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Blog Exercises: Taking a Risk With What You Blog About

Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress.In 2006, I spent three months thrashing, not sleeping at night, agonizing over what I had written and desired to publish. I knew it would be received with resistance at the least, revenge at the worst. I had already tested the waters and found out that the subject could get me in very hot water and I had to prepare myself, and my site, for the backlash if I pushed the publish button.

My father was staying with me along the Gulf Coast at the time. It was only a few months after Hurricane Katrina had devastated our community and our lives. We’d spent most of 2005 preparing for, riding out, and running from hurricanes, a struggle, but after five years living in war and terrorism, it was just one more challenge to face head on as it came. Facing things that would crush others, why was I so afraid to hit publish.

I talked to him about this. He had no understanding of what I did for a living or even how to describe my work to another. Blogging meant nothing to him, as it did to so many in 2006. The fact that I had been blogging for more than ten years, before it even had a name, it wasn’t a real job. While he lacked an understanding of my chosen career, he understood fear.

“Will they kill you?” Of course not! “Will they come and take your home, your turtle shell?” Both my parents, long divorced, described our nomad lives as traveling like a turtle, our homes on our backs. I told him no. “Then what is there to fear? Life is too short to fear things that cannot hurt you.”

Facing my fear and swallowing the surge of nausea, on April 10, 2006, I pushed the publish button on “What Do You Do When Someone Steals Your Content.”

Looking back now, it was a nothing, a small flea in the great forest of life. That doesn’t change the fear I felt.

Back then, I faced three terrifying types of people who would respond to my article, the three groups that tend to face down many bloggers. The first are those who honestly believed that everyone on the web is free and should remain so. Among these people are a subset of anarchists believing that the web should not just be free for access but free from government laws, good or bad. These people are capable of anything and I was putting myself on the chopping block, a target for their arrows.

The second group are those who think they know the law better than anyone else. The arrogant ones who thought a know-nothing blogger had no right to tell them about copyright law. Irritants, I hoped for their support but knew many would get their noses up in the air and say horrible things about how I was “dumbing down” copyright law to the masses. And they did, debating my right to coin the phrase “content theft.”

The third group, the ones I still worry about the most today, are the apathetic and ignorant. The ones who go forward uneducated about their rights online and off when it comes to what they create. The ones who get so angry when someone copies their work, they either become helpless victims or turn to revenge because they just don’t know how copyright works. It is for them that I wrote the article.

I got all three. The radicals tried to hack my sites. The arrogant told me I was stupid and useless. They argued with me over the introduction of my term “content theft,” saying that copyright infringement wasn’t theft in the legal sense. I told them it was in the psychological sense. They backed off and gave up as I pressed, but it took a while for the phrase “content theft” to be adopted into the vernacular. The term content theft is now found on over 141 million web pages and given credit in articles like Types of Content Theft by the Motion Picture Association of America, Prevent Content Theft in the Support documents of, Copyright Law – Website Content Theft from’s Small Business Canada, Dealing with Online Content Theft (Personal Experience) on Hongkiat, a slide show on The Story of Content Theft by Creative America representing the US entertainment community, and even Darren Rowse of Problogger brings it up annually.

The third group, the ones I worked so hard to reach, praised and thanked me. Some stopped their victim and revenge attitudes and took the correct legal action. Most of all, they came to my article confused, helpless, and angry, only to learn that they weren’t alone and there were things they could do to stop the scrapers, sploggers, scammers, and spammers – the evil doers of the web world.

Together, we changed the world. Six months later, I published “Applaud Those Who Warn You: Your Blog’s Content Is Being Stolen” to acknowledge the others who risked much to educate their readers about copyright infringement and tell other bloggers their content has been stolen, facing the same demons as I did only a few months earlier. In six months, copyright violations and infringements were openly discussed on the web and people were taking action. My father read it and told me he was proud, though he still didn’t understand it all. A few days later he died suddenly, though not surprisingly.

It’s still a battle, one fought by Jonathan Bailey of Plagiarism Today every day of his life on behalf of web publishers, podcasters, and bloggers. He is the great warrior of copyright, and I’m so proud of his continued effort to fight back for all of us.

Today, copyrights are better understood than they have been in centuries. We have laws in place to defend them and protect ourselves from those lazy folks who steal our work and make money with it on their own sites. The laws don’t have much in the way of teeth, but we are gumming them to death.

Just like those who fought so hard to put an end to slavery and serfdom, to give women the right to vote, to make rape and violence against others a household word, it begins with one person willing to stand in the face of their fears and the enemies before them to say no, this is not the right way.

Blog Exercise Task from Lorelle on WordPress.Your Blog Exercise today is to take a risk.

There are no weapons in your face, no armored tanks for you to block. There is something you want to say trapped inside of you out of fear. Now is the time to ask yourself if it will kill you or others, or if it will risk the security of a roof over your head. If the answer to both questions is no, you have nothing to lose.

Blog it. Tell us your story. Share with us your thoughts. Help to change the world.

Copyright protection and defense will not save a life. It won’t bring world peace. It will bring peace of mind to the millions of people who pay for the roof over their head and food in their mouths by their creative works.

The world needs to hear what you have to say. We need to know you are on our side. We need you. Speak out.

Remember to include a hat tip link back to this post to create a trackback, or leave a properly formed link in the comments so participants can check out your blog exercise task.

As you begin the task, take a few minutes to read The 6 Steps to Stop Content Theft on the Blog Herald by Jonathan Bailey, and the sequel, 6 Steps To Prevent Content Theft – An Update on Plagiarism Today. There is no excuse for you to not know your rights when it comes to protecting and defending your content.

You can find more Blog Exercises on . This is a year-long challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.


  1. erinorange
    Posted February 1, 2013 at 5:11 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this – I had much of the same feelings about my latest blog post – similarly, it was my dad who encouraged me to publish it because, he said, they’re only my views. I caused a bit of upset, not intentionally, and it has put me off writing anything too controversial for a while because I think people find it easier to read ‘light’ content and it’s easier for me to publish. Your father’s advice was great! 🙂

    • Posted February 1, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      @Erin: Thank you. Yeah, when you put it all into perspective, it makes sense that there is so little to risk in reality, but your head makes you feel like it is the end of the world. Good for you and your dad!

      • erinorange
        Posted February 1, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

        Yeah so true, I just remembered another little phrase I heard, ‘You can’t walk around with an umbrella waiting for it to rain’ same kind of sentiment, worrying about something that might never happen!

      • Posted February 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

        That’s beautiful! Love it!

  2. Posted February 1, 2013 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    “The laws don’t have much in the way of teeth, but we are gumming them to death.”


    I loved this article. I have been following the case of Terrell Mims, who flagrantly violated copyright and was flamed by followers of Kristen Lamb, an expert on writing and publishing.

    I taught English for many years, and I crusaded against plagiarism and copyright violations.

    • Posted February 1, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      Excellent, Marilyn. We need more warriors on the copyright front. I assume that you are a fan of Jonathan Bailey’s Copyright 2.0 podcast. I love it.

  3. Posted February 1, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    The biggest risk I ever took blogging was just over a year ago. I was terrified of hitting the “publish” button because it was personal, the kind of thing people don’t usually talk about openly. Long story short, it was reblogged (with permission) by a nationally known women’s organization. Since then, I’ve become a member of their think tank and have had just over 2 dozen articles published for them (also very scary hitting the publish button), and have been able to use my voice as an advocate. One of those articles led to writing an article for the Clark College magazine, “Partners,” and I’m working on another one. I’ve made connections all over the country that I will always cherish. I hear from women all over the country that they feel less alone, they know they will be okay, etc., which feels amazing. And, yes, that original article was scraped from The New Agenda’s website, right along with TNA’s “Republished with permission” disclaimer (oh the irony! lol). I’m still in awe of where hitting “Publish” on that one article has taken me in the last 14 months.

    Bottom line: Go for it!

    • Posted February 1, 2013 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      Edee: You got into Clark College’s magazine! The Clark in Vancouver, Washington? Excellent, all the way around. Sometimes it takes risk to actually open a door you never thought of opening. Thank you for the fantastic example!

  4. Posted February 1, 2013 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    That’s the one 😉 Check your last issue, if you get them. The cover article is mine. I have a motto: “You’ll never experience the light at the end of the tunnel unless you get up and get moving toward it.” I think that applies for risk taking, too!

    • Posted February 2, 2013 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      I teach at Clark College so I will indeed check it out! Are you in the Vancouver/PDX area?

      Love the quote.

    • Posted February 3, 2013 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

      Awesome! Yes, I’m in “The Couv”.

    • Posted February 3, 2013 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

      Ha! My husband just leaned over and said, “I think I’ve met her.” He’s on the Computer Programs Development Advisory Committee at Clark w/Bob Hughes, lol

      • Posted February 3, 2013 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

        LOL! That’s me! Now I’m curious as to who your hubby is…we had a meeting in November. Don’t make me guess!

        What an incredible small world. I love it!

        Not sure if you are familiar with Hannah in the editorial offices. She took the first WordPress class at the college with me. Seriously small world.

    • Posted February 3, 2013 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

      I won’t spoil it, lol But here are a couple of hints: we share the same last name and he owns a software company here in Vancouver. Happy guessing!

    • Posted February 3, 2013 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

      Writing I can do, reading… meh! Thought you said to let you guess. Chris Lemonier is my sweetie 🙂

      • Posted February 4, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

        LOL! I probably would have guessed it eventually. Oh, I have someone new to give grief to! Love it.

  5. sms mstar80
    Posted February 15, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    thanks sir about that post

    • Posted February 15, 2013 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      You are welcome.

      A little tip, considered free as part of these blog exercises. Never assume the sex of the person you are talking to online. Saying “sir” to a woman can offend, as can “ma’am” to a man. We like keeping things asexual here. 😀 Thanks!

  6. sms mstar80
    Posted February 15, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    thank u
    so mutch

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