Mandy Nicholson

The Creative Genius Corner

Lessons, musings and advice from the author of ‘The Life I Won’

The Legacy Of ‘The Lurkers’

Most of my blogs come from the real-life experiences of my clients in my Creative Mastermind program and from our conversations during our bi-weekly group calls.

Why would I write about anything other than real-life?

This blog is rooted in what is a real-life problem when you are an entrepreneur.

The Lurkers.

As creative women it has been tough for you to get your business up and running. You have had to battle ‘the naysayers’ and the ‘dream squashers’ and when you are just starting to see some traction in your social media and fabulous online content,  ‘the Lurkers’ appear.

These people have watched you, followed you, made the occasional comment and lurked in the background of your business. They have liked what you have to say and your products or services but never actually bought anything. Then suddenly you see your content on their page! They lurk so that they can steal because they don’t have your ability or creative brain.

It happens ALL the time in business, especially to creatives. So, how do you deal with these people who lurk and steal?

You created it – you own it!

Any content or images that you have personally created and shared online are automatically protected under copyright law. You don’t need a solicitor or to use the © symbol. Without your permission nobody else can use or publish your content. This doesn’t need to be war & peace written permission, a verbal request is fine, just back it up with an e-mail or online message in case of any comeback.

Unlike academia you can’t just use it and credit the source, this merely ticks the plagiarism box, you MUST ask and receive explicit permission from the owner to avoid copyright infringement.

So, if your lurker doesn’t follow this process, you are well within your rights to take legal action.

There is one thing you can do and that is to use a sentence or extract from another article, if you credit the source.

E.G. In a blog post about Lurkers, Mandy Nicholson said, ‘You created it – you own it’.

How do I know if I have a Lurker using my content?

The simple answer is that you probably don’t. If you are not spending every waking moment trawling other people’s social media pages & blog content to check then you will be lucky if you see something. Your best eyes and ears are your network and supporters, they will likely be the ones who see and recognise something that belongs to you, their eyes are on more than just you.

Checking your own work is equally as important, even if you just ‘spot check’ it to make sure that it doesn’t sound like someone else’s work. You may not be a Lurker, but you may have innocently covered the same subject as another person in your field and written something similar. 

There are a lot of common phrases and terminologies used online today which are essential so that our audiences understand what we are talking about. This can sometimes lead to misinterpretation or accidental plagiarism.

You can find duplicate content using several platforms such as: Grammarly Plagiarism Checker, Copyscape, or even set up Google Alerts to look for similar content.

Then what?

It can be very frustrating when you see work that has taken you hours to create being used by someone else. Or even your original artwork, designs or quotes appearing on other people’s pages. 

BUT…

Don’t jump to conclusions or overreact, keep calm, and put things into perspective first.

  • The person who has used it may have done so in all innocence and be completely unaware that they are committing a legal infringement. Take a screenshot and ask them. You may find that you become the teacher for someone just starting out and this could lead to a positive relationship and maybe even a sale down the line.
  • If you don’t get anywhere with this, you can always contact the company who own the platform and ask them to intervene. Let’s say someone used your work on Facebook, there is a process for you to report this through Facebook’s support function. Most platforms and providers have this facility.
  • Consider how much energy you want to give this, is it worth it to you? Is the other person making sales from the content they stole from you, if so then it is probably worth acting, but if not then it may be worth leaving it and moving on. If people steal content it hasn’t come from them so if they use it professionally then it will show through in the end. You can’t come across genuinely with something you didn’t create.
  • Your final option is to act, there are rules and guidelines, Google the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and follow the advice. This is going to cost time and money, so make sure you are ready for the fight.

There are no right or wrong answers here, as an artist I would be unhappy if somebody used my image without consent and I may feel like taking legal action. If someone stole one of my quotes, then not so much. Take it as a compliment that they love your work and just don’t have the ability to come up with anything original yet.

Everything in moderation, including anger, I say. In fact, when we discussed this issue on one of my group calls we collectively created a new derogatory term for those people and I will own the quote but allow all of my clients to use it – ‘the Lurkers can Lurk Off!’ © Mandy Nicholson All Rights Reserved 2022

Love & Colour

Mandy x

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