Respect Copyrights: Leaders Are You Teaching How? |#HR #Leadership

Respect Copyrights: Leaders, Are You Teaching This?

There is an important leadership challenge that is skimming under the radar of most leaders — teaching everyone in their organization how to respect copyrights.  

As social media has made information widely available, employees in businesses as well as students/staff in learning institutions are republishing information that is not theirs to re-post.  

Respect Copyrights: Image is Gold Copyright Symbol

Respect Copyrights & You Respect People. Image licensed from

Image licensed from

“Gee, I really love this and now I’m sharing it with the rest of the world.”

Leaders, do they know to ask: “Is it mine to share for free?”

Not everyone who is inappropriately re-posting information has bad intentions.

    It could be lack of awareness. Some grew up in the age of the Internet. They were never taught in grade school nor in high school how to respect copyrights.
    Some in academia believe that crediting the authors is all they must do to respect copyrights. Their goal is the endless search for knowledge. Sharing that knowledge is an acceptable part of academic culture as long as they credit the source.

Now suddenly these folks run smack into the business world where original content is both the intellectual and financial capital of a business. Content of workshop materials, presentation slides, white papers, and blog posts are not free shareware. Even crediting the source, doesn’t make it automatically acceptable to re-post the content or give it to others for free.

Respect Copyrights: Questions to Teach and Guide Those You Lead

  • What must we do to respect copyrights? If you get blank stares or philosophical debates about the existence of copyrights, you will have a clear picture of where you must start.
  • Does crediting the source automatically allow us to republish content in part or in full? You may have some who believe this and are acting on it without your knowledge. I recently found pages from one of my workshop books posted online by someone who had attended the workshop. He did credit me yet he was in violation of my copyright. In essence, he was giving my workshop to others for free. Thankfully, his boss removed the material from their server and the Internet. It takes more than attribution and credit to respect copyrights.
  • If we attend a program, can we bring it back and present that workshop to others in our organization? Conference attendees and workshop participants have asked me, “May I have a copy of your slides so I can teach this in my organization?” It shows they didn’t understand this is how I make my living. Some training companies offer train-the-trainer programs yet those aren’t free either. The price reflects the value the organization gleans from having everyone tooled with that information.
  • What if we really like a speaker and their content and want to promote them? Some people have told me they republished my presentation materials (without asking me) to promote me. If you want to promote knowledge experts/speakers, ask them what can you do to promote them. Offer to be a reference for them. Give them a video testimonial telling others how great they are. Actively work to bring them back into your organization for a fee. If you give away their presentation content for free, you may be undermining their financial well-being not promoting it.
  • Can we fill our blog with content from other blogs? Are your employees, students, and interns filling your blog with articles from other blogs without permission from the authors? Many blogs like mine request that you ask permission. Others have specific guidelines on how you can re-post. Still, bloggers are surprised to find their articles re-posted on other blogs. What are your employees doing? And what would they do if there were no re-posting guidelines noted — take the posts or ask the authors first?

    Some argue, if you’ve published a blog post and everybody can read it anyway, why is it a problem if we post it on our blog? It matters because blogs often sit on websites, like mine, where the author is offering other fee-based services. The blog posts build credibility that inspire readers to buy. Also, the hits on those posts build Google rankings which extend the website’s reach to other potential customers.

    If you re-publish the entire post on your blog — even with attribution to the author — many readers will not click through to the original website. Thus you have actually taken value away from the author and given it to your blog. Moreover, writing blog posts takes time. The bloggers used their time and your blog is getting the value.

    Of course, there are bloggers who like their posts republished in full. Others will let you publish a blurb about the post with a link to “continue reading” it on their site. To respect copyrights, ask the authors their preferences before you lift a post completely. Respect their hard work, time, and knowledge.

When we respect copyrights, we respect the people who created the original work as well as their livelihood. Those who’ve never been self-employed often don’t focus on how their employer or the university they attend earns money to sustain itself. Thus they don’t see that a business owner’s knowledge and output is their financial livelihood. To these entrepreneurs, respecting copyrights is far more than a philosophical debate.

Leaders, help everyone learn how to respect copyrights and original work. It helps your organization avoid needless lawsuits and preserve its reputation of integrity.

What else would you add to this discussion about respecting copyrights?

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™

©2014 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.



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3 Responses to “Respect Copyrights: Leaders Are You Teaching How? |#HR #Leadership”

  1. John says:

    You make a great point and one to think about especially as things become increasingly digital. I will only share things that have been shared with me, (I am assuming the sender is being above board.) I am asked to share something by the sender or finally if I’m not sure of the source or able to obtain permission I will cite the source and make sure my readers dont mistake it for my own work.

    I understand the frustration. I helped a colleague prepare for a workshop they were teaching by giving them a few bullet points. A week later those bullet point showed up in their blog – verbatim. No where was I given acknowledgment or credit. They felt they did nothing wrong. “You gave it to me, so it was mine.”

    Dialogue about these issues is the key as well as reinforcing integrity. I belong to 30 groups on LinkedIn and when I throw integrity into any discussion thread I get a lot of dismissive answers

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi John,
      Attributing (citing) and acknowledging are so important. I agree with you. When we acknowledge others’ work and contributions, we are building collaborative integrity that keeps sharing very much alive.

      It’s also very important to go beyond citing and find out how much sharing is acceptable. In the case where someone shared my entire workshop section online — he did attribute it to me. Yet he had no right to publish it for others to learn for free. His organization paid for him to attend the workshop. It wasn’t his to share with the rest of the world for free.

      Dialogue, as you say, is very important. It helps everyone understand the more subtle points of copyright.

      Many thanks for weighing in on this discussion with your personal experience and insight.

      Best wishes,

  2. Alli Polin says:

    I don’t have a lot to add other than to really emphasize how important this post is for EVERYONE to read and understand. I wrote on a similar topic a few months ago and unfortunately, too many people and organizations still act as if they don’t understand copyright laws. Honestly, the best thing to do if you want to use someone’s content is to ASK PERMISSION.

    Thanks, Kate!

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