Buzzfeed and Gawker should beware of stealing content

Joe Veix of Death and Taxes is calling Buzzfeed out for “stealing” his article on teens taking pictures of each other falling down the stairs. The Buzzfeed article was essentially identical, save for a few additional photos and corny jokes.

While we’re not entirely convinced that the article was worth stealing in the first place, Veix’s response to the “theft” does raise some interesting questions regarding the ethical practices of sites like Buzzfeed. The content of this particular article may not have been important or groundbreaking, but should that matter?

At the same time, though, this really doesn’t seem like a fight that can be won. Buzzfeed hasn’t technically done anything wrong — they did link to the original article . . . just not very prominently. They did change the content . . . just not very much.

But what’s perhaps more noteworthy than the “theft” is that the Buzzfeed writer, Ryan Broderick, doesn’t seem to be losing any sleep over it.

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And this speaks to a growing trend. If you call out a big publication like Buzzfeed or Gawker on Twitter with a valid criticism, you can expect to get either dismissed as a loon or attacked. Or both. Case in point:

 

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To quote Family Guy: “That’s gross. That’s a gross way to live.”

But what could be done differently?

1. Make original articles/posts unique. Write in a way that nobody can just copy and expand on without ripping you off. If they want the content, make them can work for it. Angle, voice, whatever — your article needs to look, and read, like yours. This is difficult when writing largely image-based posts though. So maybe . . . don’t? Be honest, image-only writers – do you feel good about supporting poor attention spans?

2. If you’re going to write a post based on someone else’s post, credit them prominently. As Joe Veix rightly says in his article:

Most bloggers have come to an unspoken agreement that you generally cite your sources in the first paragraph with an obvious link, and/or at the bottom of the article (i.e., via site name).

3. And finally – if you do something wrong or something that just makes you feel defensive – stop and consider it. And then own up to it and not in a “too bad, get over it” kind of way. Here are a couple of possible replies folks may want to save for later:

“Crap, I’m sorry – can see how that link would seem lost on the page. Will fix that now. #Whoops”

“So, I disagree with that, but see where you’re coming from. Ping me here [email] and let’s work it out.”

But most important of all? Don’t let criticism/negative tweets affect you so much, big media tweeters. It’s a public job. It will happen – and ohmygodwhocares? When you’re thisclose to that next Twitter slap fight, put the iPhone in your pocket and get outside, nutcase. Life is too short.

 

(Note: SocialTimes reached out to all parties mentioned in this post for comment. None replied as of press time. Photo Credit: Elliot Brown via Flickr)

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