Creative work and theft – yes, Virginia, it happens

create bigger and better things - don't let the bad guys win
create bigger and better things – don’t let the bad guys win

A friend of mine who is an artist has a problem. She wants to get her art out there in the world but is deathly afraid of having it stolen. This is not new problem to me – I’ve had similar discussions with other friends and fellow artists in the past about this.

In fact, I’d venture to say that every one of us who create creative product, whether writing, painting, photography, music, etc., has at least, on one occasion, been stolen from.

The Internet, unfortunately, can make that theft even easier. Because everybody has access to everything – or so it seems. And there is a mindset that has been created by marketers, that makes consumers feel that everything should be free. From college tuition to movies, to artwork, to books and so on.

It’s happened to me

I’ve had stuff stolen. A few years back I discovered that a woman who had a ‘escort’ blog, had literally copy and pasted hundreds of my blogs posts to her blog. No attribution. No email asking for my permission. Nothing. I discovered it quite by accident. When I confronted the woman she said I should be flattered that she took my content and used it because that meant it was good. Fortunately, between some very loyal readers and the folks at WordPress, the content was taken down and in fact, she deleted her blog.

Then of course all of us who have blogged for any period of time have followed those links on our stats pages that show a link to your content on some smarmy link site – that culls the Internet for content that will get people to their sites so they’ll click on their advertising.

And if you’re a writer, at least once, you’ve written an article on spec, as part of an application process for a writing job (probably listed on Craigslist). Of course, you never hear back from them because they got what wanted – a free article on the topic of their choice.

So…you know, it happens.

What you can do about it

The fact is that there will always be thieves and people who believe they are simply entitled to whatever it is they want. There are things of course that you can do to protect yourself:

While nothing is absolute and you probably cannot prevent someone who is hellbent from stealing from you – you can take precautions and protect your work in the way that is most appropriate and best for you.

Share anyway

Yes, it is true people may steal from you. They may copy your work. They may put their name on your work. You may have to take them to court. And of course nobody wants that to happen to them. But it’s still not a good enough reason not to share your work with the world. Creatives create for the world – not for themselves and if you let fear guide you there will be little joy to be had in your work. So, do what you can. Accept the fact that it might not be enough and move on. Put your energy into creating bigger and better things. And don’t let the bad guys win and ruin your day. Besides, the world at large is usually pretty good at spotting cheats and fakers, right?

How about you? Do you worry someone will steal your work? Do you hesitate to put your creative product out there because of possible theft or copyright infringement? Has anyone stolen your creative product? What happened? Feel free to share your tale in the comments.


11 thoughts on “Creative work and theft – yes, Virginia, it happens

  1. Over the years, as a published author, I have had a fair number of infringements of my intellectual property – much of this through the old print-medium at that. It happens. The problem is doing something about it – on my experience, my publishers have been reluctant to pursue one-time infringements, for obvious financial reasons. And if the thief decides to ignore the approach, in any event, what options are there? Hiring a lawyer – knowing that any payout for the infringement will NEVER cover the legal fees?

    My current problem involves a government department who’ve published material on their public website which is blatantly derived from one of my books. The first approach I made to them about it was ignored. The second led to my being told that, as my book hadn’t been cited in the footnotes of the piece in question, therefore the similarity – including in the words, phrasing, subtitles, picture selection and headings – was ‘coincidence’. I queried that and haven’t heard anything back since, all of which leads me to wonder why I am paying my taxes. I suppose I’ll have to do something formal about it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow Matthew – you’ve got yourself quite a situation. Ironic when the government is the violator of copyright law, isn’t it? I’m guessing that this isn’t something you could approach the ACLU about but perhaps there is some consumer group out there who might be able to help you? I’m sorry, you’re going through this.


    1. Hey Girl,
      I’m pretty much of the same mindset. You hope like hell that it doesn’t happen and you go about your business. If it does, then you deal with it. 😀


  2. Hasn’t happened to me, but it is something I do worry about. Yes, I hesitate to post actual writing on the internet. People will grab stuff, because some people are like that… So, if it happens, it happens. We’ll find ways to deal with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Weirdie,
      I think that’s all you can do – otherwise you’ll drive yourself batshit nuts worrying about it. But putting your stuff out there is what it’s all about, right? 😀


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