If I Like Another Website’s Blog Post or Photo, Can I Just Copy It?

little girl looks at another student's test paper

“Copy and paste” can’t be your approach to content strategy. Here’s why.

Remember in school, when it was a bad idea to simply copy off your classmate’s geometry homework or to share your bubbled-in Scantron answers with your best friend?

The internet works in much the same way. But in this case, instead of getting sent to the principal’s office, you’ll be penalized by Google; when Google finds duplicate content on your page, it doesn’t ignore it — instead, it punishes your site and might not list you in search results at all. This can be devastating for the health of your website, and even your business. Even if you’re sharing a blog or photo (or page content) without being malicious, but because you genuinely want to share the content with your audience, you’ll still be in hot water with Google — and probably with the author of the blog. Here are a few more reasons not to copy content:

It’s illegal: As you might have learned in school, plagiarism has serious consequences. And because of copyright law, once someone has published an original work, it is automatically protected — whether they have enacted a formal copyright or bought a creative license for their work. If you copy someone’s work —  rather than linking back to the original source and properly noting who should receive credit — you might get a strongly worded email from its owner, or a notice from an attorney.

It makes you look bad: Everyone loves a witty meme or hilarious GIF, amirite? The thing is, it’s a small world. When all your friends, fans and followers see the same content circulating, they may have questions about who created it. And sharing user-generated content without proper attribution may violate copyright law. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share content you like. Here’s how to do it correctly.

It’s unnecessary:  We know it can be tough to develop captivating content consistently. If you need help copywriting, we have free webinars to help you craft your own riveting content. We also offer copywriting as a service.  And while you’re at it, there’s no need to “borrow” photos. (Click here to find out how to find free compelling images for your website.) And if you want to share a blog post, it’s better to write a short description of the post in your own words and link to the original post for your readers.

What’s great about having a website or blog is that it’s an opportunity for you to show off what you or your company do best and what sets you apart from the rest. It’s an opportunity to engage with your clients, future clients, friends, fans and followers — and the best engagement and relationships happen when you present your authentic self — just like in real life.

Journalist and blogger Alexis Barton has loved language and the written word for as long as she can remember; she earned her Masters in Journalism from the University of Alabama before joining us here at Infomedia where she puts her skills to work researching, interviewing and writing web copy for our clients, our own blog and our social media channels. She might be a self-described “grammar nerd,” but she promises she isn’t judging your texts, emails or emoji usage. When she isn’t at the keyboard, Alexis loves shopping, napping and obsessing over Alabama football.


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