Marketing Director

Intellectual Property and Social Media: What is stealing?

Stealing is exactly what Ali Hadi of "Pakistan's First Social Media Company" Proactive Brand Solutions or Proactive Interactive did. Read on for the full story (UPDATE: Ali has requested the removal of the word 'stealing'. What other word could I use?). Last night I had a nice dinner with my family and was describing the video I made last week to my mother who calls me regularly to help her find emails or turn on the TV without turning off the cable box. She asked me if people have to pay for the short video lesson.

I spent the next five minutes unsuccessfully trying to explain the importance of offering information for free on the web. It came down to my personal belief that we can educate the world through the web by providing access to information. She really got me thinking about how I am valuing my intellectual property.

Should I work to create a pay wall? Should the New York Times? Should Wikipedia charge for the information they provide? Doesn't making someone pay ensure they value what they receive in the transaction? What happens to my video once I publish it online for all to see, share, download, show and use?

This story all came to a head today when I took a look at one of my presentations which has been stolen and re purposed without any credit to me. I have embedded the two presentations below, first mine then the other with a crappier layout but the same content. I first noticed it a few months ago through a Google Alert I have setup for my name. At the time I didn't mind and thought that it was flattering. I didn't notice that he was trying to sell the presentation for $100.

Social Media for Beginner's: Personal Branding and Marketing
View more from Kemp Edmonds.

When I first noticed a few months ago I didn't really mind. I posted a comment mentioning my dismay on the presentation. That comment was deleted. Today I added another comment referring to the stolen presentation but I don't expect it to remain on the slide deck too much longer. 
The worst thing that he has done is offer the presentation for $100 on the last slide in the presentation (UPDATE: in an email he explained that $100 was for a workshop about the "Three Musketeers"). I put it out to my Twitter community to assess the situation. This was a great use of Twitter and the community gave me an idea of what others thought of the situation. They were honest and forthcoming with their opinions:
Intellectual property in the Internet age has become something very different from what it was. The problem comes when there is no attribution and a desire to profit from the work of others. I subscribe to Creative Commons Licensing allowing anyone to use my work for free, with attribution as long as it is not for profit. Creative Commons allows creators to declare how others can use their creations. Alistair makes a good point in the second last comment above: "You should use this as an opportunity to teach people that things on the 'net means anyone can get/use it." Alistair is right that is the point. I often call it "Public Permanence" once it's out there it becomes publicly permanent.

I wouldn't care except this person has used my creation in a manner that is against all of the unwritten rules: for-profit, no attribution and without permission. That's the rub though isn't it. There are no rules to the Internet, just yet. They are being established by stories like this and prosecution that is creating precedents around intellectual property, ownership and privacy. What do you think I should do now? What would you do? Is there any point in doing anything?

UPDATE: Thank you for your comments and creating enough noise around this that the presentation has been pulled. I wouldn't be surprised if most of his 'presentations' were lifted from someone else.

I know bits and pieces of my presentation came from reading the internet. That's where most great information comes from these days. I took the time to rewrite, reorganize and add information for my purposes. This is a line that continues to grey and will surely be the topic of a future post. When does creation stop and plagarism start? When it's exactly the same.

These days we are all learning and increasing our collective intelligence together. The problem comes when some of us try and take advantage of that sharing spirit for financial or professional gain.


  1. i think what you're doing is exactly the right thing. when i asked you what he had to say i didn't know that you had already posted a comment. the deletion speaks volumes ...

    i hope lots of people will read this and tweet about it. good ol' ali clearly has no idea about social media, otherwise he'd know what he was getting into. the transparency and viral nature of social media will hopefully ensure that he'll learn his lesson ...

  2. I see now the "Three Musketeers" video has been marked 'private'. Interesting to watch a weasel work. Or is it sweat? Not sure.

  3. I see he's since made the presentation private. I'm hoping that helps bring this to a close.

    While the social rules of the Net are still in flux, I can't think of any moral code that says it's cool to misrepresent someone else's work as your own. And Slideshare's terms of service don't leave any room for ambiguity: you can only upload content if you have the requisite rights, licenses or permissions.

    By the way, I can't help but notice that this presentation is word-for-word identical to this Martin Roll blog post. I doubt it would be hard to find others that are apparently plagiarized.

  4. Kemp,
    I think this is an excellent conversation point for your next presentation.
    Use social media to your advantage in this situation, with enough support outing him to his followers is an easy thing to do and with the strength of your followers it can easily build momentum.
    Don't give him any more power - take it back, use the tools you are most comfortable with.
    Keep up the great work !

  5. nice discussion i found on this blog but the main thing is we must be make such proactive steps to prevent from the copy cats.
    anyway i love such post and just because of that such post enhance the knowledge.