Posted by Curation Traffic Team on 01 Nov 2012 /
The question over the ethics involved with content curation is not a new debate. It’s been going on for years, and I expect it to go on for years to come. Regardless of that continuing debate, one thing is certain; it’s a strategy that content marketers will continue to use and explore. But can they do it with a clear conscience? My answer is, yes, if you follow some straightforward, ethical guidelines that start with understanding what content curation is and what it is not.
“I Once Heard a Story About…”
So, what is content curation? Well, have you ever heard someone tell a story that wasn’t their own? We do it all the time. The stories that other people share about their own experiences can be powerful illustrations to back our own viewpoint or experience. There is nothing wrong with that. Everyone does it. Many instances in history and media support the practice. And, as long as credit is given where credit is due, it’s a legitimate tool.
Content curation does a similar thing. A content curator borrows a story or idea from someone else and presents it in a way that highlights a point that the curator believes is important.
Done in this way, proper content curation is ethical. In fact, when done well, it is appreciated by readers and content producers alike.
Curation is not piracyUnlike content curation, pirating is illegal and can get you into some serious legal trouble. And, unfortunately for those who find themselves mixed up in it, the legal problems are not the only major dilemma they bring on themselves. Their reputation is also likely to suffer, and in the land of internet marketing, reputation is everything.
Pirating VS Curating Content
So, what’s the difference between curating content and pirating? How can you be sure that what you do remains under the label of curation and doesn’t cross over to pirating? Well, though the two may seem very similar, where ethics are concerned, they are actually vastly different.
Pirating is stealing. It describes taking content word for word or concept for concept, whole or in part, and publishing it. There’s no other way to put this—it is simply wrong.
Content curation, on the other hand, is not stealing. It is ethical because it involves only using carefully selected parts of the content, adding relevant commentary or insight, or highlighting specific parts of it, and always assigning credit to the content’s originator. In other words, you add to the discussion involving the content.
The difference is not even subtle; pirating is stealing and it is unethical. This includes article spinning, where words or ideas are stolen from somewhere and changed just enough to make it appear to be original content. It rarely does appear to be original, which hurts the reputation of those who practice article spinning. Not only is it clear that they are practicing piracy by stealing the original content, but they are also taking efforts to cover that fact; something that is not held in high esteem by many people, including the search engines who may block such content.
Content curation, on the other hand, is not done in the shadows of the digital marketplace. It is an honest endeavor that adds value, offers fresh perspectives, and enhances the ecosystem of ideas that is the digital landscape.
So is Curation Unethical?
Because it does get confused with piracy, I think that an end to this debate is still a ways off. Some content producers will always have a strong reaction when they see their content curated. Some appreciated it; others do not. I believe, however, that the digital world has evolved enough that this is no longer a question about whether content curation is an ethical strategy. I believe it is more about whether you are doing it right. If you are, then, in my book, you’re in the clear.