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Creative Commons License photo credit: alamez

I was talking to someone responsible for a Ning site tied to a major label rapper and this Ning site is basically just stealing articles from other sites. He did it to one of my articles, so I filed a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) notice and had Ning pull it down.

The subsequent conversation was weird and disappointing. It was clear that the person didn’t have even a cursory grasp of online content creation or copyright. In defense of his actions, he pointed out other sites that did the same thing. The sites that he pointed out, however, didn’t exactly do what he said. They did it sometimes, but sometimes they didn’t, not 100% of the time like him. And they included source links.

But, the weirdest thing about it is that the sites he referred to were really slimy, bottom of the barrel online gossip sites. This showed me that his aspirations were low – very low.

Aspire to be great, aspire to be the best and set the standard when it comes to all facets of your community. Don’t do the bare minimum, don’t try to bend the law or take advantage of something until you are called on it. Don’t settle for half-baked because that is what you see your “competitors” as doing.

For example, don’t steal content from other sites until someone calls you on it. Don’t point to other sites as a means to justify your unethical activities. Just because other sites do it doesn’t mean it’s OK or that it’s legitimate.

You are who you associate with. Don’t ever forget that.