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.