There will, I have not doubt, be those who will shrug it off and continue to use the work of others for their own marketing purposes, with little or no respect for the effort that the originator of the work devoted to its creation.
This can often be the result of over-zealous affiliate marketers, who, in an attempt to beat their competitors, will use whatever content they can find online to promote their affiliate sites.
It can be a fine line, and one that is often blurred – which even I admit to having crossed once when promoting a product for which I was an affiliate. In this particular case I used unchanged content from the merchant’s site, which, at the time, I thought was OK – it wasn’t!! I guess I thought that if it was OK to iFrame the site, it would be acceptable to take the content and use it to promote the product.
The internet is constantly changing the way we do, and promote, business. The rules of engagement can be open to interpretation, and confusion abounds. As Michael Visontay, in his editorial in Australian Author (August 2010), said of the online publishing debate:
“The only point of consensus is that the digital era has changed everything about writing, publishing and reading.”
Those who work in the internet marketing sphere at a professional, ethical level mostly – mostly – understand what is right and what is wrong and conduct their businesses accordingly. Others prefer to employ the ‘what I know I can get away with’ strategy.
The Scenario That Prompted This Rant
Recently I launched a particular product, and sent review copies to several colleagues. When I hadn’t heard back from one, I sent a follow up email. The response went along the lines of “Oh I loved it, in fact I sent it off to all of my outsourcers to show them how to do this for me!”
Now tell me – am I right in feeling just a little p’d off? Not only did this person not even purchase the product, but also believed it was OK to distribute it freely (to a group of people who compete with me for business, and who could forward it on to potentially hundreds of their friends).
This person did not pay for it, did not review it, and did not ask my permission to distribute it.
Without doubt, copyright has been infringed, but as most people who publish online know, it is rarely worth the expense to pursue litigation. In most cases pointing out the problem and requesting a desist is all we can do, but common sense tells us that once a digital product has been set free, it is gone forever – including within it lots of links to moneymaking sites is the only consolation.
Many of us with digital products have been affected in this way, and just have to ‘suck it up’. But that doesn’t make it right, or ethical.
Many internet marketers now have offshore outsourcers who perform a variety of tasks them, and use their clients’ logins at sites like Article Marketing Automation, Linkvana, SubmitYourArticle and Market Samurai. These sites allow this and recognize the need for outsourcer access. But the difference between giving your outsourcers access to these resources and just handing resources over is that:
1. You are paying a monthly recurring fee for them, so they make money from you on an ongoing basis, or
2. You ASK PERMISSION for outsourcer access
3. They retain control over their sites and can shut you out if you abuse their service
If you are in any doubt as to whether you can hand over resources to outsourcers, do the right thing and ASK!
As I mull over a solution to my problem, I return more and more to the creation of a Reseller Rights version of any lower-price product I create. It will be made quite clear upon purchase, that people who wish to pass such an item on to others, including their outsourcers, will need to pay extra for this right.
I’d be really interested to hear your views.