From Swapping Ideas To Swiping Ideas…

"Hey, I finally came up with a great idea! It's almost identical to your idea! How cool is that? Thanks for the inspiration!"

With the evolution of Internet Marketing and online business, we are constantly studying working models and looking for creative inspiration.

We take what we learn and apply it to our own niche, or our own unique business model.

This is also the way Internet Marketing is most often taught. Whether it's visual examples or case studies, successful marketers show you the inner workings of campaigns and niche sites so you can learn how to do that method or strategy yourself. All you have to do is apply the same steps to your own site or business.

We see one successful marketer using a video sales page, and the next thing you know there are video sales pages everywhere. The same with big red headlines. And red arrows. Of course, way before the point of saturation, that original marketer is already using a completely different technique...

All that to say that the industry supports, and is used to, idea swiping.

What about when it's your idea, or your online business - one you've invested countless hours to create, that has become your sole source of income. It's personal. It's yours (not a public case study, or even used in a case study).

If someone then comes along and decides to claim it as their own, is that okay? Nevermind the hours of research and work you put into both the market and the model, which they have not invested themselves. Is that okay?

I'm talking about unique or creative ideas here, not common models. For example, I once came up with a brilliant catch phrase that I went on to use when speaking at events or on live webinars - and in many of my written pieces as well. That phrase was registered as a domain name and then offered back to me (by someone I knew!). It showed up on a business card as the tagline. It also showed up as the tagline on a blog - by a different person. Every time I said it, and I was well known for it, it would show up in use by someone that heard it...

Sure I could get it trademarked. But that does not stop people from using it. It only gives me legal ground from which to request that they stop using it.

And from the time it came out of my mouth that first time, to the time I could get it trademarked, it was already swiped anyway.

I had this conversation with a local business owner last week, who has had his entire website completely copied - down to his business name and logo - numerous times. He chose to change his name and design rather than pursue these bottom feeders, due to the time and money involved. Sad.

Honestly, I think that we all know the difference between using a proven model and swiping someone's idea or concept. I think we are all very well aware where the line is and which side of it we're on. But I'm wrong about that.

Every day I see it happen - whether to me, or to people I know. I've seen an FAQ page copied and pasted, and proudly displayed on a competing website. As if it was just there for the taking! I see people completely switch niches because someone else is seeing success and they're not (yet). I've seen copycat websites out my ears.

But do you want to know what really blows my mind??

And this is where I know I'm wrong on thinking there's an obvious line and an obvious etiquette...

People seem proud of their genius moment, and boast it straight to the person they stole it from!

Yes, seriously. 😯

Here's how it goes:

I have a website all about healthy houseplants. Not just houseplants that are healthy, but plants that are healthy to have in the house too. It's a fun little project that has become very profitable. I've quit my job at the grocery store and now work on my website full time. My best friend (who sort of mocked me at first) is now asking me all about how to make money with a website.

She asks me a million questions - and I answer them all. I tell her where to get the tools I use, what to use and what not to use, and genuinely try to help her out. She's toiling over which nicheto get into, like everyone does, and then one day she has a 💡 bright idea 💡 and she comes straight over with a big smile on her face and she says "I've got it! I'm going to do a website on houseplants! Isn't that brilliant?? I already set it up - here look..." 😐

You can't trademark a general concept like a website about houseplants. You can't really do anything about it at all. After the initial shock to the gut, the only real action you can take is to choose whether to remain friends with that person or not.

In case you're wondering: That's NOT okay.

Unfortunately, people don't seem to realize this. And honestly, it's not easy to explain. In this industry of "teaching by example" or "do it like this", perhaps the line has become blurry. With or without trademark, with or without legal action, with or without bad intentions, it's not okay.

I say people don't seem to realize this, and I say that because they do not hide the fact. In most cases they come straight to the source and expect them to be flattered - or at the very least, given a pat on the back. Seriously!

It floors me every single time.

Often I don't even know how to respond.

I've given up trying to explain this to anyone IN the situation, and in the case of the houseplants website - would simply drop the friendship. They will defend their position to the end, completely shocked that you are the least bit ruffled or offended. And you don't have legal ground to stand on. So get over it, right?

To which I say: 😛

Unfortunately this is a HUGE problem. It doesn't just happen to me, as a public figure in the space. It happens to niche marketers, and it happens with their closest friends. And for some reason, they think this is okay and leave you in a very awkward position over it. Similar to your neighbor saying "I just love your dog. So I decided to keep it." And you just stand there like... WTH?!

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Particularly if you can explain this strange thinking to me. With a world of opportunity available to everyone right now... why swipe an idea?? And moreover: why think that's an okay thing to do in the first place? Or perhaps you DO think that's okay. I'd love to hear those thoughts too. (But stay away from my dog. 😉 )


"Of course it was a good idea! It was MINE!"

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»


  1. In this book, an inventor has his invention stolen. The upshot is that eventually, the man who stole it does not know how to fix a problem it has because he did not invent it. The inventor goes on to create another, better invention because he did not waste his time on the thief. I have always loved the scripture: "I send you out as sheep into wolves, you must be wise as serpents and guileless as doves." Your example of keeping your own sites private is a great example for those of us who are just learning, and I love how you set up the collaboration with your friend. Can you share how a person goes about private registration, pen names and hosting, etc, again?

    • Cindy Brock says

      I know with GoDaddy that private registration is an option you can select at the time you buy a domain name. (I'm guessing you can add it on after the fact.) It simply blocks anyone from finding out who registered the domain (except for law enforcement, etc.). This really doesn't affect your hosting as it's related to your domain name.

      A pen name is an alias that you write under. Authors do this all the time. I do this quite a bit if I want to remain anonymous when writing on a controversial topic (and don't want to be bothered with the fallout).

  2. Grace - There is an organization here: that has recovered many stolen horses in this kind of situation. Good luck to them.

  3. How well I know the feeling. The same thing happened to me. Someone send me a PM on a forum about how well they like my saying. My original saying that I coined, was then turned into a dot com website. I guess it is my own fault for not doing it first, but I didn't even think to when it rolled off the tip of my tongue as a term I used in my e-books. Lesson learned.

    • Did you ever mention to them how you felt about that, or did they mention the actual website to you personally? I'm curious, because I see that happen a lot - as if it's not offensive at all. Sorry you had this happen to you (too). It bites, I know.

  4. Janis Miller says

    Thanks for a great & much needed post, Lynn. Hopefully those who have done this will come to a realization of their offense.

    I am aware that this is a huge issue and not just online (note comments from Sandy & Rasby) . My husband's experiences have been very similar to @sandeemiller. He would do all the research and "leg work" to present an idea & the prospective client "loved" it. Then he found his idea used by the prospective client with someone else. It's sad that people even have to be called on this. Many professions now have ethics courses that need to be taken before they can be licensed. Greed seems to have overtaken ethics in business and friendship in many instances.

    There are times when the same inspiration/idea can occur to two different people. That is an historic fact. However, that is vastly different from duplicating someone's work and then thinking that it is OK. I agree, Lynn, it's NOT okay. It is alarming that it seems to be quite common everywhere.

    • Janis and Lynn,
      As someone whose employee went out with her mother in total competition in the same area of town as my business, using the same suppliers, and approaching my same corporate market, I think am entitled to agree with you. My employee had worked in my business for almost 12 months, including the busy Christmas period and after Christmas announced to me that she and her mother had decided to set up a Gift Box business. I had been training her to look to come into my business as a partner, so she knew all the nuts and bolts of it!!

      It took me a long time to rebuild my trust in my employees. I also learnt to stop sharing my ideas about the business, or only to the right ones.

      I felt some sense of justice when we came towards the recession and they couldn't sell their business, which they were asking way more than what I had purchased my business for, because they had bought a flash sign written car. They didn't survive, and in the end their greed and non genuine care and interest in their customers, plus failure to pay suppliers caused their downfall.

      I learnt a lot from this, and my business is still going strong and I love what I do, in supplying a great service to my many repeat customers. Sometimes if you can just ride on through the stormy bits, you will come out the otherside stronger than what you were before, and maybe you will even learn some new tracks to take your own business that will propel it way beyond where their business will ever go, because you are passionate about your own business. They're just a flash in the pan and they will probably be gone tomorrow, because when the real work comes along, they are not passionate enough, nor will they want to fully commit to it.

      It is definitely not right and never will be to go out and copy someone else's business ideas whether on the internet or in a offline business, but good things will come from these negative spots in your life. Perservere, but never copy someone else's business, because the entity "you" is often the most important part of the equation and they can't replicate that!!

      • Cindy Brock says

        This is the ultimate Kharma experience. I've seen this happen many times with friends whose businesses were stolen. My friends always came out as the winner.

        Your business is your PASSION - and that's what makes it you. Someone who doesn't have that passion is doomed to fail (as you have seen first hand).

  5. It all comes down to a lack of respect for other people. And it is getting worse everyday. It doesn't matter where you are, the grocery store, the roads, and anywhere else. Some people just do not respect other people's rights.

  6. I have to admit, getting started in this biz is daunting and it is tempting to copy from those in your niche who have succeeded. I am happy to say that for me being a fitness professional in the internet marketing field I went more of the "modeling" route then flat out stealing other's content. I can now say after 1.5 years at this that you can copy all you want but it does not guarantee success. Your success online really has a ton to do with the community you build, how you connect to and are perceived by them, and the biz plan you make more than it does the exact wording or niche you choose.

  7. My experience is that there are different *kinds* of people. At the coarsest level there are those who are entrepreneurial and those who are not. If I were to meet the health plants "friend," I'm guessing she would be of the non-entrepreneurial type. The kind of person looking, not for shortcuts, but for ways to cut corners. The kind of person who engages in sharp practices instead of simply creating (because creating involves some mental sharps, which non-entrepreneurs either don't have or have had squashed out of them on their jobs. My experience has taught me to teach how to fish incrementally; forcing the student to prove (a) that s/he can master the instruction and (b) can be trusted. Of course, you never know if you're ultimately being hustled, but at least moving incrementally limits your exposure.

    • Hi Bal
      I think that your last comment is a great key to information sharing. By always holding back the good stuff, or making the good stuff only available once you've built up your trust and respect for the people who are following you, or using your system or products, you can then hopefully have more control over your products or services. By bringing in 2 or 3 or 4 levels deep to your sales area, you are less likely to have these ideas pinched, and they copycats are less likely to spend big $$ to do this.

  8. I find this to be an incredibly sad commentary on the state of business owners. In my naive little view, I thought we were all good little boys and girls and we knew what was right and what was wrong.

    What concerns me is the person who chose to change his business name and redesign his website because he was being knocked off so badly. It makes me want to spit nails that good people like that end up on the wrong side of the stick, and after investing the time, energy and love into a project, end up having to start over from scratch.

    At least we who are here commenting on Lynn's blog seem to be the moral and upstanding business owners. And you are exactly the kind of people I want to stay associated with. To heck with all the others!

    Wishing you all a sunny day.

  9. Some time ago I was telling a family member that I have a tough time writing articles and that I needed to buckle-down and start. The remark made was "Why don't you just copy one from the Internet? When I told them it was the wrong thing to do. The explanation given to than was; That is not like copying someones paper in college or real plagerism because than "I'd have a problem with that." Some people weigh in degrees how bad something is.
    More recently I have been receiving emails from a Chinese domain registration company about the name of one of my sites. To put it nicely they wanted me to pay to stop them from using the name as the Chinese company wanted to trademark it in their country. They wanted me to pay to stop this from happening. I felt thet they were trying this in an attempt to blackmail me out of fear of them taking the name away from me and any sales I had on that website. To me that was stealing, especially because of the way they went about it.

    • I always delete those emails, Alecia. We ALL get them!

      I'm surprised at the story you shared regarding how people view content online. Wow. As if there wasn't someone somewhere sitting at a keyboard creatively thinking and creating and publishing that content. Ya know?

    • As a college instructor for the past 6 years, I can tell you that college students seldom come to class understanding why they can't copy something off the Internet and turn it in as theirs. I have had students tell me that they purchased a paper, so it was 'my paper' and therefore could turn it in. The shame is that it waits until kids get to college to learn that it is wrong to steal someone else's ideas and intellectual work.

      Occasionally, I will post an article from one of the article directories to my sites, but I always follow the TOS and give credit and links where they are due.

      It is the same issue with people who download music for free. They don't realize they are stealing the work, creativeness, and time of the singers they are ripping off.

      I have come to accept that some of my work will be plagerized, and keep going. Occasionally, I send emails to someone who has infringed on my copyright, but I find it takes more time to police than I have to spend. Sad, but true.

  10. Hey Lynn, What an interesting discussion you've started here. It's really drawn some insightful comments and I've enjoyed reading all of them.

    I was pretty surprised at how many similar stories there were. It seems that there are a lot of people looking for a shortcut these days, even at the cost of a friend or business associate. So now we have cookie-cutter internet businesses the way some neighborhoods have mass-produced housing. Ultimately, though, which is worth more? cookie-cutter or custom? I don't think we always stop long enough to think about that.

    There are several artistic disciplines (design, art, photography...) where students are expected and encouraged to study the works of masters and others. This often leads to similar styles and trends. I have a friend who teaches photography who cautions students about spending an inordinate amount of time looking at the work of others. He encourages them to spend time with raw materials. I think that's an important point if we want to be creative or innovative. We have to spend time working with raw materials, ...and thinking for ourselves.

    I was a fairly active participant in a forum. A friend of the forum owner sent me sales emails about new businesses he started that directly related to ideas/questions I left in comments on the forum. The first time it happened, I thought "wow, great minds think alike." The third time it happened, I began to feel a little weird.

    There will always be someone trolling for ideas and I don't want to be the kind of person that lives my life in fear of someone stealing my idea. For me, though, one of the most interesting takeaways from this discussion has been the necessity to set some groundrules for mastermind groups.

    • A good take-away, for sure. Ground rules are key. As for your forum experience, it floors me that the person would actually send you emails about the products that were created from your ideas. Geez... that's low in my book.

  11. thomas cook says

    Lynn,,,,I understand what your meaning is and i agree,,,,me and my partner will be joining the group when i get back from a show....i have been reading and doing the beginning stages of developing a new website and just marketing the company to get more positive results...i am hoping the group and our own efforts thru education and experience well bring this true,,,alot of the concepts are new to us but we are open to all suggestions...i know you are busy and may not remember me but i conversed quite a bit with your assistant......see you soon..........tom cook

  12. This is funny. I attempted to do a JV Partnership with someone about this time last year. I did a couple screen capture video's, power point slides and even got in front of camera writing on white board about what it is I had in mind then I approached someone I thought would be great to work with on that particular project.

    I was totally open and transparent about everything except details on other projects I was doing, which I told this person about so they wouldn't get upset I was actually running my business and making money, where this person was not at the time I don't know about now.

    I spent my own money on custom programming and outsourcing and he spent time, wasting time on brilliant ideas outside the scope of what I told him his role in the project was and which would not ever produce any money.

    He got upset about my criticism I guess and when I didn't answer my phone every 5 minutes he called he blocked me out of the project test site, stole the custom coding I had uploaded to the site and went on to tell anyone and everyone I stole his ideas and am competing against him.

    I thought that was interesting since I brought the project to him with most of it detailed out already with marketing plan and contacts etc... Now I guess I am a thief and stole his concepts which when he told me what it was, pretty much boiled down to what I showed in my video's minus one aspect he brought up which was such a huge time waster and would never produce results.

    What I find interesting and what you brought up in your post was that this person I talk about here in my reply spent so much energy defending his position and took such a personal role in this project, in his mind he twisted it to being HIS project as if he was owner and creator and I had some minor role. Then to defend this new position he had to I guess in his mind tear me down in front of anyone he could get to listen so that when I launched the project without him, he now is the good guy, I am the bad guy and to anyone that listens my success is proof I am a thief because obviously I am unable to come up with my own ideas and have to take his. LOL

    My example was a little more in depth than what yours is, I tried to partner with someone that I thought was cool and things turned quickly where you were just having a discussion with someone but still the same problem? came up.

    After my experience with this last person, I understand more about this type of thinking and how they go from not having any clue then they are enlightened with our ideas and thoughts then they go through a process of working out how things work with what we shared, a bridge is created that didn't exist and they associate now that they are owner and creator of this idea. I think because they had personal involvement and energy working the idea through their brain to understand it and now THAT is the way to do it given there is no other options since they have not spent energy to think up and generalize the concepts to their own unique ideas.

    It comes down to laziness and a touch of schizophrenia I think too.

    One thing I have not tried when having a discussion like what you outlined above is to prewarn that what I am about to disclose to you is not to be taken as your own ideas and in fact you are NOT to use this in your own projects and only take away from it general concepts that you can apply to your own business. I have not tried that, not sure it would help or not though. Depends on how you say something like that and how they receive it.

    - T

    • This is where you need an NDA & no-compete signed prior (unfortunately not something most of us do) and a timestamp on your proposal material - in the case that you want to fork out the money to pursue legal action. None of which is at all any more appealing than just sucking it up to a bad experience and moving on...

  13. Terry Crim says

    After writing my last comment above and thinking about what you said some more, I was reminded of a discussion I had with someone as I was drawing out a marketing plan to him which was part of a presentation for a project.

    Halfway through the marketing plan he interrupts me and tells me that he understands what I am telling him and it is great idea but there is no way you can copyright this "general knowledge" and there is nothing to stop him from going ahead without me as he had a similar idea anyway.

    I thought that was the most brilliant thing I have heard. Not that he was going to blatantly take and use what I told him but that he instantly, before I even finished presenting details, excused himself from the project and stopped me from wasting anytime further with him.
    I wish everyone I worked with in the past that bailed on a project would have before even starting just said "I am not very dependable and probably wont do much of anything" OR like the guy I just mentioned "This is great, I am going to do a project just like this, thanks for telling me how to pull it off" LOL

    I mean if they are going to just rip me off at least tell me up front right?

    For the most part though in situations like these, you let it go and note down not to work with this person or charge them more for consulting / mentoring if they ever come to you for that and are willing to pay you. If you get into too many situations like this you can easily become jaded.

    I recently heard a line in a movie that said something to the extent "The best advice I ever got was to never work with people that are desperate". That wasn't the exact line but close enough.

    I generalized that out a little more and came up with "Never work or deal with someone that is BROKE and Desperate or comes from lack mentality".

    Now it is different when you share information with someone and they ASK if they can use that. Not many do this but a few I have come across have, in those situations I am happy to offer more suggestions.

    I don't have much more to say on this topic, I am glad you posted this article though because it is a great discussion topic.

    - T

    • Thank you Terry. It has generated a lot of discussion, both here and behind the scenes. I'm amazed at how many others have dealt with this or similar. It's really too bad... We have SO much more to gain by openly sharing with one another.

  14. It happens on a smaller scale too. I used to try to go after people who stole my Ezine articles. Now I just don't even bother, it was too much of a time suck.

    • Since they have reprint rights from EzineArticles, I assume you mean that they reprinted them WITHOUT including your byline? If this is the case, I would report them to since it violates their TOS. Let them pursue it. 😉

  15. I saw this happen with an excellent website a few years ago. A person completely copied another person's website, slightly changed the domain name and when they copied her website to their new site they even kept her pictures and About info. on their new site. Like everyone else, she tried to fight it and then just figured it was a waste of time.

  16. YourTravelBuddy Greg Snead says

    LOL! "If it's Free, it for Thee!" I have to laugh 'cause we own replicated corporate ecommerce web sites that we brand with a header & a personal domain forward, and we are a giant Swipe file for each other.
    10's of thousands of us using copy from Corporate and the field, using the same 7 or so keywords. It's a lot of Fun to see everyone cloning a Profile picture or mixing & matching copy re-branded. We all give away The same website for free like AOL gave away setup disks...We all Win, Make money(being brokers), Reps and Free agents. Our retired pastor founder instills in us,"If it ain't true don't say it and if it ain't right, don't do it" So Our Line is already drawn in the sand...and everything else is "Game On,On,On, 'till the break of Dawn!" Love 'ya Lynn! Great Stuff! Bro.Snead of #TSS #PCS

  17. Pete from Get Your Success Now says

    In this economic climate, cheating, shortcuts and cut-throat tactics are inevitable, particularly when nobody's charged with policing such infringement violations. It certainly doesn't make it right. But scintillating web pages and glib catch phrases and advertising copy alone don't make for a successful business. You still have to build client relationships, produce quality products or web content on an ongoing basis to be successful in the long run. Your hard work, sense of ethics and professionalism will prevail in the end.

    • I agree with you on both points. But it's worth saying to those that do steal, copy & borrow... don't expect to continue to hold a spot in MY mastermind group or in my life at all. 🙂

  18. I agree, the ripping off of other peoples sites is disgusting, but unfortunately it seems to be the "way of the world" these days. I remember when you worked hard and did everything yourself to achieve an end result, but nowdays people just seem to think that someone elses work is thiers for the taking.

    In teaching, I see this sort of thing all the time with plagarised assignments being submitted and the students, when picked up on it, not seeming to care in the slightest! Personally, I just don't get it... but I think we have now got a better understanding of the term "the ME generation" (everything for ME, regardless of who it affects). It's not just age related, but rather seems to be a new universal attitude.

    Personally, I will keep plodding along using my own brain and hard work to come up with my own concepts and developments. It's just the way I am.

  19. I was always taught that you can't copyright an idea but you can copyright the way that idea is expressed. And the internet is much more about copyright law and principles than trademarks.

  20. MikeRamsey says

    Bright idea but it isn’t her idea! LOL Like you, I hate those kind of people. I really can’t fully understand if they are joking around with you and wait for your reaction. Or they just don’t know how to think differently. Or they are pretending that it would be ok and you wouldn’t care if you guys share same idea. For me, it’s unethically. You can follow the ways of other people but make sure that you don’t do exactly the same.

  21. I was in business with someone who copied my LIFE. She liked my lifestyle and copied it right down to the poster on my wall, then promoted herself in the niche and told me she didn't like paying me (among other indignities). People are just strange. I am better off out of that one even though it was a tough lesson. No one can be me. I am unique and wonderful. I am also looking into the private registration thing and pen names . Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me.

  22. Marya Miller says

    You see copycats all the time in internet marketing and sometimes it's ignorance, sometimes it's true communal mindset heading for the same "next idea" and sometimes it's just downright blatant theft. I do think the whole internet marketing culture with its constant push of "copy this system right out of the box - don't create your own stuff, use this PLR!" lures the easily-influenced into sloppy ethics. But there's never any excuse for lazy research to the point of lifting someone else's content outright: That's illegal.

    Ideas are a much foggier subject: I've seen someone take one of my ideas (posted on a private forum we both belong to) and turn it into an information product (which she then asked me to write!) A weird feeling. More power to her - I wasn't ready with my version, and she's certainly got the skill and the social power to market it.

    I did give her version a different slant to mine, however, after discussing it with her. She didn't remember seeing my post, so we put it down to trending synchronicity - both our minds were already heading down the same river.

    As for slogans or sayings, the moment a phrase leaves your lips, you can assume it's fair game. Personally I'm convinced I started the whole "Just Do It" slogan way back in the early 80's (and there are probably a million other people equally convinced they did. Synchronicity, again.)

    There's plenty of room for two people to create their own separate websites about healthy house plants. It's the fact that the "friend" got all her information and detailed technical advice from you that is probably the galling part - but honestly, what else would she be pumping your brains for, in such depth? It's possible she thought you were encouraging her.

    I don't get into a knot about idea-swiping. Slogan swiping bugs me more, if it's truly something more unique than "just do it". If someone claims my article as her own, I'll send a letter asking that it either be removed or properly accredited.

    But after 30 years in publishing and advertising, I'd rather focus my energy on creating, not complaining.

  23. Sigh and Hugs. We've had this conversation in private before and you know how I feel about the topic.

    You and I are both innovators. We pour our hearts and souls into our projects and are normally proud of the end results. Then, ka-plooey. Someone else comes by, clicks copy/paste and they've got it on their site, too. And, when you confront them, you get the "I thought you'd be flattered that I thought so highly of your work." Ummm... no.

    My favorite example was a few years ago. I found one of my articles, copied from my site - and it still had my affiliate links in it. lol! I didn't bother to contact that person. I figured she had bigger problems. 😉

    The interesting thing to me, Lynn, is that we've been around long enough and I'm sure you've seen this, too. I've noticed that most of the people who I've had a problem with for copying me over the years -- are long gone. They're packed up and quit. And, I do think that'll always be how it is.

  24. TxCHLInstructor says

    Lynn: It's a really old problem... Here's a quote from Leonardo da Vinci --

    "Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you
    do something else. The trick is to do something else."

  25. Alan Ashwood says

    It's rife everywhere, not just internet marketing. With your patience, may I outline two personal incidents in my life.

    1. I worked for the national airline in an advertising and marketing capacity, and built a reputation for being unorthodox. One of the highlights of my career was when I was responsible for creating a campaign designed to get our agents on our side. The airline had developed an arrogant reputation, and eventually noticed that agents were diverting many customers to other carriers because of it. Long story short. A major element of the campaign was a multi screen, humourous self critical show. Lots of musicc lasers, varilights etc., the whole shabang. The show became a long running production worldwide, and I was very proud of it. One day, while we were doing a technical set up and update, an individual who worked fairly close to me, seemed very interested in the psychological side of the rig. I had designed it with a misleading name (which got curiosity going, and demand for tickets); I had a 'pre show' foyer built, where the audience was held back from the auditorium, while being entertained with music and teaser elements. I was happy to explain in great detail, the thinking behind everything.
    However, a short while later, we both applied for a major promotion, and he was interviewed before me. A respected senior colleague was one of the interview panel, and told me that Des (that's his name) used a wonderful lucid description of his thinking behind the 'Visitation' roadshow, and his humble but professional delight at it's outstanding success.
    Guess who got the job.
    2. This one is very recent. I came across a MLM opportunity a few weeks ago, and although I normally steer clear of such things, I thought this had legs, and signed up. Historically, I have connections in the print industry, and originally thought about marketing the concept through the franchises, offering a UK database of around 2000 businesses. I contacted a major publication in the industry, with a view to partnering to use their resources and my marketing etc. They were wildly enthusiastic, and over the next couple of weeks I designed a special support pack for the print industry; a how to set of instructions; full FAQs, and marketing products, such a leaflets, ads etc.
    Then they went silent.
    In the latest publication (36,000 circulation), they are touting the concept, as a wonderful service by them, complete with all the elements above.

    OK. Steam let off. back to the topic.
    I am new to blogging and realised that mine was becoming fragmented, and undirected. I have many ideas I want to share, but in the haste to put them out, I was bouncing from subject to subject. So I stopped, and have spent some time blog hopping.
    It's been a real education. There is so much excellent advice, and help from genuine people, that I don't know where to go next. Yes - it did cross my mind to poach other people's and hack them into quick to post articles! However, I realised that I must create, not steal. I have my self respect, and if all I do is copy others, I will not learn or progress.
    What I have discovered though, is that sometimes a post catches my interest, and I want to contribute. In the process, I found that some of my comments (not this one), are reworkable into valid posts themselves.
    It's smug to poach, but a pleasure to create.
    Hope that made sense, and thanks for your time.
    PS. Excellent post, and very impressive blog. Thank you.

  26. Alan Ashwood says

    Sorry, me again.

    I forgot to mention that my deluded argument for poaching other peoples' work was that; "they may not ever find the original. So if I republish it on my blog, I'm still doing people a service".
    Then I thought "Ever heard of links?"

    • Hi Alan
      I had a slightly different twist to this. I copied lots of headings from a number of different blogs, that I want to then change the title and start writing from my business perspective. I will not re-read their article prior to writing, unless as you say I could use some for linking, that way I am writing my own unique article about my topic or business idea.
      Lynn would you consider this poaching?

  27. Lucille Coetzee says

    This is something that is all over, even in the MLM companies. I started not so long ago and is getting things together for a website or blog. My dear upline, when I told her about my marketing ideas, went and got someone to do all that for her (she has the money to get it done quickly where as I have to do it myself.) Now I'm asked why my business is slow while she's getting all the benefit from my idea. To top it all, she's marketing to my clients.
    I have since decided to not tell her anything anymore or give her any info that I have researched.
    Must admit, what I have done is send out articles written by others but always gave them the credit and added their links. This way I have gained the trust of my clients as I gave them a choice in what is in the market as well as others insight into certain subjects.
    Would you class that as swiping as well? I would appreciate some feedback.

  28. *Sigh* what can I say but it happened to me too 🙁 not in the exact same way but this person used used my "TechBasedMarketing" brand on her site, in her newsletters right down to my regular abbreviation (TBM) not only that they also registered Gmail addresses etc. I was (and still am to a degree) incensed, saddened and strangely - hurt. It has haunted me to the point I sometimes look behind me, something I didn't ever need to do - to try to see if that person or others like them are sneaking more things behind my back.

    I don't get it. If you can't swipe a brand name like Coca-Cola doesn't mean you can swipe my brand. Just because there is no (R) or (TM) still does not make it right.

  29. Sometimes it just seems like there is so much competition out there that it's not suprising that people would do this. I can't believe someones friend would do this to them though, especially after they had gotten all their tips. I guess this is partly why web domain retailers try to upgrade your purchase to protect your brand. It seems silly at the time but then someone may also buy the .net .ca .info of your site and try to pass it off as theirs.
    I've actually had someone take an affiliates picture from my site and put it on theirs but they are using my bandwith. I thought it may actually be kind of funny to change it to something else and see if they notice. Maybe my logo or something like that..

  30. Michael Anderson says

    You should change it to something else. Look at their site and change it to something that will kill sales. The theft of content and ideas is prevalent on the Internet. I do a lot of writing for my various websites and have found exact copies of my articles cut and pasted onto other sites word for word. People that do this count on the fact that it's too difficult to fight this sort of thing...

  31. I guess there are more people than we know that are seriously creatively challenged. I have so many ideas for niches that I have to work at staying focused on my active projects. I'm sure I wouldn't begin to know what is in the head of a person who cannot come up with one idea of their own, but it's very sad that anyone would lack creativity and common decency.

  32. The reason your friend chose to copy your business is because this is the easiest option as you've demonstrated it works. Some people really don't get it. Ethics means different things to different people.

    Not to mention the widespread plagiarism that is rife online that makes intellectual property theft even easier.

    Keep up the good work.

    An ethical approach will always win through in the long-term.

    Best Wishes,


  33. We were taught to not copyright an idea but this is the world of internet, things are changing to somewhere that we don't know.

  34. Lynn,

    Yes another great post!

    It is a shame that people are like this, and also that we allow ourselves to be open to abuse by trying to help. In the case of the copied website, I'd imagine you'd have cause to talk to the isp to get it removed if it was an exact copy with logos as they probably wouldn't like to be help accountable for that.

    Other people taking a catchphrase, I guess that is just people immitating what they like, so it should be an honourable thing. I guess they don't see that creating a business around someone else's idea as being a problem, perhaps because they're not aware that you're bothered. Definitely would be better form to ask...

    With the houseplants, if the 'friend' is trying to be an internet marketer, and has just copied what you did, they won't understand, and will fall flat on their faces pretty quickly I should imagine. I would just be a little less helpful.

    It is a funny thing on the net, that information is copied about, often word for word, but at the end of the day, the search engines are clever enough to understand which version is the original, and penalise the duplicates. I had this happen with a load of articles from a directory, my links removed, but my name, and the name of my site left in - they couldn't be bothered to read it fully! Annoying, especially as the site that ripped it off has a high ranking, I'm assuming because it does this often enough to appear an active site.

    You're doing the right thing though, producing great articles that are unique and interesting, so at the end of the day people trying to copy you isn't going to detract from that. Keep it up!!

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