Rewriting marketing company copy

I am working on a redesign for a doctor who has been using an i-Matrix site to this point. They are a turnkey web solutions company for a number of industries–mostly in the medical field.

Along with hosting and templates, they provide industry-specific content. So each site has a Featured Articles section that pulls in their copy.

This doctor wants me to move him to a self-hosted WordPress site, but he wants to know if he can use some of the existing content if it is rewritten enough. Not necessarily the articles, but some of the static page stuff that they provided as well I think.

I wasn’t 100% sure what to tell him. What is the rule of thumb on this? When is rewritten copy considered far enough removed from the original to be new?

I wouldn’t “rewrite” the pages.

IMHO it would be better to
make a list in outline form of the key points it covers,
amend it to better reflect the new site,
and then use that to write new pages.

Thanks for the reply.

To be sure, that would indeed be better. But it is not likely to happen. We’re talking about a good amount of copy, and he doesn’t have the time and I don’t have the expertise.

I understand advocating practices for the best of circumstances, but realistically there have to be situations where the need arises to modify existing copy. Especially in specialty fields.

Maybe my answer is it needs to be modified to the point that no one notices…

Sorry, I was under the impression you were both professionals.

If he doesn’t mind risking problems that may end up being more expensive, and you’re only a hobbyist helping a friend out, then maybe a “copied from ____” disclaimer at the bottom would suffice.

Unless he has rights to the content, spun or not it’s still theft if it’s not his to use.

Best get a contract indemnifying you if he insists.

Well, that all sounds very prim and proper, but my translation in this instance would be:

‘I understand it is bad to steal content, but writing and paying for new content will be inconvenient and tiresome because it is specialist in nature, so we will steal it anyway and try and keep it a secret.’

How about asking the doctor to contact iMatrix himself to ask for permission to use the material? Then, whatever the response, and whatever happens subsequently, it is the doctor who has made the ultimate decision, and no blame should attach to you. Don’t give him advice you know to be wrong - put the ball in his court. He won’t even call, most likely, but you will have made your point.

iMatrix specifically defend their content IP in the T&C of all their sites. I would think they are quite used to discovering and dealing with copiers and spinners.

Personally I have the deepest contempt for anyone who steals the original content I write for my clients. It happens frequently and there is NEVER any excuse for it. It’s not something that any decent person should want to be associated with.


Awesome! Prim and proper is exactly what I was going for in my response. :wink:

Seriously though, I am not advocating theft and my concern is not being inconvenienced, it is a lack of resources to do a complete rewrite. But I guess that is his problem, not mine.

I should have made it clearer that I was asking if there was some sweet spot where existing copy is rewritten to the point where it becomes original. Think I got my answer.

Thanks again.

Yep, that’s basically the way to look at it, I believe. It’s so easy to get drawn too deeply into things that aren’t really our responsibility.

In your shoes, I would be very annoyed that I’d landed a nice design project, and then found it threatened by the client’s questionable approach to copyright. Hope you find a solution.

These things are sent to try us! :slight_smile:


Yeah, I have a bad habit of trying to go the extra mile for the customer. I think in this case I will try to break that habit and tell him he is on his own with the content.

BTW, I know every Pierces song by heart (just saw your sig). My wife is huge fan and she plays them in the car and around the house 24/7. Not really my cup of tea, but I agree that they are easy on the eyes.