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Although this could very well be a picture of me finding a new treasure at a favorite nursery, it's actually an illustration by David Catrow for a children's book called Plantzilla.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Internet and Copyright...Hmm.

One of my favorite stained glass panels is this one made by my glass guru years ago.  I published an image of it on my blog a year or so ago.

"Winter" by Florence Welborn
A few months ago, while perusing Pinterest, I saw this panel, clicked on the link and found that it was for sale on Etsy.  I felt horrible, thinking that my posting of the original, later pinned, was the reason for the copy.
"Abstract Pines Full Moon"
Abstract Pines Full Moon Etched Snowflakes  Mouth-blwn Glass
I contacted the artist and shared the image of the original.  The person said that the second  window was made back in the 90's. Apologized and removed the panel from her online shop.  Hmmm.  In talking with Florence, she said that an image of the original was published in a stained glass magazine in the late 80's in a story about an exhibition at the gallery where I now teach. 


I could go into all sorts of reasons why the original in this case is superior to the copy from glass choices, execution, down to the name of the piece.  These are obviously not pines!
Abstract Pines Full Moon Etched Snowflakes  Mouth-blwn Glass

So, even before the internet, there was plagiarism, but like many things, the internet makes the practice easier and faster.  I totally understand when  artists and craftspeople  don't want their work photographed or at least not posted on the internet for fear that others will copy their ideas and respect their preference.

Just last night, I got an email from a blogging friend with a link to a blog called "Gardening Tips" by Izabel Goulart in which every single word and photograph of every post was directly copied from my blog. You can view it here.   While Izabel is no longer posting on the Garden Tips Blog, she has continued to steal, verbatim, my posts on her google+ account   Nowhere in any post is credit given.

I don't claim to be an expert gardener, an accomplished writer, or more than an adequate photographer but post on my blog for the joy of it. Being part of the community of garden bloggers and meeting people who enjoy reading about each others' gardening adventures is it's own reward. So, what's the damage when someone steals our work?  Our voice has been stolen.  This has happened to other bloggers and it is flattering that someone would think my work is worth stealing but it still, as my blogging friend said, burns!  Ms. Goulart did get a message from me regarding this issue.

I'm guessing that Izabel won't be re posting this one!

Has your blog been plagiarised?  Did you take any action?








44 comments:

  1. I haven't found any blog content stolen but pics are 'borrowed' -- there is a nasty porno site that also steals garden photos and offers them for sale. I haven't made comments there about my work because you have to 'sign up.'

    One of my gardenia photos was used in an online catalog by a plant vendor who when confronted accused his 'eimployee' and promised to remove it, then tried to make a deal. The bad thing about that was he represented my photo of an ancient common cultivar as something new in the trade.

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    1. Yikes! Porn and garden images seem like an odd combination! One doesn't often see signs by the side of the road for specialty nurseries that also carry adult material. I can just see it now, "Paul's Plant and Porn Palace. Right at next light."

      Sounds like that plant vendor was dishonest on a variety of fronts.

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  2. I know nothing about stained glass but even I can see that Florence's original is light-years better than the copy. I've never had content stolen from my blog as far as I know, but I know a few friends that it has happened to. It's maddening. I really should put a copyright notice on mine. I notice you have one, is it new or has it always been there?

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    1. Alison if you do put the copyright notice up be sure to include a link to your blog, so a reader can find the real owner of the material. It's also good to put the notice at the end of every post that way if the post is lifted your info usually will go with it. Here's mine (on my blog the words danger garden are linked to the blog): All material © 2009-2015 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

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    2. Alison, my copyright notice has been there since after my first few posts.
      Loree, thanks for the tip about the link to your blog on the copyright notice! I didn't think of that.

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  3. I don´t think mine has been plagiarised...not enough people interested in the topic in the spanish speaking world...
    I can´t understand what is the purpose of that person copying your posts exactly as they are...don´t they even bother in changing a bit the words?
    Well, I would love to know if she answers you...
    And I´m glad to follow the original blogger!

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    1. You visit such amazing places that I wouldn't be surprised if some of your photos have found their way to other sites.
      She hasn't replied yet but I'll certainly keep you posted if she does. I'm glad that you're following me!

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  4. The original "Winter" I'd love to have, while the copy would never get through the door. I know nothing about stained glass but notice a level of detail and sophistication that is lacking in the copy.
    I'm glad a blogger friend tipped you to the plagiarism. You must feel violated. What kind of person does that? Do they have nothing of themselves to share with the world? Or maybe because you are so prolific that woman figured she could get a away with it and no one will notice. Brazen. Depressing.

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    1. It is odd that someone would simply re post material as her own and I'm truly hoping that she just didn't know any better. I was mad for a little while but I don't stay upset about things for long usually. Life's too short to harbor ill will. Plotting unique revenge, on the other hand, is a delightful and creative process...:)

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  5. Oh dear! Have to say the original panel is visibly superior.

    Our blog has been copied a few times before but a few persistent emails to the naughty site and reporting to google did the trick.

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    1. How do you report to Google, M&G?

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    2. Good to know that you had satisfactory result M&G! Hoover Boo, here's a link to a form from Google for reporting copyright infringement that Loree sent me: (https://support.google.com/legal/contact/lr_dmca?&contact_type=lr_dmca&product=blogger&rd=1)

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  6. This is a subject that get's my blood boiling. And the hoops that Google makes you jump through to get the offending blog shut down (if it's a Blogger blog) just add insult to injury. What a time sink. I've discovered a few stealers while doing a image search and readers of my blog have emailed me to say they'd found something that looks like my writing on another blog. It's happened so many times I've lost count!

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    1. I'm sorry this has happened to you and thank you for bringing this infringement to my attention! I guess that when you put something out there, it's bound to be copied. After hearing about others' content being lifted, I feel like I'm in good company!

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    2. Loree, I Googled to find your photo of the display with the orange chair at the NW Garden Show posted last year (they think they are really clever to use year-old blog posts) . Blue Fox Garden, someone named Bi Hun. Is this the one you already knew about?

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  7. But writing your own posts takes so much work! Comments too. In fact...

    This is a subject that get's my blood boiling. And the hoops that Google makes you jump through to get the offending blog shut down (if it's a Blogger blog) just add insult to injury. What a time sink. I've discovered a few stealers while doing a image search and readers of my blog have emailed me to say they'd found something that looks like my writing on another blog. It's happened so many times I've lost count!

    (Sorry Loree and Peter -- couldn't resist)

    If you use Chrome as your browser, r-click on any image in one of your posts and "Search Google for this image". You get some "fun" results sometimes.

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    1. So funny I laughed out loud! Thanks for the tip about "Search Google for this image." I'll give it a try!

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    2. Thanks for the tip, Alan. I didn't know about that one.

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  8. That's awful Peter, it's something every blogger is scared of, but forgets about until it happens to them. I am sorry it has happened to you. Best wishes, and carry on you are the original and the best.

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    1. Thanks for your kind words Karen and for posting a comment so that I can find your new blog! I've missed your beautiful images from down under!

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  9. Some companies have whole departments to deal with plagiarism, as it threatens their business. For copyright to mean anything it must be defended. When it happens on this personal level it seems just...sad. I'm happy to be such a little fish that I don't need to worry about such things. Peter, I can understand someone lacking your wit and charm hoping to siphon a little off, but do you think it does them any good?

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    1. It is sad but since I do this as a hobby and make no money from the endeavor, I've not really lost anything. The funny thing is that I'm more than happy for people to use anything from my blog for non commercial purposes as long as they give me credit.

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  10. I've been worried about all my blathering on about my life and foibles. But maybe there's an upside. I mean, who would want to steal that?

    But, seriously, I'm sorry this happened to you. Even if I was inclined to take what's not mine--and I am not, good former catholic girl and all--I'd drop dead of shame if caught. Hard to imagine the thot process of someone who steals other people's work.

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    1. Don't forget the guilt that would haunt you!

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  11. You might think about watermarking your photos. It would at least make her blog look stupid if every pic had "Photograph by Peter, stolen if you are not seeing this on Outlaw blog." or something similar across the bottom. I expect she's too lazy to crop a photo. Maybe some photos of yourself in posts with 'this is my blog' captions.

    I'm thinking less than stellar content and once you know she copied it, go back and change the original post.

    You might put a line to the effect "If you are not reading this on Outlaw Blog, then you are reading stolen content that is the property of Peter ...." right smack in the middle of every post, maybe more than once. When you identify nurseries be sure to put the town and state.

    Something I saw on the offending site made me think she is from Bulgaria. What really puzzles me is that her blog has no advertising. Usually stolen content is used on a site plastered with paying links.

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  12. A good discussion! On the stained glass it is a very poor copy. Art is often copied and as long as it is not passed off as being by the original well know artist...it is sort of a gray area for me. It shows lack of imagination but I don't think it is a copy right issue. And original is an original. But someone using your exact words and photos and putting their name to it is a totally different issue. That is wrong, cheap and lazy!!! I have thought about water marking our photos...but i doubt anyone would actually sell them....they are just not very good. My words well that would bother me, even if it is just research. I still gleaned the information. I have only used other peoples pictures on a few occasions and I always ask permission and give them credit. I love that Loree puts that it is rude : )

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    1. Some good points, Laurin. It is strange that someone would bother to lift my content. In this case, she has no advertising and doesn't seem to be making money from the endeavor but it's odd.

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  13. Very sorry to see that, Peter. I know Loree had someone copying her also. I have people on Ebay using my photos to sell plants, and also a nursery in China (not only stealing my photos, but obviously selling patented David Austin roses without paying royalties). I've tried emailing them & Ebay. Watermarking is about all you can do, I guess. :^(

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    1. Here's a link to a form from Google that Loree sent me: (https://support.google.com/legal/contact/lr_dmca?&contact_type=lr_dmca&product=blogger&rd=1) It only works if the offending person has a blogger blog though. It's awful that people are using your photos to sell plants without compensating and crediting you!

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  14. I have no idea if anyone has ever plagiarized me but I do worry about it. I would probably have to copy and paste my text into Google to find out. At least your thief had excellent taste. It was still a lazy jerk thing to do.

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    1. Your posts are so personal - I don't think anyone would believe that they belonged to someone else. Oh well it is what it is...

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  15. I have no idea if my posts or photos have been "borrowed". It wouldn't surprise me if they have, given that I post so many photos. Knowing it has happened to you makes me wonder. How would I know?

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    1. I wouldn't have known if Loree hadn't found it in a search about a plant. You could do a search for the title or text of some of your posts and it might come up with something.

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  16. Sorry you're having to deal with this. I discovered that a blog was publishing all my posts (plus those of some other bloggers known to me, including Loree). I tried to make direct contact but the owner of the blog was hidden behind a 3rd party host. I also tried a little public shaming in my blog posts but even that didn't accomplish anything. After this bit of fumbling about , I filed a formal copyright complaint with the host on record (provided through Google Help). The host changed and I had to go through the entire process a second time before my posts were finally taken down. That's when I began adding a copyright tag to all my posts and marking my photos with my blog name (although this can easily be cropped out, it may at least put some people off). You can also set up a Google alert to identify re-use, which I've done on occasion. All these things take time. I just came across my photos of selected plants on another garden site, quite by accident but, with Pinterest, Google and Yahoo re-using photos on a regular basis, I decided not to even bother addressing that - at least, there was a link back to my blog and my text wasn't included. If you want a sample of the complaint I sent the host in the one case, email me at kspeterson100 at msn dot com.

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    1. Thanks, Kris. There is a form to fill out through blogger and hers is a blogger blog. It's tedious and she'd stopped posting my posts a while ago but because all of the content on her blog is mine, I might go ahead and do the form.

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  17. Peter, I'm so sorry this has happened. Even though it is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it must hurt when someone does this.
    The original stained glass window is superb, the second by comparison is crude. I had this problem when I was teaching woodcarving. My students were clearly told that they could use my designs for their own personal use in the class, but I found that one of my students was copying my work and then selling it at craft markets. She stopped when I mentioned the Small Claims Court and I made sure she didn't enrol for any more of my classes.
    It was good that you found out this was happening, I hope it now stops for you.

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    1. Thanks, Pauline. How rude that your student was making money using your designs!

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  18. Wow. To copy word for word narrative and photos and present it as one's own Blog! Outrageous as that is, it is also totally puzzling. That takes a really empty shell of a person with no sense of self whatsoever, in my mind.

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    1. It's especially odd as she has no advertising or anything else on her blog, just post after post lifted from my blog.

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  19. Interesting subject, and your plagiarizer is so blatant. I know there's one site somewhere (can't remember the name) that regularly re-posts bloggers' content in the name of doing it for the feed. Mine is on there. I figured it wasn't much of a problem because I'm listed as the author and the content links right back to my blog. I'm not sure what they get out of it, since I don't think they sell advertising. Otherwise, I don't think I've been plagiarized, but I'll stay on the lookout. I do put a large watermark on my photos, which takes a little time but at least links back to the blog. Like you, I welcome inquiries if people want to repost or use my photos, as long as they credit the original source. It's the principle of the thing more than anything else.

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    1. Yes, and those watermarks have made it very difficult for me to sell your photographs:) You're right, it's the principle more than anything.

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  20. I am so sorry that these jerks are out there ripping off people's work. My blog content was stolen several years ago by a landscaper in Connecticut. He stopped using my blog posts but has never removed my content. Btw, I love the David Catrow illustration!

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  21. I've had both content and photos stolen (plagiarize is too polite). Only after having to get ugly, reporting the issue where possible, and informing other victims were the offending thefts removed. Since then I have used Flickr for my photos, which makes it much more difficult to outright steal, but not impossible. Whenever I have some time, I also do a Google image search for my photos, as well as for my text to see if either are popping where they don't belong. A modern blogger must remain vigilant.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to comment! I love to hear your thoughts.