Blogging // A Cautionary Tale

sharing

Today’s installment of Blogging is a little different. It’s honesty week around here (apparently), so I decided to share a little something that happened to me recently, in an effort to incite change in this wild world of the internet.

I recently created a tutorial and shared it here with you lovely people. I created the idea, the project, the copy, the instructions, and the photos. The post went live and it was pretty popular; it got pinned and shared and I was happy because people loved it. A few weeks after my post went live, another blogger recreated the tutorial. The instructions were exactly the same (some of it copied word for word), the photos were the same, and the styling was the same — down to the color of nail polish I was wearing. She shared it to her relatively large readership without any sourcing or credit naming me as the original creator of the content. Rough.

So it’s not so much that I’m a glory hog and I need everybody to know which projects I think of first. And I know that lots of people come up with the same ideas in this world, and tutorials are made to be shared and recreated anyway. But to blatantly swipe an idea and even inform your readers that you “saw the idea on Pinterest” but not credit any source is just kind of uncool. Especially when we are all striving for originality, creativity, and at the same time, trying to drive traffic to our own blogs with our original and awesome ideas. To put it mildly, I was heartbroken that another blogger would do this.

I’m not usually this transparent when it comes to stuff like this on my blog. I’ve been miscredited (or not credited) as much as the next blogger — and I could tell you stories all day long about my friends who have intellectual property stolen left and right. But I got to thinking — if nobody ever says anything, what’s gonna change? Did I call the girl out who repeated my tutorial? No. But I’m here talking to you about it, in the hopes that if you’re a newer blogger, you might learn that this is just not the way to go about sharing. Shoot, I would have even been happy with a simple, “I saw this idea on Lovely Indeed!” But I’m thinking that this blogger knows better and went ahead and did it anyway. Not cool, friends. Maybe if she knew how much it hurt, she wouldn’t have?

I kind of expect a little backlash from this post, and that’s okay. There are so many differing opinions on this whole intellectual property topic. But to me, the bottom line is that there needs to be a level of respect for intellectual property that just doesn’t exist yet on the internet. If you’re into learning a little more about it, the Link with Love project is an awesome place to start.

And in the meantime, I’m continuing to push myself to come up with the¬†next¬†great thing, so that I don’t have to worry about what’s in the past at all. Thanks for listening, guys. I’d love to hear your thoughts or stories. xoxo


26 comments

  1. Chelsea,

    I’m so sorry this happened to you. You said it best yourself: not cool. I’m relatively new to blogging (began in February) and my favorite thing is going to a blog I love and finding a link to a project I would have never otherwise found. I think when we don’t link and give credit, we are hurting our community. I heard a great saying the other day (now I’m the bad person who isn’t giving credit, but I think it’s Bunny & Dolly) — the idea was, “no one is ever going to say there are too many books in the world, there is no such thing as too many blogs, either.” I loved that. Give credit where credit is due, there is still room for you, too. All this to say (sorry for a wandering and meandering post)…I feel for you, you deserved credit and the other blogger missed a great opportunity to expand her community and show her community another awesome blogger.

  2. Nadine on said:

    Hi Chelsea,

    good on you, girl! Things have to be said out loud and I am glad you did. We actually had an interesting discussion about issues like this in our facebook BYW group (its a group for current and former classmates of Holly Beckers blogging classes). Well, we all agreed that while it is important to share cool ideas and interesting to see new takes on old ones it is important to credit – always! It was also agreed on that one would not make a new tutorial, but link to the original one, even when slight changes have been made. I think it’s only fair and also good for you as a blogger, in terms of your credibility!
    So thanks for speaking up.

    Lots of love, Nadine

  3. Niki on said:

    A pretty similar thing has happened to me, too, so I can completely understand and relate to your frustration. I will be sharing this post to help get the word out! Blatant rip-offs are not ok, and neither are subtle rip-offs, or any rip-offs, actually.

  4. Ugh. I’m so sorry this happened to you! I think everyone deserves to be credited for their hard work and the very least someone can do is give you proper credit and source if they put it on your blog. It’s even in your fine print! It takes two seconds to email someone to ask “Your post is great, is it all right if I post it on my site with a link back?” I’m sorry this girl ripped off your idea. Have you asked her to link to your site or take it down?

  5. kristin on said:

    Another thing that really upsets me is when someone takes ALL of my pictures. The finished product, the before, the during. What makes anyone come to my blog if they can already see all the pictures from the post? I had this happen to me and I asked nicely that although they did link back to me, having all my photos presented made it less likely for people to visit my blog (which is in no means super popular, so I’d like as many visits as possible). They still haven’t taken all the photos down. It’s something I really see a lot of on Pinterest, too. The whole project in one pin. I love Pinterest, but I hate those pins and I wish people would see that it does just as much harm as a pin (or blog post) without a link back. Bloggers need to stop grouping their DIY photos and people need to stop supporting those photos by repinning them constantly.

    • Karrie Smith on said:

      I agree. A lot of people won’t publish a pic without a watermark on it now.

  6. I am so new to blogging and love to hear tidbits form experts like you. Didn’t we all learn about copyright in school? Not cool, indeed.

  7. Jessica on said:

    I’m so sorry this happened to you and I’m so glad that you’re saying something about it. I had a very similar experience several years ago when I created a sponsorship package for a craft event and another crafter took my exact writeup, word for word and just dropped in her event name. When I contacted her about it, she was embarrassed and apologized profusely. I think some people just don’t even realize that they’re actually stealing. We all get inspired by each other, but it’s about being inspired and using it to create your own product! Thank you for bringing attention to this!

  8. Megan on said:

    Girl I hear ya! This has made me almost quit blogging multiple times and even as a designer I have seen my own type blatantly taken and used as logos for someone else’s clients. Go you! This inspires me to be a little more forth coming about the pain this causes to the creative spirit.

    I am sorry you have had to go through this and it is unfortunate that it feels almost like a right of passage to identify you are going somewhere and making waves, because it shouldn’t be.

    Thank you for being real and throwing this up. I know how tough these type of posts can be but words like this need to be said!

    xoxo

  9. lauren on said:

    and she even said i saw it on pinterest!? how hard is it to throw a link in there? sorry:/ i always think that you have to have faith that karma will give them what they deserve:)

  10. Christina on said:

    It DOES suck that this happened! Ever since we’ve been tasked with writing papers in school, we’ve been taught the importance of citing sources. The internet should be no different when it comes to that practice. But you’re doing it right – addressing the situation, and moving on. Because that’s really all you can do. Keep on being lovely!

  11. So glad you shared this Chels, and so sorry it happened to you. As you know, I’ve been victim of it a few times too, but taking the higher road definitely puts some good blogging karma under your belt! Hard as it is. Thanks for not being afraid to talk about it, and keep being your awesome self!

  12. Samantha on said:

    That’s frustrating, but I’m wondering why you don’t call her out for it? Calling someone out for their bad behavior doesn’t have to mean being rude or aggressive. You could politely inform her that you know what she did and that you think she needs to credit you in her post. I don’t think that’s unresonable. Of course she might not listen, but then at least you’ve stood up for yourself.

  13. Awww friend, that sucks! BUT KUDOS to you for having the guts to speak truthfully about it. It makes you human and not some blogging robot. And makes me (and I’m sure many others) love you more!

    And the thing is, when we let go of some of our protective barriers, and allow others in a little- we find that we’re all a lot alike in many ways. More ways than we thought we were. We’re not all alone in the struggles we go through. I’m sure you’ll get a lot of, “I’ve been there too”s from this post. I know I have been in your shoes.

    So thank you! Thank you for showing me that I’m not all alone in feeling crappy when this happens, that it doesn’t just happen to the smaller blogs- but the larger ones too…and that you have real emotions and are a (LOVELY) human being!

    xo

    Keep on doing what you’re doing, because it works and is always fantastic!

    PS- don’t “they” say, “imitation is the best form of flattery” or something like that? Hahahaha. ;)

  14. I think what you did was perfect. I definitely think you deserve credit! And you explaining this to new bloggers is brilliant! Well done.

  15. Joy on said:

    This drives me crazy. I actually know someone who does that thing where they take ALL the photos from someone else’s post and only reveals at the very end that the content belongs to someone else (in very small font). What’s so annoying is that people don’t know better so they just send more traffic to that person’s blog! It’s just so unethical. I believe in karma, but I know that when this hits so close to home that thought doesn’t really do you any justice. So sorry this had to happen to you.

  16. liz on said:

    When I read this, I immediately went searching for a recent post I read where someone handled doing a similar project REALLY well and it felt like two different approaches to the same end project. Of course, it was YOU! so not only can you say “this bothered me” but you can also SHOW “this is how I would have done it respectfully”. way to walk the talk.

  17. liz on said:

    (i know in that situation it was an overlap in production times, not “being inspired by” but still, it’s a great way to handle it)

  18. Brittni on said:

    I am so glad you decided to post about this Chelsea. I think the dialogue that has started just here in the comments alone was reason enough to write this post. But obviously, it goes far beyond that. People need to know (and remember) that although this kind of thing is unfortunately rampant on the internet, it is not okay. At all. Appreciate you reminding people of that and sharing your story.

  19. Trinidad on said:

    lovely lady, hi there, how are you doing?
    i’ve been following you for quite some time now, but i think this is the first time i ever post
    it’s safe to say that i’m an internet hoarder. pinterest is my mecca. i have a board with about 80 bloggs i regularly check, most of them diy and cooking blogs, yours included, of course
    from time to time i get to blogs out of my board, and many times, i see recreations (??) of tutorials i’ve seen before. i’m cool if the recreations have, as you say, a link or a mention to whoever’s blog inspo was taken from. otherwise, i think the whole recreation is plainly lame. i seriously don’t understand how this people think that they can get away with it.
    painfully, i don’t believe this kind of behavior is going to end any time soon, but it’s right to remind other people that even if this is usual on the net, it’s not ok and many people don’t like it.
    keep on doing your stuff, you’re great at it!

  20. Marisol on said:

    Hi Chelsea,

    While I understand that this post was to tell other bloggers about the proper etiquette when dealing with blogging ideas and material, I can’t help but think of a certain time when you yourself fell trap to this. I don’t want to start anything, or bring hate to this lovely website, which I dearly love. However, it bothered me that you would rant about a person whose actions you yourself did not too long ago. I understand, like you said, that things in the blogging world are sometimes the same, and things can be inspired by other “things”, however not even giving credit, like you said is bothersome.

    The post that I am referring to is the Photo Mural Wall that I had seen somewhere else just a few weeks back. Similar styling, steps, and wording.

    Just a thought. Hopefully I don’t get banned for sharing my opinions on here.

    Marisol

  21. E on said:

    The problem with creative industries is that while it allows many people to be creative (often about similar topics), it doesn’t protect original work very well. Artists, choreographers, and designers deal with a similar lack of copyright, which can end up being very damaging to their intellectual property. You’re handling this very politely, but you shouldn’t ever feel bad for wanting credit for your work.

  22. chelsea on said:

    Hi Marisol,
    Thanks so much for your comment. I believe that you’re referring to the work I did recently for HGTV.com. While that project was pushed live within a few weeks of another similar project, I can assure you that it was an idea I conceived independently, and produced entirely on my own. My husband and I sat down and figured out the simplest way to do it, we went to multiple printers looking for the best option, I took the photo that we reproduced, I wrote the copy independently, and I styled the photo in my home with my materials in a manner that best fit the scope of the project. This was an idea I had been working on for weeks, based on the photo wallpaper I saw in this post:
    http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/round-up-cool-i-106231

    Sometimes timing just doesn’t line up and it’s a bummer for everyone. Again, thank you for your comment and for holding me accountable. If anything, experiences like these just make us all better bloggers. I’ll be striving in the future to set stellar examples of good blogging etiquette.

    • aley on said:

      Chelsea- your such a professional. That’s all.

  23. Filiz on said:

    I hate that so much, and I am so glad you brought this topic up. What’s so wrong about crediting the original source? Ugh. Not that difficult!

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