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Digital Garden Blog Poaching

Originally published at The Suburban Garden. Please leave any comments there.

Whenever I think of my fellow gardeners, I think of them in a positive light.  Friendly, good people who enjoy helping nature create beauty.  Down-to-earth types who are oh so willing to share their knowledge (and often, their seeds).  The type of people who go to seed swaps, attend garden meetings, and join earthy social networking groups.

At least, that’s my personal experience with gardeners.  Almost all of the people I have met with this shared interest can be described with the words above.  I enjoy the interactions I’ve had with them, both in person and online, and I’ve never had to kick a person out of a gardening group due to social drama.

Then I learned about how garden blogger and author Niki Jabbour, while recently looking for a photo she had included in one of her blog entries, ended up finding her garden blog entries in someone else’s blog.  Not just her articles, but articles that actually pointed to things that Niki does professionally.

Now, it should be pointed out that Niki is not some small time blogger who does this in her spare time like I do.  She has already published one book and has another one coming out in the spring of 2014.  She is a professional in her field and is to be taken seriously.

So when I heard about this,  ”taken aback” doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt.  As a (very small time) garden blogger, I always thought, “I don’t have to worry about content being stolen.  It’s a garden blog.  Who would steal content from a garden blog?”  After all, people who talk about gardening are, by nature, honest and nice people, right?

These people, who steal content from various sources and pass it off as their own are poachers of the digital variety.  Their motives are diverse.  Some use the content to gain advertising revenue.  Others do it for notoriety.

I’m told that this is a common problem on blogspot.com, making me wonder why blogspot is such an easy target.  Is it so easy for people to write a script which goes out and targets specific other blogspot users, automating the theft of their intellectual property?  And if this is the case, why has blogspot not done something about it?

Whatever the case, this has put two separate thoughts in my head.  First, I’m glad I have my own domain and that I don’t use blogspot to power my blog.  (Hooray for WordPress!)  Second, I may start taking the time to watermark all of the photos I include in my blog.  Because, while I may not make any money on my content, it is still that:  my content.  I spend a lot of time researching and writing much of my content.  And in this age of digital piracy, the reality is that I must take the steps necessary, however small they are, to protect my intellectual property.