This week my website crossed a major milestone. I discovered a quarter of my Short Sale content on another agent's web site. My content is now worthy of theft! A true milestone for any aspiring writer.
My ying/yang reaction was I was incensed, and then a little bit flattered. The amazing thing to me was that this person took several of my pages and pasted them, exactly as is, same font, same color, onto one page of their site – even though it didn't match their layout and colors. Thank you for keeping my branding. Not one single thing was changed. Actually as I think about it, that's not totally true. There were a couple of things changed. Every link on the page that originally pointed to my sign-up forms no longer did.
The content taken from my web site has evolved over time. It's based on practical experience, mistakes I've learned from, classes I've taken, research, and analysis. It was specifically written with two audiences in mind. My prospective clients whom I want to help educate and hopefully relieve some of their stress. And, it is written so those little search bots can find the site and ensure that there's strong relevancy. The content is constantly being tweaked, evolving, and I continuously try to improve it.
It's also an income stream for me. That's where it's a major issue. If you like the content, you are welcome to link to it, on my web site. To cut and paste it is stealing. Just because it's easy, just because they think that they will not get caught, it's wrong, and we're protected by the law. In what world can anyone think that this is acceptable behavior?
I found two email addresses on the agent's site, and promptly sent them a curt email demanding that my content be removed. Unfortunately for this agent, they had included their managing broker's email contact in an “email me” link. I had no idea, I was simply trying to make sure that my message got to them through a documented media.
I also followed up with a phone call letting them know that I was aware of the plagiarism and that it needed to be removed immediately. The agent informed me that they didn't know and that someone had “given” them the content.
The following day the agent did call me. Initially a little antagonistic about the email being sent to their managing broker. I responded that I wasn't aware of that, I only used the email addresses I found on their web site. We spoke for a few minutes, I shared with them how they got busted. The content had been removed, they apologized, and I'm moving on.
Here's the thing though... know what copyright infringements are and what plagiarism is, and know that it's illegal. Also realize that it's 26 years since 1984, when George Orwell realized that Big Brother was coming. We've met Big Brother and he is us. We know where he lives. It's a quaint little neighborhood called the world wide web, the internet.
If you decide to visit Big Brother's neighborhood, know that you've agreed to leave your privacy at the front door, the moment you stepped through your browser doorway. He knows where you go, he knows what you do. In a couple of key strokes anyone can tell if their words are being "recycled". Play nice.