Are You Pirating Content and Don't Know It? 5 Ways to Avoid Pirating Content

As a marketer, you probably don't want to pirate someone's content. Search engines may penalize you for publishing duplicate content and, of course, there are the potential legal and ethical issues to consider. The good news is that well-executed content curation -- where you find and share third-party content but add your own spin -- is very different from piracy. Our latest ebook, Content Marketing Done Right goes into more detail about the legalities of curating ethically and what every marketer needs to know before getting started.

When curating content, you might quote a small portion of the original piece, but you'd never copy and paste the full article in its entirety (that would be piracy!). You'd also incorporate your own commentary on the topic, which allows you to position yourself as a thought leader and potentially use brand-appropriate keywords that didn't appear in the original piece.

Here are five tips to avoid piracy and ensure that you're curating ethically.

1. Curate from a variety of sources.
Limit the number of articles that you share from any single source. Instead, draw from many different third-party sources. Leveraging content from a range of sources provides greater value to your readers as it exposes them to a wider diversity of voices and ideas. It also ensures that you don't benefit entirely from a single author or source.

2. Always attribute to the original creator.
Give the original author receives clear attribution for their work and link to the original source of the article whenever possible (it may take a few clicks to locate the original creator but it's worth that effort). This can prove highly beneficial to the original content author and increase potential for linkbacks to your own site.

3. Create a new title.
It's always smart to retitle curated content. If you recycle the same original title, you could be competing with the original publisher in search results. They would likely get annoyed (and rightfully so) if search engines rank your curated version ranks higher than the original. Retitling also gives you the chance to incorporate topic-specific keywords that may not be mentioned in the original article and to add your own voice to the piece.

4. Be mindful of image copyright.
When sharing images, only share a portion of its original form, such as a thumbnail, unless you have explicit permission to share the full sized image. The Ninth Circuit United States Court of Appeals decision in the case Kelly v. Arriba Soft Corp ruled that using thumbnail images amounted to fair use. Alternately, tools like TinEye and Creative Commons could help you identify other images to use that are free from royalty or copyright concerns.

5. Add your own commentary.
The key to creating valuable curated content is in adding something that isn't in the original piece. Work in some additional data or context that your readers might find useful. Play devil's advocate and (respectfully) explain the holes in the original argument. Or hone in on some industry-specific information and explain how an issue will impact those in your field. This helps increase your brand's own level of engagement and avoids potential ethical issues. As you're writing your own commentary, make sure your own opinion is longer than the parts you quote.

While keeping these best practices in mind, also think about how you would want your content curated by others. What would benefit you the most and how would you like to be portrayed?