How Do You Feel When Someone Copies and Pastes Your Post?

This is probably one of those posts where not everyone is going to agree with what I say or why I say it 😎

But it’s one of the most common traps for new people — so we do need to discuss our views!

Here’s what I say:

It’s really great to love someone else work!

But you can’t copy and paste large sections or complete articles from other bloggers posts directly into posts on your blog or website.

You don’t do it for a few reasons.

Firstly if a blogger doesn’t include a Creative Commons license it means every thing that is written on their blog or website is automatically copyright.  Direct copying  of large sections or their complete article is only allowed with permission from that blogger.

Secondly most people consider it breaking blogging etiquette and a form of plagiarism.

Yes, publishing content online is about sharing and collaborating but it’s important to remember it can take considerable time for the original person to create that content.  Copy and pasting their content takes you seconds.

It might be harsh words but think of it as no different than copy and pasting a school assignment.

The whole idea of sharing is you build on their original work and input your own ideas/thoughts.

Attributing Another Person’s Content

Appropriate blogging etiquette is you can use a few paragraphs of their work and attribute them as the original source by including a link to their post.

Ideally you would also write a few of your own paragraphs expand on the topic.

For example, I’ve taken a paragraph from Larry Ferlazzo’s post and used it in my own post.

Here’s how I’ve attributed his words:

Example of attributing another bloggers content

Please note:

  • It’s common practice to indent if you are quoting other people’s content.

Posting Content With Permission

It’s not fine to copy an entire post written by another person, even if they use a Creative commons license, and even if you have attributed them as the original source, unless they have given you permission.

Key aspects when someone gives you permission is to acknowledge the original author, the website, their permission and link to the location where the content is from.

For example, Kathleen McGeady gave me permission to republish her post on Teaching Commenting Skills on this blog.

Here’s how I acknowledged her work:

How you show someone has given your permission to publish their posts

What To Do If Someone Copy/Paste Your Content

It’s generally a new person that gets caught out copy/pasting content because they aren’t aware that it isn’t appropriate.

Your best approach is to contact them privately, by email if possible,  to request them to remove your content and explain the reasons why.  Remember they are new and they didn’t realise.

Final Thoughts

So there’s my thoughts!

Feel free to leave a comment to share your thoughts:

  • Do you agree?
  • Disagree?
  • What other important advice would you give new people?

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70 thoughts on “How Do You Feel When Someone Copies and Pastes Your Post?

  1. Dear Sue,

    We are a 5th grade class of students(and teacher) who are very new to blogging. We have been reading your articles about commenting and blogging. We like your information and will be using some of it as we begin the blogging challenge.
    You are very good at encouraging people to blog. We have learned a lot from reading your posts and articles.
    We agree that copying and pasting from other people’s blogs is plagerism. We will make sure that we use our own words and sentences.
    Thank you for all your help!
    Mrs. Aber’s 5th Grade ELA class.

    1. @Mrs. Aber, Thanks Mrs. Aber’s 5th Grade ELA class for your nice words.

      I’m glad my posts and support are helping you and your students. I think working online makes you even more aware of the importance of appropriate use of content.

      I would love to drop past and leave a comment for your students. Can you give me your blog URL so I can visit your class blog?

    1. @Eilis Peale, yes that is the one I sent. Interesting I received your email when you forwarded them but not the originals. If in ever doubt just send a cc copy to my personal email.

      I’ll go through all our emails in support and see if I can spot your others and see what I can work out.

  2. Oops apologies everyone in advance for the extremely long response.

    But as each of you took the time to provide your own thoughtful comments I felt it was important for me to follow up with my own responses.

    @collier.simon Thanks for your nice words.

    Your class blog is looking really good. But wondering if you are having any troubles with the embeds on pages when you are editing? Just asking as it can cause problems — hope you don’t mind me asking. Your other option is to use categories on posts — please let me know if you would like me to give you ideas on how you could do that.

    @Sean Banville I do hope that my post helps make people more aware of the fact that copy/pasting isn’t acceptable by most people.

    It is time consuming to contact people and I will only do it when they copy large chunks of posts especially those including lots of screenshots. The other aspect is because of my role it is important for me to educate them because it can become a really bad habit if you don’t educate them early and considerably worse for them if some one decides to publicly shame them.

    That is really terrible about them using lessons as that is considerably worse.

    @Sarah Mitchell Totally agree in regards to being illegal. There are a few interesting aspects to it. Unfortunately most people, often both the blogger and the person who copies the post, aren’t aware that without a Creative Commons licence on the blog all content is copyright. Regardless most bloggers would be fine with one-two paragraphs provided there was attribution.

    Why haven’t I put a Creative Commons on my blog? Unfortunatley because there are many that would decide it is acceptable to copy/paste entire posts. Most of my work has Creative Commons but copyright on this blog gives me considerably more control of my content — I’m sure there are many that won’t agree with my approach 🙂

    @Matt Hughes Unfortunately unless you make sure it is properly worded it can easily appear to be your own work. Written text is easily misinterpreted. I would rather go over board than have others assume the content I’ve provided was my own work.

    @Gail P To be honest if you’ve only used one to two paragraphs and have acknowledged the original source most people would be happy that you have used without asking permission. Where it becomes a real problem is when you use all their content and don’t acknowledge them at all.

    @John Spencer Etiquette is definitely an important part of it and we each have our own opinions of what we consider appropriate ettiquette. Unfortunatley too often I see copy/pasting of entire posts without any building on the original work.

    For me I do take it personally because I know how long it takes to write some of the posts they’ve copied.

    @Darcie Compiling a list of posts that are worth reading and why you should check them out is a really good approach especially when you build on it with your own thoughts. I follow all pingbacks on my posts to see what others have said and it is always helpful when they mentioned aspects I haven’t considered.

    @ddeubel for me it isn’t about me owning the idea, the words, the thoughts but rather if I’ve spent considerable time writing the content I don’t want someone taking seconds on their time to pass it off as their own work. I’m always more than happy for others to take my thoughts, expand, disgree and improve but not other. But yeah after someone copy/pasting one of my entire websites and passing it off as their own work I accept that I am very passionate on this topic.

    @Tara Benwell I often have other blogging companies contact me to convert my posts into other languages. I have absolutely no issue with that provided that the content is attributed to all the original sources and that everyone benefits in the process.
    @Sue Lyon-Jones I wonder if part of the problem is that as educators we’ll often use the material under the basis of Fair use and we become so used to the fact that is appropriate that we apply those same principles online?

    @Jane Balvanz Love the veggie garden analogy. That is a good one! Similar principle really — bartering and sharing is fine.

    @EdTechSandyK I haven’t looked too closely at the Diigo post but I don’t have any issues with the Delicious ones — especially when they build on the reasons why you should check out the original post.

    @kim sivick Glad my information has helped you. There is so much to learn with you first start blogging. Hopefully this helps with one aspect of it.

    @Mira Danon-Baird I’m glad to hear that the classes will be discussing this topic as it is important to understand the issues. Will love to hear the students thoughts on it!

    @cwaste @Talia @Kathy Schrock @Articles23 Thanks for your words of support. This is one of the posts I’ve held off writing for a long time because we all have our own views on what is appropriate ettiquette

    1. @Sue Waters,
      Hi Sue,

      Thanks for the reply and useful information. The blog is going along well and I am finding it a lot different to implement as I am teaching at a high school this year. Last year I had primary aged students and found students took more pride in their classroom blog. But with that said, it has proved to be a useful tool this year and I plan to incorporate it further in the coming weeks. I was think of getting one class to start their own reflective blog … what are your thoughts? It would be a yr10 Science class.

      Thanks again for all you great work!

      Simon Collier
      Matthew Flinders Girls Secondary College

  3. Hi, Sue,

    I sent you an email regarding the Lexington account. I’m posting a comment here, because I’ve sent several emails to you in the last week or so, and I’m not sure if they made it through to your inbox.

    Hope you are having a good day!


    1. @Eilis Peale, I’ve just sent you a response from Edublogs support via your work and yahoo account. Can you check and confirm if you have received them to both accounts?

      1. Hi, Sue,

        I received your email on both accounts. About an hour ago, I replied from my school account, but I don’t know if you got it, so I just sent another email from my Yahoo address. Please let me know if either or both emails came through. Thanks!!

        1. @Eilis Peale, I haven’t received your reply from one hour ago from your school email or your Yahoo yet 🙁

          I will leave it a bit longer. If I don’t respond — can you send me an email again from both accounts as a final check?

          1. @Eilis Peale, I’ve just received two emails into Edublogs support. Both forwarded from Sunday, March 14, 2010, 7:46 PM

            I definitely didn’t receive that email before. And so you are aware all emails are always responded to within 24 hours/7 days a week.

            Did you receive a response to my email this morning?

  4. Hi Sue,

    Thanks for this informative post. We will be linking to this and discussing in one of the Yr6 classes we are supporting with ICT integration in Sydney. They are blogging and using Twitter (@Yr6Explores1984) to explore issues surrounding Orwell’s work, eg propaganda, advertising, freedom of speech > relating these issues to how we interact online and social networking etc.

    I’d like to add that when used in an educational setting, it’s important to embed these digital citizenship issues into the learning and exploring which the students are engaging in. It’s vital that they see copyright/plagiarism issues IN THE CONTEXT of how they blog, twitter etc so that they learn it’s important to acknowledge the ownership of material they read and borrow in their own work.

    I’ll be in their class again next week with their teacher and we’ll be discussing your post.


    Mira Danon-Baird

  5. This is great information, thanks for clarifying. I am less than one month into my first blog. I have hesitated to add links or quote others. Now that I have some clear instruction, I may try. Thanks again from a newbie!

  6. It is nice to know that I am not the only one who believes in respecting the intellectual property rights of others (and expects others to do the same for mine)…

    Thank you for a great post!


  7. Excellent points in the post and follow-up comments! I suppose it is often ignorance on the part of the copiers, but still sad that educated people have to be reminded using someone else’s work without attribution and/or permission is wrong. Just because computers make it easy for us to copy and paste does not mean we should. Good for those of you that contact the copiers and help them learn proper etiquette!

    I am curious what people think about folks who use Diigo to create blog posts, where the post mostly consists of a link back to someone else’s blog or web page and then whole chunks of text that were highlighted on that page. Sometimes the Diigo user makes comments on what he/she pulled over into their own blog, and sometimes not. Have you all seen posts like this? Is it enough to just link back to the original blog?

  8. Thanks for such a well-written and timely post. I totally agree with you! Good writing is labor intensive, and the quickie copy-paste method of lifting another’s material is akin to robbing your neighbor’s vegetable garden after she toiled a summer’s worth. I appreciate your examples of how to use intellectual property appropriately.

  9. Excellent post, Sue.

    As teachers I feel we need to lead by example, and copying and pasting other people’s content without permission and/or attribution sends entirely the wrong message to students.

    I’m more inclined to be disappointed rather than angry when I see educators doing this as I would honestly expect them to know better, but speaking personally, I always ask people to remove anything I’ve written which has been copied without permission as a matter of principle.

    Whilst I accept that it is often done in ignorance, the bottom line is that it is still plagiarism and if we are not prepared to tolerate this kind of behaviour on the part of students, then it seems to me hypocritical to turn a blind eye to it when we see our peers doing the same thing.

  10. Great post. This happened to me this week. I wrote a blog and it seems it was quickly snapped up and converted into an English lesson with a slight change of wording. At first it made me angry, but then I thought, oh well, at least I inspired someone and hopefully some English learners will benefit. Then again, perhaps we all just think our ideas are more original than they really are. I just challenged my English students to take a Plagiarism Pledge and then I stumbled across your post. I hope to do my part in teaching learners the difference between being inspired and copying.

  11. I won’t get into who is right or who is wrong. We all have our “feelings” (and that’s all they are – a version of “truth”.

    I’ll only add, ANYONE can take my words and do whatever they want with them. Also, anything I create. I’m in it for the “ideas” and not any pandering of ego, name or who mentioned it. At the end of the day, we are all like Heraclitus, forgotten, misquoted and walking in rivers we will never ever step into again.

    Technology is chipping and chewing away at the idea of “entitled thought”. I’ll be glad when that tree falls and we can read all the books and webpages of the world for their content and not WHO wrote it or having to pay some quack. It’s all been said before – we authors are only reminding others.

    Still, I do respect others wishes. We are all different.


  12. Hi Sue,
    I also agree with your thoughts. I read personal, professional and educational blogs and one of the blogs I’ve been reading has a post every Friday where the blogger lists posts and links to other blogs she has read during the week and wants to share with her readers. I liked the idea for my educational blog and so when I read something during the week and like it, I create a draft post listing the name of the post and the blog and link to it and then post it on my blog at the end of the week.

  13. Excellent points!

    I think some people go overboard with the notion of sharing and linking and they miss the etiquette. However, I would argue that it is beyond simply etiquette and even legality. It’s an issue of ethics. It’s wrong to steal.

    With that said, I have had people paste entire blog posts of mine. I have a Creative Commons license and I don’t care — especially when they provide commentary afterward. Sometimes a whole post is needed.

  14. I have been blogging for a couple of years now so those who are relatively new to it can relax a bit when I say, I have “borrowed” some material from others . In my KidAreHeroes post, I twice borrowed a paragraph from the KAH site to explain our purpose in participating in a project. Even though I used quotes and italics to set it apart, I never contacted the originator for his permission. I know the originator was happy to share it but still, it bears attention.
    Sue, you have opened my eyes yet again. In the future, I will seek permission before using more than a few words and even those can be attributed to the originator.

  15. I agree to an extent. I dont think it needs to be over the top a link to the post or their website should be sufficient as long as its not being passed off as their own work I dont see the issue.

  16. I agree with this whole-hearted Sue.

    It is so rude and inconsiderate to copy someone else’s words into your own post. Content from other people should always be attributed to them. 🙂

  17. Hi Sue,

    This is a great post. My only comment would be that copying and pasting without permission is outright plagiarism which is illegal. As a writer, I don’t think we should soften the fact that what you are doing when you copy/paste without permission is break the law.

    Having said that, if it’s an honest mistake made by someone new to blogging, writing or publishing, I can cope with that. Many advantages exist when you make an attribution in your blog and new bloggers might not understand that.
    1) Seach engines love outbound links. Including attributes with links in your blog post is a great way to contribute to your SEO.
    2) Attribution helps establish your credibility as someone who is widely read and doing their research.
    3) You build equity in the blogger community. I know when people link to one of my blogs, I make sure and return the favour. It might take a month or two but that’s not a bad thing, either. It means I’m reading posts I might not have known about before.

    Thanks for tackling a sticky but worthy topic.

  18. Hi Sue

    Thank you for this very important post. I agree with your opening comments that not everyone will agree with what you say. I agree wholeheartedly with everything you posted.

    In the beginning, many years ago, I felt incredibly angry people stole my content and posted it on their site. I think most of this was because people generally weren’t aware of plagiarism and copyright. Hopefully, your post will change that a little.

    Today, I just sigh and feel resigned to the fact I have to waste more of my time tracking down an e-mail address to tell the offender they need to attribute my content. I could just let it go, I suppose.

    My most recent grumbles are with those who upload my lessons on document upload sites. I can easily find hundreds of my lessons plagiarized / stolen within half-an-hour of searching. Some of these sites offer cash to anyone who uploads any content (of course there is a small tut-tut warning about copyright, but that seems to be outstandingly ignored). You have to question how these sites allow their users to upload 100,000 docments and whole copyrighted books! But then the answer is easy – money.

    I used to raise a DMCA complaint but found that was even more time-wasting – filling in one-hundred of those or making another three (new) lessons for my sites.

    I hope your post reaches millions. It is well-written and succinct.

    Best wishes,


    1. I agree 100% Sue and believe this should be taught in school and is just as important as learning to properly cite a research paper. I teach high school English and have found plagiarism to be worse than ever. I don’t think the problem will get better anytime soon, unfortunately.

      Sean – I have the same problem with document uploads and it is so frustrating. I also raised a few DMCA complaints and it was incredibly time consuming. The more I tried to catch them, the more I’d find brand-new sites popping up–some charging $ like you said. How can they even do this? I feel as though there needs to be a better system in place to catch people. I have Google alerts and often email the violators first, but even that is time-consuming. Ugh!!!

  19. I strongly agree with all you have said Sue.

    This is not only etiquette but a way to show a collaborative work environment. Thanks for all the wonderful advice and work you do.


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