Copyright Infringement: Lorean Tuff

Did my regular monthly plagiarism sweep earlier this week and discovered that a Lorean Tuff has taken whole sections of content from my personal business Home page and placed it on her site here: http://www.myownvirtualassistant.com/Home_Page.html

Here’s a PDF of the screenshot taken (note the yellow highlighted parts indicating the infringing use of my copy).

Here’s a PDF of my personal business Home page with the sections she took highlighted in yellow:

Also noticed she had appropriated EA to VA’s graphic and alerted Syndi Craig Hart to that fact as well, which Sydni was none too pleased about.

I placed a call to Ms. Tuff, informing her of the infringement and letting her know that I expected it to be removed immediately. That was two or three days ago and she still has not removed it even though she assured me it would be taken down that day.

I will be having a DMCA filed to take her site down. In the meantime, you might want to run through her site and see if she’s taken anything from you.

15 Responses

  1. Joy Pipes says:

    Hi Danielle-

    She most certainly used “word-for-word” from your site! I’m surprised! Usually, words are changed around giving them *some* sort of new meaning, but she really out did herself on this one! Give credit where credit is due. Either use the thought and your own words or get permission to use it.

    In college it is all too common to see plagiarism from young students. I think there it happens because either the student is unable to think for themselves, or else they are too lazy to do the work. In the professional area, there is no excuse for anyone to take chunks like that from another person. She could have gone to some of the websites that offer to let you put their words on their own website. This just shows what her work will really be like and she probably won’t be in business for too long.

    I hope you are able to get your content off her site. It appears she didn’t have anything of her own to say!

  2. Hi Joy 🙂

    To be clear, though (only because I don’t want people to get the wrong idea), making derivative use of someone else’ work is unlawful as well. So all those people who are taking content from others and just changing some words and phrases around–that is also plagiarism and infringement. It’s unethical and they can be sued and held liable.

  3. Hi Danielle,

    It is distressful to read that someone has robbed your website content, yet again.

    What do the offenders say when you call them about the plagiarism? What reason(s)do folks give you for stealing your content? Do you find that once confronted, they usually take the page(s)down immediately or does the situation continue to drag on and on?

    I’m interested in understanding this type of behavior and the thinking behind content thievery.

    Thank you.

  4. Hi Janine 🙂

    I don’t go out of my way to find this stuff. Most often, it’s colleagues who alert me to these infringements.

    I don’t have superhuman time and energy to expend on it, but when it does come under my radar, I always give people a chance to make things right.

    Usually, I’m pretty diplomatic about it (you do catch more flies with honey, as they say). But some days I just don’t give a rat’s ass about being diplomatic, LOL. So they just have to deal with whatever mood they catch me in. They’re the ones in the wrong.

    I get plagiarized constantly. My blog would be filled with nothing but these infringements if I posted all of them, which isn’t my intention anyway. Most folks take care of things right away. The only ones I post are the more egregious infringements, where the people seem to think they get to take their sweet time or that it will simply go away if they ignore it.

    I know most of these people are struggling with what to put on their sites. But that doesn’t make stealing permissible. They should be asking for help and advice, not engaging in theft.

    And if they’re allowed to keep getting away with it, they’re gonna keep doing it to others, and pretty soon you’ve got a culture where no one knows what’s right and wrong anymore. Kind of like white collar crime, where it becomes so institutionalized and commonplace that no one recognizes that something is wrong or illegal.

    My thinking is that if folks see that they aren’t going to be able to hide in the shadows and that word gets around, they will be less likely to engage in those behaviors. Regardless of laws, peer expectations can be a powerful force and my hope is that people entering the industry will quickly see that our community is not one that abides or condones unethical behavior and intellectual property theft.

  5. That’s a great answer, Danielle.

    You are correct, stealing is never permissible. Great analogy in comparing to white collar crime. Even stealing work supplies from the job is so overlooked that it has become so commonplace and often built into departmental annual budgets. This reminds me of cheating folks eating grapes right off the produce shelf at the grocery store…people do that right in front of other shoppers (and their own children…who in turn learn to steal other people’s copy)!

    I’m interested in human behavior on the internet. I believe you have written about this before…why is it that people think they can get away with it on the ‘net? There’s no face-to-face, immediate accountability there and the feeling is that “someone won’t find out” as the internet itself appears to be so vast. So global. But little do folks know, they can be caught (and they are) because the ‘net IMO is really just one world broken down into smaller neighborhoods.

    It is said that, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” But copying ones work is not.

    Thanks for posting this, Danielle. I hope it works out for you here. I enjoy reading your opinions.

    Janine

  6. Thanks for adding to the discussion, Janine 🙂

    I know, right? I about kill myself trying to help others in our industry, sharing what I know for free on my blog and in our forum and in the paid products I offer.

    So it’s always such a slap in the face to be stolen from like that. I know it’s not personal, but it’s still such a personal affront.

    I think no small part of it, as well, is people just don’t want to work for anything anymore. They don’t want to think. They want everything easy, to have it handed to them on a silver platter. They want other people to do the work and do their thinking for ’em.

    Obviously, I’m generalizing–not literally everyone is like that. But it’s definitely a trend and pervasive mentality in the world today. Very sad.

  7. Sandra says:

    It is very difficult setting up a new website – I am in the process of doing so – all my ideas seem to have already been taken. What advice can you give me regarding the content I may use. The descriptions I have are so similar to what everyone else already has.

  8. You can’t use anyone’s content. That’s what everyone needs to get through their heads. It’s not yours. It really can’t get any simpler than that.

    The first thing I’d advise is to stop reading other VA sites. They aren’t going to help you. All that is going to do is make you sound like every single other VA site out there.

    Clients notice this, too, and it’s not attractive to them. I hear from them all the time and many of my members have reported similar comments occasionally from clients.

    The second thing you need to do is get super, super clear about what solution you are in business to offer. There is a quite a big difference between a secretarial service, which is in the business of ad hoc, piecemeal project work, and someone who is the business of ongoing administrative support. If you don’t know what you are in business to offer, you can’t write a clear, cogent and focused message about it.

    Third, you need to get a target market. That’s who you then need to be talking to and writing for. THEY are the ones who will give you direction for what should be on your website–in what their problems and obstacles are, how to hone your offerings to them, speak their language and focus and direct your best marketing and networking efforts.

    Also, keep reading my blog. I talk about this stuff all the time. If you read through the archives, you’ll start having some aha! moments.

    If you want more in-depth learning and exercises for finding and writing about your unique value proposition for your website, I’ve written a guide/workbook for just this purpose. It’s called Understanding Your Value and it covers all of this plus how to find a target market, marketing and value-billing methodologies. It’s GDE-38 and you can find it in the Success Store here.

  9. KM Nelson says:

    Third, you need to get a target market. That’s who you then need to be talking to and writing for. THEY are the ones who will give you direction for what should be on your website–in what their problems and obstacles are, how to hone your offerings to them, speak their language and focus and direct your best marketing and networking efforts.

    Danielle, this is really great advice. I know when I first decided to become a VA I did look at the different sites of other VAs to get an idea of what they do and what they charge. But, once I got my niche together, it totally changed the list of products and services that I can offer future clients.

    I know that sometimes I will end up with very similar wording as other VAs…I think because the group of marketable VAs is just beginning to grow, it’s almost impossible to NOT have words sound the same as others…but since I have my “target market,” it will be more unique the the “average” VA.

    This is great advice from all posters…by the way, did she take the information off of her website yet?

  10. Fabulous, KM! And the more you dig deep and focus on your target market, the more compelling and attractive (and differentiated) your message will become. Your market doesn’t care what we do generally… they want to know what we can do for them specifically in the context of their business.

  11. I’m jumping in here on another one of Danielle’s great discussions and adding in two thoughts;

    1) Sandra, when putting together a website, I believe it is important to note that VA sites are often not static. I consider them a work in progress. So, my thought is not to put pressure on yourself to make it perfect the first time. As KM and Danielle mentioned your target market will drive your services descriptions over time. Eventually, as you find what services are best for your target, they will remain static on your site but will always be open for change as time progresses.

    2) Danielle made me think ‘really hard’ some time ago about the definition of a virtual assistant. My thinking changed from being a task-worker to gearing my business more toward becoming a partner with my clients. I know that in the beginning it can be a chore to get that first client and it may only be a one-off project assignment but by changing the thinking (and the marketing) from being a task-style VA to being a partner-VA also changes the way you focus your website.

    Sandra, so as you develop your target and follow KM’s and Danielle’s advice, think about how you want to market yourself; preferably as a partner to a client. This type of thinking creates words on your site that are unique only to your business.

    Great discussion!

    Thank you.

    Janine

  12. Fantastic input, Janine 🙂

    Adding onto your point about being a partner, that’s also where the bigger money and more consistent cashflow is.

    Also, you attract what you focus on. So if your message focuses clients on transactions, that’s what kind of clients it will attract and what those clients will be focused on. You get what you ask for. So if you are in the business of administrative support (not line-item services) and want retained clients (not one-time or occasional customers), focus your message on that.

  13. Sandra says:

    Thank you all very much for this advice. Yes of course I am only starting up and in the very early stages of defining my target market. I also agree that to get that first job I might have to do ad hoc once-off work. I will certainly keep reading this blog as well as the archives – I need all the help I can get 🙂

  14. Whoa, ho ho! She even put “Content copyright 2009. All rights reserved.” at the bottom of every page. That’s rich!

    My two cents about Danielle here is that her website is amazing and I am totally envious of it! However, that doesn’t mean I ever thought of stealing from her. I read her blog regularly and have purchased several of her awesome products. They have really helped me to THINK about my business and where I want it to go. I can’t thank her enough for all that she gives to the industry.

  15. Sandra,

    You are definitely in the right place to begin thinking about your target market and how to design your site. Please keep us posted as to how you progress. There is much help here and good resources from which to choose.

    Jennifer,

    I am in agreement with the quality and value of the offerings that Danielle gives to her readers and subscribers. As I mentioned, I changed my own thinking about going from strictly one-off work to long-term, partnership work with clients right here on this site. It was indeed a ‘light bulb’ moment.

    Best wishes to both of you. And, thanks Danielle for prompting a very healthy discussion.

    Janine

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