There are some things in life that frustrate me more than others.
People who drive 15 miles under the speed limit and then want to ride your bumper when you pass them; people who feel the need to tell you every single bad thing about a person or a place before you ever meet or experience things yourself; and people who can’t conjure up their own creative ideas and feel the need to steal and copy the creativity of others.
I was strolling through Walmart the other night with the hubs, and something caught my eye. There, beside the stacks and stacks of books called The Diary of a Wimpy Kid [perhaps you’ve heard of them…haha] was a book called The Dork Diaries.
While I am all kinds are aware that this is technically not the same book or the same story, it screams COPYCAT. The inside of the books are similar in that they are written to look like actual journal entries with the notebook paper background; and there are little doodles and drawings to follow along with the story throughout the books entirety. Again, while one book is about a boy and the other is about girl, my mentality is that the chick who wrote The Dork Diaries couldn’t conjure up a creative idea on her own and felt the need to replicate an idea from someone who had already written a creative and successful series.
I’m very aware of how hard it is to develop new and original ideas. We’ve seen replication [as mentioned above] with nearly every author who has ever struck it big. Nicholas Sparks, Stephenie Meyers with her Twilight Series, Danielle Steele…it’s everywhere we turn. Someone chooses to knock off a great idea, strike it big, and never, ever give proper credit to the person who originally conjured up said idea.
And now, unfortunately, it’s happening across the blogosphere. I’ve seen one too many copycats in recent weeks and it’s starting to drive me a little nuts. Seems like every time I open my browser and start hopping around, I run across something that is eerily similar, and sometimes a down right exact replication of a blog I’ve already read. People are snatching posts and paragraphs from “big time” bloggers with hopes that their “creativity and wit” will be recognized and they will strike it big. Successful graphic designers, such as the masterminds behind some of the istockphoto images, are being ripped off by people who choose to copy and crop their images to use in their blogs or choose to replicate an original design paid for by another blogger. Successful and fabulous photographers are having their photos snatched up and stolen to be sold, marketed and replicated elsewhere. [For a photographers experience, go read this.]
Frankly, it makes me sick.
There is a fine line between inspiration and replication. There is absolutely nothing in the world wrong with reading a blog, getting an idea from said blog, and writing your own post. I do it all the time. I read something, and something in the post conjures up an idea and I go with it. A recent example of this was my post about the Mom Cave. This idea came up after a comment conversation with another blogger whose work I love and admire…and I gave that blogger credit for the inspiration. It’s near impossible to write about something that hasn’t—at some point—already been written about; but using someone else’s EXACT idea and passing it off as your own is plagiarism.
So what’s the kicker? There isn’t really anything any of us can do about it. We choose to put our thoughts, our ideas, our feelings out onto the internet and actually expect people to be good, decent and civilized people. But the fact of the matter is—not every one is. At some point in our blogging “careers,” someone will steal your idea. Your photos? They will be copied. It’s an inevitable part of an online existence. It doesn’t seem right, does it? To just have to accept that our hard work may end up being stolen from us?
I think that the first step to stopping this begins with us. It starts when we, as fellow bloggers, take the time to point out these things. I’ve contacted the original authors of the blogs whose content I found copied in hopes that they are able to address the issue themselves. I believe in honest mistakes. But I also believe in integrity and morals and right and wrong. Blogging is supposed to be fun and enjoyable and a way to connect with others. Not a place to cause drama, to steal ideas, and pass someone else’s creativity off as your own. So let’s stop it, shall we?
Courtney Kirkland is a Southeast Alabama Writer & Designer. Since 2008, Courtney has passionately provided beautiful, intentional design to small businesses & bloggers and encouraged thousands to walk in a rich faith in any situation.