The tattoo industry is an absolute minefield when it comes to copyright. Time and time again I hear about artists dealing with the inevitability of seeing their work copied by another ‘tattooist’. Despite it being hugely disrespectful to tattooing and artistry in general, many working in the industry don’t think twice about tracing a design created originally by (and for) someone else. Once an artist shares their artwork on social media, there’s nothing stopping this happening, and the ‘victim’ of the copying is left feeling pretty damn pissed.
The same is to be said for any creative work. Whether images on skin, or words in a book, once artists have generated something from our soul, we can feel greatly disheartened when our work is replicated elsewhere. Even if we’re credited as the original creator, there’s something very sour about a complete stranger on the other side of the planet reaping the benefits of a creation born in our own head.
This week, I typed ‘Inkluded’ into Google to try and find an interview I did a couple of years back. Scrolling through the first few pages of the search engine, I stumbled upon a ‘tattoo blog’ called Tattoo Guru. The website appears to be recycling content from other tattoo pages, word for word, image for image. Browsing their site, I was shocked to see a large portion of my own blogs, first published here on Inkluded, replicated identically as brand new posts on the website.
Whilst ‘Inkluded’ has been credited as the original author and many of the posts include lots of nice links back to our website, I still wasn’t 100% happy to discover this complete replication.
As bloggers, we put time and money, heart and soul, into trying to make our online places interesting and unique for our readers. Like a tattoo design, each piece of writing has been created with care, attention and thought. Over the last couple of years, the ramblings and pictures on this site have been the building blocks for what we are today – a leading place for tattoo news and information.
Another writer using an article in its entirety somewhere else on the internet (the whole thing rather than a couple of paragraphs) just de-values what you’re doing on your own blog. The humans of the internet can now find the exact same piece of information somewhere else. The blog that has replicated your content is now reaping the benefits from your writing, without putting in the work to begin with. Even though the original website has been credited and linked to, this is the equivalent of another tattooist stealing a design and saying “but it’s OK, surely, as I’ve tagged the original artist in my post”? Reading this, you will either get what I mean, or you won’t.
When your blog is duplicated on the internet, it doesn’t make you look great in Google’s eyes, either. If I write a bespoke article about “tattoo artist Joe Bloggs”, for example, and another page elsewhere copies it, they will then benefit by appearing in search engines for tattoo fans looking for information about “tattoo artist Joe Bloggs”.
Because your original blog was written well, includes great keywords, adheres to all of the important online writing rules that you thought about when you wrote it… the new website that took these words will now also benefit from these considered actions you took.
These seemingly spam-like websites generate content to make Google think that they’re a good, reputable blog and in turn they’ll get visitors to their website looking for information. They can quickly generate traffic with no effort, place advertising on their site and BINGO… they’ve made a quick buck off your writing. Not cool when you think about it.
It’s also not ideal to have a webpage copied at one point in time as it’s unable to be updated by the creator (myself) in the future. Many of my posts are often added to in the weeks following publication to include additional information and comments from our community, which are key to the conversations being had. Only on ‘inkluded.co.uk’ can tattoo enthusiasts find the final, up-to-date and accurate discussion.
Click-bait, fake news, link farms – there are a million and one reasons as to why the internet has negatively effected journalism and any online discussions. As enthusiastic bloggers with non-profit missions, we campaign for the digital realms to maintain elements of dignity, intellectualism and passion. That’s why I wanted to write openly about this.
I also wanted to a) share this with other bloggers who might have experienced a similar thing and b) make a final attempt to reach out to Tattoo Guru. For the last month, I’ve been desperately trying to contact the administrator of the site (politely and respectfully) and received no response. I’ve reached the limit of my patience today and (as they’ve replicated my original content) I’ve actually been able to change the images on their site this morning to try and grab someone’s attention (I know, pure digital wizardry or what?!).
Working with other tattoo blogs is a vital part of what I do. Open and selfless collaboration is a really important value of mine and in the past I’ve worked with and promoted various other tattoo blogs, magazines and pages, to share their work and bring the industry closer together.
I work regularly with other tattoo writers and brands. Inkluded has previously published blogs that tell their journeys and direct our readers to their content. There’s a difference between this type of support and collaboration and relentlessly copying and pasting blogs from elsewhere that, upon first glance, appear to be generated by someone who wasn’t the original author.
So, what to do if this happens to you:
- If an online site is replicating your content word for word, and you want to stop this, firstly attempt to get in touch with the blog owner. Most reputable blogs will have a ‘Contact Us’ page or some other mechanism to reach them.
- If this is not successful, you can use a website like Whois to find out who hosts the website.
- Once you know this, you can issue a complaint to their host which is called a DCMA Takedown Notice. Find templates online to help you. You are basically notifying the host to let them know that the blog they are hosting is copying content without the permission / consent of the original author.
- They legally should take action and this may result in the site being taken down, or losing its hosting with the company, especially if they have ignored emails from the copyright owner asking the content to be removed.
I think in the tattoo industry, and any industry perhaps, you can immediately tell which brands and blogs are truly passionate about the subject, and which just want to make a quick dolla dolla bill y’all. I spoke about some of these pages in a recent rant about Instagram and to me, blogs like this are no different.
The effortless copying and pasting of content is a clear attempt to drive quick traffic. It’s not a long-term desire to be invested in, and committed to, an industry which is, to many of us, extremely special and sacred. Why have I written a emotional blog like this in the heat of the moment rather than taking a step back and dealing with these thoughts professionally?
Because some of us blog, and some of us blog and really fucking care. And those of us that do care, ain’t going down without a fight.
Update Friday 24th March 2017:
The owner of Tattoo Guru has now been in contact with me and removed the aforementioned content from their site.