What I learned this week: Beware of bad grandmas

copyright infringement

Tuesday night, as I watched the last episode of The Voice (and crossed my fingers Michelle Shamuel or the Swon Brothers would win), I received on my phone a Facebook message. It was a friend alerting me to posts and pictures of my grandson Mac that were being prominently featured on another grandma's Facebook page.

The Facebook page in question isn't that of a friend or a regular reader of Grandma's Briefs. It's a Facebook page unrelated to a blog or website, and it bills itself as dedicated to "grandparents and grandkids."

After checking out what my friend directed me to, it was clear the content was not something I had shared on Facebook, not a "share" from my Grandma's Briefs Facebook page. No, it was my original copyrighted material copied in full from this post. Worse yet, it featured the photo of Mac that went with the post, stolen from this blog and pasted on that Facebook page as if it were their own material. No attribution, no mention of Grandma's Briefs, no admission that it was not their material and not their grandchild they were sharing. (There were, in fact, two of my posts that Facebook page had stolen from this blog, but only the written text from the second.)

Worse yet... that stolen content was being shared and shared and shared across Facebook. My words. My grandson. My post. My copyrighted material. Yet no one seemed to notice that the bad grandma who put it on her page was not the owner of the material, not the grandmother of the precious little boy they all found so cute and shareable.

I was livid. I was literally shaking as I commented on the post on that page, asking the grandma to please remove my content, but more importantly, to remove my grandson's photo from her page. There was no response to my comment on that post requesting it be removed (even though I know she was there as new posts were being added as I steamed), so I had to private message her. Her response — as the sharing from her nearly 25,000 Facebook fans of my post and grandson continued: "...sorry, your pic should have a link or a owner name. ( your mistake, not ours)."

I was appalled at her response, her refusal to accept responsibility for stealing from my blog (as I said, I had not shared the full post on Facebook, ever) and her refusal to completely remove my grandbaby and my copyrighted words from her page.

It took quite a few go-rounds, many private messages from me to those who unwittingly shared stolen property and my grandson's photo, many threats from me to that unethical grandma that I'd be reporting her for copyright infringement before she finally and reluctantly removed my content. After it had been shared across Facebook by nearly 300 of her fans.

Okay, I know my grandson is cute. And my 10 commandments for grandmothers post was a fairly clever one if I say so myself. And ya know what? If that grandma had requested permission from me to post it on her page or had included the fact it was from my site and noted that the photo was my grandson (whose face isn't visible in that photo, thank heavens... it's the one above, just with different text for that stolen post), I probably would not have cared. I probably would have welcomed the request to share my work. But she didn't ask. She came into my house (my blog), stole my stuff (my words and photos), and offered to share it with the world as if it were hers to share.

So very, very wrong. Even more wrong was that she refused to accept responsibility for her actions or apologize for the mistake.

What makes this even worse is that I am not the first person this woman has stolen from in this manner. I have a grandma friend — who shall, at her request, remain anonymous — who experienced the very same thing, sans the photo of a grandchild, luckily. My friend went round and round to have her content removed.

Finally my friend won, the content was removed from that page. Time went by. Then the bad grandma stole content from my friend again, giving no attribution to the owner of the copyrighted material. Oddly and sadly enough, there are other Facebook pages that have done the exact same thing to that exact same grandma friend.

Truly unbelievable. Especially because all the pages that did it are grandmas. Or claim to be.

As I told the bad grandma who stole from me, she should be ashamed of herself and that I hope her grandchildren do not follow her lead. She came back at me with a "no need to get personal," which seemed rather ironic to me because when you steal photos of my grandchild, copy and paste my words/writings/works, that seems quite personal.

I continue to "like" that Facebook page — only so I can keep an eye out for my content, photos of my grandchildren being shared without my permission. It's one thing to "share" something I have placed on Facebook for friends and family, such as you folks, to share; it's entirely another to come to my blog, copy/paste/steal my content then post it on Facebook and pretend it's yours.

So the bottom line, the reason for this long-winded diatribe is to warn you all to beware the bad grandmas who may steal your content and share it on Facebook. I will keep an eye out for your content being shared. I hope you will keep an eye out, too, not only for my content but for that of all the grandmas in our grandmahood, those of us who know each other — even if only online — those of us who have each other's backs.

Together, we must beware of bad grandmas. That, my friends, is what I learned this week.

<heavy sigh>

As I step down from my soap box, I'd like to wish each and every one of you a fantastic weekend. I so very much appreciate you all, and I hope to see you here again come Monday!


Today's question:

What did you learn this week?