Archive for the ‘Infringement’ Category

Laurice L. on oDesk

Does anyone know someone by the name of Laurice L. who is offering her services as a Virtual Assistant on

She has stolen my “Meet Danielle” text from my personal business site:


If you know this Virtual Assistant or have heard of her, please let me know how to get in touch with her. Thanks.

UPDATE 12/5/08: I emailed oDesk and also posted on their forum about the infringement. A user there flagged the offending account and offered condolences, but I never heard from anyone officially from oDesk. However, when I messaged oDesk earlier this week via Twitter, they said they “were on it.” Received an email today from Stephanie Crull of oDeck who informed me that the offending profile has been deleted from their network. Big thanks to oDesk for their responsiveness (although, it would have been nice to hear from someone directly a little bit sooner).

Plagiarism is Plagiarism is Plagiarism

There is a very troubling, disturbing trend that has been brewing and building in Internet-land. Clients are trying to engage people in our industry in an activity that is unethical and unlawful. What is this activity? It’s plagiarism, otherwise known as copyright infringement.

Here’s what’s going on… there are clients (and these do seem to be most often from the Internet marketing sector) who are taking the works of others (books, articles and other writings) and then asking colleagues to reword them (“so as not to plagiarize”) into new articles or reports or whathaveyou which they then intend to put their name on as the author.

Um… HELLOOOO?! That IS plagiarism. Said another way, it’s also making unlawful derivative use from the copyrighted works of others, which is called copyright infringement. It’s theft of intellectual property.

A member recently had a client wanting them to participate in this activity and she wasn’t sure how to handle it. (By the way, I absolutely adore our members–we have some of the most ethical, honorable, reputable people in the industry, and they refuse to sell their soul and their reputation just to earn a buck). She asked the client if she had permission from the people whose work was going to be used and the client assured her she did.

But she still didn’t feel right about it. Something about the whole thing still niggled at her. And she was absolutely right not to feel good about it.

Look folks, plagiarism is plagiarism is plagiarism no matter how you dress it up. It’s unethical and it can get you into hot water as well.

If you ever feel funny about engaging in something, don’t second-guess your gut instincts. That is your conscience and intuition telling you that something is not right.

Plagiarism IS wrong and any client who wants to engage YOUR business in activity that may not be lawful or that holds possible liability or ethical repercussions had better be prepared to show you the written permissions before you proceed any further. You have your own back, your own reputation, and your own business to look out for.

And really, folks, don’t let clients get away with that crap, or at least refuse to engage in that activity. Ignorance or not, set them straight. It’s absolutely wrong, wrong, wrong, unless they have clear, specific permission from those authors they are making derivative works from.

There are more and more clients out doing this and I think it’s a very sad commentary on society. I’ve even had my “How to Choose an Administrative Consultant” article plagiarized by some well-known people in our industry as well as several internet marketers.

It takes everyone through their own personal actions and choices to ensure that society doesn’t lose its moral compass. It all starts with what we allow people to get away with and whether we act as complicit partners in those wrong activities by not speaking up and saying “no.” If we don’t stand up and say, “Hey, that is wrong and I’m not going to participate,” we are just as guilty.

So hold those clients to task, for your own business protection if nothing else. Ask for those written permissions so you can inspect them and know exactly, firsthand, what licenses are being granted and what isn’t. It’s your right and your obligation as a business.

New Category: Unethical Virtual Assistants

I’m starting a new category on my blog here:  Unethical Virtual Assistants.

I think most people are inherently honest. I think others sometimes do wrong things out of ignorance or denial, but if they were made to think about it, they would know in their hearts their actions were wrong, and given the chance will put things to rights.

And then there are those slimeballs who live under rocks and get away with their dishonest, unethical behaviors because no one exposes their actions to see the light of day.

I’m not having it anymore.

It’s a pretty damn sad commentary that the only way to get those kind of people’s attention is to expose them. You can’t appeal to their ethics—because they have none.

So from now on, here’s what happens when someone steals from me and infringes on my intellectual property.

They get one chance and one chance only to make things right as soon as they hear from me.

If they play games or make the choice to not make things right, I will be posting their names and website links and screenshots documenting the evidence of their theft for the the world to see. (To anyone reading, you had better check to see if they’ve stolen anything from YOU).

I will also, of course, then be handing everything over to my intellectual property attorney. And trust me, once you force me to go to that kind of trouble, I’m pretty invested in going for your jugular at that point.

If you have been a victim of thievery by colleagues, I encourage you to do the same.

Take screenshots documenting their theft. Have your attorney issue a cease and desist and file paperwork to have the offending sites taken down. Go after every penny of prosecution and damages that you may be entitled to.

Maybe then not only will be break this growing cycle of thievery, but we can get back to real honesty and integrity in our industry again.

Dear Danielle: I’m Stuck On a Business Name

Dear Danielle:

I have just made the decision to start my own Administrative Consultant business. I’ve been researching lots of sites for helpful info. I’ve started a business plan. I’ve researched software and equipment upgrades I need to make. Right now, I’m really stuck on finding a name for my business. Maybe I’m making a big deal out of nothing but I can’t seem to come up with something catchy. Any tips? MG

Naming a business is an important decision, so I’m glad you’re taking the time to think it through. You’re not making a big deal out of it at all–it IS a big deal. Good for you. 🙂

There are a few things to think about in naming your business.

First, you do want something unique. You want to differentiate your business and stand out from the crowd. And you definitely don’t want to be confused with any other existing business in our industry.

Which bring us to the second point–steer clear from infringing on the rights of another Administrative Consultant’s existing business name use. That will get you into hot water with your colleagues–not a great way to introduce yourself to the community (and trust me, you will need them).

There are no geographical boundaries in our industry due to the nature of our business model and how we deliver our service. We all operate in the same online marketplace so it doesn’t matter if Superlative Administrative Consulting is in another state. If you use that person’s existing business name or something derivative of it, she’s not gonna be very happy with you, and may seek legal recourse. That could be very costly to you, and she’ll probably tell all her buddies in the industry about your infringement while she’s at it.

So once you start to come up with some names, due your due diligence: make several Internet searches, look through all the various industry directories, and double check with folks in your professional communities.

In naming your business, it really requires you to go back a few steps and think about your target market. You need get clear about what you do, who you do it for and what results you achieve for them. Formalizing that thought process is going to help you establish your branding.

Once you know those things, you then have a better idea of who your business name is really for. What do most of their websites look like? Are they a serious or fun-loving group? Do they sell products or services? Are they in an industry or a skilled/degreed profession? Are they going to appreciate cleverness or inventiveness, or is traditional formality going to better appeal to their sensibilities? What kind of name will inspire their trust and confidence in your business? What brand aspects can your name convey to them?

These are the kinds of questions that should come to mind once you decide who your business is speaking to, and will help you decide what sort of business name will best suit their tastes while conveying your brand position.