Content Theft: A Growing Problem for Health Advocates (w/ video)


Ok, I need to get something off my chest: Too many health advocates are having their content stolen and it needs to stop now!


No, it's not ok to steal my videos.
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The Problem

If you create content, chances are someone will try to rip it off and pass along as their own. Recently, a fellow ostomy advocate noticed that one of her videos was being used on a medical supplier’s website.

This isn’t a problem on its own, and many of us (including myself) allow this sort of thing, but only under certain provisions: the video must be directly embedded from YouTube and credit should be given (it’s not a legal requirement, but it is courteous).

This is necessary for several reasons:

  • Often times videos may have important annotations, descriptions, embedded links, etc. that help the viewer.
  • Many times the advertisements are the sole means in which an advocate can recuperate their expenses.
  • It improves the visibility of other videos that person might have.
  • It allows the proper analytics data to be collected (so we know which videos are most popular, what demographic views them, etc.).
  • They may contain copyright materials or trademarks.

Unfortunately, what some people (and certain companies have done) is that they’ll download the YouTube video and re-upload it as their own.  This removes many of the benefits to the viewer, but it hurts the original creator.

After hearing about my friend having her video ripped off, I searched around to see if any of my content had been.  And lo and behold, another medical supplier had taken at least one of my videos and republished it as their own.

This is NOT ok.

And the problem gets even worse!

I’ve had entire articles plagiarized, images I’ve created for social media ripped off, photos I’ve taken used as someone else’s work and more. I even tipped off a fellow advocate who had her damn identity stolen by some idiot!

Ripping off articles is perhaps the most damaging.  Because of how search engines like Google work, content creators put in a lot of work to make sure their content gets to the top of search results.

When someone steals an entire article and republishes it as their own the original content creator may be penalized for “duplicate content”. This diverts traffic away from their own website, which can affect more than just web stats.

How You Can Help

I know that you value the work of advocates who put in a lot of time and energy into helping other people. Most of the time we post content on our own website, social media accounts, YouTube channel, etc.

If you see something that we’ve produced on another YouTube channel or website, then chances are that it’s been stolen (unless, of course, the content was given with permission).

One red flag is when our web address/name/logo has been cropped out of a photo or illustration and no credit is given. That lets me know that this was not an innocent mistake (especially when it’s done over and over again).

Let us know about it privately so we can handle the matter directly. More often than not the content can be removed without incident, but sometimes we need to take further action to protect our trademarks, copyrighted work, etc.

I have a small network of advocate friends who regularly let each other know when our work is spotted on other websites (you wouldn’t believe some of the shit that people do in order to take your content).

Want to Share/Use Content the Right Way?

If you would like to use any of my content, there are plenty of ways to do it ethically.

I appreciate and encourage my fans to share my articles/videos on social media or within their ostomy circles. This does a tremendous amount of good for me and this site!

I’ve had my videos properly embedded on many websites (with my full blessings), and that works without any problems.

Even my articles have been reprinted in various ostomy support group newsletters (with permission and full credit), so I have no real problems as long as things are done properly.

Here’s a cheat sheet of how you can use my content (if something isn’t listed here, just send me a message and ask what you’d like to use).


  • DO: Embed my YouTube videos directly from YouTube without any further action or permission from me.
  • DO: Use the share option in YouTube to share videos to social media sites.
  • DON’T: Download my videos and re-upload them on your own channel or as your own.
Embedding videos directly from YouTube is far easier than ripping them off!

Images (including photos, memes, infographics)

  • DO: Retweet, share Facebook images, etc. using the native share buttons on the specific social media site.
  • DO: Use Pinterest to share photos and links back to my page. (I have a Pinterest share button on every article of the site)
  • DO: Ask for permission if you want to use my photo in your marketing, newsletters, magazine, etc.
  • DO: Post photos/images I’ve created on your personal blog with some kind of written credit so people know where you got the image from.
  • DO: Contact me if you are looking to use one of my images/photos on a commercial site, medical project, etc.
  • DON’T: Remove watermarks.
  • DON’T: Post my images as your own.
  • DON’T: Use photos that have people (other than me) without asking for permission. I get permission for using someone else’s photos on my site, and that permission doesn’t extend to you automatically.
Sharing my articles is really easy.

Articles/Blog Posts

  • DO: Ask for permission before republishing content on your site/newsletter/magazine.
  • DO: Use the social media share buttons I have on each article to share it.
  • DO: Share directly to Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus using my original URL (it’s fine is this is automatically converted to a short URL).
  • DO: Use quotes, snippets, etc. under US fair use policy or Canadian fair dealing policy.
  • DO: Link back to my original article if you choose to use a chunk of text from it.
  • DON’T: Under any circumstances copy an entire article and post it onto another website without my explicit permission.
  • DON’T: Pass off my articles as your own.

Closing words

I hope this has given you some insight into what I and other health advocates have had to deal with over the years. It’s upsetting to see content that we’ve worked so hard for being stolen and used by someone else.

There are things you can do to help us fight content theft, and there are proper ways to share/use our content.

If in doubt, always ask the original content creator!

I’d also like to say that if I notice this trend continuing, I will publically shame the companies/individuals who continue to steal my work and the work of my friends.

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