A polite request from Melissa and Dallas
We hope our Whole9 readers know how much we enjoy sharing good stuff with the community. (We like it so much, in fact, that we’ve recently made it our full-time jobs!) In the last few years, we’ve offered up everything from custom workouts to nutrition advice to injury rehabilitation tips, freely distributing all of this information to anyone and everyone interested in learning, sharing and participating in our little community. And we love nothing more than to see affiliates, gyms, coaches and fitness enthusiasts linking, referencing and passing our stuff along to others.
Take Dallas’ 603 PTP, for example. Based on Pavel Tsatsouline’s original program, the PTP represented five weeks of custom workouts specifically designed for strength-focused CrossFitters, including movement descriptions, illustrative links and daily feedback to those participating via the site. In January, we took it a step further and condensed the entire 5-week program on the Whole9 site in a format that was easy to review and implement, and saw a huge resurgence in the number of people (and entire gyms!) who PR’d their way through the program. See, our business model has always been pretty simple. We have good things to share, a mechanism through which we can share them and a supportive community who is eager to learn, happy to spread the word, and willing to share their feedback with us. And as long as we have just one active and eager reader, we’ll continue to pass along our good stuff right here on the site, free and open to all.
Unfortunately, giving good stuff away for free sometimes comes with a price. Dallas and I occasionally run across sites who have “borrowed” our exact words without any attribution to the source. Now, we’re pretty easy-going… love to hear others copping the term “sexy met-con” or “cortisol crazytown”. No, what we’re talking about here goes way beyond poetic license. In one such example, a CrossFit affiliate asked to implement all five weeks of our 603 PTP in their gym. This was, of course, fine with us… until we saw their web site. All the buy-ins, workouts, cash-outs, accompanying text and fictional examples were word-for-word copied and pasted – and in 30 days of borrowed programming, we received only FOUR brief credits, sometimes without even a link. Despite several email communications requesting more prominent and frequent links, there is still day upon day of OUR exact programming under THEIR business header, without a single mention of the source.
As you might imagine, this is not okay with us.
So here is a gentle reminder – while we’re happy to give our stuff away for free, we also expect the common courtesy of an internet “thank you” from those who use and benefit from our articles, programs and services. We don’t expect flowery letters of gratitude or a “Thanks, Whole9″ advertisement in your local newspaper. But is it too much to ask for a reference and a link? So as we wrote in one popular Urban Gets Diesel post, feel free to borrow, sample or straight-up snatch any of our stuff, but please do it in a professional and courteous manner (that is respectful of our intellectual property and copyrights).
We don’t believe this is our issue alone – we bet many of you affiliate owners, blog writers and other sources of good stuff have found yourselves in the same position. So below, please find what we believe to be general common courtesy guidelines when considering linking to a web site, blog or other on-line information source.
1. First and foremost, always include full and proper credit and a link to the author’s site when referencing articles, posts or pages.
2. Don’t copy and paste another author’s entire article on your site. We’re sure the original creator would appreciate you directing people to their site to read the full text (and poke around for other good stuff they may have written).
3. When in doubt, ask yourself, “Does it sound at all like these are MY original words?” If the answer is yes, feature your source more prominently.
4. Don’t assume that because the internet is a big place, you can get away with “borrowing” material without giving proper credit. You’d be surprised what a small community this is – people read, people remember and the last thing you want is to get publicly busted.
5. If you’re planning to borrow an entire blog series, a month’s worth of programming or a full-page FAQ, it’s always appropriate to request up-front permission from the owner. A polite request with your intentions and thanks goes a long way.
6. On that note, be reasonable in your requests. Asking to implement someone’s entire program, business model or proprietary printed materials may not be appropriate in all circumstances. (For example, we’d never ask Robb Wolf if we can photocopy his Paleolithic Solutions handouts to distribute at our workshops.)
7. Finally, respect the author’s requests regarding his/her works. If for some reason they request that their material not be re-printed, distributed or duplicated, don’t.
We hope others find these general guidelines helpful when borrowing other’ material, and we respectfully request that others follow these tips when referencing things posted on the Whole9. To help, we’re offering hosted graphics at the bottom of our sidebar, if you’d rather include a graphic than a text link. You can copy and paste the code straight onto your web site – easy!
For those affiliate owners, blog writers and other sharers-of-good-stuff… what are YOUR thoughts on the matter? Do you run across this issue often, and if so, how do you handle it? Are we asking for too much, or do we (collectively) have the right and obligation to fiercely defend our intellectual property? Should we be willing to give the benefit of the doubt in cases of “borrowed” material, or are we just asking to be taken advantage of? As we are always eager and willing to learn from others, please post feedback to comments.