Content - Don't Steal It!
Maybe you're thinking this sounds pretty straight forward. Maybe you're thinking, well that's a no-brainer. Maybe you are even thinking who in their right mind would do that? Read on, dear visitor! It might be easier to fall into this trap than you think, and if you get caught on the wrong side of it you could end up in some serious trouble.
I try and always make a point to explain to all my current and future clients the importance of original content. This includes everything in the scope of written content, images, and even music. If for any reason you can't get original content, then you must be sure you have a license that states you can use it.
Unsurprisingly, I usually get responses that they understand, they agree, etc. But what happens when it comes down to crunch time and you need to get a bulk of content together quickly? Skimming images from Google and "borrowing" content from other websites is a good way to get in serious trouble. It also happens a lot more than you would think. Contrary to popular belief, just because you find something on Google, it doesn't mean that it's fair game. Almost 100% of those images are protected by copyright laws or a creative commons license, and ignorance is not an excuse.
Recently I was involved in such a circumstance, and things can get pretty messy, very quickly. It took over two years before everything caught up, but when it did catch up, it quickly overwhelmed my client and created a real nightmare, not only for him, but for me as well.
I can't stress enough, do not take copy or images from other websites and use them without permission! Not only is it bad on a professional and moral level, but it won't help you. Google will ding your site for not having original content, and you'll be no better off than when you started.
What options do I have?
Luckily there are a couple things you can do if you find yourself lacking in areas of content creation.
- Find a copywriter - They can be invaluable, and many times they'll give you a sample of writing to see if you are a good match. If you cringe at the thought of writing articles for your website or project, this is the way to go.
- Ask your designer or developer if they know anyone, or if they offer that service. You might be surprised at what kind of resources you have access to, without even knowing.
- Hire a photographer - Many times photographers are open to long term relationships with businesses. If you can provide them with any sort of mid-term to long-term work on a project, they may be open to negotiations. I can recommend photographers as well.
- If a photographer is outside of your budget, look into stock photography. istockphoto.com and depositphotos.com both provide great stock photography at low prices, and they have a multitude of licensing options for whatever project you might be working on.
At the end of the day, it's all about covering your assets. Your business if a reflection of you, so why would you want to put that at risk? You'll add years to life by avoiding stressful lawsuits and your project developer will probably be very thankful as well.
By James Rogers
Creative thinking and development are just a part of what makes James tick. When he's not working on a project for a client, he's usually working on a project for himself. When he's not doing that he can be found snowboarding, hiking, or enjoying a broadway show with his wife.