Open Letter to the Person Who Stole An Article From My Blog

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Dear Person who stole my material,

Dear Person who was so “INSPIRED BY” my material that you “BORROWED LIBERALLY” from the contents to create your own “ORIGINAL WORK”,

Hey, I read your post last night. Interesting. And I don’t mean that the post itself was interesting, I mean that it was interesting how two posts written 18 months apart by two complete strangers could contain such strikingly similar material, right down to the concept, structure and the inclusion of specific categories and phrases that were contained in my original blog post here on Hugzilla.

A suspicious person might even suspect that you were trawling my post for the content, instead of engaging your brain to perform acts of independent thought.

For the record: I am a suspicious person.

Here’s the thing. My blog doesn’t make me any money. It’s not monetised. I don’t have banner adds or affiliate links or sponsored posts and I’m not holding my breath for a shit-hot “brand ambassadorial” role any time in the near future. Given that your article was posted exclusively on a major mainstream website, I suspect that you may have been paid for the material.

For the record: In almost two years I have made the princely sum of $150 from this blog, the proceeds coming from a couple of republished articles. I also scored myself one of the best Indian takeout experiences of all time.

I won’t add what this blog has cost me during that same time, because a lot of it can’t be quantified.

It takes me away from my children. It takes me away from my husband. It takes me away from episodes of my favourite reality TV programmes. I mostly do it in the five minutes of free time I get during the day once the kids are in bed and the freelance work is finished. It’s tiring.

I’m not trying to be a martyr. I do this because I love it – and because I am driven to do it by some innate force I can’t ignore. I started Hugzilla because I was at home with two young children for several years and one day I turned around and realised there was nothing left of me. Everything I did was for other people, and I had no discernible identity outside of my offspring. It was beyond depressing. It was demoralising.

And then I started this blog.

This was my space. This was my outlet. This was my saviour.

This was me. Snarky, wise-cracking, unsuitable-for-kids me.

Last week you stole a piece of me.

As I write this, it is Saturday morning and my husband is sitting on the sofa with my two children, watching Weekend Sunrise and playing a Star Wars Lego game on the iPad. (Yes, my family are capable of multi-tasking their screen time because we are uber-sophisticated like that)

I should be there on the sofa with them but instead I am sitting here writing this letter to you, because I am consumed with righteous anger, and I need to exorcise it in ways that don’t involve two coked-out hit-men turning up on your doorstep. That was a Pulp Fiction reference, by the way. I’m not going to flip out and go all Tarantino on you.

I mean, I know I’m not freaking Hemingway, and it’s not like I’m bleeding onto the screen here or anything, but these are my words and my ideas and my lame jokes; they are the result of many hours of love, sweat and the occasional beer.

This year has been an eye-opening experience. I’ve been slagged off on Facebook, I’ve been ripped to shreds by trolls, I’ve had abusive comments made on my blog and and now I have had some of my original material  stolen “borrowed liberally from” and published on a mainstream website.

I actually came close to saying “Geez Shirl, let’s just @$#% it all to Hell”. Give up the blog. Give up the source of all this angst. I mean, it’s not like I’m doing this to gratify my out-of-control ego or because I have some crazy lust for fame and power. And that’s when I hit the brakes mid-tanty and reminded myself why I started this blog, and why I continue. I’m doing this to connect with people, and I’m not going to let a few trolls and haters and thieves “people doing dodgy cover versions of my material” ruin it all for me.

So, that’s where I’m at with all this.

You have just earned yourself one very avid reader. I look forward to seeing more of your original work.

Love and creative solidarity,

Zilla

PS There’s a pretty good piece on Thermomix floating around here somewhere if you are ever in need of more “inspiration”. That shit sells.

Linking up with Essentially Jess for IBOT.

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82 thoughts on “Open Letter to the Person Who Stole An Article From My Blog

    • The bloggers are actually the best part! The only negative stuff I’ve encountered has come from outside the blogging community, if that helps reassure you any. The bloggers I have come across are all by and large overwhelmingly positive and supportive 🙂

  1. I was in a panic I’d somehow accidently done this somehow until I read ‘mainstream media website’. Phew!
    Not saying this isn’t the case in this case, but I have had times where both another blogger and I have published the same post on the same day or in the same week…some sort of weird collective thinking, but obviously the turn of phrase varies…

    • Yes, I can totally understand that as well. Nobody really “owns” an idea, after all. But this was a very extraordinary example of collective thinking. Too extraordinary for an old cynic like me 😉

  2. That sucks big time and is all too common. I do like the idea of calling it a cover version. Would calm me down. Know that you are the original and we love YOUR writing not the imitators!!! Deb xx

    • Oh my god that is even worse! That must be a very sick feeling 😦 Several of my friends commented with links back to my original post as well but they never made it through comment moderation.

  3. I think we should all agree to name and shame. There’s too much of this happening. (I saw one on Blog Chicks this week and she did name and shame.) This cannot go on. So sorry to hear this happened to you. I hope you contacted them? Good luck.

    • I agree with name and shame for direct plagiarism but this is more the case of someone who has taken a unique set of ideas and concepts (and jokes) from a post and made an attempt to put her own spin on it. Its not technically plagiarism, but it’s pretty unethical.

  4. 😦 ‘Imitation is the highest form of flattery’? Not sure that helps. Please don’t stop writing. I love your posts. Feel free to message me on Twitter too and I’ll go leave a comment saying ‘Ooh, that’s fascinating! I read something amazingly similar over at this other blog…’!! @LighterMum 🙂

    • I was pretty mad at the time! I thought about emailing them but I figured that it wasn’t a case of direct plagiarism so what could I even say? “Can you please tell your authors to look for “inspiration” elsewhere next time please?” It sounds a bit precious. LOL.

    • I’ve ummed and aaahed a lot about this Elise. I have decided to hold off doing that with hopes it is a one-off thing. If I see it happen again I will make contact. This time I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt.

  5. Oh man, that really sucks. I really understand how it feels like to put time and research into your own work, and have someone just happily come to take it away and call their own. I just realised another blogger based her blog design and structure on my own. Very suspicious similarity on what she’s done with what I’ve been doing.

    It’s hard to call her out since it might *just* be a coincidence, but it’s something I know is quite unique to me. Oh well.

    Take heart in knowing that some people say that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. 😉

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

  6. I’d leave a snarky comment on the mainstream website like – if anyone would like to read the original post these ideas were “borrowed” from you can find it here (link to your post). That way at least you can get some traffic from it and call them out on it in a passive aggressive way. Take comfort in knowing your shit is worth stealing lol, as far as I know no-one has ever borrowed my work in over two years (perhaps because I dont write about thermomix?)

  7. OHHHHH, Naturally you have me so curious. I saw a post that was similar to yours recently but they gave you credit so I think it was OKAY. 😉 Isn’t this a bloggers worst nightmare, I mean amongst the horrible trolls, being copied is pretty awful. It’s not flattery when you say nothing about where you got your “original” idea, right!

    • Yep, it’s a bit of a sick feeling, to be honest. It’s just not something I’d ever do so it shocked me more than anything. I’m all for being inspired by someone’s work and being upfront about that, but it’s a bit disingenuous to claim someone’s ideas as your own.

  8. I’m sorry this has happened to you. I would have contacted the person in question and let them know that you know. It’s so hard to keep anything original these days, but right out stealing is not on.

    • One of the readers of my blog saw a link to the article on FB and tagged me in it because he remembered my article from last year (not the FB page of the website it was on). He was actually also kind enough to add my link to the thread as well.

  9. Oh that’s not cool! I’ve heard of this happening before.
    But this means that you have officially made it as blogger now. Well done. You win the prize.
    (I have no idea what the prize is. I’ll make one up.) xxx

  10. I’ve had someone do it to me and it stinks. It was for a sponsored post too so I was really annoyed that they were getting paid to write something that was ‘inspired’ by my post. Even the damn photos were the same layout as mine! To the person who penned the phrase ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ I say blah! because it is not, at all, ever, flattering to see your work reproduced.

  11. I’m spewing for you!!! I hope you’ve sent them a bogus, scary letter telling them they are in breach of copyright, blah blah and legal action will be pending unless said article is removed blah blah. I’d be lived too! Em xx

  12. Very uncool. It’s certainly an area that causes issues in the blogging world. I hate when I see someone blatantly rip off a recipe from somewhere and claim it as their own. Your situation is almost worse as they are openly ripping off your ideas and work!

  13. wrong wrong wrong. I’d be emailing her and the web site where her work is published also. If one of your readers saw the link then I’m sure they’ll be able to see the similarity too xx

  14. I just can’t imagine the feeling you would have had when you discovered your own words, thoughts and feelings taken by another and put on another website. You must have felt sick!!! All I can say is karma. Karma will get them. Visiting via #teamIBOT

    • One of my readers saw a link to the article on a FB page and tagged me in it! He remembered my article from last year. I haven’t made contact, I am going to give her the benefit of the doubt this time, and hopefully will not see anything similar again.

  15. Who is she?? Name and shame. I also agree maybe the editor of the website has NO idea and would like to know that the contributor can’t think of anything to write themselves. This makes me so mad. There are lots of us trying our guts out to make people laugh, think, and blog without getting paid for it, then someone else rips your stuff off because they are too dumb to think of their own content.

  16. What the actual fuck???? Which one? And if it is a mainstream blog that published I’d be having a word with the editor. Don’t stop blogging btw. We need you! And you know what they say, if they are slagging you off and stealing your work then you know you’ve made it. 😉

  17. I’m sorry to hear that, that is awful! I’d be contacting the Web manager or Editor of the site and lodging a complaint. I found you through Deb’s 5 blogs to make you laugh when you need a boost post, and yes you made me laugh! 🙂

  18. When I was in primary school, I wrote a story (or “composition” as it was called back then) that was published in the school newsletter. Six months later one of my sister’s former classmates sent my story to the Courier Mail, changed the characters’ names and won herself a Monopoly set! I am still bitter about it and don’t like playing Monopoly as a result.

    Similar things have happened with other pieces I’ve written since. I also see other people share Lego creations on line, which are actually The Tunnel’s but uncredited. I’ve contacted the latter people and they’ve been okay and belatedly credited us. Doubt this would happen with a wholesale thief of words, though! I feel for you.

    • LOLing at composition, we must be the same vintage. Pictures are quite a grey area online. They seem way more prone to theft, I think because people aren’t generally trying to pass them off as their own work but because need a pretty pic to fill the space. Not that it makes it any less sucky of course.

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