In October Melanie Nelson from Blogging Basics 101 wrote a few posts at BloggingTips (paid posts). In one of our email conversations she mentioned that she likes to retain full rights of any post she writes so that she can post it elsewhere on the web. This was something I was strongly against as I want all posts on BloggingTips to be original and I don’t want content duplicated elsewhere on the web.

Recently I noticed Melanie wrote a good post on her blog entitled Blog Design: Keep It Clutter-Free and User-Friendly. At the end of the post was a small note to say that ‘This post was cross-posted at BlogHer.com.’

I know some bloggers do want to retain full rights of articles they write but in my opinion, when you write an article for another blog, be it a guest post or a paid gig, the article belongs to the blog you are writing on. Sure you can reproduce parts of the article yourself on your own blog if you are referring to it but I don’t think you should be reproducing it elsewhere (Just to clarify, my intention here is not to criticize Melanie in any shape or form. She was completely up front about cross posting from our first conversations and wasn’t hiding anything. I just happen to have a different opinion from Melanie on this subject so I thought it would be an interesting topic to discuss). 🙂

Double Posting Views

Yesterday I asked forum members what they thought about double posting. It’s clear that this is a topic which divides opinions. It’s also clear that there are a lot of grey areas with this issue.

  • David Anderson hit the nail in the head when he said :

    It does need to be discussed and agreed upon up front.

    I think this is one of the best things to remember. Any misunderstandings can be avoided if the issue is discussed before the blogger starts writing for the blog. If the blog owner objects to posts published on their blog being published elsewhere then they should be clear about this (I have a note about it in my author information page).

    David also noted that under UK Copyright Law :

    Normally the individual or collective who authored the work will exclusively own the work. However, if a work is produced as part of employment then it will normally belong to the person/company who hired the individual.

    Freelance or commissioned work will usually belong to the author of the work, unless there is an agreement to the contrary, (i.e. in a contract for service).

    The above suggests that when someone is paid to write content the work belongs to the company however the word normally indicates that this is not always black or white.

  • Rarst believes that :

    From copyright point of few this is not the case (as far as I know). For example this answer in forum doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to me because I wrote it. If I make comment in blog it belongs to me as well, unless blog has visible license agreement to agree for posting comments.

    It may not seem right to blog owners but author is author, as long as there are no additional rules everyone agreed to.

    I have to agree with Rarst on this though I believe leaving comments on blogs and forums is a slightly different issue from writing on other blogs.

  • Slee thinks that :

    I would agree that the site you are writing the article for should have copyright on the article unless explicitily stated.

Sarah brought up an interesting point which I hadn’t originally thought of :

By saying that you’re saying that if you wrote a guest post for another site that site would have full rights on that article and could do what they wanted with it, eg sell it on to perhaps a number of people wanting to add the article into a PLR pack.

Or perhaps, if you wrote say a number of posts, the site owner could take your posts and repackage them into an eBook and not have to pay you a penny on the sales.

I realise this is above what Kevin is asking, but if copyright was as you stated, that’s what could happen, which is not right.

There’s a difference between copyright and an exclusive license. Giving the first away would lose all control on your work, whereas the second means your client gets what they want without you losing your rights to ownership. Both meet the requirement of writing for one site and not reposting it elsewhere.

I think this is an issue which will cause a lot more arguments than the double posting issue as post exclusivity is something which many blog owners are up front about. The question of whether the blog post will be included in an ebook, magazine or book is not discussed as frequently.

It raises some questions :

  • Do guest posters have the same right as paid posters?
  • Does the blog owner have the right to reproduce a bloggers article without prior consent?

Again, I think this brings us back to David Andersons original point that these issues need to be discussed and agreed up front. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen.

A few years ago a popular poker magazine contacted me to tell me that they had used a few of my articles and forum posts in their magazine. I wasn’t too concerned as they linked to my poker forum however they didn’t ask me up front, they simply added it and then contacted me afterwards to tell me about it. On a few occasions they also reproduced members posts without their consent. I queried this and they promised that the members would be sent a copy of the magazine but they never produced the goods. This was when I first realised that large online websites and offline magazines are sometimes the worst offenders when it comes to reproducing content without consent.

Overview

It’s clear that many bloggers and blog owners have different opinions about who owns a post and whether the post can be republished elsewhere.

What do you think about double posting? Do you think guest posters should be allowed to post the article on their own blog? Do bloggers give up the right to content if they are paid for writing the article?

Drop by the forums and let us know what you think 🙂

* Forum member Jeff Chandler has also posted a poll over at Performancing on whether Guest Bloggers Should Be Able To Republish The Same Post To Multiple Blogs?. So far 14% say Yes and 79% say no. I recommend checking it out 🙂