Of Cavemen & Content Marketing

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La Brea Tar Pits

image: www.freeimages.co.uk

Some time ago there was a war going on over the fair use of copyrighted material on the internet. Hyper-linking changed the way people recommended content to each other which raised more than a few eyebrows of people who create content online. How could they be sure they were getting credit for their work? Things have changed and some are having a hard time adjusting … as you’ll see.

Content Marketing isn’t a new thing but applying its principles to the internet is. The jump online provided several opportunities that simply weren’t possible before. Pay close attention here, understanding these principles is key to knowing the difference between those who pretend to understand internet marketing and those who actually get it.

In the new marketing universe Content Marketing has become relational and interconnected. for example, when someone likes your video they can embed it on their site and actually help you syndicate your content! This is amazing … your messages can, literally, appear on thousands of other websites, reaching hundreds of thousands or millions of people who would never find your content any other way.

The syndication of your blog posts and articles is a slightly different story and it was a bone of contention a while back (mostly between those stuck in a 20th century copyright mindset and those who understand the power of curation and online syndication in the 21st). Fair Use in Copyright allows for short quotes to be used as long as there is attribution. The allowable length of the quote is not defined for obvious reasons.

In broadcasting this is accomplished with the famous “According to…”  and the name of the copyright owner. In the newspaper industry they may simply cite the name of the source and date of original publication. For example … “The St. Paul Pioneer press reported, yesterday , that …” or … “In a copyrighted story the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that …”. On the internet, Fair Use says a link with name is typically sufficient for attribution. Some feel a link alone suffices because the only way readers will see the whole article is by clicking over to the original on the authors very own website. Only the most incompetent reader (or writer, for that matter) would be confused as to who owns the content; typically the reader simply doesn’t care.

This has been my mode of operating for years. I figured if anyone wanted more attribution I’d simply ask them what they’d like to see, they’d tell me and I’d post it. Problem solved. Turns out, I was naive.

This post originally contained two sentences quoted (with actual quotation marks like these ” ” !) along with a link to the original article. There it sat for a year before I got a note from the author thanking me for quoting him but noting that I “accidentally forgot” to properly attribute him. I replied I didn’t forget as I linked directly to the original post on his website (like this … More>>>) but offered to post any attribution he’d like.

The author responded with a link to an example of “proper attribution” … I followed the link all the while thinking if he’d simply sent the attribution he wanted we’d be done. Try as I might, all I could find was a comment of his with a link to his Twitter page. This was confusing so I asked him about it and changed my link to include his name and the title of the article thinking there is no way anyone would think I originated the two sentences inside the quotes with a link that looked like this: More from “Cave Paintings & Content Marketing” by Gary Hart>>> . He responded by suggesting I either didn’t understand attribution or refused to, charged me with plagiarism and demanded I take the post down. Oh, and he told me this blog, Bibliotheque, would go on a list of sites to watch.

Delete the post? I don’t think so, this is great content! It illustrates the chasm between the old ways and the new. These Neo-Luddites cling tragically to a dogma that is dying; mastodon’s trapped in the LaBrea Tar Pits bellowing for the way things used to be. Meantime, here in the present, the lightening quick world of content marketing online (which relies on syndication to propel the messages to millions) continues unabated.

This is a great illustration of how Cave Men play at Content Marketing. They get the form but lack the substance of the online world, often missing the most powerful opportunities. If you don’t understand how content is leveraged online, can you really call yourself a Content Marketer with a straight face? The leverage in content marketing is the reach offered via content syndication … that you get for free … it’s not about self aggrandizement.

The copyright conversation has diminished greatly as creators worldwide discovered how content curation and syndication benefits them. Just a few years ago people locked down their YouTube videos so no one could “steal” their content. When they figured out how allowing embeds vastly increased their reach without costing a cent, the world changed virtually over night. Well, most of it.

I took the quote off but have retained the links to show my good faith effort to comply with the authors request for attribution.

This is a really interesting event and I’ll cover it more in our video blog called Vidiotheque in the next week or two. Watch for “Of Cave Men and Content Marketing – Video Edition” coming to a vlog near you soon!

This is a controversial topic and I’d love to hear what everyone thinks. Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment on the blog! I’m looking forward to a spirited debate.

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