You’re famous! Well, somewhat famous. You were included in a great article in a highly regarded, well-read industry publication, and your thought leadership or interview made the front page. The next steps usually involve raising awareness of the story and sharing it among your colleagues, clients and peers. But can you do more? What if your quote would fit perfectly in an upcoming presentation or marketing material? They’re your words, aren’t they?
The short answer is – it’s complicated.
While they may be your thoughts on the page, an article is usually owned by the publication that published the article. This applies to thought leadership as well. Even if you are the bylined author, most publications own the rights to the submitted content they publish. So, what are the dos and don’ts of sharing content?
First, most publications encourage authors and sources to share content they contribute through social media, as long as the post links back to either the original story or the publisher’s social media post about the content. Tagging the article and the publication are considered good practice and drawing attention to a story is a great way to deepen relationships with the media.
When it comes to your website, include a link to the article in your press page. This usually involves posting the title of the piece, the author, and the date it was published along with a hyperlink to the original piece. Generally, as long as you are linking to the content on the publication’s website and not copying content, you are not violating any rules related to intellectual property or copyright.
For marketing purposes, it is also acceptable to include mention of the article and is preferable to the publishers if your mention provides details on where to find the original article. For example, if a brochure discusses how a subject matter expert discussed a topic in a recent Forbes article, that is fair game and preferable to all parties if that mention includes the date that article was published.
The general rule is once content is submitted to a publication, they own it – even if they are your own words. While linking to the original article is not different than any other social media post, taking written content and posting it without a link or credit is generally a violation of the publication’s intellectual property. At the very least, it is a great way to burn a bridge with a valued media contact and their publication.
This applies to more than just website content. Marketing materials and other communications should not include unattributed quotes, segments or articles. A bylined article should also be considered the property of the publication once it has been submitted for publishing. Many publications will have language to this effect in the legal notices on their website or even request that you sign an author’s agreement before publication.
A Rule of Thumb
Many publications may be interested in giving special permission to use their content as long as they are given the proper credit. There can be a grey area here, but as a rule of thumb, when it comes to who owns the content, regardless of who wrote it, assume it belongs to the publication.