How To Curate Content Like A Champ

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There is no doubt if you create content to some degree you probably wish to borrow other people’s content to make your job easier. Maybe you don’t even want to curate content for that reason but instead it’s a business model you want to or already do follow! Well, if you’re doing it wrong you may be putting yourself at risk so today we’re going to talk about how to curate content the right way to keep you out of hot water while still seeing the benefits you’re after.

LEGAL DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT AN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAWYER (or any other type of lawyer)

AND THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE!!!

I would suggest that you talk to an actual lawyer if you want actual legal advice- specifically a lawyer which specializes in matters of intellectual property.

One more important tid-bit I’d like to say before we get to the meat of this post.

The purpose of this post is not to encourage people to just go rip a bunch of junk from the internet and post it up in hopes of hitting it big.

I’m putting this out there for those who might wish to create a trend in their own blogs or websites and want a reliable way to seek-out content and share it in an ethical manor.

Perhaps you’ve got a fashion blog, or a blog which surrounds crypto-currency, maybe even a newsletter which revolves around Internet marketing and you want to know where to find stuff you can share to keep your readers updated with news and information. Well… this is for all of you and those like you.

Let’s get on with the show!

What is ACTUAL Content Curation?

It’s basically the act of using other people’s content for your own purposes.

Notice: I used the term curation and NOT plagiarism as these are two different things… keep that in mind and don’t forget it, or else!  😉

Who Uses Content Curation?

Pfft… who doesn’t would be a much shorter list.

  • Any NEWS syndication ever.
  • All of the usual search engines you’re used to: MSN, Yahoo, Google, AOL & etc.
  • Just about any YouTube channel that has any sort of popularity.
  • Probably something like 80-90% of the Internet as a whole is curated content.

It’s extremely rare to find anything which is original. There can only be one source of originality (in most cases) so when you see the same thing popping up all over the place there is an original source and the rest is curated. Yes, there are exceptions to this but even still, that would usually only lead to just a few original sources all pertaining to the exact same thing so the synergy is strong with this concept.

On top of the short list above you’ve also got mega-million dollar properties like The Huffington Post, Drudge-Report, Buzzfeed, Upworthy, Google-News, Yahoo-News, Bing, the list is miles & miles long!

Let’s not forget that literally ANYTHING which revolves around “trending” is curated content. Yeah… ever been on Facebook and noticed in that upper right-hand corner the current trending topics? Where do you think that stuff comes from? Facebook didn’t just pull it out of the social-media nether-realm; it’s all curated content!

 

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Party of THREE

Typically there are Three Parties wherever content curation is involved and they are:

  • The Publisher- this is the copyright holder to put it simply.
  • The Curator- this would be you, basically.
  • The Audience- this is obviously anyone who would be viewing your curated content.

Why it’s important to keep these three parties in mind is because typically when content is shared by anybody who is not the copyright holder, the creator… then a conflict of interest arises when the curation method is not done right.

So what is the right way to curate content?

When you curate content the right way a mutual benefit should always be the goal in mind. On the one hand you don’t want to get yourself into legal hot water by being frivolous with your curation. On the other hand it’s just a doofus-move to rip someone’s hard work off and NOT help get them the recognition for it.

When talking about the Internet and online content then the goal should typically be traffic and visitor retention.

This means anytime you share something it is your duty to refer back to where the content originates from and give them a sort of shout-out letting people know “this is where I got this cool stuff from” and maybe encourage some of your viewers to head over to that original source if they want to see more.

Never should you ever just blindly take all the content from a single source!

 What Defines “Fair Use”?

This is what the law says about fair use:

  1. What’s the purpose of use? Is it a review, satire, educational? Is it meant for commercial or non-commercial use? Is it used in non-profit means?
  1. What is the nature of the original, copyright work?
  1. How much of the original work is used in the curated content? Is it a “fair” amount or is it obvious the curated content is plagiarizing the copyright holder?
  1. What effect is the curated content having on the copyrighted material and its holder? Is it degrading the value of the original work in any way?

Here’s the thing… a lot of this stuff is open for interpretation and if you ever find yourself in the courts defending yourself over a copyright claim it will be up to a judge to decide if you were in the right or the wrong where “fair use” is concerned.

You could do everything in your power to stay within the lines, wind up in court and STILL lose a law suit. This is simply the reality of the matter so it’s important anyone reading this is aware of that fact.

Let’s Talk About Curation Best Practices

In 2010 Kimberley Isbell wrote a very interesting report on what the law has to say about aggregating NEWS online and I think it gives some valuable insight. If you want to check out the original article then you can find it right here.

Below I’m going to go over a few points for simplicity’s sake:

  • Only take as few portions from the source as is necessary to convey your point while keeping the curated portions to as minimal as possible.
  • Keep your use of content to a bare minimum from any single source. Try limiting yourself to only what is directly relevant to your readership.
  • Make your attributions obvious in all posts. Citing references is not only ethical it’s required. (unless it isn’t) for instances… YouTube has a built in curation system. If you are able to embed a video then it’s natural to assume it’s also legal and though you can refer back to YouTube or the channel holder as your source it’s already made evident by the video itself.
  • You should always link back to the source wherever possible and do it in a very obvious way.

When curating content it’s not enough to just pull something from somewhere and that’s it… Always make an effort to add to it with your own comments, images, reviews and etc.

Some Technical Best Practices

Aside from the broad ideas positioned above there are a few more specific things you should aim to do when curating content to keep in good standing:

This first technical best practice is a big one for a lot of you reading this…

  • When sharing images you should really only use thumbnails of the original which link back to the original source in some way… either by making the image it’s self a hyperlink or putting a contextual link in some visibly obvious space around the image so anyone who views it can know it’s meant to be a cited source.

One reason this is important is because of this court case Kelly v. Arriba Soft Corp where the courts ruled that using a thumbnail image was considered “fair use”.

  • Always make your links back to the original source PROMINENT, not buried somewhere that isn’t obvious to the viewer.
  • If you’re going to take a snippet from article text be sure to use as little as possible only to convey your point. You’ll need to add the rest of what you need either by your own words or pull from multiple sources- all of which will need to be cited to stay within fair-use. It’s wise to always include your own original content on top of any curated content.
  • One point of “fair use” is how much content is yours vs how much is curated. For this reason it’s wise to always be sure you add MORE of your own original content than that which has been curated. If you pull a paragraph of text then it’s a good idea to add TWO paragraphs of original content or more, just as an example.
  • Always come up with a different title than what you have curated. You should never use the same title for anything you’ve “borrowed” as this creates conflict and competition between you and the owner of the original content. It is understandable that we as independent thinkers can only come up with so many original ideas so don’t worry about having a 100% original title- only concern yourself with coming up with a title which does not completely and blatantly rip-off the source material you’ve curated.
  • Proper use of “quotations” (often called ‘Blockquotes’) is very much encouraged for making the curated portion of your articles obvious. By putting the chunks of content you’ve curated in a Blockquote and then surrounding it with original content you are making it visibly obvious that the source of that quoted material comes from someone else.

Let’s Wrap It Up

At the end of the day all the legal fog surrounding content curation is up in the air and not set in stone… it’s still to this day left open for interpretation.

That being said however, if you follow the guidelines laid out both in this post and just about anywhere you can find online which speaks on the subject you can rest assured you’ll be well when compared to those who just go about it willy-nilly.

Content curation IS ethical and practical when used properly and with good intention.

A Quick Recap For Further Understanding

The information to follow is intended for those of us who wish to create reports, blogs, or just articles in general which other’s would find “of interest” while maintaining an ethical means to do so and taking effort to “get the facts straight” for those who might wind up reading your stuff.

  1. Never share more than 50% of an original source. This includes text, images, video, anything at all. The less you use in your curation attempts the better off you’ll be if ever you need to defend yourself on a copyright claim in the courts should you ever need to. The chances of this are extremely low.
  1. When curating images it’s a best practice to only use thumbnails which do not include the ENTIRE source image but rather only a portion. This of course does not need apply if the image is in fact free for use without restriction. Sites like Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, & ESPECIALLY Google-Images do NOT exclusively own any rights to the vast majority of content which is posted to them.
  1. Try to add equal or more parts of original content to your posts as what was curated. So if you’ve taken a paragraph from some source then add at least one additional paragraph of your own. The more original content the better.
  1. Always pull from multiple sources when a single source won’t provide enough content and cite all sources used in a clear and precise manor to avoid any ambiguity in who the copyright owner is.
  1. It’s always a good idea to use royalty free content where possible… a list to find such content is below.

Places you can find royalty free images for use are:

(Note that the copyright of all content on the sources below are not guaranteed so always make any attempt to first track down potential copyright infringements and proceed to cite sources as necessary or pick another piece of content which IS royalty free instead)

Let me show you how to find free images to use on Google Images the ‘right way’.

First, go to Google.com and search for something you want an image of.

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Next, click on “Images” near the top, then click the “Search tools” link near the top of the page. Once you do that you’ll see a new row of options slide down and in that row you’ll see “Usage rights” as depicted below. Click on “Usage rights” and choose the option which says either:

  • Labeled for reuse with modification (if you intend to modify the image accordingly)
  • Labeled for reuse (these are the royalty free images, no modifications needed)

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Very Important Note About “Free” Images on Google

Just because it’s listed under the free section of Google’s image search does not necessarily mean that it IS free. Keep this in mind when using these pictures. Again, it’s advised to do your research and at least try to seek out an original source and if you happen to discover the image isn’t royalty free or labeled as a creative-commons of some sort then you’d do well to use a different image or follow the curation rule and make it a thumbnail instead which leads back to the source.

Content curating is a very lucrative business practice which is used by the vast majority of marketers today but it’s just one tool in their utility belt. The formula to success is found in both understanding of the business model and implementing it the right way… both of which you will be taught by joining the Powerhouse Affiliate’s premium member’s site. Head on over there right away and check it out by following this link.

Jay

Jay

Friendly Neighborhood Marketer at Powerhouse Affiliate
I'm what you might call a jack of all trades, master of some. I've been in the marketing & advertising 'biz' for the better part of a decade and haven't looked back since day one!
I like to help those wherever possible and doing that through the Powerhouse Affiliate Blog is an excellent way to do it. I hope you find the stuff I write useful, and if you do... wait till you give the member's area a try. (shameless plug over)
Jay

About the Author

Jay
I'm what you might call a jack of all trades, master of some. I've been in the marketing & advertising 'biz' for the better part of a decade and haven't looked back since day one! I like to help those wherever possible and doing that through the Powerhouse Affiliate Blog is an excellent way to do it. I hope you find the stuff I write useful, and if you do... wait till you give the member's area a try. (shameless plug over)
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