April 4, 2012

Nominated and Violated

It's been way up and way down for me lately, online.  I've been both nominated for a Fragrance Foundation award for my blog post Some Delights of the Year in Indieperfumes 2011, things are moving ahead with the Clarimonde Project online and elsewhere, and at also, CRASH,  just found out much of my content and even my identity has been hijacked by other sites that do not credit me.

There's been a lot of help from the  niche and indie fragrance community online, letting people know what's going on.  Here's this splendid link  on what to do if this should happen to you from Sheila Eggenberger, aka The Alembicated Genie, who also posted on this dilemma in detail at Phantoms in the Fumosphere  (so watch out and don't try to steal from her, I really wouldn't try it if I were you)....

I suggest you read it if you do anything creative online, because this could easily happen to you next, and it's likely it already has, or will soon.

Amanda Feeley's post News and Thieves on her blog also was so helpful.

I don't worry so much about the many content poachers who steal my posts for ad farms operating out of Asia. That is far away and out of reach and I don't think anyone reads those anyway.  These two cases though, do bother me a lot, because one on Tumblr took my identity to post lame, faintly snarky intros to other people's content online, which I do not want to be associated with in any way,  and the other on Blogger just went whole hog and took my content from start to finish.  Unfortunately including some of my very favorite posts, without permission, or credit.  Providing no contact links, and no way to reach them, either of them.

Tumblr and Google are inundated with reports from people like me about situations like this, and pursuing them takes lots of time, work, energy, and even money if attorneys have to get involved.

Personally I believe these hijackers and impostors are inexperienced people who need to spend more time building their own scent memories.  They should expose themselves to more perfume, perfume writing, and learn about the materials and lore.  Eventually this would create some inner resources relating to perfume and the sense of smell  that would result in having something to say for themselves,  and so no need to steal content or identity from anyone else.  Plus, it would be a lot more fun and enriching for everyone.  At this point, I think these people have seriously undercut their credibility and even viability going forward.

Here's a (partial) list of the posts I know of so far that have been stolen by Time of Beauty who lifted them entirely, from title to complete text and even illustrations, with no credit to me or for the illustrations, anywhere.  It's not just me either, there's other content there too, which I have checked online and seen has been taken without credit too.

For example, here's mine on Olo Perfume:
Here it is on Time of Beauty:

Here's mine on a day I visited both Malle and Enfleurage, two opposite ends of perfume retail:
and here it is on Time of Beauty:

Here's mine about Ellen Covey's Olympic Orchids:
 and again, on Time of Beauty:

The same goes for all of these following posts too --  if you like you can type in or copy the title (after the last slash) into the handy search bar at the top right corner of Time of Beauty, and find their posting of my content as if it was theirs:


I keep finding more every time I look, but you get the picture.

Which looks to me like obvious, out and out plagiarism, or more accurately, thievery.  I have shared all I have written online freely, but apparently that is not enough, here is someone who would like to take credit for what I've written, too, under their own blog title.

Heather from Olo Perfumes contacted me to let me know about this because she saw a post of mine on Twitter, about another issue, an identity hijack on Tumblr, someone calling themselves Indieperfume and posting other people's content (at least credited to them, if not my identity to me).  They have since, I believe, been social-media-pressured into changing the name on their opening page to Independent Scents, which is a relief.  Though I am still alerted by Google if they post because the url is still the same.  That may mess up my Google search rankings, or stats, or whatever.  At this point I am glad to see they have changed the title.

I have owned the domain names Indieperfume and Indieperfumes since 2006.  I am in the midst of writing a book I intend to call Indieperfumes.  I've put a lot of myself into my writing here, in fact each post reaches into all my experience, to attempt to present that experience of perfume to you.

My posts have become more essay-like over time, and so not really perfume reviews per se, but more on developing my personal aesthetic sensibility through fragrance, and some incredible beauties that I have been exposed to that way.  I have really been blown away by the new and vibrant group of indieperfumers springing up everywhere, doing some fantastic things.  These are very different than what perfume has been before.  Like the Japanese say about incense: listen to it.  That encompasses the subtlety and beauty of an inner and outer world enhanced by the experience of fragrance.

I am so grateful to all who helped spread the word online about this.  The internet Taketh Away but the internet also Giveth.  It's not about numbers, it's about influence and impact.  All my lovely social media friends on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere, and my perfume-writer friends who have been so good as to step in and help spread the word about these issues have restored my faith.

If we allow this kind of practice to become normalized, or operate openly unopposed, then we are inviting the deluge.  It would then be much less of a good idea to post original content or ideas or enthusiasms online freely, and so restrict and diminish us all, ultimately.

There's lots online everywhere about copyright information, and some conflicting information too, and it appears to be something that may frequently require being fought over by attorneys in court.  Though I think this case is pretty cut and dried.

Reading up on trademark information is also useful, though writer's names are covered by common law trademark concepts, artistic content is covered by copyright.  It's an arcane area of law still, as yet under construction as to case law, and enforcement.   It's a lot of reading, and still you need the interpretation of the experts.  Which is why I am so happy and grateful to my fellow perfume enthusiasts, who have come to my aid in this strange and trying time.  Their attention and re-posting and help have really done so much to prove this type of content poaching and identity hijacking will not be welcomed in the niche and independent perfume world.

I really wish some coding genius out there would invent a widget or an app that would always pull the credit for material along with it when copied and pasted online.  They would make a fortune!

I understand we live in a modern culture of appropriation, but outright content poaching and identity hijacking is quite another category altogether.

Speaking of which, I receive no compensation for any of my posts on perfume here. The above image came to me via Amanda Feeley online at Facebook, but also I see the image is credited from within itself, a good strategy these days.

UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE! So called Time of Beauty is DOWN! Yay! My heartfelt thanks to all my wonderful perfume community friends, for your support and social media pressure. It really helps. My special thanks to Sheila Eggenberger of the Alembicated Genie who took this on as her own personal battle, and has been my unfailing and untiring source of strength and support in dealing with this situation.

Now to think about what to do next, will keep you all posted. In order to prevent the next thief, I think I will put the site on hold until I know what better protections to take. I must research and see if there is anything more I can do from this end to help prevent this kind of content and identity theft.


Doc Elly said...

This is appalling. They not only took your illustrations and text verbatim, they even took the information about the giveaways and winners from your blog! What were they thinking?

Lucy said...

No sure Doc Elly, it's strange because on the other hand there are choices being made as to which posts to take, many but not all, and they have also mixed them in with other people's content too, very different in style. I think it is showing a mindset that feels they are actually creating something of their own by taking content from select others in the perfume blogosphere without credit and that there's nothing wrong with that. I'm thinking more and more this might be a student who had an assignment or desire to start a blogsite in perfume, and this was what they came up with, like when students plagerize from online content to do their homework or put together a portfolio. It has that cunning yet naive feel to me.

Scentrist said...

Can understand and empathize with this type of dilemma -- since when did 'cut & paste' qualify as a measure of good content. I just noticed a good friend on Twitter opened another Pandora's Box:

Supposing that you syndicate your content on Twitter for others to read. How does one view the practice of "retweeting"? Is it promotion of your blog, promotion of eyes to the retreater, or a little of both? And does retweeting the content (with links and credit of course) become a practice of questionable Netiquette? Curious on the views.

Lucy said...

Hi Scentrist,

I think it's acceptable to retweet credited content, or even post credited content, if it is very clearly credited, but if that's all there is, and never anything original, or very rarely and not that much when there is, then there's a flavor of not doing enough yourself creatively, which I find a little suspect and don't have much respect for.

kriswaldherr said...

Lucy, I am just horrified by this! So sorry, but so glad that you've had some success in hunting down these interlopers. How dare they steal your beautiful words!

tarleisio said...

Lucy.l..as you know, it's no accident one of my mottos is..."See windmill, will tilt!" ;) Just call me Dona Quixota...I'm glad to fight the good fight and even gladder that there are things that can be done to prevent content theft to begin with.

Because...you don't mess with MY friends! <3

Lucy said...

Kris, thanks! I know you know how much work, even if it is a pleasure, all this is. So now have to incorporate some changes to make this less likely in future, if at all possible.

AbsintheDragonfly said...

I see at least one post is down from time of beauty. Huzzah!

I'm really sorry this was even an issue for you. I've been thinking of you.


Lucy said...

Tarlesio Sheila, you are the BEST!
Truly your support made ALL the difference. Sometimes you have to fight the fight, and it's so important to have the good advice, help, and energy of a reliable friend who understands and cares like you! So glad you happened to be taking that course -- the things you learned there have been a godsend. You see we made good on our statements, we have prevailed!

XXOO -- Lucy

Ms. Lucy said...

My goodness- I'm appalled!!This is truly disgusting- it's theft plain and simple. I'm not only disgusted...it's kinda really scary. After all the hard work put into our research and writing and then someone else claiming rights to it by just cut paste..Who are these people?! I'm so glad you got help for this and that they have been stopped.
(just in passing though when I click on your post links nothing shows...but I still see theirs??)
Thanks so much for advising me- we need to all look out for eachother.

Lucy said...

Hi Ms. Lucy,

I have restricted my site to 35 readers for a few days while I figure out what better protections I can add, and consider what to do next. I will reopen asap.

Yes, I would like to know who these people are too.

I tried their links again, still getting the Blog Down message from Blogger, if you are getting it open I am not sure if there is some other way they are finding to stay open nonetheless. I have heard from others yesterday they were up and down all day. Maybe they are fighting it in their own way with their own IT people to get back up since they appear to be a feeder site to spam bots, according to what a Twitter friend told me. I do think Blogger and Google are really on it now tho, and I have been getting that down message consistently re their site. Which is a good thing. Google may take more days to get all the search result links down. It is not in their interest that such sites proliferate, because it will discourage people like you and me from putting up original content. Which is the lifeblood of the internet.

Lucy said...

Amanda, thanks! I hope when you check next you get the blog down message. If not, please let me know.
In the meantime, I appreciate all your support and care.

lostpastremembered said...

I have been out of the loop for many weeks on the film but returned to get a notice from google congratulating my on a huge traffic increase on my Titanic posts.

I was curious as to what got them there so went to pictures and found someone else had written a different recipe for Punch romaine but used my photo, uncredited. I wrote the site (one that has lots of contributors) and they kicked the person out.

Honestly, if someone uses images (copies of paintings, old images from films etc) I found on the web that I put in my post, even if I had to dig for them, I couldn't care less... I think it's part of blogging. But when they use photos that I have taken... well, I don't mind that either but they need to credit me... only fair.

Congrats on the nomination... you have a great blog. Look forward to seeing you when I come up for air next week.

Lucy said...

So happy to have you close to back LostPast, I look forward to catching up with you.

Yes, it's good to watch things so people don't just run away with the store, but on the other hand it can't turn into a full time job either. If it does, it means you need an assistant or something.
Stay tuned -- still here for awhile and then think I'll be moving once I get a better handle on WP, moved the content but still not happy with the format so have to work on that a lot more. I just want to write, damn it, and not have to worry about all that stuff. But hey, that's part of it all these days.