The copyright issue

From the UK, Sally Whittle has this cautionary tale of an Irish air traffic controller blogger who had a post lifted (almost wholesale), it’s words taken out of context and reprinted as an expose on her industry.

This blog was supposed to be an account of my life, what I do, and how I got here. Today it has been transformed into a weapon to be used by an unscrupulous, nasty person against some of the people I care most about.

Pretty damming stuff but based on the TSA incident a few months back, I do wonder if there are two sides to the story and I’d be interested to hear the journalist’s point of view on why this happened.

Apart from the human element, I can see a couple of major learnings from this:

1. Ensure you have copyright over everything you write and post online. From Sally’s post:

One of the things I tend to do with any blog I write per myself or a client is pop a copyright statement on the site.

Good idea – this blog also has a disclaimer which means any comments to the blog are forever licensed to me:

By posting a comment to this blog, you are granting its author (me) full and irrevocable license to your comment and acknowledge that the authors do not have a duty to modify or withdraw posts, but that we may do so if we choose, for any reason.

2. More prescient for our industry as a whole is just how time-strapped journalists are and how desperate they are for good, compelling content. If a journalist at a (relatively) prominent national newspaper is prepared to do this, what else is going on that isn’t being reported? Journalists are under huge pressures and many don’t know exactly how to deal with a new world which requires them to write their features, do daily blog entries, record multimedia, interact with readers and maintain the same standard of quality throughout.

As I have been saying for years, the future of marketing is content. If you are marketing, one of your KPIs should be how your content is shared. If you are in PR, you should be considering how easy it is for the media (and I would include bloggers in this) to share and repurpose/reprint your content – with recognition of the source and ideally in the proper context.

I can’t begin to think how Melanie feels after something of this magnitude.

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