Regulars on this blog know I can be a bit of a stickler for ethical blogging. I have shared thousands of posts on this blog for millions of views, for free, but that still doesn’t mean you can just “steal it”. Early in the life of this blog, I caught a “photo-napper” and after a bit of noise, he and The Philippine Daily Inquirer, that apparently unwittingly published the stolen photo, apologized in print for the incident. My point? Don’t steal someone else’s intellectual capital or material or use it without permission or proper attribution. And I particularly mean that when a commercial aspect comes into the picture… Hundreds of visitors to this blog know I have graciously allowed them to use photos and recipes on this blog, sometimes for school projects, newspapers, research material, business reports, presentations, etc. — with the only request being that they properly attribute the material to its author/source. Since that episode, I have run across at least a dozen more incidents of unauthorized use of my photos in other blogs, websites, etc., and in most cases, a simple email to them has yielded the proper response. At the moment however, I have discovered that a Filipino-American newspaper based in San Diego also used one of my photos and despite my emails to them, they have refused to acknowledge that they should have properly sourced the photo… more on that if I don’t hear from them soon. Also over the past few years, I have informed other bloggers when I thought their materials had been “stolen” such as a recipe of Connie’s from Pinoycook, and a few other cases.
There was also the brouhaha over plagiarism and this example that started with a column on mangosteens in a large national daily, here. I followed that up with a second post on plagiarism, here. Then I heard back from the “Reader’s Advocate” of the paper here, and finally, got an admission and apology here (though the apology should not have been directed at me, but the readership of the paper in general). The in-flight Magazine of Philippine Airlines, Mabuhay, also featured a photo and article of mine that was erroneously unattributed, and they tried to weasel their way out of the originally disclosed fee (donated to charity) and only after some posts was the matter settled.
I have had other run-ins with folks who misrepresent themselves to get things they want. Folks who tried to pay me to write good reviews. Folks who tried to give me free products, benefits, trips, etc. in order to feature their products or companies. In all cases, I have declined… and sometimes, I made a stink about it, like with the particularly infuriating Mad Crowd Media example here, here and here. But perhaps one of the best posts that summarizes how I feel about blogging ethics appears in this post entitled “Why I Don’t Write for a Newspaper/Magazine and Refuse to Accept Freebies” which opened up a bit of a hornets nest and the comments of that post are MOST interesting.
So I when I received this link to an article about new laws for disclosure for U.S. bloggers who accept freebies from APM, a long-time Marketmanila reader and lawyer, I was thrilled to read that my views on the matter aren’t so bizarre. In fact, they will soon be the “LAW” in the U.S. starting December 1, 2009. I have said it before, and I will say it again, in my PERSONAL OPINION, a credible and ethical blogger or writer/journalist must FULLY DISCLOSE if they received any compensation whether in cash, kind, etc. or if they are related or have an interest in the product, service, person or topic they are writing about. I think it is very difficult for anyone who accepts freebies to remain objective. But that’s just my opinion. And on Dec 1, that is the legal opinion in the U.S. as well. :)