Saturday, September 10, 2016

Check the Source Before You Subscribe or Buy

The online education community has a problem. We want our students to be aware of copyright and respect the work of authors yet we don't respect the work of our colleagues. Three times this month I have found my blog posts re-used in their entirety on other blogs. Those are just the obvious examples that pop-up in my Google Alerts. Last week Doug Peterson wrote a post about plagiarism. Someone commented on his post with a related issue facing the online education community. That is the issue of people stealing the work of others and selling it on Teachers Pay Teachers and similar sites.

Why it matters!

Short version: stealing deprives original content creators of financial opportunities. You wouldn't allow students to plagiarize so don't allow adults to do it. 

Long version: read on...
Blogs like this one take a lot of time and effort to maintain. For every post that you see there is lots of time put into reading, testing, and learning about how new tools work. There is also a lot of time spent trying to answer as many email requests for help as possible. That time comes at a cost which is why you see advertising on When someone syndicates or outright copies and pastes my posts without permission, it takes away pageviews for me and the advertisers which affects the bottom line.

I'm not the only blogger to earn advertising revenue. And the popular bloggers that you see that don't use advertising and making money in other ways like book sales, Teachers Pay Teachers sales, and consulting fees. In short, anyone running a blog or other social media account with a large following is selling something.

The Teachers Pay Teachers issue in some ways is even worse. When you take a blogger's blog post and republish it without permission you don't instantly profit from it (it takes tens of thousands of pageviews to make any significant money from ads). When you take someone's work and sell it as your own on Teachers Pay Teachers, you can profit quickly from just a few people making a direct purchase.

What can you do about it?
Before you click the purchase button on Teachers Pay Teachers take a quick look around and see if someone else has published the same thing. A quick Google search for the title can yield some blatant copies. Use the "date range" search refinement tool and see who the original creator of the work is. If it's not the person doing the selling, don't buy it.

When you come across a blog or website that is syndicating lots of blogs and blog posts in their entirety, it might be convenient to just visit that website instead of going to individual blogs. Don't do it. That website is getting the benefit of the traffic without doing any of the work that it takes to actually create original blog posts.

Notify the author. I always appreciate it when someone tips me off to blog that has been using my posts without permission. I know many other bloggers who feel the same way.

"Richard, stop ranting!"
Long-time followers of this blog are probably tired of reading my rants about bloggers stealing the work of others. I plan to rant for as long as it takes to get people to understand this problem.