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Posted on April 16, 2016, at 4:00 p.m.
by Morgan Martin.

The ever-expanding world of mass media has made it easy for average Joes to become famous with the click of a mouse or the tap of a finger; however, it has also brought forth ample opportunity for other individuals to take Internet content and publish it as their own. Companies like YouTube have gone to great lengths to thwart the efforts of such parties.

The newest nightmare in the intellectual property industry has been termed as “freebooting.”

Imagine this: You have a Youtube channel or even a Vine account. You have raised this video platform as if it were your own infant. You put a bandage on the cuts of bad content reviews, and you picked the channel up after a possible partnership went horribly awry. Slowly but surely, you have built up this platform so that it is able to stand on its own.

Finally, one day, you’ve created content that goes viral.

So, you call and thank your loyal fans: mom, dad, your landlord and even the nice old lady next door. Soon enough, all your Facebook friends are reposting the video like it’s an Apple commercial featuring Taylor Swift.

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

Amongst all the excitement you realize one grave detail: None of these Facebook friends realize this is your video. Other channels have published it as their own with no ounce of credit given.

You, my friend, have become a victim of freebooting.

Freebooting is when people upload, post or repost content that is not their own and give no credit to the content’s creator.

Facebook, in particular, is one of the worst offenders when it comes to monitoring who is posting what and by whom. This summer, the company experienced loads of backlash from content creators who gained zero credit for their intellectual property.

Facebook’s response was a blog post, and although it addressed the issue, little has been done to fix it. Creators make a small profit from the amount of views on their content, so if they are missing out on views, then they are missing out on revenue as well.

Content creators have taken to Twitter with the hashtag #freebooting, hoping to educate people on exactly what freebooting is and how not to be a part of it.

Individuals and sites engage in the practice both knowingly and unknowingly. Next time you see that adorable Vine of a puppy or the hilarious video about Instagram husbands, make sure that you are reposting from the original author, and if you aren’t, remember to give the creator credit.

As PR practitioners especially, we know it all too well — there is nothing worse than a brain-baby thief.

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