Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Miami, NYC
Open 24hrs. Thieving for 23 of them.
I first came across the concept of online plagiarism through one of my favorite blogs, Chez Pim, when she highlighted a thief that was stealing both her pictures, and content, and representing it as their own. While i definitely felt for her indignation, I didnt really understand her level of anger. She wasnt asking for much (attribution basically), but still seemed quite angry. Apparently, it has happened again recently, and once again, there is quite a mixed response. I figured with such a popular site in the blogsphere, theft is definitely an issue, but never with us. Well, i can tell you theft is not reserved for just the big sites. Those who often patronizingly tell you that “you don’t understand until it happens to you”, here’s another story to add to your large arsenal of “I told you so’s”. I finally understand where she is coming from, and that understanding is courtesy of Canadian-based lifestyle site, martiniboys. The L’Epicerie entry by Foodosophy has been plagiarized.
I was googling L’Epicerie today to check to see if they had a website with a list of products online. Out of my own curiosity, i was interested in seeing where we ranked in the google search results. Chowhound, understandably, rated first. They are a wonderful resource with a lot of traffic, and inbound and outbound links. Then i noticed that Martiniboys ranked second – ahead of Foodosophy!? – and that they had a review of L’Epicerie as well. I was interested in seeing what they thought.
The first thing that caught my eye was the picture that they used. Im not a great photographer like Shokutsu is, but I recognize my own work. And i remember struggling with the right angle to take that picture in my car, in weird light. And the very flat color that the picture was finished with. While i had been warned by Shokutsu that photograph theft was a huge problem online, I didnt think anyone would ever want my photos. While i’ve seen a lot of incidents of photo theft, maybe this wasn’t. I figured, well, maybe they took the same picture. It is cropped after all…
As i started to read their review, I caught a strange vibe – the structure was very similar to how i write. On a closer examination of the first paragraph, it was an exact paraphrase of my post. Maybe this was still an accident? People can have similar writing styles after all.
Reading on, I realized that they had taken every concept from my post, and re-worded it. Even errors and omissions. Arugula is not an ingredient that is usually on the foie gras sandwich. My typo, Moutarde spelt as Moutard, should have been corrected. They also introduced factually incorrect information. I wasn’t going to say anything MARTINIBOYS, but Teatro is not French, it’s Italian. And the Rilette at L’Epicerie is DUCK, not the traditional pork, which you would know if you actually ventured inside, instead of wikipedia’ing everything. Or been there at all. Ok, this was no longer an accident. I have been violated.
How do i feel about this? Im upset. Really upset. Why would i go from “understandably upset, but nothing to get mad about” to “im really pissed off and i’ll be contacting the DMCA and a lawyer to proceed with legal action”? I’m mad because by participating in the blogsphere, I finally understand how much work it takes. A few hours to write a posting. Some time spent fact checking to make sure i havent said anything erroneously. It takes time to process the photos so they look somewhat attractive. Put it all together, it is a lot of time spent. Im especially upset because they arent just a small independent blogger out sharing information with all the other readers and contributors – and decided our photos looked better than theirs – but they are a site where people are paid, and advertisers pay for traffic that should be generated by original content. Lastly, im really upset, because Shokutsu warned me when we first started, and that my blind faith in humankind has once again let me down. Im the fool, I laughed at him. I told him “your photos are nice, but really, who’s going to steal any of our stuff? We’re just a few people who like writing about the food we love, and some of our experiences”.
I expect they will catch wind of this soon enough, and likely pull the offending post, but i’ve done my best to document the trail. While im hoping for a retraction, and a published apology, I don’t expect to get one. If they’ve stolen from us, i’d guarantee they’ve stolen from other sites as well. So consider this a warning to the rest of you. Check their site to see if any of your content has been stolen. And report them. Contact their advertisers. More importantly, don’t allow them to profit off of your hard work. It’s a sleazy practice, and it should be put to a stop. Sorry Pim – I didnt fully understand why you were so upset, but i do now. I’m sorry Shokutsu that i doubted you. Im sorry martiniboys that i believed people were better than this. And mostly, im sorry i had to dedicate my time and energy to posting something like this, instead of talking about the things i love most. Food and Foodosophy.
(Aug 27, 1:31pm MST) Edit: Sorry, i realized i hadnt linked the original article. Here is the original link.