I hate being a “loser.” But I am, and so are you. And it makes me angry.
Last week I spent two afternoons preparing a How To article for The Family Curator. The topic was suggested by questions on Facebook and Google+, and was something I’ve had in mind for some time, “How to Relax Old Rolled Photographs.” I wanted to offer a step-by-step photo tutorial on how to tackle this do-it-yourself project.
To create the tutorial photos, I needed to stage my process at each step. It took a few hours to get out all the materials, set up the shots and take the pictures. Next, I had to move them to my computer, resize, tag, crop, and write the article. This one blog post took two full afternoons to prepare.
I was ready to publish the article on The Family Curator when I read about the court decision involving a longtime website and a relative newcomer, and the discussion that followed.
Barry Ewell eMail #30 Remember the Power of One
“Litigation Between Cyndi’s List and MyGenShare Dismissed”
and Comments by:
I’m a writer, first, and a genealogist second. I sell words, not research. I like blogging because it gives me a place to write, and I enjoy the response from readers. Every comment, whether at my blog or through email or Facebook is a kind of paycheck, the reward that makes me want to keep writing.
I don’t want to earn a living blogging because I don’t want to spend my time analyzing conversion rates, SEO, campaign strategy, etc.
I just want to write. I write for magazines, other websites, newsletters, and all kinds of outlets, and often I am paid for the products I provide. It may take a full week working part-time hours for me to draft, edit, create images, and send off a magazine article. Weeks later, I receive a check for the article.
Some blog posts require more time, too, like the “How to” I’ve been working on. I have to set up materials for the photos, take the pictures, tag, resize, post to blog, write the article, and finally publish, hoping that readers find it useful (and maybe even leave a comment).
So here’s where we all lose.
As a writer and genealogy blogger I lose the claim of protected intellectual property.
When I read about cases of plagiarism and copyright infringement where it’s unclear if an author has been able to defend his or her rights, I begin to think twice about what I write and post as free content on my own blog. After all, there is little guarantee that the same won’t happen to my content. I might turn on my computer tomorrow and find that my “How to” article is behind a pay wall on a subscription website, or offered for sale under someone else’s name. Yes, I can demand that the material be removed, file a complaint, and state my legal rights, and I’ve done so in the past. But, the cold reality is that it keeps happening.
If Content is King in blogging, but content cannot be protected, where does this leave the genealogy writer?
Do we self-edit – only publishing on our blog what we are willing to lose and see appear under another by-line?
Do we hold back “best stuff” to sell and post only reprints or non-marketable material?
Do we spend so much time defending our intellectual property that we have less time to create new original material?
We have an active and responsive genealogy blogging community. We talk to each other (a lot). But there are many more genealogists and family historians who are not bloggers and come to us for information, news, research tips, and know-how. They look for FREE first. And, that’s okay.
If genealogy writers begin to revise their editorial practices and choice of content, where does that leave the genealogy reader?
Less free original content
Less free quality content
Less content overall
We all lose.
Unless, writers and readers can work together to help maintain and protect intellectual property of the creators.
Refuse to lose.
- If you notice a breach of copyright on a website, PLEASE take time to notify the original author. Give the author a heads-up so they can take action to protect their work.
- Always give credit where credit is due. Link to other blogs, use quotes, use citations, and ask permission before reposting someone else’s work, whether it’s a photo, an article, or a research conclusion.
- Let writers know that you like the information they provide. Take time to “pay” for that free content with a quick comment, a Facebook “Like,” or Twitter RT.
I’m not giving in, yet. Come back tomorrow for How to Relax Old Rolled Photos.