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One of the great things about blogging is the freedom to express your opinion. And while the majority of opinions won't cause too much of a controversy, one of the few ways you can get yourself into trouble is by stealing other peoples work. It can be tempting to copy a great idea. Wasn't it Sir Isaac Newton who said "If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." There are ways to go about repurposing other people's content so that you are not just copying them but adding to the conversation. Your Point Of View The great thing about you is that you are not me. I want your fresh perspective on the topic at hand. It's your unique voice that will keep me coming back. Continue the conversation, don't repeat it. If you think someone did a great job covering your topic it only seems logical that you would link back to the original post. Same goes for tweets, comments and other conversations already happening elsewhere on the web. Aggregate the best of the best. Rather than writing a whole blog post about an awesome tutorial you found, why not post a collection of your favorite tutorials. At least fall back to tip #2 if you need to re-share that one awesome tutorial. How To Properly Cite Other People's Work Blogs Always link back to other posts when you can. Most blogging platforms will actually detect the link and create an automatic link back from the original article. Social Media Most social media sites provide you a way to link back to the original piece of content. For comments you can usually click on the date to get a direct link to that comment. Also keep an eye out for ways to embed your social content into your sites. Twitter, for example, recommends that you use their new Embedded Tweets functionality. Images To summarize from "Copyright Fair Use and How it Works for Online Images" ... when in doubt, assume it's subject to copyright and don't use it without the appropriate permission ... It's best to either use your own images or images that have a Creative Commons license. Learn more at "Using Creative Commons to Find Photos You Can Use". Still Not Sure? If you are unsure or worried about breaking copyright laws, just remember these simple rules: If you didn't create it you need to link back to the original source It's safer to link to content than to copy it More Info on About.com Conclusion In the end there isn't too much to worry about. You will usually be contacted by the source if you end up stepping on any toes. A majority of people want you to remix and link back to their content. It's the heart and soul of what makes the web so powerful.
by Allison Bloom, Senior Copywriter If I'm ever a contestant on Jeopardy, I hope the categories are as follows: Meal Plans All Natural Lip Balms 'Cellular'? Phones (note the 'Cellular'? in quotation marks) Ecologically-friendly Alcohol Condoms I'd ring in on everything. I'd make them all true daily doubles. And, for the record, I'd regale the audience with a very entertaining story during the contestant interviews about the time I almost hit Billy Joel with my car. As a copywriter, you become an expert on a range of different clients, brands and products. I've studied up on meal plans, makeup, and moldable compounds. My head is filled with random facts, such as how much it costs for a student to subscribe to a newspaper (about $100 a year) and what it means for a beauty product to be considered all-natural (made with at least 95% all-natural ingredients). I fall asleep thinking about why certain condoms are so effective (polyisoprene) and how the world's greenest vodka is made (quadruple distilled). At the end of the day, my brain is more jam-packed than the trunk of my car on a week-long vacation with my family. It's all part of being a copywriter. We have to immerse ourselves in the brand and really become temporary experts ' whether it's about dairy-free appetizer wraps or how to backup your cell phone. Ultimately, the copywriter is the one writing the copy that reaches the consumer, so if we're not knowledgeable about a product, how can the consumer be persuaded? How does a copywriter go about building such a robust arsenal of information? At AMP, it starts with our Consumer Insights team. Insights researches, qualifies and quantifies hoards of information to paint a picture of the brand. Then it's my turn to start investigating. I read. I talk. I google. I drag the Designer or Art Director down the street to CVS so we can spend the walk dissecting nuances of the brand. I do everything possible to soak myself in the brand. My goal is to seamlessly create a voice for the brand that sounds close enough to its existing personality to be viable but fresh enough that it meets the current objective. Finally, I collaborate. At the end of the day, the client is always the ultimate brand expert. They have a concentrated knowledgeable of the brand that can rarely be rivaled. They are the master. I am just the grasshopper. (I think that's the right analogy - I've never had a Kung Fu show as a client). That's how copywriters go about becoming brand experts. It's not rocket science. It's just brand immersion. It's the first step in the creative process, and it makes for quite an interesting arsenal of knowledge. Oh, and if the final Jeopardy category is Vegan Dessert Puddings, I'd risk it all.