More So-Called “Writers” Committing Copyright Infringement

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It’s always interesting when someone calls themselves a writer…when stealing another writer’s work.

Last week, I shared the story of invoicing Anne Wayman $38,250 after finding 51 incidents of copyright infringement on her website, aboutfreelancewriting.com.

This week, we’re exposing more copyright infringers, along with their responses (or lack thereof).

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Copyright Infringement by “CDD”

“CDD” is a freelance writer who posted a few posts to a writer’s forum, quoting guidelines from some markets while always promoting her own websites under her posts. She copied and pasted one of WritersWeekly.com’s paying markets, verbatim, onto the forum, without credit and without permission. As with her other posts, she promoted her own websites at the same time, making it appear the material was hers. When we emailed her, she apologized profusely and immediately arranged to have the offending material removed. That is why I have not published her name here.

Here’s the kicker. The administrator for the forum, “Damien”, sent an email defending the poster! Here’s my response:

Hi Damien,

Paying freelance markets published by WritersWeekly.com are completely original listings, created by WritersWeekly.com after interviewing specific editors. They are our original, copyrighted work and they are time-consuming and expensive to create. We do not allow third parties to copy our markets because doing so greatly dilutes the value of these markets for WritersWeekly.com readers. Therefore, your member has not only harmed WritersWeekly.com, she has harmed our readers as well. It is unethical and illegal to publish someone else’s work as your own.

The fourth through the seventh paragraphs of your member’s post were copied word-for-word from our website. The material was created by us, from scratch, after interviewing the editor. It is our material and belongs to nobody else – not even the magazine that was featured. We researched it, created it, and published it. One of your members stole it and published it on your website. You seem to think, based on the content of the post, that it was just “free advertising.” Incorrect. Just like you can’t photocopy the yellow pages, or the pages from Writers Market (the popular markets book published by Writer’s Digest), you can’t copy and republish other non-fiction items you find online just because it’s informational in nature.

Your obvious defense of your member’s actions is very discouraging. Just because she added some extra content above the illegal material (which, by the way, it appears she also copied from elsewhere) doesn’t change the fact that she stole our content and published it without permission. She’s already apologized for her actions.

You say she didn’t get any value from doing this. Incorrect. She promoted her own websites under the post.

You also say your site doesn’t make a profit. That doesn’t matter. Non-profits aren’t allowed to violate copyright laws, either. You also claim our website isn’t copyrighted and you seem to think that justifies the illegal action as well. That part made me laugh out loud.

Our website is indeed copyrighted and is clearly labeled as such at the bottom of every single page. Your additional claim that our material can’t be copyrighted just because you didn’t notice a copyright symbol on our website is ludicrous and laughable. What’s even funnier is that your website copyright notice appears at the bottom of your pages, too, yet you tried to claim our material was up for grabs when you didn’t see ours.

I appreciate the quick removal of our material. But, in the future, you should never try to justify a copyright infringer’s actions. That will only make the victim angry and more resentful of the illegal activity. A simple “it’s been removed” would have been far more appropriate.

I strongly suggest you read up on copyright law because it appears you have no idea what you’re talking about. A person running a forum for writers should know the business.

Angela Hoy
WritersWeekly.com

UPDATE: Dawn, who is with the same forum, sent a sincere email to me, apologizing for the tone of Damien’s email. She has also been the victim of copyright thieves in the past so she understands this situation.

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COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT BY A LONG STORY SHORT / ALONGSTORYSHORT.NET:

We contacted the Senior Editor, Denise Cassion, via email on March 30th after finding 12 original market listings published on alongstoryshort.net without permission.

She did not respond, and did not remove the illegal material from the website. We subsequently sent her an invoice for $9,000 (12 stolen markets x $750 per infringement). That’s when she decided to respond. I’ve paraphrased the conversation below.

DENISE CASSINO / ALONGSTORYSHORT.NET FINALLY RESPONDS:

Subject: INVOICE FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT BY LONG STORY SHORT / alongstoryshort.net
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 2010 12:21:26 -0600
From: Denise Cassino
To: Angela Hoy

Paraphrased: She says she hasn’t the “vaguest idea” what we’re referring to and asks us to please clarify


WRITERSWEEKLY RESPONDS:

Subject: Re: INVOICE FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT BY LONG STORY SHORT / alongstoryshort.net
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 2010 17:13:48 -0400
From: Angela Hoy
To: Denise Cassino

The copy of my original email from March 30th is below, too. You need to read it in its entirety and take action immediately.

Angela Hoy
WritersWeekly.com


DENISE CASSINO / ALONGSTORYSHORT.NET RESPONDS:

Subject: Re: INVOICE FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT BY A LONG STORY SHORT / alongstoryshort.net
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 2010 15:32:58 -0600
From: Denise Cassino
To: Angela Hoy

Paraphrased: She says if there was anything at Long Story Short pertaining to the content, it was there as a “courtesy” to writers and to promote WritersWeekly. She says she can’t see the illegal material but apologizes if they offended us. She says she’ll look at her site to be sure nothing about our products and services appears there. She then says she doesn’t understand why this situation can’t be handled in a friendlier fashion rather than with threats. She says the online writing community is small and that they try to take good care of their writers. She then assures us they will never mention our products and services again. Here’s the problem. They never mention us at all where the stolen material appears. It was published as their own material, without permission and without credit being given to the creator.


WRITERSWEEKLY RESPONDS:

Subject: Re: INVOICE FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT BY A LONG STORY SHORT / alongstoryshort.net
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 2010 17:40:05 -0400
From: Angela Hoy
To: Denise Cassino

You seem to think I’m accusing you of promoting WritersWeekly.com. That is absurd.

Your site contains material stolen from WritersWeekly.com, verbatim, without permission, and without credit given to WritersWeekly.com. Violating federal copyright laws by stealing content is not a “courtesy.” It is a crime.

The links where our copyright material appears on your website are listed below, along with the content. It would help immensely if you would actually take the time to read the emails below instead of firing off an overly-defensive and irrelevant response.

Please send confirmation when you have removed the stolen content from your website.

In the meantime, you should really think about how your passive and rude note will look to our readers when we publish this exchange.

Angela Hoy
WritersWeekly.com


DENISE CASSINO / ALONGSTORYSHORT.NET RESPONDS:

Subject: Re: INVOICE FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT BY A LONG STORY SHORT / alongstoryshort.net
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 2010 17:09:40 -0600
From: Denise Cassino
To: Angela Hoy

Paraphrased: She sent a one-sentence email in a large font stating the material has been removed.


COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT BY WRITE LIVING NEWS / WRITELIVINGNEWS.BLOGSPOT.COM:

We contacted Kate Guilford, the owner of Write Living News, on March 30th after finding 10 original market listings, stolen from WritersWeekly.com, and published on her website, writelivingnews.blogspot.com.

She has not responded and, as of this writing, the illegal material still appears on the website. We have subsequently sent her an invoice for $7,500 (10 stolen markets x $750 per infringement), by email and via a comment posted to her website.

COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT BY “INFINITY M.” ON GATHER.COM:

We contacted gather.com on April 12th after finding 6 original market listings, owned by WritersWeekly.com, published on their website. Gather.com seems to be a content mill-/pay-per-click-type outfit so content posted by their users can generate income for those users. Illegally used content could earn money for the copyright infringer…and for Gather.com.

The firm did not respond to us directly so I checked their site again on April 13th. The error message that popped up said, “You either do not have permission to view this post or it has been removed. If the post is private, you must be signed in for permission to access it.”

UPDATE: We received a reply on Tuesday afternoon from Chuck McGuire at gather.com, which stated, in part, that they aren’t liable for their users’ posts and, “We have also removed the posts from Gather.com.”

I later received another reply from Chuck McGuire to my Tuesday email, where he gave a different story, saying, “These posts were restricted entirely from public view. The only person who can see them is the Gather member who posted them – he/she can delete them on their own time, but in the meantime they are not public.”

So, our copyrighted material still appears on their server. Chuck McGuire confirmed that I must sign up for a gather.com account in order to contact “Infinity M.” directly. I’d sure like to know if it’s legal for them to claim no liability for this while they protect their members’ identity and force victims to sign up for a gather.com membership, all the while not deleting the illegal content entirely from their servers.

UPDATE ON STOLEN CONTENT APPEARING ON ANNE WAYMAN’S WEBSITE, ABOUTFREELANCEWRITING.COM:

Anne Wayman didn’t bother to remove our stolen material until after last week’s issue of WritersWeekly was published (more than two weeks after we first notified her!). I guess the pressure finally got to her. Her website was down for quite awhile the next day. When it came back up, many of our markets had been removed, but not all. That didn’t make any sense because we’d sent her a detailed list of all the markets and the URLs where they appeared. She emailed us that day, saying she thought all our material had been removed. I told her it had not. She did eventually get it all taken down but offered NO apologies for continuing to publish and profit from our stolen material for 17 days after we first notified her.

We’re still waiting for her to let us know when she plans to pay the invoice we sent for 51 incidents of copyright infringement.

ANOTHER UPDATE

We sent a certified letter to Anne Wayman on April 2nd. It was returned today, April 15th, with “REFUSED” written on it. We’re not surprised. Shame on you, Anne Wayman.