This all started with the Book In a Week (BIW) group on Yahoo! Groups. One person posted a question asking about writing software. I replied with a fairly long list of the various pieces of writing software (20 Feb 2007) that I’m familiar with, some which Fahim wrote, others written by others, and my brief assessment of each. Not a brilliant post and one that certainly won’t stand the sands of time, but still, mine.
Then I get an email from a member of the group (23 Feb 2008), R, asking me if she can post the list to her blog and give it out to her friends.
I got a few emails from a few other people, but hers is the one that stands out. I responded to her two days later (25 Feb 2008) saying no, you can’t publish my list to your blog, but here’s the URL to the list in my own blog post and you can certainly use the URL in your blog post if you like.
As far as I was concerned, that was the end of it.
Fast forward to this week, when I learn (accidentally, I must add) that not only did R post my list to her blog, but she did it the same day she emailed me asking for permission, she didn’t give me credit (although she didn’t take credit herself), and she didn’t link to my own post about the software on my own site.
I immediately left a comment on her blog for that entry where she posted my list, a comment she never approved although I know she read it – that’s how she found out that I knew about her copying my list. She then replaced my list about 24 hours later with a public apology for copying my list, giving me credit by name, but still no link to my blog post even though I provided her with the URL again. But that apology only stayed up for two or three days, a much shorter amount of time than the four months that my list remained on her site.
What did she do wrong? She published my post on her blog without my permission and without giving me credit (of course she had my name – I sign every single post that goes through that group, my name and identity is attached to every single post, my email address is accessible on every single post, plus she had emailed me asking for permission). And she didn’t remove it two days later when I responded with a no.
No, what she did was not plagiarism, as I originally accused her – plagiarism is when a person copies someone else’s work and take credit for it. She didn’t take credit but rather was very clear that it wasn’t her list. What she did was a copyright violation, though, and a very clear cut one at that.
If R hadn’t taken the list down voluntarily, there still would have been a few things I could have done. R’s blog is hosted on WordPress, so I could have reported the blog to WordPress along with a DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) notice. If it had been hosted on Blogger, I could have reported the blog to Blogger. If she’d had Google Adsense or Amazon affiliate links, I could have reported this to them and her account would have been shut down. If hers was a self-hosted blog, I could have reported this to her domain host. Really, there are quite a few things that can be done about people who violate copyright on the Internet. No, they’re not always successful – I’ll save that story for another day – but usually, they are, especially when we’re dealing with large organizations that have their reputation to protect.
While I was investigating what R had done, I checked with Google and a few other search engines and found, sure enough, that my post didn’t show up. At all. Hers did. Not surprising since Google doesn’t seem to like duplicate pages or posts. How much traffic had I lost because of her post? I have no idea and she certainly doesn’t, either. Granted, I have no ads on my website, so I certainly didn’t lose any revenue in that respect, but is that the only way I could have lost out? Philosophically, no, but in reality, there’s no way to tell, not for her and certainly not for me.
At any rate, I reported this to Google and a week later, that end of things was resolved – her post no longer shows up but mine does. I haven’t checked other search engines, though…
Getting back to R… Aside from the apology on her site, she also sent me an apology by email. She claimed that she was so excited to share this information with others that it got the better of her – that’s my paraphrase, anyway.
And then she sends me a second email, demanding a response from me and asking me if I accept her apology. The demand for a response I also don’t get, nor do I think I owe it to her, especially not on her schedule. As for accepting the apology – well, I’m one of those people that, if you piss me off, you’re better off giving me time to cool down before you start making demands that will just piss me off even more. 🙂 Yeah, I’m kinda funny like that. 😀
I’m not sure whether I believe her or not – it’s difficult to tell over the Internet without body language at the best of times. Maybe she’s sincere, maybe she isn’t. If she is, then why didn’t she remove my content when she got my response email two days later? Why did it take a comment to her blog for her to take it down? Wasn’t the first email enough? For that matter, why wasn’t the knowledge that the content wasn’t hers enough when she knew that she needed permission as evidenced by the original email to me?
I don’t get it, personally. I know people make mistakes – we all do, and I’m certainly not perfect. I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt now, hence not publishing her name or website, although I’ve got screenshots of everything in case this isn’t an isolated incident. I hope it is, mind you, I really do. I really do hope that it was an accident like she claims. An accident I can understand. shrugs
5 thoughts on “Copyright Violations”
Ugh. What an expense of energy. It’s a shame that people don’t do what’s right, when we know what’s right. She knew what was right and went to great lengths to do wrong anyway.
And demanding forgiveness is ridiculous. At least it’s over – until the next time >:(
I don’t know if I would easily forgive an incident like this nor do I believe her to be 100% sincere. She should have waited until she received your response to post your work at all, something you hope a fellow writer would know and sympathize with. (I assume she is a writer for simple fact of your subject of writing software she was so eager to share.) Secondly, I believe the only reason she didn’t take it down after your response to her e-mail the way she should have was she thought you would never find out about it. I am like you in the respect that I need a little cool off time, but to demand something with an apology makes it sound less sincere all the more. I am glad to know you were able to resolve your problem and you now receive the correct credit through Google, and thank you for sharing the information on how to fix such a problem.
Wow. Beyond not knowing the difference between right and wrong, your plagiarizer doesn’t seem to know what a writer is. How someone can steal 100 % of someone else’s work and call themselves a writer is totally beyond me What a wretched attitude!
What a complete mess. Looks like everything is straightened out now though.
Doesn’t matter how long it is between times that something like this occurs its still a pain isn’t it? I hope that it is indeed all done and over with now