Curious Tale of Stolen Content
I was doing my usual rounds on the forums. Usually I look for people to help with their computer problems while I slyly demonstrate my technical prowess over the ignorant users. I found a help topic where I was fairly knowledgeable: video drivers on linux.
A user asked for help and some people gave semi-useful comments. Someone gave the best possible answer (referring them to my site) so I felt a reply wasn't needed. However near the end, someone else had written that the user should visit his site and click on his tutorial, quote: "I can't make it much easier". Usually I compare other people's suggestions to see how they pale in comparison to mine, so I followed the link. Lo and behold his suggestions were just as good as mine - to the letter. How so? Well he simply copied everything from my site and put his signature on it. In fact he had 5 such tutorials, 4 of which were copied verbatim from my site and none of which even mentioned me by name or link. How respectful.
Restraining from any unnecessary profanity or calls for justice, I simply posted a reply in the original forum, I asked how could HE make it any easier, when in fact all the content and work was composed and researched by me. I also posted a comment on his site explaining that I do not appreciate the plagiarism. And so began the bizarre exchange.
The plagiarizer felt upset that I made public accusations and thought I was greedy for expecting credit for my work. Oh the horror, he was so burdened by all the time it took him to cut'n'paste that it was too much work to link back to me. And his simple solution: reword everything I wrote so it looks likes he wrote it. Wow, how brilliant. Don't they teach the purpose of a bibliography in this country? Anyways I stuck to my guns and made clear that those actions would be unacceptable. Of course I didn't have the infringer's email initially so I had to correspond online in public forum, while taking a barrage of vulgarities and profanities from the locals (his buddies).
I talked to my Law School buddy in Cali and asked him what the copyright law said. Basically I don't need to state "Copyright" for my work to be mine. So I finally emailed the plagiarizer and the owner of the site explaining that I want my content removed or they should add a link and my name on each page stolen and I added that I was "within my rights to seek legal action". Would I? I doubt it, I don't want to mess up some kid. Afterall his site was for video games and I assumed this was due to brash immaturity or lack of education. I told him: 2 weeks!
His reply: the work isn't mine because I don't have legally notorized proof. This is after he already admitted to copying everything publicly on his site. And the kicker: I've stressed him to lose time with his wife and child. Please excuse me for expecting all of 5 minutes that it would have taken to comply with my legitimate request in the first place! Of course I stayed steady: 2 weeks. He gave in for the most part and deleted 3 of the 4 main copied sections. ... After 2 weeks I wrote him again complaining about the 4rth page. All he had done was rename everything, equivalent to having a "Sorny VDV Player". Anyways he didn't reply and after I gave him the ethics argument, I forgot about it. A week or 2 later, I decided to see if the page was still there. It wasn't! But not because he removed it, someone either hacked his entire site, or somebody logged in and deleted everything. Honest to goodness, it wasn't me! I couldn't help but to laugh at the situation (non-sadistically of course).
I consider myself a fair person (yes, its fair for me to say that). And in the end I wouldn't have done anything that would have caused any serious difficulties to this person and I don't care to intentionally humiliate him, however I cannot help thinking that he got what he deserved. Even if it wasn't from me.
Jeff Schiller on April 13, 2005 ~ 01:13 PM
Maybe you don’t want to make it public, but I’d enjoy reading the forum exchange…
matt on April 23, 2005 ~ 11:11 AM
i’ve just been reading your very helpful fedora resources (i need to compile a kernel with realtime support), and can understand why you got angry.
however one thought - you were angry that this person reprinted your work EXACTLY without crediting/linking you. your response to this has been to put a more noticeable copyright footer. but from reading your above post, it seems you wouldn’t mind say me, putting your tutorials on my site with some extra advice from my experience, providing i credited you as the original author and linked back here. in that case, why not use a copyleft license that allows that, but not complete theft of your work.
the gnu documentation license, perhaps or the creative commons (if you like them) attribution, share-alike license or whatever they call it.
Mauriat Miranda on April 23, 2005 ~ 12:12 PM
My original page read: This document is freely distributable in its complete form so long as all appropriate credit is provided, including author’s name and original URL. So pretty much I agree with what you said - to a point. I would like my work unchanged, but you’re welcome to write your own guide referencing mine. However due to this incident I have changed my stance. I prefer now that people inform me before they do so. I had considered those such licenses but in all honesty I do not see how a different license would affect enforceability. Or maybe I just understand them well enough.
matt on April 25, 2005 ~ 04:16 PM
ha ha i don’t know nearly enough about fc3 to start writing about it yet. good luck to you - hope you don’t have problems with plagarists again. matt
"“Oh, so they have internet on computers now!” :)