Plagiarism and other tomfoolery — You won’t believe this

Susan Getgood

Susan Getgood

Online pal Judy Gombita sent me a link to this post by popular blogger Susan Getgood. I’m not a regular at “Marketing Roadmaps,” but I am interested in issues of PR ethics, so I’m happy Judy passed it along.

In her post yesterday, Getgood tells us about a PR pitch that appears to have been plagiarized from another blogger’s post  — almost word-for-word.  That’s more than bad PR practice — that’s theft of intellectual property.

Getgood deleted the name of the pitch firm, and I don’t blame her. We’re just bloggers, after all, and we don’t need an army of high-priced New York lawyers beating down our doors and forcing us to defend ourselves. It’s costly, even when we’re right.

2pplAnyway, I did a quick Google search with some key words from the pitch letter, and I turned up this post over at a blog called “All Because Two People Fell In Love.”

The post is a verbatim pick up of the plagiarized PR pitch. Since it was posted by blogger Stacy Moore, one might infer that it’s her work. But clearly it is not.

In my days as a pitchman, I was always pleased when a writer ran my content verbatim. But this case is different. And this case shows what can happen when we grab whatever comes through the digital pipeline and post it to our blogs. Ugh.

As we used to say back home, “Sumpun’ ain’t right here.”

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To my students in Ethics & Issues who missed class yesterday because of my illness: This is required reading.

10 Responses to Plagiarism and other tomfoolery — You won’t believe this

  1. Bill,

    This is more common than you or I would have ever thought years ago. It’s all too easy for some to capitalize on the insights of others and then claim ownership via market share, distribution and/or reach.

    While there can sometimes be a case made for the “collective unconscious” phenomenon when boiled down marketing pop masks the source, this example of verbatim duplication without attribution is pretty clear cut. You might want to share http://copyscape.com/ with your students this semester.

    All my best,
    Rich

  2. Bill Sledzik says:

    Since the advent of Web 1.0, I’ve seen more cases of plagiarism on campus, too. It becomes all too easy — and almost unconscious for some. They cut and paste appropriate content into their research notes. Separated from source notations, that content is blended into papers and projects. It’s reckless, but not always intentional.

    It takes me all of 10 seconds to locate this material. And intentional or not, it earns an automatic “F.”

    It took me the same 10 seconds to find Stacy Moore’s post — or should I say, her republication of the PR pitch from the yet-unnamed firm. While I would not call her use of PR materials plagiarism, it sure is a long way from authentic communication.

  3. Morris says:

    Bill,

    This is more common than you or I would have ever thought years ago. It’s all too easy for some to capitalize on the insights of others and then claim ownership via market share, distribution and/or reach.

    While there can sometimes be a case made for the “collective unconscious” phenomenon when boiled down marketing pop masks the source, this example of verbatim duplication without attribution is pretty clear cut. You might want to share http://copyscape.com/ with your students this semester.

    All my best,
    Morris

  4. My oh my. What a tangled web we weave…

  5. Bill Sledzik says:

    Thanks for dropping by, Susan. I’m home sick today, and ignoring my “real” work. Chased down yet another appearance of the “pitch” — this in in the form of an Oct. 14 post on “The Moving Planner Blog.”

    While the URL indicates this blog is part of the FlatRate Moving website, the “About” page doesn’t say this. An oversight, or more tomfoolery? The blog actually has some great content. Just wondering why the source isn’t listed in “About,” while at least two of the blogs tabs are blatant promotions for the company.

  6. Hope you feel better, Bill.

    I recently had one of my blog posts swiped word for word and posted as another person’s work on their blog. I didn;t make much of it because it seemed like it was some foreign student or something, but it made an impression!

    One thing is that most bloggers are not trained journalists, don’t claim to be, don’t want to be.

    Another problem is that sometimes there is confusion about what is in the public doomain. It should be attributed in any event but there is just so freakin’ much content and so many gray areas.

    Any way, hope you are feeling better!!

    • Bill Sledzik says:

      People have been scraping my content almost since I launched this site. I don’t get upset about it, as there isn’t much I can do about it. And sure, we see bloggers who don’t play by the rules as well.

      But in this case, a person posing as a “PR” professional appears to have stolen a blogger’s content and used it as a story pitch to benefit his/her client. If that’s the case, then someone should expose the person responsible.

      I suspect the name of the firm will come out in time, as a whole lotta folks apparently got the same pitch. Maybe Stacy will tell us where she got it. Then again, maybe no one cares.

  7. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by BillSledzik: Hoping these’s an explanation for this one other than blatant plagiarism. If not, it’s pretty brazen. http://bit.ly/2QIUjA

  8. Bill Sledzik says:

    Bummer. Looks like no one’s gonna tell us which firm did the pitch on behalf of FlatRate Moving. Certainly someone else got the email. Come on. Inquiring minds want to know! (FYI: I’ve found two NYC firms that list FlatRate Moving as clients. But that isn’t enough evidence.)

  9. Wow, “All Because Two People Fell In Love” wait ’til Miley Cyrus and Disney (Hollywood Records) get through with them. Bet they don’t have approval to use Miley Cyrus’ Party in the U.S.A., nor paying copyright.

    I fell victim, too. http://www.emilyosment.us/ lifted MY photos and videos from this post, http://tweenmusic.blogspot.com/2009/10/hannah-montana-lilly-truscott-does.html

    They removed them when I threatened.

    That’s why when I say 21st Century marketing tools for increasing wealth, I don’t just mean Twitter and Facebook. You need to track Google Analytics, Technorati when it was useful, Alexa, Blogsearch.Google.com. It is not so “social media” when people are robbing others left and right – I do it too. I use YouTube videos on my sites. I embed news clips from the networks. Networks are smart. They put the ads in the embedded videos!

    I was called an A-hole by a Chicago blogger (he used the full word) who doesn’t like my position of marketing excellence. Would love to hear your stories on that, Mr. Sledzik. He was surprised when I called his home 15 minutes after he posted his blog.

    Of course I’m an A-hole. Anyone delivering exceptional service in a mediocre world is an A-hole to the lame. Check the movie Idocracy. That’s what it’s all about.

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