I write because I enjoy doing it, and because it genuinely makes me happy when people like what I write. Because it’s not my living I’m not massively precious about what I write. Everybody who’s ever asked me if they can use my work has been told that they can. I don’t even mind when, occasionally, it turns up on Facebook, stripped of attributions; it’s nice to know that something I wrote is still making people smile, and Facebook friends (who’ve been putting up with my wittering a lot longer than most of you) often ask, “Is this one of yours?”.
The week before last, however, something different happened, somebody straight-up stole something I’d written. On the day where it looked like the government might release readacted Brexit impact statements I wrote and tweeted this:
It’s a fairly obvious joke – many other tweeters had similar ideas – and it’s not exactly subtle. All I did was type up a Word document with a load of swear words in and then draw black rectangles over them in MS-Paint (yes, really), but that’s my version of that joke.
Three hours after my tweet, this tweet appeared…
Labour should have saved their energy on this whole Brexit Impact vote… turns out Activate had it all along! pic.twitter.com/oXeNJTjm4U
— Activate UK (@ActivateBritain) 1 November 2017
If you follow the link you’ll see that they’ve posted the image that I created. The image of the document that I wrote. And they added it to a tweet that heavily implies it was their work.
They’re not some new-to-Twitter run-of-the-mill user looking for a few retweets either, they’re a verified account, with 16.5k followers (nearly 3 times my count), claiming to represent young Conservatives in the UK. Yet they couldn’t just retweet or quote tweet me, or ask my permission to reuse my material, or even credit me in their post.
Who’d have thought that Conservatives would behave like that, eh?
Still, I didn’t write this blog to complain about them. I wrote it to say how wonderful it was to see so many of the replies to their tweet from people complaining that they’d stolen it from me. My most sincere thanks to each and every one of you who took the time to chide them, it was lovely and really touched me.
I may never have earned a penny from my writing, but it has earned me the most wonderful Twitter followers I could ever wish for.