Update – The blogger in question posted an apology post on her blog.
Today I’m letting a guest poster share on my site something that’s come out about another blogger – someone using their blog to drive traffic to their Etsy store. Certainly this is a common enough occurrence, and usually a smart business plan. But in this case it’s such a far-reaching and overblown example of content thievery that I can’t help but open up my blog for my fellow #homechat Host, Heather. There’s a grey area of blogger ethics, which is where this story started. And there’s a black-hole of copyright violations that really irks me and that’s where this story ended up. See for yourself – Angela
I have a Google alert set for the name of my site. This is pretty normal, and if you don’t have it, Melanie has a great tutorial that will show you how to set up a Google alert. Thursday evening I was working, when an alert from BlogHer showed up. Home Ec 101: Meal Planning, everything was fine until I wandered over and realized it had nothing whatsoever to do with my site.
While this isn’t illegal, it’s definitely ballsy and certainly a breech of blogger etiquette. I admit to taking it personally when I thought it was TheHappyHousewife, a blogger with whom I’d just done a joint project. I sent a terse email explaining why I was upset and I requested that she consider changing the title of the post.
You may wonder why I’d be so defensive. Normally I would just shrug it off, but I have a book, Home Ec 101 Skills for Everyday Living, coming out in just a few weeks. The last thing I need to deal with at the moment is an SEO nightmare. I took it as a personal affront, although you should never take business personally.
Now comes the embarrassing part -Toni (Owner of THEHappyHousewife) had no idea what I was talking about. I had accused the wrong person.
Mortified, I apologized profusely and went back to look more closely. It turns out there was a good reason I made the mistake. The author of the post linked to her site: ThisHappyHousewife. In my ire, I had read it incorrectly and it’s not a stretch to assume the intent of post author was to take advantage of the long-standing reputations of both of us.
I contacted the editors of BlogHer. Since it wasn’t an actual copyright violation, they chose to let the post title stand.
A Closer Look
I then vented, because really, what else do you do in that situation? Angela listened and then began digging. It quickly became clear that this blogger uses this as their standard operating procedure. They regularly supplement their work with work borrowed** from other sites.
Here are a few examples: (Update – I understand that the specific examples we linked to have been removed. At least two others are still up on the site Amish Bread and Once a Month Cooking. Several of the copied posts mentioned are also still displayed on her original blogspot.com site as well so it appears she only removed the examples I listed below. Here are four screen shots of the lifted content still currently visible on her old blog. Declutter Heirloom Cookbook WashCloth Heart of Roses)
It should be noted that the attribution was added after the content owner was notified but the copied content was not removed.
JG -the writer in question
We all make mistakes when we first start blogging. Sometimes we admire a writer and copy their tone and voice. It happens. I know and admit that I used to be less sure of who I was when writing my content. In this case, I think it is more insidious than the usual newbie syndrome.
The icing on this particular cupcake of fun, ThisHappyHousewife has written to sell a $25 pdf download via Etsy. The cherry? It’s a ripoff of the FLYLady’s control journal, which she sells for significantly less.***
Write your own content. Don’t be scared of your own voice. The real opportunities to monetize come later.
** Some people define “borrow without permission” as theft. I tend to agree with them.
***The icing about the whole thing for me was the copyright statement THISHappyHousewife added to her binder’s description page, “These downloads are protected by copyright law. You are purchasing the downloads for your own personal use. Please do not duplicate (unless for yourself) or use them for resale.”
I’ve added a post about how to protect your posts from theft using Google Alerts and later will publich a post about how to deal with stolen content, ways to get it taken down, paid for, or to fight for your copyright. If you’re not already subscribed to this blog, you may do so using the sidebar to the right, or just check back tomorrow to see more information.