Morality in the Real World
There is no doubt who owns the rights to any piece of writing, the author does. But when it comes to Ad copy, there is a little more grey area.
Most companies that promote themselves using affiliates have ad copy and e mails that are there for the taking. Uncredited, these were usually written by an anonymous writer that sold his work to the company, along with all claim to the copyright. Many of those freebies are written as if that were the case, too.
What about the product owner who writes her own copy? Does she own the rights to it as if it were a draft of Moby Dick? Yes, no doubt. But what happens when that copy is used to promote that product? What if said copy is delivered by email to an affiliate that also promotes that product? Do you own the content of email delivered to you?
And the Answer Is
Maybe. Almost certainly, the author controls the content. In the real world, product owners are probably happy to see their product promoted with the content that they wrote. The morality of the situation comes into play with crediting and permission.
Give Credit, Seek Permission
There is an easy answer to this morality play. Give credit when it is appropriate, and even more important, get permission to use the copy. It’s really that easy. Even if it arrived in your inbox, there is undoubtedly a way to contact the author and get permission.
Don’t be a Schlub
If you steal copy from somebody else, you look like you are either too lazy to write your own or too stupid to write your own. If you get permission to use great copy, you look like a brilliant marketer. Which would you rather be?
And in the End
This whole topic is a direct result of a conversation at TELive (every weekday at 4:00pm EDT) featuring Brad Webb and Jon Olson. I think that the very best thing that might come out of this is a regularly scheduled discussion of morality and ethical issues in the industry. I would welcome that with open arms.
I’m just sayin’