Should I Cut and Paste?

Mortgage and Lending with Directors Mortgage NMLS #150073


There is much talk on AR right now about what is appropriate to post in our blogs. Can I upload a picture without paying for it? Can I cut and paste an article? What if it's from my website and I'm paying for it? What if I give credit to the author?

These and many other questions confront us as we try to gain an increased presence on the web. The easy way is to plead ignorance and just do it. But is it right? Is it legal?

As I was once told by a judge when I was in college, "Ignorance is no excuse..."

Last year I started blogging and one of my first blogs was to post an article that I had found on the best repairs to make to improve the value of your home. I found an excellent article and posted it. I gave credit to the author and went on with life. Several months later I was contacted by Broderick Perkins, He runs  Deadline News and is a regular contributor to Realty Times. He's a gifted editor and writes easy to understand pieces. One of his "spiders" found my article and I received a form "cease and desist" email from him with some terse language. I stepped back from my religion and we had a heated week of email bantering, for which I later apologized.

To make a long story short, he showed me that what I had done was a Federal Offense, yes, you heard me right. 

He likened it to me making a million copies and giving them away. (I could only wish that I had a million visitors to my blog. Heck, I'd settle for a couple hundred thousand, maybe even a 100...) I don't have to ask, because I know that none of us would think of going to the copy machine and making 100 copies of an article to hand out to our clients. That would be illegal. Right?

He made some good points. He gets paid for his writing. When we copy his material he doesn't get paid. If we post his material to our website or blog, and not provide a direct link, then his advertisers are robbed. They are assuming a certain amount of clicks.

Put yourself in his shoes. How do you like it when you work hard for a client only to have them decide to go with another agent who will work for less? I truly believe in the Law of Reciprocity. What goes around comes around. If you find yourself struggling in your business look at your ethics in the little things...

Brad Templeton, Chairman of the Board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the leading foundation protecting liberties and privacy in cyberspace, has a series of articles on copyrighting. He explodes some myths that you really need to read. Take a look. How many do you break? Make sure that you at least read the summary at the bottom.

Another article explores linking. It is still undecided as to whether or not it's even legal to link to another site. For now, go ahead and link, but if the author asks you to stop, then please do so. The issue is whether or not the author has control over how his/her material is distributed. Would you want a link to your website from a porn site? I wouldn't.

Daily Blog Tips has a post on Copyright Laws: 12 Do's and Don'ts. Good read with simple tips.

So what's the proper protocol?

I'll use a real life example.

Daniel with Daily Blog Tips has written a very informative blog on the use of material found on the Internet. Here's the direct link to the blog. Copyright Laws: 12 Do's and Don'ts. I found it informative as there were several assumptions that I had that are wrong. For instance, did you know that just because something isn't copyrighted doesn't mean that you can freely use it?

... get the gist?

Another example.

Daniel with the Daily Blog Tips, in his post Copyright Laws: 12 Do's and Don'ts states "Don't copy material just because it does not show a copyright message: the Copyright Law required a copyright notice to protect works until 1977. In 1978, however, the law changed and abolished the requirement for copyright notice. This means that every published work (be it on paper or digital media) automatically gets copyright protection, whether expressed with a notice or not."

Here I quoted a portion of the article with a reference and link to his blog.

These are just a few ways. I'm sure there are plenty more. Basically, get your freshman writing book and learn how to give credit.

I hope that this helps.

Larry Morris is a loan Officer with Equipoint Financial Network in Newberg, Oregon. He specializes in relocations and Sherwood, Oregon neighborhoods. He can be reached at His website is This material is copy protected 2007 by Larry Morris, Mortgage News that Matters. All Rights Reserved

UPDATED: 5/19/07 - I recently communicated with my website provider, ala mode, regarding the appropriateness of webpages being copied and posted on AR as origional material. There have been several instances where I have been able to identify AR members as doing this. Here is their response.

According to the End User License Agreement, you cannot copy content from your XSite for use on another site, including blogging sites.  The people you see doing it now are in violation of the EULA.  An acceptable solution would be for your blog to link to your site which is better for you.  First, you are in compliance with the EULA.  Second, you will have a website linking to your content on your "domain.  This is good in regards to your search engine rankings.  The more sites you have linking to your content the more "relevant" your site becomes in terms of the content you are providing - in this case real estate content.

If you have any questions on how to do this, you can always call our support department.  Thank you!

Alonso Portillo

a la mode, inc.

Update 5/20/07 - I just received the following post to this blog. It's being used by permission. GUYS AND GALS - THIS IS NOT WORTH PLAYING AROUND WITH!!!!!

"Larry -  this stuff is very real. I got popped 5K for illegal use of pictures that my web designer used on my site. They are claiming ignorance yet I am being told the web site is in my name, so penny up............"

05/20/2007 by Lewis Poretz

Comments (155)

Larry H Morris
Directors Mortgage - West Linn, OR
Larry Morris, NMLS 150073

Thanks Susan and Pam.

May 16, 2008 04:17 PM
Miriam Gaddis
Gaddis Properties - Jacksonville, FL

Say I received permission from banks and mortgage companies to put links on my website to their foreclosure pages. I have since built up that list to 40+ links. This list has been on my website under "RE Resources" for myself, and anyone who happens across my site, to use. 

QUESTION: I have found copies of it everywhere on the Internet. But it seems that since I had it under RESOURCES, with the inference that of COURSE it would be used, doesn't that nullify my copywrite on my website?

I went to a lot of trouble back in 1997 to go to (and write, and phone) banks and ask for the website address to their foreclosures page. Some can NOT be found without calling, or by just putting "REO" or "foreclosure" on their site's search engine, and most do not show that page on their site map. I received permission from each bank, back then. I have since updated my list probably 20 times. Recently I "just found" two (Sun Trust, Ocwen) and with a phone call got the OK to add their links. 

ANOTHER QUESTION: This is my OWN material, and I have posted it on my own website. I CAN repost it here on AR to share, right? Since it's me, can't I give myself permission to share this here or do I absolutely HAVE to only give the link? (I just posted the list on my blog, and need to know if i have to delete/rewrite it)

May 21, 2008 10:51 PM
Larry H Morris
Directors Mortgage - West Linn, OR
Larry Morris, NMLS 150073

Miram - First let me preface with I am not an attorney, so I cannot give legal advice. That said, I was told by Broderick Perkins when I had my little run in with him that even though he was using other people's material, the fact that he was assembling it made it his. So, my guess would be that it might be protected by copyright laws. It might be worth checking with an atty. If nothing else, put a header on your page detailing the work that you put into it and that others are copying from you. Use it to show the work that you will put into your clients projects.

As far as posting it on AR, I'm not an AR god, but I think that if you place a paragraph indicating what you have done to obtain the references you should be OK. If nothing else, write a good post on why they should use your information and direct them to your web page for the links.

May 22, 2008 02:29 AM
Miriam Gaddis
Gaddis Properties - Jacksonville, FL

Larry - Don't get me wrong, I don't MIND someone copy/pasting items from my resource page. My main concern is getting others into trouble. I hope I'm reading you right. I think I'm ok. As long as it isn't someone ELSES work, I can post it here on AR, give permission for others to copy/paste, and they shouldn't have any problems right?

Just thought of another question :-(

If I write an original article here on AR, and then think "hmmm. I'll copy it onto my OWN website," I think that's ok too, since it was my own work, right?

May 22, 2008 04:40 AM
Larry H Morris
Directors Mortgage - West Linn, OR
Larry Morris, NMLS 150073

You can post your own work anywhere you have permission. It's your work. You can also give permission to anyone. If you were given limited permisssion to publish any of the information on your list you might have a potential problem. However, I wouldn't think so in this case.

Jun 01, 2008 02:58 PM

Thanks Larry, you've eased my mind.

Jun 02, 2008 01:45 AM
Trey Affolter
Keller Williams Realty - Tacoma, WA
Brings HOME Results!


Thanks in particular for the information regarding ala mode. I recently subscribed to a website and like the idea of referencing a link from my blog to my website for better SEO.


Jul 05, 2008 04:15 AM
Larry H Morris
Directors Mortgage - West Linn, OR
Larry Morris, NMLS 150073

Thanks Trey. I've been relatively happy with alamode.

Jul 07, 2008 03:38 PM
Harrison K. Long
HomeSmart, Evergreen Realty - Irvine, CA
REALTOR , GRI, Broker associate, Attorney


Thanks for the blog article on "Should I Cut and Paste?" and for valuable information.

Harrison K. Long

Aug 20, 2008 05:41 PM
Keller Williams Select Realtors-Buy a home in Washington DC. Sell a home in Washington DC - Bowie, MD
I don't make promises.I deliver results.SOLD HOMES

I admit I have cut and paste before. But I stopped that a long time ago. Thanks for sharing. Great information.

Aug 26, 2008 04:11 AM
Bob Wilson
Access San Diego - San Diego, CA

I wont screw around with thieves anymore.

Sep 17, 2008 10:17 AM
Jared Pomranky ~ Detroit Foreclosures
Urban Detroit Wholesalers - Detroit, MI

I write my own content for my blogs but I happened across a blog that has no content of their own.  They simply cut and paste articles that they find from the associated press, new york times, etc.  They include the title, most of the article, and a link back to the main article with no personal comments. 

I'm guessing this isn't acceptable use?  I'm sure they're not clicking on the "This isn't my content but I have permission to repost it".

Sep 29, 2008 04:23 AM
Chris Griffith
Downing-Frye Realty, Bonita Springs, FL - Bonita Springs, FL
Bonita Springs Listing Agent

I came here looking for some input from Lenn Harley.  I have a idjitt copy pasting my posts on my outside blog. He lives two miles away.


Lenn thanks for the links.

Nov 15, 2008 10:36 PM
Chad Weber
Loan Officer Marketing Lab/ Real Estate Marketing Lab - O'Fallon, MO

Excellent post. Many good points covered here. It's easy to take the easy way out sometimes, but ultimately, all the rules that would apply to printing a physical publication ultimately apply to the web as well. Thanks

CW -

Dec 04, 2008 11:58 AM
Larry H Morris
Directors Mortgage - West Linn, OR
Larry Morris, NMLS 150073

Thanks All. I've been remiss in visiting the Rain for awhile.

Dec 04, 2008 04:10 PM
Craig & Sue Guffin
Coldwell Banker Monsees Realty - Sedalia, MO
Sedalia Mo Real Estate

Thanks. I had a collage team logo on my blog just innocently being a fan but I guess I better get some permission first. Maybe they offer one somewhere. (?)

Dec 19, 2008 11:15 PM
Larry H Morris
Directors Mortgage - West Linn, OR
Larry Morris, NMLS 150073

Not a bad idea to check.

Dec 24, 2008 07:49 AM

Quick Question......what about a picture?

For example. I wanted to write a blog post about cars that realtors drive. Can I post a picture of the different cars?


Mar 03, 2009 01:56 AM
Larry H Morris
Directors Mortgage - West Linn, OR
Larry Morris, NMLS 150073

Stephanie - Good question. Generally speaking, they would fll under the copywrite laws as well. You might get permission from a local Dealer and link to his/her website.

Mar 07, 2009 04:47 PM
Charles Stallions
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services - Pensacola, FL
800-309-3414 - Pensacola, Pace or Gulf Breeze, Fl.

Who knows where all this will wind up, but you can bet if you got deep pockets you will be sued, if not you will be asked to stop and that is it.

Jul 31, 2009 10:04 AM