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Definition

freebooting

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Freebooting is the unauthorized duplication of digital content and the presentation of that content as original work.

Online content includes articles, images, blog posts, music files and videos. Many people mistakenly believe that online content may be freely copied and reused, or that it may be reused unless the owner includes a note about copyright protection. In fact, all original content is protected under copyright law and may not be duplicated unless the owner has explicitly granted reuse rights, and any duplication beyond what is deemed to be fair use is illegal.

Freebooting is distinct from sharing. Social sharing buttons on content indicate that it may be freely shared. A blog post, for example, may provide buttons to repost the content to Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter; videos may include similar options along with code that allows the user to embed the video on a website. In no case, however, is it legitimate for the user to pass the content off as original work.

The word freebooter is hundreds of years old and was originally used as a synonym for pirate or buccaneer. The origin of the word is Dutch, from vrijbuit, meaning plunder (made from vrij meaning free and buit meaning booty).

See a video about the problem of freebooting on Facebook:

This was last updated in April 2016

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