Repost from UPworld - January 3, 2014
Where do you draw the line on authorship and intellectual property ownership? That line, for marketers, is forever blurred by the notion of joining the conversation and sharing within countless networks. A generation ago it was unthinkable to plagiarize someone else’s well-researched copy. If you included another author’s published information, at the very least, you made every effort to cite credits in footnotes. Give credit where credit is due. It is still part of an elementary understanding of fairness to leading thinkers in any field of endeavor. Those rules should still prevail. Sadly the ability to police them – not so much.
A guy writes a blog for his independent insurance and financial advisor business. All he’s got to do (he believes) is subscribe to an aggregate of recent news. He may or may not identify sources. He might add a sentence to imply credibility to his piece here and there. He might say “A recent article in the Wall Street Journal…” A throw-away hint of sourcing, he reasons, gives himself a platform for peddling his expertise.
Clutter suddenly creates opportunity for misrepresentation purely by adjacency. A kid manages to photobomb a celebrity at a Hollywood premiere to get an instant endorsement. Musicians half way around the world get incredible exposure posting a video that goes viral. An author and motivational speaker builds a following with a series of e-mails followed by a FREE e-book offer. A local attorney, hoping to build his small business practice, leverages civic group presentations. The contacts turn into an inbound marketing strategy. The price of admission for these tactics: ZERO (Or nearly nothing).
In the spirit of engagement some marketers advocate a steady stream of activity including articles, photos, tips and other unsolicited tidbits. It’s a strategy that is a modern day equivalent of regular mail and ongoing telephone howdy calls. The net result could become something worse than junk mail – a kind of cyber harassment if you aren’t careful.
Marketing has always been a profession that embraces new media and communication channels. That is still true. But it is also still true that the rush to get something for nothing (or next to nothing) makes room for unfortunate abuses. Draw the line at integrity, fairness and regard for intellectual property and content and you will be better off in the long run.