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Hey! That’s mine! | Seth Michalak and SM Consulting

Hey! That’s mine!

A couple weeks ago, a quick hit blog piece I wrote included a note about what constitutes content sharing and what is stealing.  At the time I was referring to a few situations I had encountered where some small-time blog publishers were republishing someone else’s content with no attribution.  I really had no personal stake, other than a strong personal belief about right and wrong.  Then this morning  it became personal.

I noticed a link for a Mashable story about the use of social media in a crisis situation and was intrigued. I had just written a white paper on the same subject, so I wanted to see the take on it from one of my favorite social media blogs.  Imagine my surprise when I realized the middle section of the infographic they had published with the story was lifted verbatim from my paper. In the top corner of the infographic, there is a brief list of “sources” of information for the infographic.  One of them is Twitter (that’s helpful) and the one that I believe refers to my paper is where it says “igloo.”  Igloosoftware.com is one of the sites where my paper was originally published, but the word igloo sure won’t get people there…

Mashable didn’t create the infographic – the credit for that goes to a blog called “CreditLoan” (I am not going to link to them), which is an odd looking site and might actually be a content farm.  Mashable  republished it and linked to CreditLoan as the source of the infographic.  But, a scan and even search of their site does not turn this graphic up, so is there anywhere with additional context this is published?  I can’t seem to find it. So my work and others’ work is being shared with the world by Mashable with basically no attribution.

The question becomes one of responsibility on the part of Mashable.  Since the content is clearly not on the the CreditLoan site, it is likely someone from that blog sent the graphic to Mashable.  If that is the case, does Mashable have the responsibility to ask CreditLoan to do a better job of crediting their info sources before publishing the graphic, or is it just fair game? For me, I would hope for the prior, but seemingly it is the latter.

Is this the price we have to pay with the social web?  It’s not so much a marketplace of ideas and work as it is a buffet that we are free to sample from as we like? I don’t want to come down on the side of the content police in this scenario either.  I am all for sharing info and getting it into people’s hands.  But for me, the perfect scenario includes people being able to dive deeper into the subject by having access to the source info as well.  Plus…  there’s a little bit of an ego thing too.

Ultimately, I am glad that my work has gotten wider exposure, but credit for it would be nice too.  Then I wouldn’t have to shout “Hey!  That’s mine!”