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You may be a victim...  (Read 11726 times)
Na
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« on: August 19, 2011, 11:45:45 am »

I'd love to say that was just an attention-getting title in order to get you to look at something more mundane... however it's not.

I've been battling with eHow.com for a while as they have contributors who have been blatantly plagiarising my work. You can read about it in detail here:
http://www.puppetsinmelbourne.com.au/blog.php/2011/08/20/open-letter-to-ehow-com-stop-plagiarising-my-content

The stuff that's important to you guys though is that tonight I spent several hours on eHow's website going through a lot of puppetry-related articles. And I'm shocked to say that a number of friends from P&S and elsewhere may have also had their work - text and/or images - ripped off with no attribution.

Please pass on the info: a number of their contributors also visit here by the looks of their 'resource' links, so perhaps we can get some attention.

I'm making a very loud attempt at getting eHow's attention, as they've ignored me in the past. If you're on Facebook, Twitter, or any other website, pass the info on.

I know it sounds petty, but they have literally re-written and copied many many of my articles that I've spent a lot of time writing: and this stuff cuts into my income (thank goodness most of the patterns are behind a pay-wall) along with my potential ability to work as a writer since I'd have arguments with people over whether or not that line on my CV really should be there (and it should).

More than that, eHow's contributors may be infringing on other people's rights, such as puppeteers who post images of things they sell and don't want anyone else using.

Thanks!
MsPuppet
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2011, 01:07:38 pm »

Thanks Na.  I've often wondered how ehow does what they do. They also do it in many other areas, cake decorating, children's ministry, etc. Others do it too.  I am astounded at how many of the same cake decorating clips I see all over the internet.  Obviously they are helping themselves to whatever they find, with no thought about what they are doing.

Is there a way to keep images/info from being cut and pasted from one site to another (remember I am not tech savy).

T
Shawn Sorrell
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2011, 07:29:56 pm »

There is a way to keep your images from being what is called "hot linked", but there is nothing really keeping folks from downloading (they do that when the look at your page) images and then uploading them to another server and useing them. Hot Linking is when they actually use the images on your own server and show them in another site. That can be stopped and is really not that hard to do. If you happen to have a hosting company that has cPanel they even make it pretty easy to do. Smiley

I really doubt that ehow is going to do anything. I reviewed quite a bit of the content on puppetry and the authors seem to know just how much they have to change things to get around copyright laws. Quite frankly I found most the content on the site lacking in any true details of any use. Emily and Paul are about the only ones I saw that had real content and there stuff was actually migrated over from the old Expert Village site when ehow took over it I think. The drawback is that since ehow is a bigger site it is going to get a higher page rank by Google which means that more then likely someone searching is going to end up there instead of someplace like Na's site or here where the content is good. I guess when you see one of these articles you could always leave comments directing folks to better sites with more content but that almost feels like dropping to their level or spammer tactics.
Na
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« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2011, 01:03:17 am »

Thanks Na.  I've often wondered how ehow does what they do. They also do it in many other areas, cake decorating, children's ministry, etc. Others do it too.  I am astounded at how many of the same cake decorating clips I see all over the internet.  Obviously they are helping themselves to whatever they find, with no thought about what they are doing.

Is there a way to keep images/info from being cut and pasted from one site to another (remember I am not tech savy).

T

eHow is like Youtube: entirely reliant on members contributing content. You get paid (probably based on a percentage of advertising fees) per article - Youtube obviously doesn't pay people, but the idea is to rely on other people to write your content for you. I would think they have special relationships with Paul Louis, etc, whereby that person gets a higher fee for producing more high quality content. This brings in more visitors, and encourages people who wouldn't otherwise to get involved. What it means is they pay less staff; writing content is expensive.

Sites like this are less about quality content and more about churning out content. The more content and visitors there are, the more they can seek investment and advertising.

To be honest, it's not so much their staff to blame as it is that their contributors are not professional writers in most cases and do not know or care about copyrights. As such, the majority of what these sites have is crap content; but then, their income model (see above) doesn't rely on quality just quantity.
Na
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« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2011, 01:12:51 am »

I really doubt that ehow is going to do anything. I reviewed quite a bit of the content on puppetry and the authors seem to know just how much they have to change things to get around copyright laws. Quite frankly I found most the content on the site lacking in any true details of any use.

I quite agree; but then, I'm making an effort to put the pressure on them publically. I have left comments on the site about plagiarism, which is hooked up to my Facebook account. I've tweeted them about my above blog post, as well as tweeted as many eHow staff as I could find, and have had it retweeted by a couple of people already. My email was cc'd not just to their support staff but to as many other eHow emails as I could find.

And I'll keep making noise until I get a decent response. (I have a "response received, someone will contact you" standard reply in my email this morning) I'm looking at finding someone who writes about online companies, as I have a couple of connections there too.

As for getting around things, yes some of the content is borderline. *But* my marionette tutorial is quite clearly and obviously plagiarised and on that one alone even a non-lawyer could see who is in the right. If nothing else happens, I will be contacting a local arts law center for some advice on how to put more pressure on them.

Quote
Emily and Paul are about the only ones I saw that had real content and there stuff was actually migrated over from the old Expert Village site when ehow took over it I think. The drawback is that since ehow is a bigger site it is going to get a higher page rank by Google which means that more then likely someone searching is going to end up there instead of someplace like Na's site or here where the content is good. I guess when you see one of these articles you could always leave comments directing folks to better sites with more content but that almost feels like dropping to their level or spammer tactics.

Actually I have found that since my initial complaints, most of the resources and referral links have been to good sites (here or to other well-known puppetry sites). I don't think leaving comments does anything. No one who is interested in learning about puppetry - which, let's face it, are mostly going to be parents/teachers/hobbyists - are going to take notice and all they want is a 1-2-3 paint by numbers tutorial. Which they find at eHow.

What we really need is for eHow to actually follow the terms and conditions provided by them and to police this more stringently. I am reasonable enough to realise that things will fall through the cracks as the site/contributors is so large: but when something is reported and they don't do anything about it is when I get annoyed.
Na
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« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2011, 07:58:31 am »

Just wanted to add this:
http://www.plagiarismtoday.com

An excellent resource for info on plagiarism, copyrights and how to tackle them on the net. I thought someone here might find it useful.
Na
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« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2012, 03:08:50 am »

Open letter to puppeteers (if someone could post it on Puppethub I'd be eternally grateful):


I thought I'd start sending this message out. I've had a long-standing problem with eHow whereby they've been plagiarising my work. Although they've taken most of the articles down, some still remain.

However, I regularly check their site for new articles, and I continue to find puppeteeer's work plagiarised. Here's just one example:
http://www.ehow.com/how_7696038_make-puppet-costume.html

Please do visit the site and check: they often steal photos (some quite well known, from Bread and Butter), plagiarise content, and in general have been extremely difficult to deal with in regards to removing content. Which is why I'm sending out the message to puppeteers. They are arguably quite respectful when it comes to hiring puppeteers to do work for them, but I have never ever had an actual response from my emails to them. I've even tried round-about ways of getting anyone to talk to me about it.

So if you see your work there, please, do help combat the plagiarism. There is a HUGE difference between using your work as a resource and copying it outright - and they tend to do more of the former than the latter.

Also, if people aren't aware, the site is a "for hire" submission engine. They do not have a content staff so much as they have freelance "writers" who are pretty much people with no/any experience in writing. The idea is not to provide useful information based on their experience or knowledge, it is to provide content using keywords to attract visitors and earn advertising money. Suffice to say that your work is being stolen because the people writing the articles simply google for info and grab whatever they can find in order to make their money.

(With apologies to the various puppeteers I've already chatted to about this and who work for Ehow. You guys obviously create your own stuff, and I only take issue with the non-puppeteer-for-hire writers; and of course the editorial staff who continue to allow this issue to fester)
Shawn Sorrell
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2012, 05:58:32 am »

And if you would like to see where they got the idea for that nifty puppet costume making technique you can see it here http://www.puppetpub.com/costumebook.pdf along with many other helpful ideas.
Na
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« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2012, 06:03:51 am »

And if you would like to see where they got the idea for that nifty puppet costume making technique you can see it here http://www.puppetpub.com/costumebook.pdf along with many other helpful ideas.


Yep, all of it was fairly obviously plagiarised from Puppetpub - I've already sent an email to her letting her know it was used. For such a well-written and obviously laborious book to write, Christy shouldn't have her stuff ab/used like that.

One of the reasons why eHow pisses me off is that it's quite clearly bad writers - I may source info and used certain things as inspiration, but I've never, not once, not even for some freelance work, taken other people's stuff and "rewritten" it. It makes writers appear lazy and stupid. And willing to write on any topic no matter their level of knowledge, just for a few bucks.
Rikka
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« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2012, 09:08:06 am »

Would it help to put logos/ watermarks in the pics and texts? I mean, they can hardly steal anything that specificly refers to a non-eHow- page. I guess you could never stop highjackers- even if you stopped one, another one would spring up, and stop a download is out of the question, as Shawn pointed out. Have any of you media highlords an idea to make content safe by pointing at somebodys own website? I mean: firstly everybody would know that it was stolen from another page and might rather want to look there. Secoundly that would not really be PR if the word got around- which it probably would far quicker if everybody could see it. You think that could be done?
Shawn Sorrell
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2012, 09:16:25 am »

Watermarking images can work ok.  You might notice that Na does that with her images.  There really is no way to watermark text.  This is really hard to stop. These folks are reading the text on your site then typing it into other sites.  There is no real way to detect that so you can't point folks to your site when that happens. Now something you could do if the site has comments like e.how is add a comment telling folks where they could find the full information.  The thing about that is the comments are so far down the page it is unlikely anyone would see them. Sad
Rikka
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« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2012, 09:56:52 am »

I thought (maybe stupidly so) that one could make a very big watermark over the page on which the text is printed (okay, that would take some work: Maybe taking GIMP or such, putting the watermark on a page and the text on top of that. So you'd also have the text as image, not as text, so copy- paste would not do the job- and would get the watermark, too.) Do you think that could work? Okay, quick editing of text is impossible then...
Shawn Sorrell
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2012, 12:20:17 pm »

No I don't think that would work. Smiley 
Rikka
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« Reply #13 on: July 19, 2012, 01:37:31 pm »

Shame... Wink
Na
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« Reply #14 on: July 19, 2012, 11:09:49 pm »

Would it help to put logos/ watermarks in the pics and texts? I mean, they can hardly steal anything that specificly refers to a non-eHow- page. I guess you could never stop highjackers- even if you stopped one, another one would spring up, and stop a download is out of the question, as Shawn pointed out. Have any of you media highlords an idea to make content safe by pointing at somebodys own website? I mean: firstly everybody would know that it was stolen from another page and might rather want to look there. Secoundly that would not really be PR if the word got around- which it probably would far quicker if everybody could see it. You think that could be done?

Yes and no. eHow writers are aware enough that they tend to plagiarise by "rewrites" - that is, they won't copy word-for-word, but they will rewrite your text so it's not an exact copy but is still stealing the majority of the work. There's a fine line to tread, and so some can be considered outright copies even if they're not word-for-word same.

For instance, your sentence "would it help to put logos/watermarks in the pics and texts?" can be rewritten to "should it be an assistance to put watermarks over the pictures and texts?" ... One doesn't require a lot of imagination to see it's been copied, even if the words aren't exactly the same.

So yes, they're smart enough not to use photos that have been watermarked. However, the fact that they use images that are clearly copyrighted (or at least likely not to be public domain/creative commons) suggests that they only care about *looking* like they're not copying. The issue with the photos is somewhat easier to rectify because it's a matter of getting people to watermark their images.

But it doesn't prevent the overall issue which is they rewrite texts. (You can't watermark text anyway, unless you want it to be unreadable) The issue is that the writers are usually just people who want to earn a bit of cash and they get paid so little per article, it's easier to rewrite than to read a book, study a subject, and then write about it.

The second issue is to "point to the website". eHow does indeed list a bunch of websites as "resources" and "references". They have done this with articles that were plagiarised (see above link to one). Getting them to only reference an article goes back to the writers: there is little editorial oversight and a writer can be you, me or your 70-year-old grandma for all they care. If it makes sense and fits their guidelines, they're not going to check every single link referenced to make sure it's not plagiarised. (This I can somewhat understand because it's hard to police a lot of content being churned every day. It takes more manpower to double-check everything than it would to right)

The other half of that is that the people visiting sites like eHow don't care about the validity of the information or where it came from. They want quick answers and they want it now and you'll find a surprising amount of people on the net don't give a flying *** about copyrights; and in fact, most people don't care if they break copyright laws either.

The third issue is PR. I've tried tweeting and getting the message out on Facebook. eHow themselves don't care. The wider blogosphere already know that the site is a content farm and the quality is crap; but that's really only people who read about online technology news. Again, the wider public don't care.

There are two parts to this: forcing their freelance "writers" to understand and respect copyrights; and getting the wider public to care.

The reason why I'm making this public to puppeteers is to get *them* to police their own stuff. I can't legally complain about plagiarism when the articles don't steal my stuff but take someone else's. The more puppeteers who know about this, the more they can put their own pressure on the site. If you have photos, watermark them. If you have patterns/tutorials/whatever, copyright them.

eHow writers, and similar, are more likely to steal from you if you have no obvious copyright policy, watermarks, etc. It doesn't stop them, but I've found that since I've been complaining heavily, they've been somewhat leaving my stuff alone. They may not have responded to me in any manner whatsoever, but they've been smart enough to back off a bit.

But that's just me... they're still stealing from other people.
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