Today I share two stories of plagiarism and a lesson on when it’s time to play hardball with a business thief.
Story one: an eagle-eyed reader writes to me to alert me that my webcopy was being used on another site. I send an email to the copycat who is mortified. She explains that she isn’t a good writer and thought she’d use my copy as a template until she could figure out what to say. She apologizes profusely, removes the webcopy and all is well. We’re friendly since that day. The end.
Story two: The day started off innocently enough.
After rousing myself from a good night’s sleep (rare these days), I sat in front of my computer, shuffling my cards for my morning Card of the Day posts. I’ve been doing these for years and my audience looks for them every day.
I popped off my interpretation and then busied myself with feeding cats, toasting a bagel and plopping back down at the computer to finish a blog post I was working on. Once I had it loaded on my site, I began to share links across my social media platforms, including LinkedIn.
That’s when I noticed another tarot reader had posted the same Card for the Day. Synchronicity, I thought…and clicked on her link – only to see that she had copied Card for the Day verbatim and put it on her site without any credit to me. Sigh.
As I scrolled through her blog, I discovered that this was not a one-off. This woman had been doing this for two years. Two years of copy ‘n pasting my Card for the Day posts every single day, an hour after I had posted mine.
On further investigation, I also discovered that she had lifted some of my blog posts and also published them on her site…with no credit. And then the kicker: she also published my Rookie to Reader e-course on her site – which meant that she had to sign up to my email list to grab the content. Not cool.
What kind of person does something like this? I tried to find out.
I sent her an email asking her to remove the content. And I waited. No reply. Now I’m getting pissy.
I decided that I would set a trap to see if she was using an aggregator or maliciously stealing my content (yes, I still wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt). The next morning, I posted my Card for the Day as usual but added identifying information. An hour after I put it up, she once again posted it on her site – and stripped out all of the stuff that connected it to me.
In other words, she not only ignored my email but also boldly stole my content after receiving that email. This was someone who had zero scruples or ethics.
It was time to take the gloves off and knock this biter into the dirt.
First things first: I grabbed screen copies of all the stolen work. Why? It’s because my blog is legally copyrighted – and I wanted the proof in case I decided to sue her (keep in mind that once you’ve published content on the web, it is technically copyrighted – but getting a formal copyright gives you grounds for legal action).
Next: I sent a DMCA takedown notice.
Then: I contacted Facebook to let them know she is posting my copyrighted stuff on her blog and her Facebook page.
Finally: I decided to front her out. Normally, I deal with these matters privately. I want to give the offender the opportunity to save face. I would have given her the same respect except she ignored my email, stole a LOT of my work – and upon further investigation, I also found that she also plagiarized four other metaphysical entrepreneurs. Mess with me – that’s one thing. Rip off a bunch of my peers? Not on my watch.
I busted her out on every social media platform that I could. That got her attention (and got the notice of my peers who were quick to come to my defense – thanks guys!). Soon, she started taking down my Card for the Day posts, one by one.
In the meantime, Facebook contacted me and so did WordPress. They verified that she had indeed stolen my work and WordPress notified me that they removed the e-course from her site.
Stuff was happening fast.
Soon all of my work was off her site. As it should be.
Moral of these stories: sometimes you need to be nice, other times, you need to play hardball – especially when you are dealing with an unethical scammer like the one in my second story. Hopefully, you never have to get to this point but if push comes to shove, know when to shove back.
In my case, I’ve been plagiarized time and time again. I’ve always dealt with it behind the scenes and most of my copycats have been honorable enough to remedy the problem quickly. Most have also been embarrassed. A few were indignant but even they did the right thing. Hence, there was no need to take a hard-boiled approach.
If you find yourself in a business conundrum with an unscrupulous peer or a toxic client, it’s always best to handle these matters with grace and privacy. Be a class act, always.
But if they want to play grimy, you do not need to be a business doormat. Stand up for yourself and your business, even if that means getting your hands a little bit dirty. Know when to go hard – and then do it. But do it right, legally, and ethically.
Once you’ve dropped the hammer and made your point, dust your classy shoulders off and move on.
@ Theresa Reed | The Tarot Lady 2016