asking and how you ask it, you may be surprised with the answer! If you are lacking incentive, turn to galleries, blogs, BOOKS, your life! There is inspiration all around us and in everything we do, you just need to look.
Additionally, you should use images from public domain for free or consider purchasing them to avoid copyright(Shutterstock, Bigstock, istock, etc).
And guys…being original is HARD. Yes, it’s true! But that’s what makes it so much more rewarding and worthwhile.
What to do if someone is copying your work?
Realizing that someone is passing your ideas/content as their own has got to be one of the worst feelings ever. But try to stay calm, I know….it’s hard. Solving this issue can either be simple or laborious, it all depends on you and the person who has decided to copy you..(keep in mind, although the chances are slim, they may have not done it on purpose).
First off, take a deep breath and remember to proceed with patience and compassion. Choose to contact or message them and nicely explain the situation and your feelings. Ask them to either take down the content they are passing as their own or to explain themselves. Keep in mind, that although this is stressful for you, try not to respond poorly and keep a professional front. No good will come from an emotional outburst.
In terms of WordPress, I don’t believe there is a way to report a blog for only imitation. If there is, please let me know in the comments, so your best bet would be that they would understand where you are coming from and choose to cooperate when you contact them. If that doesn’t work, possibly making a post about it to your followers can kindly send them a message.
Here are a few posts I’ve found incredibly useful about reporting a WordPress site:
All in all, someone copying your content may be sadly inevitable as you grow and are exposed to a larger audience. As a blogger, be aware of both sides to the situation and proceed with discretion if you find it has happened to you. Consult with your friends, reach out to the blog or site’s owner, and try to find a resolution that will be best for your situation.
Overall, if you are copying someone’s work…why? Not only does it take away the satisfaction and hard work someone has put in to create their content, but you will be eventually found out. Copying isn’t sustainable, especially if you want to grow and display your brand to new audiences. And karma is real...
These are my thoughts on the inspiration vs imitation debate/conversation. I am so glad that my issue has been dealt with, and I hope this can help some bloggers out, old or new! Please continue the conversation below, this entire ordeal is very new to me and I would love to know your perspective on the topic, has this happened to you? Do you agree that there is a line between inspired and copied content?