Exhibit 1 – Plagiarism

Ontario Educators may remember Richard Byrne for his keynote address at the Bring IT, Together Conference a couple of years ago.  Blog readers may know of his blog Free Technology for Teachers.  If you’re not reading his blog, you really should.  And, make sure that you’re reading it there on his site.

Huh?

I remember a few years ago and a question that Richard threw at me.

“Have you ever had someone steal content from your blog?”

I’ll admit to not knowing or, quite frankly, not caring enough to check to see if content had been stolen.  I know that educators will make reference to things I’ve written about here and certainly that and retweets are appreciated.  But the concept of stolen?

Anyway, Richard claimed that he had and he wasn’t happy about it.  I can understand that from two perspectives.

  • Intellectually – I can tell you that all of his posts are completely original and the research that goes into them are all from Richard’s own work.  That’s what makes for his success as a speaker and blogger.
  • Financially – I don’t sell advertising through this blog but Richard, being the small business entrepreneur, does.   He has sponsorship added to his page and also advertises courses that he offers.

Yesterday, I guess he was in a particularly upset mood as he revealed a stream of his posts that were being displayed elsewhere.  I decided to check them out – since he had revealed the source, it was pretty easy.

Turn the clock back to August 22.

Richard’s Original

The Duplicate

Poking around, I notice that the copying site uses feedblitz and is obviously using the tools of the web to scrape the content.  That, in itself, isn’t bad.  Serious blog readers subscribe to blog posts or use services like RSS to make sure that they get the latest information in the timeliest of fashion.

I won’t mention the offending site simply because I don’t want to promote it in any shape or form.

Taking someone else’s work and reposting it in its entirety is something that we would never allow students to do so it most certainly isn’t appropriate in the commercial publishing world.  In education, it’s enough to earn a zero on an assignment or worse.  In the commercial world, people have been known to lose their jobs over it.

With respect to the two points noted above:

  • Intellectually – it’s just plainly and clearly theft of Richard’s intellectual work
  • Financially – according to the Opera ad blocker, the copying site has 7 advertisements and Richard’s site 4.  The big difference is that Richard receives compensation for the ads that he serves up.  Not so when another site injects its own advertising; they get any revenue.

So, I can totally appreciate the rage that he feels.

Now, a good question would be – is this just a one of?

On the site with the duplicate post, there was a search box so I did a search for “Free Technology For Teachers” and the results showed so many of his posts.  I can’t say that all of them are there because checking them all would have taken so much effort and I didn’t want to generate revenue for this site with the advertising that it was serving up.

I guess the good news is that this is another way for Richard’s work to be showcased to another audience.  It’s sad and hopefully the savvy reader recognizes it for what it is and redirects their reading to the original.

I find it completely sad that the site claims copyright over the content that it displays and has all rights reserved.  How can you even think of doing that with someone else’s content without asking and receiving permission?

Richard does have the final word though with a message that he tacks onto his posts because it appears there at the bottom.

I hope that this is a unique case but all bloggers would appreciate you reading their content at the source.  If you do stumble on a case like this, they’d appreciate knowing about it.

Truth in Blogging

I did ask Richard to preview the post so that I had his approval and that I had my facts correct.  He had one response.

The only thing that I would clarify is that the notice at the bottom only appears in the RSS feed. So what is probably happening is that the person is importing the RSS feed and displaying it in full. This happens a couple of times a year. Usually, the person claims that they didn’t know what they were doing.

And even later yesterday…

One more update. Vicki Davis just notified me that the hosting company for the offending blog disabled the blogger’s account. Apparently, the blogger was just scraping feeds from many places without permission. 

Right now, things appear to be all right in the world.

2 thoughts on “Exhibit 1 – Plagiarism

  1. thanks, Doug. Kylene Beers, an amazing literacy author (her “When Kids Can’t Read” is one of my bibles in the classroom) has started an interesting conversation on Facebook. She regularly finds her work being sold by teachers (without accreditation) on sites like Teachers Pay Teachers, and when she brought it up, a number of other prominent authors chimed in to say the same thing had happened to her. Beers has contacted people selling her stuff, and had a mixed variety of responses.

    I really want to deal with this with my staff. Not sure how to do it without putting people’s back up.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This used to happen to me at times when I was blogging at my previous blogging site (owned by Microsoft). It hasn’t happened to me for a while. It bothered me a bit but if I was selling advertising it would bother me a lot more.

    Like

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