Mary Engelbreit: A Cautionary Tale in Copyrights and Using Google For Research

Late last night I was flipping through Facebook and I came across the below post from my friend, and author of several books including the incredible UnMarketing, Scott Stratten. Scott has his stuff swiped pretty frequently, but in this case he was not credited for the quote and the artist was planning to sell the artwork with his quote as a print.

ignore-the-haters-scott-stratten

Now quotes are a funny thing – Mary Engelbreit claimed that she searched on Google for the author of the quote and that it was attributed to many people.

When I Google “don’t try to win over the haters you are not the jackass whisperer” I see results attributed to Brené Brown or Scott Stratten.  On closer inspection though Brené even attributes the quote to “her friend” Scott Stratten.  So not a whole lot of ambiguity to the quote, and obviously not a whole lot of time spent researching.

Mary Engelbreit's Nutcracker (Scott Stratten)

As the evening went on the comments started to flood into Mary Engelbreit’s Facebook page asking that she attribute the quote to its proper owner (here’s a sample).  It was fairly late here in Texas so I imagine Mary was not aware of the growing comment flood.

matthew-egan-facebook-quotes

Hundreds of comments total, mine among them with the photo above, all asking why, when other works of Mary’s had given attribution for the quotes she uses when selling her artwork… why was Scott’s name left off?

Eventually it got later and we all went to sleep, assuming (correctly) that all of our comments would be deleted by morning.  We were right.

mary-engelbreit-will-not-use-scott-stratten-quote

The entire post with all of our comments was removed from Facebook and replaced with a new post giving credit to “Scott Straten” (which was later corrected after enough commentators gave her grief for not even bothering to spell “Scott Stratten” correctly.)

She is still using the image to promote her online store via Twitter.

mary-engelbreit-on-twitter

Many of us were banned from Mary’s page (myself included) and if you look at her page you would think she was the victim of a smear campaign – her fans wondered who this Scott guy was and why he wasn’t happy “for the exposure”.

mary-engelbreit-quotes

One of the UnMarketing fans found Mary’s copyright and trademark page and shared a screenshot in the discussion.  It seems Mary takes trademark’s very seriously… when they’re hers.

mary-engelbreit-copyright

In the end, there is only so much you can do to protect your copyrights, and in this case Scott leveraged a little social shaming to protect his, but we live in a time where companies will download videos from other websites, repost them without giving any credit, and leverage that content to build their brand.

Companies pay millions of dollars a year into Errors & Omissions insurance to protect themselves from lawsuits erupting in copyright violations and the use of trademarked content.  It certainly happens.

The lesson here:  Don’t just copy something off the internet to use as your own, especially commercially, and if you are going to “borrow” content from others it’s a good idea to make sure they don’t have a rabid fan base that will stand up for you in the face of intellectual “borrowing”.

always-give-credit

Full disclosure – as seen above – I have had the “Jackass Whisperer” poster on my wall since August of 2012.  Mary has taken responsibility for the borrowing of the quote without attribution, and I can imagine in the future she will be searching a bit deeper before placing a quote on her artwork to sell.

UPDATE – Due to being heckled Mary has removed her apology.


EDIT – This was too good not to attach to this post.

Beware Of End Of Year Fluff Posts On SEO

So close to Christmas and the end of 2014 many websites have been inviting us to contribute tidbits to articles about how SEO will change in 2015 and what businesses can do to be ready. These fluff posts are fun, and they’re always an easy way to earn a link for websites like ours, but we should also exercise some caution when reading these posts.

SEO hasn’t changed a ton in the five years that I’ve been running Image Freedom. There have been websites caught doing shady things, even SEOs blacklisted by Google for such tactics, but the very basic “SEO 101″ details very rarely change. Matt Cutts from Google would tell you that Google wants you to make the internet a better place, and that is certainly a very “Google PR” way of saying it but he’s not that far off.

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SEO Job Titles: The Curator

An SEO by any other name would still have a splitting headache. I stole my job title from Wil Reynolds from SEER Interactive, who calls himself “Founder & SEO” (a play on Founder & CEO). I’ve also always loved Rand Fishkin‘s title as “The Wizard of Moz”. I just never found a fun title of my own, one that felt right, until now.

Nice to meet you, I’m the Curator. Yesterday I got a call from an old client who was migrating their website using a new website designer (don’t get ahead of me now!). They wanted access to their Rackspace hosting so they could point their domain name to their new hosting. If you possess any knowledge of DNS you’d know that a service like GoDaddy or Network Solutions is where you go to point the domain, not to the websites host, and if you’d pointed the domain through Rackspace’s DNS and then closed that hosting account after the move, the DNS record would likely also be deleted.

Doctor Who The Curator Tom Baker Matt Smith

This was not my circus, and they were not my monkeys, but they called me and so I had to help. I’d set things up correctly the first time (including non-indexed vanity URLs that are now being indexed and dorking their SEO) and I consider it a point of professional pride that it not get screwed up.

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Video: Macro vs. Micro in Business

Economies of scale, margins, and densities. Oh my! Lots of questions floating around lately about scaling a business and I wanted to touch a bit on my thought processes on macro vs. micro business models. I’ve always been a fan of the phrase “don’t let a dime get in the way of a dollar” and you’ll hear that logic in today’s video.



There are millions of ideas out there for great businesses, and a hundred million terrible ideas that look great. Weighing margins vs. customer access is the key math I look at when evaluating a business, either as an investor or as a consultant. Deeper analysis comes later of course, I’m a huge fan of SWOT analysis and the lean canvas, but only after an idea passes the initial benchmark: can it scale?

Image Freedom Takes Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS

Published in Image Freedom by

It’s hard to have missed at least a couple of videos from the ALS Challenge. I’ll be honest, when I saw the videos I didn’t know what ALS was, I was aware of Lou Gehrig’s Disease which ALS is often called, but it wasn’t until the ALS Challenge started making the rounds that I took the time to learn more. That was the goal from the start – awareness and fundraising.

On August 18th I was challenged by my good friend Andrew Shaddox, and on top of donating $100 for each of the Image Freedom team members, we’ve also created our own video to meet the challenge.

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has been developing online content since 2001. Leading the strategy for Image Freedom projects, Matthew busts myths and develops revenue growing SEO campaigns for our clients. Read More >>

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