Do the WRITE thing.

17 May

In the last week, I’ve heard from a handful of photographers dealing with copyright infringement. It’s sad. It’s offensive. It’s disrespectful. If you’re a photographer just starting out (and there are *many* of you), please don’t browse another photographer’s web site and swipe their copy. That includes: metatags and html codes, splash pages, about pages, bios, price lists or anything not written by you. Basically, if you hit copy and then paste to your site (even if you make a few slight modifications) it’s still WRONG! Not only is pilfering wording unethical, plagiarizing web site copy is illegal and can result in your website being removed from your hosting site.

If you’re just starting out and find wordsmithing to be a challenge — hire a writer, do a trade for services or just wait until you have something to say. Your initial web site copy doesn’t have to be geniusly written or even terribly unique. But, it should be your own. Or one day, you may find yourself writing a letter like this (if you have a conscience):

“I’m not really sure how to begin… but you’ve been on heart and mind lately. Maybe you don’t remember me, maybe you do. I’m writing to tell you that although LONG overdue I am truly and sincerely sorry for what I did to you last summer and how wrong I was for that. I have no excuses or even a good explanation it was just plain wrong and totally thoughtless and me being a complete idiot. And well I’m hoping that you will forgive me and I would like to make amends. That is all. My sincerest apologies go out to you and any grief I may have caused you, I wish you all the best.”

This email was from a photographer who had copied my bio and originally refused to change it because it “described her perfectly.” In the end, she fessed up and created her own original work. And, just as quickly as I asked her to change her wording, I forgave her. For many photographers, a simple admission of wrong doing, an apology and correcting the mistake is all it takes to make things right.

For photographers looking to protect your copy, I recommend the free online tools from Copyscape and Plagiarism Detect.

If you’ve been the photographer who has been copied, we’ll be giving you step-by-step directions on how to issue a DMCA take down notice to the offender’s web host. It’s step one in combating the process (if the offender refuses to respond or remove the material).

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2 Responses to “Do the WRITE thing.”

  1. alpana May 17, 2010 at 2:02 pm #

    you rock, Steph! I can’t understand how people can copy and not realize that they are doing the wrong thing.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. How to be YOU. « - May 19, 2010

    […] so perfectly. The topic is building your storefront/website and is a perfect follow-up to “Do the WRITE Thing” posted earlier this week. Instead of looking to other photographers for inspiration, Jessica […]

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