There is a whole new trend that has been going on for several years with social networking. Businesses are participating, writing blogs, using twitter, linkedin and facebook. In fact there are so many people who are doing this that it now becomes imperative to update and write daily in order to have anyone follow you. And it is race to see who becomes most popular!
This of course takes time. Time that many of us do not have. I get a blog up maybe once a week unless something has got my goat so to speak.
And something has definitely caught my attention.
I subscribe to Google alerts - a good idea if you have a business. It will notify you by email if it indexes something or it finds something on the web. This is often how I find out if there are articles about myself or Roaring Women posted online. In fact it was how I knew that a recent article was published in The Edmonton Journal, Vancouver Sun. The Province, The Montreal Gazette, The Hamilton Spectator and the Ottawa Citizen.
Today however I received a Google alert that definitely caught my attention.
It seems that a business owner in California, in her zeal to get 'out there' on the web has posted a blog. She has hired several students to populate it for her as she does not have the time. (which makes one wonder how authentic the blog or the business is.) The Google alert I received linked to her recent blog. As I read the article- I realized it was MY ARTICLE. Word for word. However the byline was attributed to the business owner.
I began to search the site and found 6 other articles from my site. These are copy written articles, written by myself. All of them were word for word. It was a clear example of theft of intellectual property.
As a business owner I know how important it is to be authentic. In fact my business not only represents my beliefs but also represents who I am - it is an extension of me. And maybe this is why when people get to know me, there is a trust built - and they become advocates on my behalf.
I do not take shortcuts. If you read something I have written - I wrote it. It is my opinion, or information I have researched or developed on my own. For this reason I do not blog as often. Although I write all the time - I get few opportunities to write an ongoing blog with any meaning.
The most incredible part of this incident is the name of the blog. (of the person who ripped off my material) Her blog is called "Becoming an Entrepreneur" and the page the article was on 'authentic branding'. It linked to a website for women entrepreneurs and the articles were also posted on this site as well. This clearly was not authentic branding. In fact it was a shortcut to her success. Her intent was to get as much out there as quickly and as often as possible to increase her own web and blog traffic. But at what cost?
To her credit when I called the owner of the blog, she admitted she had not checked the work of the students. She removed the articles right away. However this does not absolve her of responsibility.
What if I had not found the articles? How many other articles are not her own? How can she call this her blog if it is not even her writing?
Are we living in a time where there si so much information out there that the likelihood of getting caught is so small that we just do it because it is easy?
I really am at a loss for words. I had recently sent a sample of my work out to someone - knowing she would not copy and paste. And she has a group of friends who want to use the materials as well and agreed to do so for a fee. But they wanted to print the materials themselves. Now I am hesitant to send them the printable product.
The result of this incident? I trust people less. And then I examine my own actions. Have I ever stolen intellectual content? No. Have I ever used software that I did not pay for? Hmmmm.....
Heading off to the electronic store now. I need to replace a program....
I have one word left to say: Karma.