Make My Day, Steal This Blog

This blog isn’t for you.  I’ll explain why after I tell you how I met my friend Lori Lewis, radio’s social media guru.

“We define our image every day by how we make people feel.”  I didn’t say that.  Lori Lewis did.  I was a fan and read everything Lori wrote because I always learned something from her.  Joel Denver had asked me to present at one of his Worldwide Radio Summits and I wanted to include her quote in my talk.  I did and credited her because she said it, I didn’t.

Several people took screenshots of the slide and texted it to her.  By the end of the day, she’d emailed a thanks and we’ve been friends since.  When putting the presentation together, I decided if I couldn’t be the smart person who said it, the second best thing was to be a smart person who quoted the smart person.

This blog isn’t for you because you probably don’t steal other people’s work.  But, someone has stolen from Lori Lewis recently and she’s rightfully pissed off.  She wrote a piece for Inside Radio on this then posted about it on Facebook to much reaction.

I’ve been stolen from, too.  By a handful of people over the years.  I almost always hear about it.

Which brings me to a blog I co-wrote about Yacht Rock for Coleman Insights a year ago.  One of the takeaways I shared was how important it is to legally protect your intellectual property.  Lori has her IP, I have mine.  It’s what fuels our work because it’s what we believe and it’s also our livelihood.  But that doesn’t mean people can’t steal the stuff any of us have worked hard to create and present it as theirs.  One of the best things Jon Coleman taught me when I started my company was to protect my stuff legally.  So, I do.  In the past when others took the things I worked hard to create and passed it off as theirs, the lawyers said it was a violation.  I’m not one to wither from that, so I placed tough phone calls to tell those people that that © is real.

I bet lawyers work for the radio company you work for, right?  Snicker at that and then put them to work.  If you come up with something all yours, get trademarks for all of it to protect yourself.

As I was finding my on-air style when I was young, a caring PD named a bunch of successful personalities to listen to so I could hear how they did it.  He then said, “To copy one is plagiarism, to copy six is research.  Do your research.”  We all borrow ideas from other shows.  There’s nothing wrong with that, until you take someone’s actual content and present it as yours.  Good broadcasters are always listening to other shows for inspiration.  Continue to do that.

But if you plagiarize content and do it verbatim without permission or accreditation, you’re stealing.  I know of shows that take callers from others podcasts and use them on their show with the same phone topic.  Some programs have the same trivia feature.  Show A works hard on their questions and Show B listens to A’s posted version and takes (pilfers) their questions.  I am aware of one show only hours away from another who does something worse.  They’re both major markets a few hours apart in a big southern state so let’s call them Show D and Show H.  Both have the same dating feature.  Show D does the original, Show H transcribes the back-and-forth word for word, records it, and presents it as their own weeks later.  Don’t believe me?  I have the receipts (audio proving it).

You don’t do this, I bet, so get those lawyers working to protect your stuff.  That’s my main message to you.  What can be service marked?  Well, I am not an attorney (sorry, mom) so dial up those lawyers who always seem to say no and run those things you developed by them and let them tell you what can and can’t be legally protected.

Please know, I am not angry.  My effort here has been to do two things:  remind you to get service marks on the things you do that you truly own (your intellectual property) and to inspire you, and all of us in the business, to make your show a true reflection of you, not someone else.

We learned when we were young that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  In Steve speak, I’ve added to that:  imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but taking someone else’s intellectual property without permission or attribution is unethical and a shitty thing to do.

Protect yourself.