|Infinite cool points to you if you get the reference.|
First things first. Anything you see here? Anything at all? You can share it all you want. Share your brains out. I'm happy to be pinned and stumbled and tweeted and liked and whatever else you want to do to me. But link it back to me. And don't share my content in full. Tease and link. It's just polite.
OK, now that we have that out of the way let's talk about the real issue. Stealing is wrong. Everyone knows this. And yet the internet has turned into a place where thievery is running rampant and when someone complains people call you a "whiner". Case in point: My friend Tonia had one of her most popular posts scrubbed of her watermark and shared in a few gazillion places on the internet. In particular, one Facebook page posted her watermark-less photo and recipe in full and had tens of thousands of shares. Because her recipe was shared in full there was no incentive to go back to her blog. (And since there was no link back there was no way to find her anyway.) Needless to say, thousands of lost website hits is hard to take. (When you blog as a business, traffic stats are part of the way you sell yourself.) Of course a passionate group of mobilized bloggers is a beautiful thing and the Facebook page quickly pulled down her photo and recipe after their were complaints.
Of course that's when things got nasty. The fans (or sock puppets, who can say?) started their attacks on the "whiners". The page owners claimed to have no idea they were doing anything wrong. People complained that they had seen the recipe done in different ways before her post. They promised to never visit her website because everyone was being such a cry baby about it. Some even said that once you put something on the internet you lose control over it and people can do whatever they want with it.
Well, no, actually, you can't. If you posted a picture of your kids on Facebook would you want some diaper company to feature them in an ad without ever contacting you, getting your permission or paying you? When you create content it's yours and no one has a right to it without following specific protocols. (I am not a lawyer and I'm not going to get into it. Just know that in most cases if you share a link back to the original source and don't share the content in full most bloggers are happy. And when in doubt, ask the source.)
Stealing is bad. We all learned this as kids. Don't tell me you didn't know it was wrong when you get caught.