Stop Blaming the Technology

Warning, this is an editorial rant about plagiarism in response to the dealings I’ve had this week with a person who has been stealing blog posts from Free Technology for Teachers and passing them off as his own. If you’re not interested in my personal fight against cyber plagiarism, feel free to skip this post. I promise the next post will feature a cool tech tool for you.

On Tuesday morning I discovered that a splogger based in Canada, who also claims to be a teacher, had built nearly his entire site on posts that were stolen from Free Technology for Teachers. So as not to drive any traffic to the offender, I won’t link to him here. We’re talking about somewhere in the neighborhood of 100+ posts. Incredibly, some of the posts included my references to things that had happened at my school or at my home. This is not the first time that I’ve had something like this happen so I took my own advice about how to deal with plagiarism and thought that it would be resolved quickly as it usually is when a splogger is exposed. So I sent off an email and demanded that the splogger stop plagiarizing my materials immediately. Instead of apologizing for his mistake, the person apologizes by blaming the technology he was using for his plagiarism. The pattern is present through a series of emails. What you’ll see below are the emails, with addresses and names removed, that have been sent since.

From me:
It has come to my attention that you are blatantly plagiarizing my work. Going through your archives it appears that you are plagiarizing multiple posts per day from my blog Free Technology for Teachers ( I am asking that you immediately stop doing that and remove all posts plagiarized from Free Technology for Teachers within the next 48 hours. As you are claiming to be an “educational” organization I am sure you would not accept plagiarized work from students and what you are doing is not only modeling a poor practice it is also a violation of copyright law.

No worries, will delete the autoblogger. It was not my intention to use content maliciously and rss feeds are used to desimate the content in more than simply reader format, but be aware that depending on the rss provider you use, you can track how and who is reading your material even if other bloggers use your content on their site.  You can even make your adds follow the content and get $$ for it.   (maybe have a look at feedburner for your site- because I am sure your content will be used by others continuously)   I am not actually sure which articles are yours since I have several autobloggers running and it ran on autopilot for the last little while.  My settings are supposed to give the author credit, but the rss feed you are using must not have the right protocols set up.   My goal is only to share content with no intention of not giving credit.  .  In fact, many of the links in your articles actually lead back to your site.   My site has most likely generated many hits for yours, but I want to respect your wishes and will no longer use your content.   I will use some of the concepts you share as I read them in my rss reader, but I will generate my own articles based on these concepts.  If you can identify any articles that are yours specifically i will make sure your name is in the article and I  will not use your articles.  Sorry for any frustration I have caused, it was a complement on the quality of your work and I shared it to many.  Keep doing what your are doing and I am sure we are both interested in moving the cause of education forward, something I look forward to continue doing.

From me:
Thank you for your attention to this matter. I understand that you are using an auto poster. You’re not the first person to use one to lift content from my blog and I’m sure you won’t be the last. That does not forgive the practice that you are using. Blaming a technology for plagiarism is akin to blaming the weapon for a crime. Regarding your claim that you have linked to me and provided me with traffic, I saw no evidence at all that you had ever intentionally linked to me. Likewise, your site’s Alexa ranking is in the 2.6 million neighborhood while my site is 113,000. It’s not likely that you’re sending me any traffic of significance.

I will be continuing to check that you have removed all content that you took from my site. Please remove it all within the next 48 hours.

Will begin removing content as we speak.  Please be aware that I will remove what I believe to be yours, if you see someting you want removed that I missed please let me know(as I said, i am usure of what is yours). Starting the process now.  

From me:
Please be aware that it is your responsibility to know the source of all of your posts if you did not write them yourself. My best estimate is that you have close to 100 of my posts in various places on your website. It is not my responsibility to manually point out to you which ones are mine, you should know. I will point out a few more to you after that if my content is still appearing on your site I will file a formal DMCA takedown request with your web host.
First off, you may want to tone it down a bit, I never intended to use your content inappropriately- yes according to you I did, but be aware what I read on autoblogging led me to believe it was accepted practice–my mistake- This is a gray area.    I spent  several hours going over and deleting post that I believed were yours, I will go over all of the posts again tonight,   My site was simply used by local teachers, I dont even have adsense set up, unlike you I am not profiting from my site yet, it is meant to aggregate content from various sources on content teachers may want to read-     Most other blogs I have used use a very different angle than your and content is clearly labled towards the author and their site, but what I noticed (as I stated deleting your content)is that only some of your posts have authors (which is why I began using them in the first place, since I thought they feel into the criteria of acceptable use for Autoblogging–) and most link back to your site(I should have been more diligent with the one who did not meet these criteria).   Rest assured, 1. I plan on never using your content.  2.   I am doing everything I can to make sure I erase all your content.  3.  I will even right a letter on my blog directing traffic to your site and apologizing for using your content without proper authorization.    Please let me know if you are satisfied with the changes and we can move on with our projects and lives. 

From me:
Thank you. Although I have gone through and commented on the posts that you still have up that were taken from me.
I cannot believe that you are continuing to blame the technology you use for your mistakes. It very clearly says at the top of my blog WRITTEN BY RICHARD BYRNE! 

More of my editorializing:
Copying entire posts without permission, not critiquing or adding value, then simply sticking a link to the source is plagiarism. You cannot copy an article from The New York Times and republish it in another place without permission, why would you think you can do that with blog posts. Copying entire posts from another person and not making any attempt to cite the source is the most egregious type of plagiarism. Blaming the technology you choose to use or blaming the technology I use to create my content is insulting and lame.

Questions for you, my fantastic readers:
Am I overreacting to this person? 
Would you handle this differently? If so, how? 


Thank You Readers for 14 Amazing Years!