Man, I tell ya… whaddaya gotta do to get through to some people?!
So a someone new registers for our forum the other day. She meets all the registration criteria, but when her site is checked, turns out she’s using verbatim content taken from my personal business website.
I mean, seriously?! Did ya think no one would notice? And then you try to join the professional organization of the person you just stole from?
Honestly, what is wrong with the brains of these people? It just floors me.
On top of that, before she’s gotten any confirmation or word from us, she’s placed the organization logo on her website.
Now, while I appreciate the idea that she wants to be affiliated with us, you can’t just go placing logos and membership buttons on your site unless have permission and/or you are, um, an actual member.
Hello, this is planet earth. In what world is it honest or ethical to mislead site visitors into thinking that you’re an official member when you’re not or have certain official credentials when you don’t?
So I email this person (who’s of an age and generation that she damn well knows better) and I tell her I realize she’s new to the industry so I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt. I proceed to give her a primer on copyright infringement and content theft.
I also explain that she can’t willy nilly place logos on her site without permission, that she isn’t a member yet of our organization and that it isn’t an authorized nor permissible use of our logo. I show her what she needs to take down from her site and ask her to email me when she’s done so that I can put the matter to bed.
Well, I get an email back from her and she’s taken down our logo, but all she’s done with my content is simply change a few words!
I’m fed up at this point and I just call her. She answers and I explain (gasp) the concept of plagiarism to her. You can’t steal someone’s content and you certainly can’t just change some words around when you’re caught. That’s the very definition of plagiarism is. Duh.
I inform her that it must be taken down completely and she’s going to have to come up with her own, original content. I again ask her to email me when she’s complied with this.
I get a message back from her. She’s taken down the infringing verbiage completely (finally), but here’s what she says to me:
“I have read a gazillion sites in the past few weeks getting ideas for my site. Your slogan must have stuck in my mind. I was not aware that I copied it verbatim. I have several operating sites and have found infringement of my copyrighted words, but I take the position that it is a compliment and just let it go.”
It wasn’t a slogan she stole. It was a whole paragraph of content. And you “remembered” it all, word for word, in your head a week later? Yeah, right.
This is what I emailed her back:
“It isn’t a compliment. It is stealing. And it’s illegal. You don’t get to benefit in your marketing from using other peoples’ content and intellectual property. They developed that content for their own benefit.”
And I should have added that just because she may choose to view it as a compliment, doesn’t mean that I am going to nor that I have to. That’s why they have these laws on the books, dodo brain. I don’t take stealing from me very kindly, especially in view of the fact that I give so freely of all my knowledge to the industry in the first place to help Virtual Assistants build their own equity and collateral.
Oh, and how ironic is this… our guest speaker for this month’s guest expert teleseminar is Jonathan Bailey of PlagiarismToday.com, LOL.
If you’ve ever had your content stolen or want to know what to do if it should happen to you in the future, you’ll definitely want to attend! You can register here.