Without credit

Update, 3 October – since writing this page I finally got around to asking directly, via the comments on the page, that the person in question makes it clear the text is a quote. He deleted my comment, and he hasn’t.

– – – – –

I’ve not been able to add much of late, for various reasons. One of them is that I’m wondering how much I want to put on the web, for free, when there are so many people who take without credit.

On blipfoto.com, there’s a photo of that famous Bile Beans ad on Lord Mayor’s Walk. With accompanying text underneath. It includes two paragraphs lifted from my page Themes – Painted wall ads. It seems to be a straight cut-and-paste job:

It tells us that “Nightly BILE BEANS Keep You HEALTHY BRIGHT EYED & SLIM”. I think it’s the name of the product that makes it such a memorable advert.

It is obviously from a different time, when you could make such claims about health-related products. If it was painted now it would have to say something like “Bile Beans, as part of a healthy lifestyle, may reduce your cholesterol and decrease your risk of heart disease. It may also help with weight loss as part of a calorie controlled diet” – which doesn’t grab the attention quite so effectively, and would need a much bigger wall.

There are no quotation marks around this text. There are links to my website below, but in the context of this page it looks like the guy whose page it is wrote it himself. Anyone who visits the page would think so. I might have done if it didn’t look so strangely familiar.

This could just be a clueless mistake from someone who doesn’t understand the concept of intellectual property, crediting sources … (Though he’s a photographer, so also has creative work he’d presumably like credited to its creator.)

The text below mine is another cut-and-paste, apparently from www.thequackdoctor.com.

What suggests that this can’t be passed off as ‘not knowing’ are the comments below from visitors to the page.

One says ‘Great advert and love your accompanying text.’ Note the ‘your’.

At this point the response should have been ‘thanks, but I didn’t write it.’ But instead he just says ‘thanks’, and takes the credit.

It’s not just this page. This isn’t the first example of finding my words adrift. I don’t trawl the web looking for examples of my content being nicked, copied, plagiarised, but sometimes I find them by chance, as on this occasion.

It’s always slightly depressing.

About Lisa @YorkStories

Lisa @YorkStories is the creator, administrator, and writer of content on www.yorkstories.co.uk. She can be contacted on this link or via Twitter, @YorkStories
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  1. I did write a comment on the bile-man’s [;-)] page, but removed it later, it wasnt very constructive…

    somehow its possible to mash-up other people’s work and believe its something original that you’ve created, that you’ve brought something of value to the world..

    i now feel a little sorry him.

    keep creating on your site, some of us value your work….

  2. YorkStories

    But it’s not a mash-up, in this case, surely? – it’s just a bit of lazy cut and pasting. Like I said, it happens a lot, and I don’t jump up and down shouting every time it happens, but it gets really tiresome.

    The main issue here is that the copied text isn’t just some factual thing I copied or cobbled together from Wikipedia, it’s a personal piece – clearly, as it includes the word ‘I’. So who is ‘I’ on his page? It’s not me, is it.

    It does raise more general issues I’ve thought about often and which I’m sure many others have who put creative work on the web. Which is why I’ve written about it on here rather than merely commenting on the page in question.

    There is a general attitude change – maybe many changes – which tend to lead me to the belief that I need to change my approach too. I shouldn’t put so much effort into trying to get things ‘just right’ – it’s only on the web, so it’s essentially ephemeral, of less value, easily ’stolen’. The shared values of the web which were understood years ago are gone. The lack of generosity in crediting sources is perhaps, to me, the most obvious change.

  3. YorkStories

    Further thoughts …

    If I were feeling generous and less irritated it could be seen as … that he’s tried to do the right thing by including links further down the page to the page with the text he quoted. But I know that no one will connect the two. They probably won’t even visit the pages of mine he links to, and if they do, only for a second.

    Maybe what I see as obvious and straightforward, isn’t.

    All that was needed was to put quotation marks or to indent the paragraphs and then put ‘-from [link to the page]’ directly under the quote. To make sure it stays attached to its ‘owner’ (me) – as much as that’s ever possible on the web …

    There are no doubt a range of views out there, from people who know exactly why I’m bothered by this, to people who think I’m making a fuss about nothing.

    Anyway, involved in other things in the ‘real world’ just now, off back to them.

  4. Hiya hope you don’t mind me commenting. I regularly read your pages as I love York and find your interest in social history very much to my taste. Anyway…sometime ago I used to sell on ebay and my photos were rather distinctive as the things I sold were displayed with the backdrop of my front room. I was browsing and found someone had used one of my photos to sell an item! No big deal perhaps but it was so annoying….I tried to make my photos look the best I could to sell something and someone was using my hard work! The person concerned said her camera had broken so she borrowed the image. My photos arn’t up to the standard of your writing but the principle’s the same. Please don’t let this put you off sharing your photos and thoughts I’m sure there are a lot of us out here who enjoy your pages. We may be silent but we’re here supporting you…take care

  5. YorkStories

    I was pleased to read your comment, Eileen – thanks for knowing what I mean!

    I think it certainly is a big deal if someone’s nicked your photo – would have been easy enough to ask, wouldn’t it. Or just make more effort to take her own photo. The fact that it was taken in your front room makes it worse somehow, doesn’t it! Has she popped round and made herself a cup of tea in your kitchen too?!

    Seeing your own work on someone else’s page is very odd. And increasingly common, sadly.

    Trying to add some more pages soon. Thanks for supporting this website – hope you’ll continue to visit.

  6. Andy Tuckwell

    Lisa, plagiarism like this is annoyingly bad manners I agree, and there is too much of it. I can get very cynical when I read how much lazy copying there is in ‘professional’ newspapers. For evidence, look at the excellent Tabloid Watch blog here: http://tabloid-watch.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/plagiarism

    but please don’t let that put you off – reading your site makes me feel refreshed and positive instead! It’s a beacon of how to do things properly – the writing is always beautifully clear and correct and sources are politely acknowledged.

  7. YorkStories

    It does seem to be everywhere. Cutting and pasting from Wikipedia seems particularly popular. Thanks for that link – very interesting. Thanks too for your kind words.

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