Blogger vs. Plagiarist Smackdown Video
You know how this story usually goes: 1. Skilled writer spends time and energy creating content. 2. Content is posted on the interwebz. 3. Print publications and/or other online publications swipe content without attribution, permission, or payment. 4. Writer gets all melancholy in that special way that only writers can and complains about how little worth the world places on his skills. (Optional Step 4.5: Writer gets drunk.) 5. Cycle repeats.
Blogger Duane Lester of AllAmericanBlogger was on Step 3 when he decided to change the game up. The Oregon Times Observer—a newspaper from Holt County, Missouri, with a circulation of 1,100—cut and pasted an article from Lester's blog, word-for-word. No byline, no payment, no permission. Not knowing exactly how to handle the situation, he took to Twitter (as you do) and asked for help. A lawyer advised him to "Send a letter with an assertion of copyright, and a bill." Lester did some research and came up with the letter, which you can use as a template in your own writerly showdowns. But instead of mailing a bill, he decided to go to the newspaper's office and talk directly to Managing Editor Bob Ripley—with a video camera. Things get a little tense:
For the record, I asked Lester how much he would have charged the paper if they'd gone about things the right way. He said, "If they had contacted me prior to running the story, they could have had it for a byline." Oops, $500 mistake.
Since posting about the incident, he has been called everything from a folk hero and the "Rosa Parks of bloggers" to a hypocrite and an extortionist who unnecessarily shamed a small-town newspaper. Personally, I think he handled the situation well (though the Rosa Parks comparison is out of hand).
What do you think? Was the video camera and YouTube posting overkill? Does seeing this make you, as a writer, more likely to stand up for your own rights?
Image via All American Blogger
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