Monday, August 13, 2012

A Blogging Dilemma

I could not decide on an appropriate image for this post.
Hopefully I'm not violating any copyrights with this one. 

I've been a bit behind on book reviews lately -- had a long stretch of work (7 days); and on Friday morning, an unpleasant discovery.   A friend emailed that she had found a blogger who was lifting exact copies of my blog posts and publishing them on Blogger under a different name.  Word for word, images and all.

Well, I was dumbstruck, then furious.  Seriously, who'd want to copy my blog?  I don't have that many followers or that much traffic.  I'm not particularly witty or insightful.  I don't make money off my blog, and I sincerely doubt I'll ever get a book deal.  I don't post a lot of personal stuff.    But I do put effort into my posts.  I know some bloggers can just sit down and type something interesting right off the top of their heads.  I am not one of those.  I start writing thoughts and then I have to edit -- a lot.

So who is this blogger?  Well, I don't even think I want to dignify this person by mentioning specifics -- why should I increase traffic on her blog?  All I know is that she's on Blogger and that since February, she has posted every single one of my postings going back to 2010, and she has about FIFTY other blogs -- I'm pretty sure she's stealing all her content for those from other bloggers as well.  A google search of her name showed she's been stealing from blogs all around the country, personal stuff as well as book reviews.  I wonder if she even reads what she's copying -- how could a person have 50 simultaneous blogs and write about 50 different places at once?

My one consolation is that the only comments on her blog are from me, telling her to cease and desist.  She's in a foreign country (if I am to believe what she posts about herself on the internet -- I don't know what to believe) -- and hopefully few of her countrymen care enough to read it.  And I'm not alone -- other bloggers have complained about her, but no results so far.

I'm trying to think of ways to prevent blog plagiarism, but I honestly don't know if it's possible.  I've heard you can insert code into the blog settings to prevent cut and pasting, but I don't know if that would work.  I could cut off my RSS feed, but why should I cut off all my legitimate followers?  And now I'm also wondering if I've technically plagiarized anyone else myself -- not my writing, but I have lifted the occasional image from the internet.  Mostly it's book covers or images from film and TV adaptations of books, but once in awhile I use a graphic or image without attribution.  If I've stolen anything from anyone, I apologize profusely -- please let me know and I'll take it down or give credit immediately.

It's making me think seriously about giving up blogging altogether.  What's the point if some jerk is just going to copy my stuff and pass it off as her own?  It's very discouraging.

I wonder if she's going to steal this post as well.

47 comments:

  1. I have only recently begun following you and delight in your reviews and insight into the books you write about. I am always concerned when I copy an image from the internet. I try to link back to the site from where I found it. I am so sorry your writing in being copied. I hope there is a resolution soon.

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    1. Thank you so much! I really don't want one jerk to ruin blogging for me. I need to go back and add more links to the images I've posted. Thanks for the suggestion.

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  2. A few years ago I read "Words for the Taking," by Neal Bowers, a poet who had been plagiarized and couldn't get anyone to take him seriously when he complained. His sense of frustration, bafflement, violation, and despair sound similar to what you are feeling.

    I have no answers for you, only sympathy. For me it comes down to the fact that blogging enables me to connect with other readers who share my interest/taste in books. Without blogging, I think my reading life would be somewhat less interesting. However, that's easy for me to say, not being in your position.

    It's too bad there's not a list somewhere where you can post urls of plagiarists so that the rest of us know to avoid their sites and not provide traffic for them.

    Best wishes!

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    1. I love sharing the books that I love! I don't think I'll give up blogging, but it just makes me so annoyed. Now I understand how Charles Dickens felt -- there were no copyright laws and he lost so much money -- he had one plagiarism lawsuit that he won, but the defendants declared bankruptcy so wound up paying their court costs as well!!!

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    2. Since there's no list, maybe we need to start one....

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  3. Good book blogs like yours are such a gift to readers, imho. I'm always interested by your posts and your adventures with the library reading groups. Your writing motivated me to try Zola (a wonderful discovery) and to put East of Eden on my to-read list. I appreciate the time and effort that goes into writing thoughtful reviews about a variety of books. I'm so sorry anyone would steal your thoughts and work and claim it as their own.
    Susan E

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    1. Susan, thank you so much! That's why I blog -- to share the great stuff that I discover. And I'm so glad you like Zola. I would never have read his work, and that of so many other great authors, if I hadn't started blogging and following other blogs. I really shouldn't let one rotten person spoil it for me.

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  4. Someone should give that blogger a copy of 'Gaudy Night' and then she might see just how seriously plagiarism is taken in academic circles, at least. It can be really hard to get students to recognise that, especially as in some cultures the accepted way to get good marks is just to regurgitate the acknowledged source word for word. I did once start to read an essay and found myself thinking, "I've read this before" only to then revise my opinion to "Actually, I wrote this before." It never seemed to cross the student's mind that I might recognise it.

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    1. I hope you failed that student!!!

      I know what you mean about regurgitating. I'd often heard that Japanese schools were so superior but then when I lived in Japan, I found out that students just regurgitate and aren't encouraged to have original thoughts -- they have a saying about "The nail that sticks up must be hammered down." I'll take our schools, flawed though they are.

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  5. I have no idea what that person is getting out of that. I took a peek at about half her blogs, to see if she was also copying mine, and all I saw were definitely copies of other people's blogs, mostly book blogs. I should have gone through the last half, but I gave up. Honestly, I've thought a lot about quitting blogging for the last two years, and every day I get closer to it. I'm not even sure I like blogging anymore, you know? Ah well...

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    1. Sometimes I realize how much more time I'm spending on the Internet because of blogging, and I think about quitting, but I so enjoy sharing great books with other people -- or venting about not-so-great ones. And I feel like I've met so many other people because of it!

      But thanks again for the alert!

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  6. I'm so sorry this has happened to you! The person most likely has stolen your rss feed and has it automatically posting to a blog. I believe you can add an automatic message to your feed alerting people to the fact that the content is being stolen--and that will show up on the site. So even if the theft continues, it's OBVIOUS theft. You might also consider automatically including a link to your site in each post so that if a person of integrity actually stumbles across the other site, I doubt they get much traffic, they can follow it back to the real source.

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    1. I will definitely try that out!! This blog wasn't hijacked, maybe the blogger has gotten the message. According to a friend, it's probably not a real person after all, just someone far far away who's trying to increase blog traffic for some ulterior motive. They probably haven't even read the blog -- they might not even be able to read English, which is oddly comforting. At least it's not personal.

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  7. So frustrating, Karen! Is there no way to inform Blogger that she is stealing your content? Can they shut down her account or something?
    I've been really fearful of copyright violations so I try not to post any pictures that aren't my own and if I do I use Wikimedia Commons to find images.
    I am also fearful of people using my images without giving me credit - your issue has now made me think I need to put some kind of notice on my blog requiring permission to use my stuff (not that that would stop some people!).
    I hope you don't quit blogging just because an unscrupulous jerk ripped off your posts. I would miss you terribly! There has to be something we can do!

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    1. Anbolyn, that is so kind! I rant and rave but I don't think I could give it up entirely.

      I'll definitely look at Wikimedia. I've used generic images (I thought) before, so I certainly hope I wasn't violating anything. I hope The Scream image I used above wasn't copyrighted!

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  8. Oh no, please don't quit because of this! If that person is grabbing your content automatically, using a widget to add a copyright notice and link to your blog at the back of every post, like Becky suggested, might be a good idea. It won't solve the problem, but at least it makes it clear to any visitors that person has that that is not her original content.

    Is reporting the issue to Blogger not an option? I heard they are rather quick on the trigger when it comes to deleting blogs that are reported, so maybe if more persons complained?

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  9. That is awful. I would *hate* that if it happened to me. I'm a pro writer and get money for ghost writing, but that's with my permission! My writing self would feel violated if I had had your experience.

    Not sure what options there are to do about it, apart from contact her or Blogger.

    Hang in there. I really enjoy your blog.

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  10. Oh, I'm so sorry -- I so empathize with you! I esp appreciate your frustration -- it only ruins things for you and your readers -- the plagiarizers never seem to get into trouble. :/ I hope you keep blogging -- and I wish I had more helpful advice to offer.

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  11. I can only imagine how annoyed I would be if I found myself in such a situation, but remember that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Please don't be put off of blogging because of this, I'm another one who really enjoys your blog.

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  12. The problem is that Blogger doesn't do anything about it. This thief is using my registered domain name as her blog title and Blogger told me if she has no contact info on her blog pages, I'm out of luck.

    Hello, Blogger? Blog squatters don't do profiles or contact information--they're stupid, but not THAT stupid!

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  13. I don't have any advice - don't know enough about it all, just here to encourage you to stick with it. I really enjoy reading your posts. It would seem that a person like this must be mentally unbalanced? It's beyond my imagination what would be the point of copying multiple blogs and trying to pass them off as your own. Clearly someone in need of some attention - and as has already been stated..."imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" -- obviously this person sees what you do as respectable and worthy of imitation.
    So sorry!

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  14. I'm appalled - but not exactly surprised - at the unscrupulousness of this person, and even more appalled that there doesn't seem to be anything that can be done to stop it. So sorry for you.

    I often wonder why my own blog gets so many more hits from a certain foreign country than from my own. Your post today has made me suspicious.

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  15. OMG , I am disgusted!!!! Can't believe someone would do this. Thanks for drawing attention to this problem.

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  16. I think the best way of going about this is to keep reporting her to Blogger. Enough people complain, the better chances Blogger and Google will finally take it seriously.

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  17. Karen, I'm so sorry to hear about this - and shocked that someone could so blatantly plagarize, and on such a wide scale (50 other blogs?!). I find writing posts a challenge, they take time & effort, and I know how upset & angry I'd be in your situation. But I have to add my hopes that you won't let it put you off blogging - hopefully you can figure out something like a copyright notice that will at least assert your ownership.

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  18. Noooo. Please don’t stop blogging. I am a regular lurker and I love your blog and I really do appreciate both your time and effort. I can’t imagine what sort of benefit this person gets from stealing your posts unless it is free review copies? Street cred in the blogging world? I wish I knew something about hacking…I would take her down!

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  19. I'm so sorry to hear that, Karen. But I think you could report that to Blogger, they will take action. I know that from my own experience. Like you, I sometimes pick images from internet, and at that time I did not give any credit to the source (it's my fault, I know). Someday Blogger notified me that another blogger reported one of my posts (fortunately it was my inactive blog) and Blogger freezed that post until I delete the image concerned. I think you should try this.

    As for protecting your posts, I think there is a way to protect from copying our posts. My blogger friend uses it in her blog, I will ask her about it.

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    1. Karen, I have got a HTML script that you can put in your blog to protect it from being copied. I got this from a friend, if you need it, just let me know by email: joviemaria[at]yahoo[dot]com. I have tried it for my blog, and it works!

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  20. Wow, that's just crazy. I mean, copying posts from 50 blogs? Couldn't this be a bot or something?

    (I wish I knew what the blogger's name is.)

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  21. This is so awful to hear about. I don't really have any advice but if you need help reporting this blogger, I'll add my voice (maybe volume reporting would push Blogger to take action?)

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    1. I think the more people who report this, the better. Google can't ignore all of us.

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  25. I know about this happening, and had reported it to the CEO of Google (from whom I received no response), as well as to the Google developers, to which the Google developers told me that it isn't a developers' issue, and then gave a link to the Google Policy, where a form could be found under the Content Policy section, for the authors having this type of problem to fill out and then send in. Well, a friend and fellow author did this such thing of filling and and then sending in that form. And the response back, that she got was NOt one of that they would help. :( And to top that off, Wired website (http://www.wired.com/ ) stated about Google Blogger, stating that Google has some 100,000 spammers using Google blogs, and the click advertising to access other blogs and get readers to buy their products by creating false blogs. When an online tech magazine is stating this about Google-one of the top leading search engines, according to my college course book "Customer Service: Skills for Success (5th edition)" Copyright 2012, P.287 under the "Customer Service via Technology" section, of the this book for the class that is a required class for my computer tech course-that is bad. :( Shame on Google for allowing this situation to happen! :( Well, I should continue building the security Google app I'd started building in hopes that it might help in this, if I can do so in between my computer tech programme classes.

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  26. Oh, my goodness! This is so incredibly horrible!! I'm so sorry you're going through this and now I'm panicking, wondering if someone is lifting my posts? If they're on blogger, you should be able to submit a request to Google, but I'm not sure! Horrible news, but please don't leave the blogosphere!

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  27. WHAT? This is so crazy. I mean, you hear of aggregate sites posting reviews word for word, but a whole blog posting all your posts? I do not understand this.

    But I'm so sorry. I would be really upset too.

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  28. For what it's worth, I added a "Do Not Copy" banner from Copyscape.com to my two blogs. You can also use Copyscape to search the web for plagiarism of your content. Admittedly, it's may or may not actually prevent anyone from lifting content, but if someone sees it, maybe it will at least make them stop and think.

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  29. It looks like "Desi" has stopped stealing posts and is now using the hijacked blogs to post spam links to insurance, etc.

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  30. That does suck, but please don't let that ruin blogging for you! There are crappy people everywhere - that doesn't mean the rest of us should just give up. Your readers like hearing from you, and I always like your reviews and insights.

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  31. I just learned how to navigate literary blogs and yours is one of my favorites. Sometimes I feel like I'm in the wrong century, when I see how people misuse technology. Keep up your spirits.

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  32. I'd be spitting mad too Karen, but please don't let the idiot put you off blogging. I thought it was bad enough when I recognised large parts of a book review which had obviously been nicked from another blog I had read - why on earth do they bother?! I hope you can solve the problem somehow.

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  33. Karen, my deep commiserations. If Google doesn't want to take any action there is just one choice - moving your blog to Wordpress.

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  34. I can hardly believe it, the cheek! Please don't stop blogging because of it, we love your blog. I suppose the only positive thing to say is that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Amazed that Blogger can/will do nothing.

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  35. Your site has great content, must be good if someone wants to copy it.

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  36. I'm so sorry this happened. It looks like the person has been shut down now, but it was a good reminder to me to periodically search for my content elsewhere. Thanks for that!

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  37. So you did take off the option to follow? Did this turn out to be a problem with offering an easy link to a feed reader?

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