Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Plagarism is Not Chic

Much of the time, bloggers write about the same people, magazine articles or events. We often use the same photos and source materials. It's usually no big deal if someone writes a similar post about a similar topic. But when another blogger copies word for word what you have written, that steps over the line into plagiarism. I normally like to stay away from negativity on my blog but I was so shocked at what I found today that I feel I have to address it publicly.

This past March 16th, I spent hours working on a post about the Perfect Paris Penthouse of Giancarlo Giammetti. I looked everywhere for the right photos that would showcase the apartment. I knew I had seen it featured in an old Town & Country magazine and was able to find it on Peter Marino's website. I also pulled out my copy of the Vogue Living book. I knew the late Fernando Bengoechea took the photos so I pulled a few from his website. I spent hours writing the story and making sure that I properly credited Peter Marino for his quotes. And of course, I also added my two cents about how much I loved the apartment and it's design. I actually stayed up late that night to put it all together.

So when I noticed that another interior designer and blogger had also written about Giancarlo's apartment today, I took a look at her post. (She has since taken it down.) I was interested to read her take on it. What I wasn't prepared to find was that she had copied most of my text or changed it very little. At the end, she had credited seven sources, none of which were my blog. I understand the similarities where we have quoted Peter Marino but she has blatantly copied parts that I wrote such as "Giancarlo Giammetti is the business brains counterpart to Valentino's creative genius." Also, where I said that "evidence that no detail was overlooked or no expense was spared!" Those were my words not a phrase that came out of any of the articles or books. And "what I love about the apartment was even though it was completed in 1977, it doesn't look dated at all." She took all of these for her post and more.

I emailed this blogger earlier and copied a few other bloggers on it as witnesses. I told her that she could either change it, remove it or credit me. She took it down finally but I still have received no reply. I decided to post this also as a warning to other bloggers. People will notice if you copy someone else but not only that, it takes all the fun out of blogging. Everyone should have their own voice and opinion. It's part of the reason that I try to post original content or to make sure I credit my source of inspiration. I hope everyone will try to do the same going forward.

38 comments:

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Heather, you handled it beautifully. The same thing happened to me a couple of weeks ago and I wimped out on confronting the blogger in question. In your case, however, the amount of material plagiarized is much too big to ignore and kind of puts to rest the plea that she might have done it "accidentally." Ugh, so sorry it happened.

Anonymous said...

her post seems to be gone.

Pigtown-Design said...

There was a blogger who was copying An Aesthete's Lament's post word for word! I am sorry that this happened to you.

Heidi said...

Go Girl!!!!

Jennifer said...

I am so sorry to hear this! I had this happen to me about a year and a half ago. It was so awkward and unnecessary. Sounds like you handled it gracefully.

Letti said...

Wow, this is just such an inexcusable act and so embarrassing. Good for you for calling her out on it!

Sarah Jane said...

whoa, no response? that's awful, you would at least hope that it was unintentional. i hear you...and i have been learning along the way the respectful protocol and that it's a great sharing culture where credit is due for all;)

LPC said...

How dreadful. I purposefully refrained from clicking through to her blog in order to deny her traffic from wrong doings.

Habitually Chic said...

Thanks for the support. As someone mentioned on Facebook, she's not a novice blogger. She's someone who should have known better. The only thing I can think of is that she has someone in her office write her posts and maybe they copied my post. There were too many similarities for it to be a coincidence. But she has yet to email me so I guess I will never know.

A Gift Wrapped Life said...

She can't be too original....I think you handled it well and fairly and were within every right to ask it be removed. But no apology.....even worse. You obviously work exceptionally hard at your fabulous posts and if it helps at all.....no one can do it better than you. even when they copy it word for word, so tacky!

Dumbwit Tellher ♥ said...

Yes indeed you handled the situation extremely well. I worked on a recent post for so many hours it's embarrassing. But my goal was to do a lot of research & give credit where credit was due for my information. I am glad now should that happen to me, to know how to handle the situation gracefully.

I agree with Sande; Tacky!

Suzy said...

I just don't understand why anyone would even bother doing that. Like you said, the whole point of blogging is to get across your own unique take on things and voice your thoughts. Its just a waste of everyones time if you are just copying anything word for word... I'm dumbstruck.

The Dilettante said...

Your response is admirable and I would hope that that this might form the basis of some sort of protocol. I must say I am bursting with curiosity (if one can burst with such a thing that is) as to who The Culprit is! kind regards
B

Olivia said...

Heather, your posts are always of the highest caliber, and it is really obvious the work you put into them. It is too bad this person plagiarized you, and it really says something about her character that she would do that. It also speaks volumes that she did not have the class to apologize, or at least address the issue once confronted. Her blog has been erased from my bookmarks!

mary said...

I noticed immediately. Heather, I think that you forged new territory in the manner in which you handled the situation. Bravo. All of the effort and research that you put into your blog is really appreciated.

Anonymous said...

She was accused of doing exactly the same thing about a year ago. When her victim called her on it, she DID add credit then. Not sure why doesn't do the same thing in this case.

Anonymous said...

The plagiarist originally used the material in this post with NO credit:

http://patriciagrayinc.blogspot.com/2008/11/divine-law-of-great-chair.html

Only when the original blogger/writer complained did the plagiarist add credit.

Laura said...

But with all this talk about "borrowing" one another's ideas (and I think it is the lowest of lows) am I the only one who's noticed that one extremely popular magazine's august issue has the exact same guest soap sampler and david hick's floor tiles listed in a column designed to show new products as another magazine's June issue? It may just be a coincidence, but doesn't somebody check for things like that?

Anonymous said...

Good for you! Early on in life we learn that PLAGARISM is wrong! Thanks for keeping people honest.

As Ghandi once said "BE The Change You want to see in the world" and you did it!
Lisa

Anonymous said...

Even though the post is now down, I made a screen capture that documents the plagiarism.

Jessica Condatore said...

I find it reasonable when an event happens, a notable magazine article comes out, a PR firm sends out an interesting blast, that it may hit a few blogs around the same time - however, I expect that each blogger would have his or her own unique viewpoint. That happens all the time. When it crosses the line is when one blogger's viewpoint is re-credited to someone else. I recently fell victim to this as well - a popular magazine contacted me about featuring a series I was running on my blog. When, after a few emails were exchanged, and the correspondence died on their end, I wrote it off and forgot about it. Imagine then, how shocked I was to open the magazine a few months later and see a large article using my exact (very unique) idea. I cannot describe how I felt in a better way except to say I felt violated. Good for you for speaking out, I know how it feels, and I say bravo for taking the reigns.

Sydney said...

I took a seminar last weekend on blogging. We were given this website - http://creativecommons.org/ .
It is a copyright system for web based content and blogs are part of that content. It can be added to any blog and it's free.
I really have not explored it so basically that is all I know.
Referencing the magazine that stole from Jessica Condatore, I to have had ideas stolen (twice) by larger more powerful entities and it really feels very bad and very orwellian.

Anonymous said...

It is very unfortunate that this situation happened, and I am sorry. Regarding the copyright website in the comment above, I don't know anything about it. However, most bloggers are technically violating copyrights all the time by publishing photographs from magazines, books, and photographers without permission.

Lauren said...

A friend of mine recently passed this along:

http://blogwithintegrity.com/

I love the idea, thought it was a nice start to something positive in the blog world- touches on plagiarism and intellectual property.

Anyhow, frustrating to go through something like this, but keep on writing, I love your blog!

Anonymous said...

It gets better.

The plagiarist just took down the first post in which she printed stolen material--atttempting to erase all evidence of her plagiarism.

I was able to find a cached version of it and have made screen captures of it.

Here's the cached version; not sure how long it will be available:

http://tinyurl.com/nqbk9x

High-Heeled Foot in the door said...

Oh no I can't believe that happened.It's just such a horrible feeling to see your work copied. I'm glad that the blogger removed it, but it's so strange that they did not email and apologize.

Now of course I'm dying to know who it was.

Blushing hostess said...

BHE has a shadow blog that cuts all sorts of things from my work: Titles, complete paragraphs, my life memories. While it may be the sincerest flattery, it is also grotesque and sleezy, and so I copyrighted my work right away. It is a person who clearly never had an original idea in her life nor any taste or style (goes without saying, after that, right?). But then, a very large style blog snapped me up word for word - posting no recognititon, etc - I pulled her from my read-list and did not even bother getting in touch with her, copyright enforcement (which I is free to me) will take care of it all in one big swoop.

You know, we'll always be here, knowing your work and enjoying it, so no worries, though you might consider enforcing it once just to make your point clear to all comers.

The Countess of Nassau County said...

Ridiculous. One of the greatest things you can do for your blog, your readers, and a fellow blogger is credit a terrific post.

I am pretty new to blogging, and while I sometimes struggle for a proper photo credit or flat out forget - copying/pasting text is just lame. And then there is the Single-White-Female type wacko that is laying claim to the life of the Blushing Hostess. What the heck?

Yes there is overlap in the blogosphere, the TWO posts I read on Nan Kempner today bears that out. But plagiarism is the pits.

Siiri said...

It's sad how with one thoughtless decision someone can dig themselves a hole rather than building a better design/decor blogosphere. She could have just as easily contacted you for say, an interview (which I've noticed is something she does a lot on her blog, interviews that is), and spoken to you about your take on the post and the flat you wrote about. Then she could have done an OP ED perspectus on your piece, and the flat and her ideas of how that all influences that era of design.

And what's worse is it sounds like she's a repeat offender. It's one thing to ask a friend what they answered for No. 5 on a test, it's another to scribble their name out and put yours over it. Shameful.

Anonymous said...

The way to stop it? Name the offender. In public.

And don't take her name down, just because she removes the post and hides the evidence of her theft.

A crime may be over quickly, but it continues to do damage long afterwards. An assault may last only 30 seconds, but its effects linger. Same with plagiarism. In the three or four hours her plagiarizing was online, hundreds of people saw it and thought it was hers. And many will never see this post, so they won't know any better.

Don't give her a break. She stole. And she refuses to apologize.

Alicia said...

Tackeeeeeeeeee!!!
Heather I'm relatively new to this blogosphere but as an adult I know its not nice to steal, heck its just plain wrong. I would not only never not credit I ALWAYS ask permission first to use anything I see no matter how small.
Common courtesy...

soodie :: said...

You do put a lot of work into it and for free. and you share your hard work and knowledge with everyone, for free. for the good of it all. then it has to get spoiled. makes you not want to blog at all.

i had one of my posts copied and pasted word for word on a porn blog. no responses from the blogger to take my words off. and filing a complaint is more complicated than i thought. i blog about things like chairs! on a porn site?

people steal, blatantly. this has amazed me through the years. even in my design classes people stole ideas and concepts and called it their own. where is the pride? and what about the repercussion? i'm glad you posted about this.

Anonymous said...

HC
Thanks for alerting us about this. I’m sorry this happened to you. It’s regrettable. Calling out the blogger by name is the best way to shed the light of day on this sort of thing.

LAURA wrote:

“But with all this talk about "borrowing" one another's ideas (and I think it is the lowest of lows) am I the only one who's noticed that one extremely popular magazine's august issue has the exact same guest soap sampler and david hick's floor tiles listed in a column designed to show new products as another magazine's June issue? It m
ay just be a coincidence, but doesn't somebody check for things like that?”

Laura-
Ideas are not protected by copyright laws. Neither magazine you are mentioning broke any copyright laws by featuring the same products as their competitor in a column.

National magazines are planned six months or more in advance. (The editors of your favorite magazines are already working on their February 2009 issue.)

I seriously doubt that the magazines you mentioned were copying each other. By the time Magazine A’s June issue hits newsstands, Magazine B’s issue has already gone out to the printer.

Magazines that cover the same topic (home, food, health, what have you) tend to all feature the same products on their pages at around the same time.

1.) Because publicists/marketing people at the companies that release these products tend to hit all the appropriate magazines at the same time

2.) there are only so many “cool products” that come out at once and

3.) magazine editors tend to have a pretty good idea of what readers want to see (for example, what design hound DOESN’T like David Hicks?).
So sometimes there is overlap between publications.

There is no way for one magazine to know what another magazine is doing. They are COMPETITORS and don’t share information.

Anonymous said...

Laura is correct.

The magazine that came out in August had time to notice the potential duplication with a competitor's June issue, and prevent it.

I disagree with the following:

<<(The editors of your favorite magazines are already working on their February 2009 issue.)>>

I work at a national consumer magazine with newsstand circulation, and we are just now finishing up our September issue. Believe me, we are not working on a February-of-next-year issue.

If we found out on Monday that a competitor's August issue just came out with the same material we were readying to run in September, we WOULD have time to change it.

Especially since we're talking about a little item that occupies less than a page. Changing out one "hot new tchotchke" for another would be very doable.

kate said...

Heather,

I'm sorry this happened, too, but you handled it so well. You are indeed habitually chic and graceful. I love your posts and admire you.

I have lost considerable respect for this blogger/plagiarist. I'm removing her from my reading list.

Fiona said...

Magazines work about three months out. I know, I used to work at one. However, I agree that press releases do (usually) go to blanket coverage, but it sounds like in this case, they weren't published at the same time.

Shelley Trbuhovich said...

i'm with suzy, why on earth would you use the voice of another on your own blog??? lacks integrity big time. sometimes we can be inspired by the posts of others and i think that's fine, after all our blogs are to reach out and inspire others as well as give voice to our own ideas. but credit where credit is due. i am forever searching blogs to see that i am not overstepping the mark. i thought we'd all want to be original.
congrats on calling this person out, i'm sorry you haven't heard anything from the blogger.
keep up the great work.
x

Newburgh Restoration said...

This is sad. And there really is NO reason for it. Plagiarism is something we all learn about in High School, if not Elementary School for that matter! If you don't have a better way of expressing someone else's idea, then just QUOTE them or CITE them. Those 2 simple little things avoid big problems. Like you said, it will be noticed eventually.

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