Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Yay! Plagiarism. Again.

And yes, it's by the same blogger as before. And yes, the title for this post should be considered to be sarcastic.

Last year I discovered that somebody had been reposting articles from my website under her own name, on her own blogs - going so far as copyrighting them herself and removing pretty much any and all mention of my own site or authorship. On top of that, she'd taken to using some of my images, and even used one to make her own 'button' or 'badge' that people could post on their own blogs to link back to hers and proclaim their support or fandom at the same time. Perhaps one of the most amusing things about it all was that she was so concerned about people stealing from herself, she disabled the right-click feature or the ability to highlight any text on her web pages in order to physically prevent this happening (unless you happen to have a bit of technological know-how). Apparently she had no such qualms doing it to other people, but it was a big no-no once she'd collected it and published it as her own.

All in all, I found the whole thing annoying. A tad irksome, in fact.

Even more annoying was that while I initially met with some success in getting some articles and images removed from her blogs after contacting her again and again with each article I found (I asked nicely, I promise), I kept finding more of her blogs, and more of my articles posted under her own name. My requests for my work to be removed became terser and terser as I got more and more frustrated and upset at the extent to which I'd been ripped...And then, after finding even more articles, and meeting with less and less progress in resolving the issue, I eventually ended up deciding that my only course of action was to issue a DMCA takedown order for the articles and images that remained. It was something I'd initally wanted to avoid, but ended up not knowing what else to do.

After all, and as I've said before: This is the internet. It's SRS BZNS.

For the most part, although it took a while the takedown was a success; Blogger removed the remaining articles and images themselves, in as much as they could, and that was that. Some of my images remained on her blogs because they were evidently not deleted from the blog as a whole (it seems she uploaded the images to her own blogs or image host, rather than hotlinking them from my flickr account or webpages), and were still being used by some sort of widget to promote articles that were no longer live. A bit of back and forth with some of the nice folks at Blogger led to a dead-end because the widget in question wasn't owned by them and that meant there wasn't anything they could do unless I was able to link directly to the content of mine in question, that was still appearing on her blogs. I couldn't do that, because of the way the widget thingy worked, and in the end I decided to give up. The battle was mostly won, I figured, and not long after the blogs were switched to friends only anyway, so I'd be none the wiser if anything happened in future.

Or so I thought. Now she's amalgamated all of her old blogs into a shiny new one, and as a result has evidently reposted some of the pages - not all of them, admittedly, but that doesn't really make me feel much better about it all. Behold! A list for posterity (and one should always back up one's argument or moaning with evidence, if possible, shouldn't one):

Samhainn Divination - copied straight from my own article here with some additions in the references, I think
Celebrating Samhainn - Scottish Style - copied straight from my own article here
Scottish Samhainn Celebrations - a slightly different version of the previous link, with different references/links given at the bottom. I presume this is a duplicate post as a result of various blogs being amalgamated
Samhainn - copied straight from my own article here
The Festival of Samhainn - the same article again, this time without the introduction. I presume this is also a duplicate post as a result of various blogs being amalgamated
Carving - copied from my own article here, but evidently amalgamated with another post/article on the same subject

One thing that makes me wonder is that - while it's been about six months since all of this began - I don't recall seeing some of those articles in the format they're appearing in on the blog just now. I suppose I have to assume that they're from a blog, or blogs, that I didn't even know existed and therefore didn't complain about the first time, so she just left them or overlooked them. Or it's possible she deleted some pages and simply unpublished others, perhaps, and these are just the unpublished ones that hadn't been got rid of the first time round.

But as I said, some of the pages seem unfamiliar to me, and! And! Another thing that makes me wonder is that all but that last page I listed above now credits my site - which she didn't do originally. Either these are indeed from blogs I wasn't aware of, or she's knowingly reposted these articles now (and they're all notably on her favourite subject of Samhainn, whereas the ones that haven't been reposted are about other things) because she thinks crediting my site doesn't make her repostings copyright theft anymore. As if I can't complain about any of it now (and I even sent her a link explaining about what copyright is, and what's allowed, I'm sure). If that is what she thinks, then she's mistaken.

Needless to say, I do claim copyright of the articles - was forced to, publicly, when this whole thing kicked off originally - which means that nobody can copy them without my permission.* As copyright holder, I hold the rights to who can and cannot copy this work (the clue's in the name, really), and it's now clearly stated in the footer of the site that the articles are copyrighted, after a commenter previously suggested I should do that to avoid any confusion. Seeing as there's a widespread misconception that if it's on the internet it's fair game unless otherwise stated, fair enough.

So yeah, that'll do it, I thought. While I don't have to do that in order to claim copyright of my work, fair enough if that does help to avoid confusion. So I made it clear. And really, I thought I'd made it abundantly clear that I want nothing to do with this woman, and that would be that. She wouldn't just do it again, would she? It's a good job I'm paranoid.

To be fair, I suppose that this all could be a genuine oversight on her part, somehow or other. Considering the fact that she shouldn't have done it in the first place, however, let alone twice (it's a dubious honour, and I should be flattered, I'm sure), I don't think that lets her off anything - especially considering the fact that, as far as I can tell, very little else on her blog is her own work either, and also happens to be copyrighted. Clearly, as far as it seems to me, she's learned nothing.

I suppose the only thing I can do is give her a fair chance and ask her to remove the posts before I have to start hassling those poor folks at the DMCA again. It's not a prospect I relish, but I really, truly, don't see what else I can do otherwise.

* I should clarify that of course there's fair use and so on, that does allow for that sort of thing (although this doesn't generally mean that you can repost a whole article online if you feel like it), but it doesn't apply here; I'm talking specifically about someone reposting articles wholesale, without permission and proper credit, and claiming copyright of that content for themself. 

I have absolutely no objections when it comes to copying/printing for personal use, or sharing with others in groups and so on.