Hijacker Awareness Alert for Brands and Creative Work

The last question our personal branding panel got at Affiliate Summit West was, to me, curious, “What would you do if someone hijacked your brand?” Being an overly trusting person, I never thought about the possibility of someone intentionally hijacking your brand – or your work. Yet, it’s happened to me before. Recently I discovered that it’s happened again. Can people really be that clueless? After dashing off a quick email with links to the sites to a few peers and getting their advice, I’m coming out with a warning: take it down or I’m coming after you. And, I’m also telling you how we can work together. Here’s why . . .

That’s My Work, Not Yours, So Take it Down – Now!!!

Let’s be clear, if you ask permission, I’m really easy to work with and would, most likely, be happy to grant you an interview. But, if you take/borrow/steal my work, any of it, without permission, it’s not only unfair, it’s illegal. Copyright law protects your work to uses with your permission.

Wanna collaborate? Watch this Wanna Work Together from Creative Commons video where collaboration rules.

Need an emotional litmus test? Ask yourself: How would I feel if someone used my work in their blog or video without my permission?

In my first creative hijacking, an author’s ghostwriter called to ask where to send a book that included my post, How to Quickly Become a Subject Matter Expert Using LinkedIn. When I told another author, one with over 60 books to their credit, they told me that legally I had the power to pull every one of these books off of the shelf. I did not. But, I did write this post Book to Blog 12 Keys to Go From Publishing to Posting.

In the latest instance, someone used my image, quoted almost an entire chapter, and mentioned me briefly with no link to my site. I was shocked to listen to them reading the exact words I wrote on the video.

Where was the link to Wired PR Works? Nowhere. Link to Barbara Rozgonyi on LinkedIn? None. Link to twitter? Nada. You get the idea.

When Leveraging Someone Else’s Image, Words and Brand is Not Okay – Is It Ever Okay?

1. No connection – on any social network  or in person –  says that the person has no interest in communicating.

2. No request for permission, just blatant and overt reuse, goes beyond the boundaries of copyright, not to mention plagiarism.

3. Publishing an image without approval or a link within a blog post gives no credit at all.

4. Using the author’s name as a keyword or tag to pick up traffic to your site, not theirs.

How to Get Any Author’s Attention, and Most Likely, Approval for Limited Usage

If you absolutely, truly love someone’s work, tell them. Getting their attention is the first step to approval.

1. Get personal and get in touch. Authors and bloggers love love notes and we’re almost all easy to find thanks to social media.

2. Write a LinkedIn recommendation telling everyone why their work inspires you.

3. Post an Amazon review that points out the lessons you learned in their book and why everyone should read it.

4. Send them a message or post to their Facebook wall telling them how their work is changing your life.

5. Start a fan club – only half-way kidding about this one, but you can connect with them and their fans via social networks.

6. Leave comments on their blog that add to the community’s conversation.

7. Go to see them when they’re speaking and get that book signed.

8. Interview them on your blog or radio show.

9. Ask permission to post images. I know, I know, they’re free and everywhere, but maybe they have a preferred image they’d like you to use. And, if you’re looking at an image that they created, then be certain to check for usage rights before you post or use the image anywhere.

10. Find a reason to introduce them to your audience that gives them exposure and links them to your network.

11. Link back to their blog, site and social networks in your coverage and promote your coverage within your social network to theirs.

12. Include a bio that describes how you met them and know them. Don’t know them – what do you think you should do?

13. Need more guidance?

When using others’ images, video, or other creative content, a link may not be enough to properly cite the work. You may be violating copyrights. We recommend that you always cite your source material, and heed takedown requests you may receive. When looking for source material to include in your blog posts (e.g., images, video, audio, etc), look for hints about attribution requests by the original poster. The copyright owner may have posted a Creative Commons license agreement for you to use, or may indicate how s/he wants her or his work cited on the web. Source: Center for Digital Ethics and Policy

Image: Thanks to Shutterstock.com for allowing me to use this image, which is one of the least threatening in their hijacker category. I selected this one because I believe that most people really want to do good, but they may not be aware of the discomfort, frustration and damage, they’re causing until someone points it out. And, it should be fairly easy to fix, right?

How about you? How do you protect your work or your brand from being hijacked?

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