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April 6, 2011

Plagiarism...Is it ok to copy someone's blog?

Before having kids, I used to teach foreign language courses at local colleges. On the first day of class, I always spent at least 15 minutes talking about plagiarism. I would define the term for my students and bring out the student hand book to explain the consequences of plagiarism. Ultimately, my advice was always, "Don't do it! If I catch you doing it, I will report you to the dean of the school and let the school handle the issue." Plagiarism is a huge no no when it comes to the field of academics. Students are expected to do their own work just like the teachers/professors are expected to write their own teaching materials or books instead of copying others. I have always seen this as something really important, because really, what do you think happens to you if you get caught copying your co-worker's report/work at your job?

So, why this post? I don't usually check other people's blogs. Between taking care of 2 kids (including a newborn), being a housewife and writing reviews, I simply don't have that type of free time. Besides, I always feel that it's better not to read other people's reviews because I don't want to be influenced by them, my reviews are my own writing (which is often full of grammar errors and typos depending how much sleep I have gotten & of course since English is my second language, my English certainly could use some help ^_^). Some of you might have already realized that my writing style is very particular, this is something I slowly developed after writing tons and tons of reports and book reviews during graduate school. As such, I could easily identify my own writing as soon as I read it -- not because it is great, but because it is uniquely my weird way of constructing sentences.

This bring me to what happened this morning. I was checking out another blog (a review blog written by someone who has been a follower on my blog for over a year and enters almost all of my giveaways). I saw this person has a very nice review blog and and has close to 2000 followers of her own -- which for those who have review blogs know that it's not a easy to do. I clicked on her media kit and read it. I immediately realized that she had copied my media kit (as I have mentioned before, I have a weird way of constructing sentences, so I recognized my own work right away). While she took a few words out, there are sentences that are exactly the same as mine. It was clear to me that she had copied my entire media kit and only changed a few things. I could only assume that she copied it when she started her blog last year (but I did not catch it until now because normally I don't read other people's review blogs).

What am I going to do about it? I don't know yet. Do I call the person out on my blog? I don't want to do that because the last thing I want is to waste my time starting a war and my blog is not a place for it. I have to say that I am deeply disappointed by this though. I understand how hard it is to start your own blog, I was a new blog once. But if someone like me (who did not even learn the English alphabets until I was 13 years old) could write my own media kit without copying someone's work, I would like to think that everyone else could too). The best part, the person has a "Copy Rights" policy posted on her blog. Really? You copied MY media kit and you don't want someone else to copy you? So, the next time you think about copying my work, please think about this,

Yes, you are copying the writing and work of someone who did not learn how to speak English until she was a teenager.

Yes, you are copying the writing and work of someone who actually sat down and did her own work.

Yes, if you are copying my work, your action does reflect your moral and ethical values.

I know that plagiarism happens and this is not the first time it has happened to me, but it still upsets me (bashing my head into the wall here). If you don't think plagiarism hurts anyone, you are wrong. When you copy my work, it hurts me, you are taking the validity of my hard work away from me. So, please stop doing it! To you, I might be a faceless person behind a blog, so you don't care about hurting my feelings. Then I ask you simply to live by the golden rule. Don't do to others what you don't want done to you. Isn't that why you included the "Copy Rights" statement on your blog? If you don't want other people to copy your work, why are you copying mine?

The person emailed me and wrote a very apologetic email for copying my media kit. She explained that she used it as a template when she first started her review blog and had forgotten all about it. When she saw my post, she realized I was referring to her media kit and had changed it completely.

As I have stated earlier, this has happened to me before ( a couple of times, as a matter of fact). The first time, I emailed the woman and she changed the posts right away -- she copied and used my entire giveaway guideline as her own. The second time it happened to me, the person refused to take down the copied posts -- the person was actually copying my entire reviews and using them as her own. I sent several emails as well as commented on her posts and asked her to remove my writings from her blog, she refused. I ended up reporting her for copy rights infringements and after battling with her for over 2 months, her site was finally shut down by blogger.com for copying my content. So, honestly, I was not so sure how this was going to work this time around. This woman (who shall remain nameless) is a follower of my blog and our interactions have always been pleasant since she had won several giveaways from me. I wrote this post because I honestly was not sure how I was going to deal with it -- especially since battling it out for 2 months is not something I want to do again. I was going to sleep on it and decide what how I was going to approach the issue tomorrow after my readers' feedback.

I was surprised that she emailed me so quickly. I thought that her apology was truly sincere and I have accepted her apology. Everyone makes mistakes, I know I have made plenty of them of my own. I know that she will be reading this, so I want to let her know that there is no hard feelings. Water under the bridge.

Thank you for updating your media kit so quickly and for the email. I really appreciate it. I am glad this got resolved the way it did.


kristen said...

That sucks! I am sorry that happened! I have a friend who has a craft blog. She learned from one of her followers via email that someone else had copied an entire tutorial with out a mention or a link back. She claimed it as her own. My friend emailed her to call her out on it instead of calling her out in a post. I think you should do the same. Your work is yours, not to be copied unless you allow it. Keep us posted on how you handle the situation. Maybe after reading this post this person might come forward to you and explain herself.

Amelia said...

Sorry they're being sucky. I totally think you should call the offender out, just so we can witness their public meltdown of "gahhhh! you're so meeeeeaaaan! you don't know my lyfeeeee" etc. ad nauseum. For what it's worth, plagirism is never cool. never.

Stuff Parents Need said...

As someone who teaches college courses online, it always amazes me how many people lie and plagiarize, but even more than that, how many people really and truly do not realize that taking someone else's work is wrong. That may be the case with this person...she may think that "this is just what bloggers do" or something. Totally doesn't excuse it, but if I were in your shoes, I'd just email her and say that the works seems to be borrowed heavily from yours, and you'd appreciate if she would remove it. Looking at it from one angle, it is a compliment that she sees you as an authority on this matter (and I would agree with her on that one...you are one of the review bloggers who inspires me!). But again, that definitely doesn't make it ok. I'm sure she is mortified by this post, already, if she is a regular reader.

Nancyk_79@yahoo.com said...

this happens all the time and you are not alone, you are a big blog I am sure a lot of bloggers copy you. Its never ok, but it happens, don't waste your time thinking about it. Keep up the great work, love your blog:)

beezy said...

this is shocking! As "Stuff Parents Need" said, I am sure she is mortified by this post, and hopefully she will "update" (i.e remove your writing!!) her page content accordingly?

Maria said...

I have to LOL at Amelia's comment and agree. We could use the entertainment. Sorry you're dealing with that though. I actually had someone email & ask if they could borrow from mine. I was flattered, but then saw she had already taken the liberty of taking it anyway. Meh, oh well. *sigh*

The Book Vixen said...

Wow, that's bad. And sheer laziness on her part. You took the time to write out your Media Kit for your blog, not for others to take. I'm not sure if you both review the same products. If you do, I would check her reviews to see if she's copying your reviews as well. Because it can look like you copied her and that's not good. I also highly recommend FairShare. It looks for any copycats for you.

Oh and I even found the copycat by a simple Google search. I would definitely email her and confront her.

adrienzgirl said...

I think that lots of new bloggers don't know where to start, or what to do. They find someone they want to emulate and take their work thinking they will build on it, or that there is some template out there that everyone works from.

I'm glad that you received a sincere apology this time and that the work was removed immediately.

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