Oh Yes They Did: How Oh No They Didn’t Stole My Article and Pretended It Wasn’t Plagiarism

So there’s a blog out there called Oh No They Didn’t, also known as ONTD, famous for being the largest community on LiveJournal (which is apparently still a thing; who knew?) and for having a metric crap-ton of contributors providing celebrity gossip, reactions to TV shows, and notes on other pop culture filler. And it’s all stolen. Every single word.

A screen capture from Hiding Out - See? I'm clearly noting the source of this material. How novel!

But let’s back up. Last Wednesday, I posted this article about a character in ParaNorman. On Friday, my wife, a member and regular reader of the ONTD community, told me, “hey! They mentioned your article on Oh No They Didn’t!” Which I thought was neat, until I actually saw their post*, which was, in its entirety, a cut/paste of my article, minus the italics but with links intact. The only words in the post not lifted from my article was a tag at the end reading “hummus / made me love the movie even more tbh.” The word “hummus” served as a hotlink back to my original article, although it took me a moment to figure that out.

That one-word hotlink is important, you see, for it’s the thing that makes the owners, moderators, and contributors of ONTD pretend they’re not plagiarizing. But guess what? They are. They totally, totally are.

But again, I get ahead of myself. My original reaction – which is the same reaction every writer has upon seeing his/her words stolen – is to shout “hey, that’s plagiarism!” as loudly as possible. I was in the middle of writing a comment on the post saying something to the effect of “hey, that one-word link at the bottom doesn’t count as proper attribution, and the entire post is set up to make the reader assume the blog contributor is the author, which is plagiarism, duh” when my wife intervened. The contributor didn’t mean any harm, she said. The contributor was only following the rules of the community and posting the way everybody posts, she said. Doesn’t matter, I said. It’s still theft, I said.

Around and around we went until she convinced me to take my complaint behind the scenes by contacting a moderator, which we did. I asked for the article to be re-edited to remove the bulk of my text (essentially changing it from unauthorized reproduction – in full! – of copyrighted material to an excerpt allowable under fair use guidelines) and corrected with a link to the original article, plus the addition of any sort of wording that would clear up confusion over authorship. This didn’t even have to be in the form of my name or website being mentioned; a simple “hey, here’s an article I found you might want to read, and here’s some of what it had to say” would suffice, because there’s no way you could read that and not know which words were written by which person.

A little while later, the post was indeed edited, but only barely. Still remaining was my entire article, but with it now amended to include the following at the very bottom of the post:

Credit goes to Dave Cornelius at Popcocornworld for writing this! Just thought it was an awesome writeup and wanted to post it here :)

Which wasn’t what I asked for, but I’ll give the contributor credit – hasty typos aside, it became obvious he/she was not intending to steal credit and was legitimately intending to share my article with the ONTD community but just did it the wrong way. Which is why, for all that follows, I hold no grudge toward the contributor himself/herself.

You see, that’s when I noticed something else. The contributor’s cut/paste job wasn’t abnormal for ONTD. It was the standard.

Take a look at their site. You’ll notice every post – every single one of them – is copied and pasted from somewhere else. Some posts steal from multiple websites, creating a Frankstein’s monster of gossip, but for the most part, their M.O. is to take an entire text from somewhere else, add a couple pics, change the headline, and call it an update. (This explains their slogan: “The gossip is priceless.” That’s because they didn’t pay for it!) So ingrained into this community is this method of thievery, their “rules” page gives you a rundown on the proper format.

See, the folks at ONTD seem to assume that including a one-word source link at the bottom of the post clears them of any wrongdoing. This is both wrong and remarkably stupid. My best guess is they’re trying to emulate the style used at professional news blogs, which often end a news post with a link to their source. Take, for example, this piece from Movieline.com’s Jen Yamato, which discusses rumors of a possible Rocketeer reboot. You’ll notice the post ends with a link to another article at another website, Vulture.com, where the news originated. You’ll also notice, however, Yamato didn’t simply copy the Vulture article – she wrote her own article, from her own perspective, and clearly cited Vulture as a source not only at the post’s end, but within the article as well. Similarly, this Movieline report, from Brian Brooks, includes quotes from the BBC article which served as its source, and those quotes are clearly defined, so we, the readers, can immediately tell who wrote what.

Meanwhile, over on ONTD, you’ll find articles like this, which includes its own headline next to the avatar and user name of the community member posting the article, followed by text and pictures presented in a manner that suggests the community member is the author of the text. Only by clicking the “1” at the bottom of the post do you discover the entire thing is a copy of this brief post from Radar Online.

But Dave! you say. Community members understand that the person posting did not write the article! That’s fine, but you shouldn’t have to be a lifelong member of a group to know what’s being posted by somebody in the group is actually stolen material. It should be clear to everyone visiting the site, not just a handful of regulars. Anything less is designed to give the appearance of false ownership.

But Dave! The source link at the bottom is enough to clarify ownership! By including that link, they’re upfront about the source of the material! This isn’t plagiarism! Again, no. It’s hardly “upfront” to bury a source at the bottom of a post that’s listed under someone else’s byline. Obscuring authorship is equally shady.

But Dave! At least your work is being seen by others, and that’s what you want, right? Not if it’s being stolen. I don’t care if people learn my name or remember what my blog is called, but I do care if they encounter my work honestly. And while in my case, all that’s lost is intellectual property, what about others who make their living writing online? These people’s incomes are dependent on page views on their own sites, which isn’t helped when you steer readers to a copy you’ve posted on your own site.

But Dave! Other aggregator sites do the same thing! Yes, and that’s why most writers and content creators hate them.

But Dave! Those posts present their sources, and everything else falls under fair use! Seriously, no. An excerpt falls under fair use. Reprinting an entire text is outside the limits of fair use and is considered copyright infringement. Which, in the eyes of the law, is actually worse than plagiarism, so I’m not sure that’s the best counterargument.

In other words, at best, what they’re doing is unethical, and at worst, it’s illegal.

(I’ve also heard, as an argument, that ONTD members won’t bother to click links and read articles elsewhere, so only posting excerpts would be a waste of time. This is not in any way a plausible excuse. “Our readership is too lazy to open a new tab in their browser” is equally hilarious and sad. Tell your readers to grow up.)

The saddest part in all of this is that the person who originally stole my article literally didn’t know any better. He/she is part of a community that repeatedly tells its members that plagiarism and copyright violations are perfectly acceptable provided they use this one trick they totally just made up in hopes of covering their butts. So to anyone reading this raised on ONTD’s excuses, listen up: No, everything on the internet is not free. Plagiarism in any form is not acceptable. If you want to share something you found online, that’s great! We’re pleased you like it! But stealing it is not the way to go. Learn how to write your own posts with your own words, the way responsible people do it, even if it’s a clumsily worded post that says little more than “hey, read this.” No, you’re not expected to be held to the same standards as professional journalists, but you are expected to be held to the same standards as decent human beings.

So what’s a writer to do when he/she has been completely, utterly, and shamelessly ripped off? Deal with ONTD itself? That’s a start, but it’s a slow one, filled with dodgy results. My own experience is this: I’ve emailed the owner of the site three times, requesting my text be replaced with a notice saying it was removed due to copyright violation. I have yet to receive a reply.

Luckily, I was able to file a complaint with LiveJournal, and while the results mean ONTD can effectively dodge admitting their wrongdoing forever, at least it’s something. Unfortunately, LiveJournal’s policy requires the actual copyright holder make the request, meaning every person from whom ONTD plagiarized must personally go through the long process of registering a complaint, meaning ONTD will keep getting away with their crimes provided their victims are slow to find out about them.

I’ve heard from other writers who’ve had the same issue, and their results are the same: ONTD deletes the post, then pretends there was never a problem. Consider this case, in which a writer struggled to get the management of ONTD to admit any wrongdoing on their site, only to have management laugh in her face – followed by ONTD members trolling her blog with a parade of ignorant comments. Which is to say, the ONTD community will steal what they want, then yell at you if you complain about it.

Classy.


A side note: My original complaint included the placement of advertisements on ONTD, meaning somebody’s getting cash money for every article the blog steals. However, I’ve since learned that the ads are from LiveJournal and not ONTD. It’s part of LiveJournal’s set-up, not ONTD’s; the ads are only visible to readers who are not paid LiveJournal members (who, after logging in, do not see the ads). Anyone money made off of ONTD’s theft, it seems, is purely coincidental.


*(While I was writing this post, LiveJournal acted on my copyright complaint and has taken the post offline. It’s a start! For reference, here’s a screengrab of the article before it was removed, but after my name was added to it. To keep the image size reasonable, I only copied the post itself and not the ONTD comment section.)

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40 thoughts on “Oh Yes They Did: How Oh No They Didn’t Stole My Article and Pretended It Wasn’t Plagiarism

  1. hummus says:

    You are really, really dumb.

  2. Amanda Huggnfust says:

    You my friend are a fucking idiot and an insignificant troll. You should be happy your article got posted there. Otherwise only 7 people would’ve seen it and still no be would give a fuck about your website.

    • While I appreciate the concern for my website’s well being and the value of fuck people may or may not “still no be would give,” the post in question is doing plenty fine on its own in terms of page views, thank you.

      Not sure I understand the argument, though. “You and your content sucks, which is why we posted it on our blog”?

      And does the same argument apply when you pilfer from, say, Hollywood Reporter? Or do they get a different response since they have a higher readership? Just curious.

      • FemFlop 2.0 says:

        If The Hollywood Reporter didn’t want their articles to be posted they would contact ONTD and tell them that. Plenty of websites are not allowed to be posted: AVclub, Chicago Tribune, X17, Deadline, AfterElton. All you have to ask is for the mods to remove your content and never publish anything from your blog again. The thing is, a lot of websites out there get their posts from ONTD and other content aggregators like Reddit. So it ends up as a symbiotic relationship; the Gawker network gets their articles from ONTD, and ONTD posts Gawker’s original articles. That’s just what happens in the web ecosystem: A small blog writes a post, a content aggregator picks up that article, and then a large blog picks it up from the aggregator, hopefully linking back to original post. It sucks for the smaller blog, but that’s just how you gain exposure.

      • First, thank you for a sensible reply free of insults or the word “strangerbitch.” Still trying to sort that one out.

        Second, how difficult would it be to check for approval before posting, instead of after? While I understand some blogs might be fine with such a system, assuming every blog will be fine with it is an awfully risky move – you risk not just a website saying “hey, take that down” but “hey, we’ll see you in court.” (Try borrowing articles from the New York Times and see how friendly they get.)

        Thing is, most (not all, but most) bloggers would be perfectly willing to allow large snippets of their work to be reprinted, provided they’re asked first (and provided the appropriate credit is included). It’s seeing something swiped without permission and without decent attribution that causes all the fuss. (Having management dodge complaints doesn’t help, either.) It seems ONTD could fix its problems by simply changing the way the aggregate to a system that’s considerate to the content providers, yet it refuses to do so for whatever reason.

        I’ll end by asking you the same question I asked above: why is it ONTD isn’t willing to simply provide links to the source articles, instead of copy/pasting in full? How would erring on the side of caution when dealing with copyrighted material not help them avoid future troubles? How does ONTD benefit from its current cut/paste system in a way that actually justifies their actions?

      • Oh, and one other thing (because when I type a reply on my phone I’m bound to leave something out): usually in the blog ecosystem, the larger blogs write their own material, using the smaller blogs as sources. They don’t just copy/paste. I believe Gawker is the same way, using the source-leads-to-new-content model I mention in my post. Why can’t ONTD take up that model and make sure its contributors are providing original work? Granted, that would push ONTD more toward a journalistic edge they’re trying to avoid, but again, it’d save the site a ton of hassle in the long run.

      • FemFlop 2.0 says:

        LOL I don’t blame you for not understanding the ONTD lingo.

        Honestly, I do think that they should require an author byline and a clear source (not just “hummus, lmao) at the top of the page. It’s just common courtesy. The thing is, 90% of content on ONTD is from large gossip conglomerates whose posts are shared, quoted and copied by hundreds of other websites like tumblr, fb etc. The person who posted your paranorman article probably searched specifically for a paranorman article about that character so that she could talk about him with ONTDers. She most likely didn’t take the time to consider that you were a small blog.

        “How does ONTD benefit from its current cut/paste system in a way that actually justifies their actions?”

        The thing is, there is nothing illegal about what ONTD is doing. Posters aren’t employees. They don’t make money off of copyrighted material. Neither do any of the site’s mods. Only the owner of the site + LiveJournal make any money, and as long as posts are sourced they don’t really give a shit. The site is a social community, not a blog with an editorial viewpoint or journalistic responsibilities. Given the huge number of LiveJournal’s out there, LJ can only really respond to DMCA takedown notices after the fact. So it’s the same reason you find copyrighted material violated constantly on tumblr or 4chan: the website itself can’t really monitor what individual users post 100% of the time.

      • hipster says:

        You do understand that ONTD isn’t technically a blog but is instead a gossip community where gossip columns from other websites are posted, don’t you? Yes new content is randomly created and enjoyed by the community but it isn’t really for the point of gaining blogging notoriety and is usually specific to the interests of the ONTD community.

      • FemFlop 2.0 says:

        And again, ONTD is not a blog like gawker, vulture etc. It is a social community like reddit, tumblr or 4chan. And honestly, it’s not a huge hassle to delete posts on ONTD after a copyright holder objects. Posts have a very short shelf life and and the mods would rather just appease someone with a problem then vet every single post that comes through their queue for the original sources approval.

  3. Jane D. says:

    You’ve wasted far too much time on this. If you’re going to fume every time something like this happens on the internet blogging is not really a good fit for you.

    • In other words, “shut up and take it because it happens all the time”? Got it.

      Does this argument count elsewhere in life, too? Like, if your car is stolen, do the cops tell you to suck it up because, hey, man, that’s what happens, dude?

  4. ONTDmember says:

    Clearly neither you or your “member of ONTD” wife knows how ONTD works. It’s a user-submitted aggregate of pop-culture related news items that are then commented on for our enjoyment. You need to have several seats and stop taking it so seriously. Nobody plagiarized you or your strangerbitch website.

    • I get that it’s a collection of news items posted in hopes of leading to comments for your enjoyment. No problem with that. But is it not possible for you to make those same comments if the users submit links instead of reprinting articles in full? Is there something about a link that prevents commenters from knowing what to say about Snooki’s baby? Do you need the entire text of an article right there on the same page, instead of in another tab on your browser? Not being snarky here, just genuinely wondering how “making comments about something” can’t happen without “reprinting copyrighted material without permission.”

      I have no idea what “strangerbitch” means. From your tone, I assume it’s not good. Is it German?

      And if nobody plagiarized me, what did they do instead? Violate copyright? How is that better?

      (Also: my “member” wife knows how the group works. She’s explained it to me. She’s actually defended ONTD to me on this. It’s been… a fun week at home.)

  5. dude its the internet, get over it.

  6. Youre a non motherfucking factor says:

    NYT and Huffington post have their articles placed on ONTD often, so I would think they have no problems with it. Members of ONTD have even been emailed by AOL and the Huffington post for picture information. Hell, the huffington post even has cited ONTD before. Cry more over your ParaNorman post, really. Congrats on being one of the very first people to write about Mitch. No one was going to see your article anyways. But I guess a way to get more views is to throw a temper tantrum. ONTD is a website where people go to get their one stop shop of gossip. They don’t want to click on a link, go somewhere else to read it and then come back and discuss. This is not an online class. This is not facebook. Now congrats on your 15 minutes of ONTD fame.

    • Wait… If I’m a non-factor, why are you commenting here? Wouldn’t that be a waste of your time, dealing with someone as unessential as me?

      But, to repeat a point mentioned above: My post is doing just fine without ONTD’s help. It’s gotten more hits than I expected, by far, and I’m pleased by the turnout. People did, in fact, see my article without ONTD. I’m not sure where you got the facts to form your argument that I needed ONTD to boost my traffic. I can assume you made them up, perhaps in an effort to feel smug about yourself. Which is a sad thing to do.

      As for NYT, my guess is they don’t know about it. Just a guess, though. (HuffPo, meanwhile… they’re hardly a respectable outlet. I wouldn’t use them as a sort of defense.)

  7. Trying to reply to multiple comments in one post, so bear with me:

    To Hipster: While ONTD is a community more than a blog in the traditional sense, it promotes itself outside of LiveJournal, sometimes heavily, and in that promotion, it positions itself as a sort of news source. Its Twitter feed, for example, doesn’t ask readers to join the conversation; it merely provides a headline, the same way most news/gossip sites do. This isn’t about how its members see it, but how the outside sees it. If it was just about the comments traded among LJ users, each post would be simpler, more of a “hey guys, what did you think of this?” Instead, each post is a full news article, with comments behind a link, the same way news sites do it. If ONTD wants to put on that appearance, they need to take responsibility for it. They can’t have it both ways.

    To FemFlop 2.0: I don’t know enough about 4Chan beyond reports on Anonymous, so I can’t comment there, but the comparison to Reddit brings up a good point. Reddit is a community based on links. The whole front page of Reddit is links. Not reprinted text, just links. And they’re doing perfectly fine. I don’t see why ONTD can’t adopt a similar system and still thrive.

    As for whether what ONTD is doing is illegal, well, yes it is. While the lack of payment to contributors is a factor in ONTD’s favor for avoiding copyright troubles and keeping things within the boundaries of fair use, it’s the copying of full texts instead of excerpts that crosses the line outside those boundaries. ONTD has avoided lawsuits not because they’re in the clear, but because, as has been said, it’s just easier for all involved for ONTD to simply take down the offending post, the same way it’s easier for, say, Viacom to tell YouTube to take a clip down than it is for Viacom to file a suit every time somebody posts a movie clip. Fighting infringement and plagiarism is a grueling task, and if the situation doesn’t call for somebody to lose their job or get kicked out of school, it usually ends with the “victim” (for lack of a better word) finally accepting minimum action from the plagiarist (usually “OK, I’ll take it down”), because by that point they’re just exhausted and glad to have anything done in their favor.

    But even if it was within the law, it’s still pretty ethically iffy. I know many corners of the internet don’t care about ethics, but shouldn’t somebody in that community give it a try?

    Finally, your mention of a post’s shelf life is key in explaining why ONTD doesn’t care. By the time a complaint has been filed and the offending material has been removed, the bulk of the ONTD readership has moved on. Compared to a blog where a post can get views (and generate ad revenue) years after publication, it means nothing to ONTD to delete a post four days later because everyone’s stopped reading anyway. This allows the community to be completely apathetic, and how do you fight that outside of lawsuits and/or public shaming?

  8. Andrea Livingston says:

    Congrats on getting some attention! If you actually did your research about ONTD, you’d realise that everyone who reads it or who has one or maybe two brain cells knows it’s a gossip news aggregator. No one is claiming it’s theirs. Guess the wife doesn’t realise that either? It’s okay, just derp together. :) ~ HUMMUS ~

    • And if you did any research, you’d know every one of your points has already been discussed either in the article or in the above comments, from “being an aggregator doesn’t get you off the hook” to “but hey, man, the readers know what’s what” to “derp.” Especially the derp. The derp was well covered and footnoted.

  9. George says:

    “… followed by ONTD members trolling her blog with a parade of ignorant comments. Which is to say, the ONTD community will steal what they want, then yell at you if you complain about it.”

    You people from ONTD keep calling him dumb, stupid etc., and yet here you all are proving him completely right.

    Great job putting you’re best foot forward in the public view! All you’re doing is showing your own personal ignorance, so congrats on that.

  10. tsmith says:

    tl;dr
    no one was taking credit for your article tho. so…. but yay for getting another click on your site!

    • Sigh. Nothing says “I’m lazy and willfully ignorant but still need to fart out some words” than “tl;dr.”

      (And somehow I’m the one seeking attention.)

  11. Joyce Jughood says:

    I was just linked to this, so i apologize for the late reply.
    First, i’d like to reveal that I am a longtime member (several years) of ONTD and even older member of Livejournal. Automatically, I’m “old” by ONTD standards, as most active users are teenagers and young college students.

    Most ONTD members are mandatory LJ users and many are active in the varies ‘communities’ in LJ, most ‘comms’ usually hyperfocused on one subject or subculture like crafting or steampunk, things like that. ONTD is a comm focused on hollywood gossip, celeb culture and pop media.

    ONTD is a technically HUGE comm (with 50000+ members) and while that my seem like a lot, it has to do with the mandatory rule that in order to post a comment to ONTD you must join the comm with an LJ account. Most of the members no longer ‘read’ ONTD or participate in the comm. The Twitter feed isn’t necessarily promoting the comm, the users use it more like a batsignal, to glance over in case of an interesting post or post featuring a fav show or actor. We make sloppy looking links for two reasons–in order to post we must ‘have a clear source’ with a clean link and stupid, funny links are a inside joke in the comm. Members don’t follow the links or comment in the original articles because no one else from our stupid cult is there to enjoy the jokes with us.

    Also keep in mind that while ONTD my be similar to Reddit with its user generated posts and it links back to the source, its an old, long time standard for LJ users to post an entire article for the ‘link phobic’, as back in the day many trolls of LJ would link to a offensive or harmful site for kicks. It evolved to posting an entire article in a post and makes it much easier to skim the article and start commenting (there is a long standing joke that no one really reading the articles in order to crank out the first few comments). ONTD is not the only LJ comm to do this, as most of the comms i’ve visited recently also do this.

    Heres what a lot of people/other media blogs may not understand about ONTD: we are self contained. We post articles to talk with other ONTD members–not to drive traffic back to ourselves, not to earn money for the site (LJ forced a partnership onto ONTD a few years back and it resulted in a mass exodus/banning). Those 200+ comments you saw in that post with your article was just for us amongst ourselves. While I didn’t see the post myself, i can almost guarantee that not one member addressed you, the writer. I can guarantee that those commenters were fighting or agreeing or conversing or even off topic, ignoring the article entirely, but we were commenting not to earn points or comm fame but to converse with each other.

    While its understood among the members that famous media figures (actors/singers/athletes etc) and their handlers/agents/lawyers read ONTD and ONTD the comm/site is famous gossip space that is often sourced back by many other ‘famous’ gossip sites and a few news sites, most don’t think about the ‘fame’ or the writers of the articles we post. Yes, most if not all ONTD members consider copypasting articles like yours ‘posting’ and not stealing because not one member would ever assume that the member posting is the author of the article. Frankly, we’re known to be a very lazy and mean bunch.

    I understand it doesn’t make it right. As a artist who post their artwork online and has seen it go semi-viral with my watermarks, name and signature removed, i can and do understand your anger and frustration but all I can say is that ONTD members aren’t too concerned because they don’t care about a post that won’t receive another comment in a few hours time.

    • First, a huge thanks for a reply that actually presents a decent defense of ONTD. Knowing the ad-driven partnership with LiveJournal was enough to get many members to leave is a relief of sorts; it gives me faith in the internet. (I, too, am a LJ member from long ago, although I left right around the time the ads were starting, so I can’t really say how the decision affected non-ONTD LJ users.)

      That ONTD considers itself a closed community does go a long way in explaining their views. It would probably be better received by the writers they quote if the community was closed to outside members (as some forums are), but at least I can now see why members don’t see the group the same way outsiders do. (And it’s interesting to learn their current policy is a reaction to/effort against trolling and “gotcha” links.)

      I also appreciate the reminder that while the community itself is large, its active membership is much less so. I admit to generalizing the membership and my use of “ONTDers” is unfair. I should do more to distinguish frequent posters from casual readers. I have, however, been attempting from the start to note that my beef is with ONTD management, who set the rules and who could get the most done.

      Again, thanks for the good points.

  12. Dry Your Alligator Tears says:

    Good job, you have successfully gained the attention of a site with more traffic than yours. Funny though, I notice that you haven’t demanded your content be removed and never posted again. So, according to your own actions, you don’t *really* have a problem with this, and you’re bitching for the sake of gaining *more* attention. Got it. Seems like your wife explained to you exactly how ONTD works, because you’ve got us here now which is obviously your plan.

    • Not sure how you get the idea I “haven’t demanded [my] content be removed.” Did you not read any of the article? I made multiple complaints to ONTD ownership, got no reply, then took the complaint to LiveJournal, who has removed the post.

      And I’m not sure why you or anyone from ONTD thinks this is some attention-seeking ploy. (The irony of being told I’m an attention seeker with nothing valuable to say by people who spend all day typing nothing but “LOL” and “WHUT” under blog posts is not lost on me.) The only attention I’m seeking is attention from other writers and editors to ONTD itself, which needs to be heavily monitored for nonstop copyright abuses.

      This seems to be the main ONTD defense: attempt to delegitimize anyone making a complaint by screaming about how they (the ones making the complaint) are just bitter nobodies hungry for attention. Not only is this brand of blind generalization not even close to true (most of the bloggers you hope to demonize are doing just fine without you, thanks, and the ones who aren’t don’t mind the lesser traffic), it (intentionally) fails to address the actual issue, which is: ONTD is stealing material, refuses to apologize for it, and insists “but it’s how the internet works” is enough of a comeback. Your brand of trolling offers no actual defense and only helps prove my point.

      • Another POV says:

        I can understand where you’re coming from on not wanting to have your work stolen, but you’re absolutely no better than these people in the way you insult them.

        The amount of attention and negativity you’ve given to this site and their users is immature at best.

      • If you’re referring to insults slung in the comments of this post, please notice that I tend to reply in kind. Post a friendly/informed comment, get a polite response. Post a comment that’s nothing but trollish nonsense, get a nasty response. It’s not about agreement/disagreement, it’s about tone.

        If you’re referring to insults slung in my article itself, fair enough. But as a writer who’s spent over a year dealing with plagiarists (of my own work and of others’), my temper is short when it comes to this sort of thing. There’s zero respect within the writing community for content thieves, which leads to some snippiness.

        I do, however, apologize for (as I mentioned in an above comment) making too broad a statement when referring to ONTD members. My beef remains with the “casual” members but with management and the more frequent contributors who refuse to acknowledge the problem.

  13. If they didn’t source you, then it’s a problem.

    But if they did, it’s understood that everyone is just reblogging posts for further exposure and discussion. Which ultimately means more hits for your blog and exposure for your article. So I don’t see how that’s a problem.

    • But it is a problem, because while it’s understood to membership that everyone is reblogging, it’s not clear to visitors (and, potentially, new members), and that confusion is easily fixable, if ONTD ownership would put the effort into it. Also, “reblogging” is a term usually used when re-posting material within a single website, say Tumblr or WordPress (or, in smaller terms, retweeting on Twitter), and in those cases, the source remains easily identifiable to all; by moving the material outside one site and onto another, such attribution is more easily buried. (And that’s not taking into account the issue that something like this can’t really be considered “reblogging” at all. That term suggests an implied agreement between writer and host website – if I tweet, I agree other Twitter members can retweet me – and that agreement doesn’t exist between LiveJournal and me.)

      Plus, while my article did get exposure, it did not result in more hits for my blog itself. Of all the readers clicking on my original article, very few of them came from ONTD. ONTD members have said they rarely click the links provided. As I wrote above, losing those hits does little harm for me, but when it’s someone who makes a living off his/her site, that can result in a serious loss of revenue.

      I did, however, receive tons of hits from ONTD readers reading this article, because they had to click on the link instead of reading it on LiveJournal. If you extrapolate that to an article from a different site on a more popular subject, ONTD would actually help out content providers greatly if they clicked links instead of read on their own boards. Not only could the hit count increase translate to ad dollars, but readers might discover a website they decide to visit regularly.

  14. Emily says:

    ONTD’s job is not to promote your site. They don’t owe you anything. You should be grateful they are using your site. It’s not a blogging platform, its a place where users show other users articles and say, hey, let’s talk about this. And there aren’t a “handful of regulars”, there are over 100,00 members. These people all know the protocol. If you’re on live journal, you likely know of ONTD and how it works. The user posting the article is never the author, just the person sharing it with you. How inconvenient would it be if people had to click through to another site every time they want to read an article? Lots of huge news sites know of ONTD and are happy with them sharing their article with others. They realise that this is not plagiarism, its doing more good than harm for them. Its just a community that wants to talk about stuff in your article. If you aren’t happy with that, you can ask them not to post your articles, and you will remove any chance of receiving traffic from a site with 100,00 members. Your choice.

    • 1, I’m not sure how the convenience of the ONTD membership trumps my copyright protection. 2, I’m not asking them to promote my site. I’m asking them not to steal from me. 3, just because some websites are OK with ONTD copying their work doesn’t mean ONTD has permission to copy anything else they want, too. (That’s like if a friend lets me borrow his car, then later that day I steal your car and tell you “but Joey let me take his!”) It’s ONTD’s responsibility to find out in advance which sites are or aren’t cool with republishing. Waiting until a complaint is filed is backward. 4, I have asked ONTD not to post my articles. It’s impossible to tell if they’ll respect that in the future because the ownership refuses to respond to my emails. 5, saying “your choice” suggests I’m turning down a great offer. It’s not my choice to have to chase down people who reprint my work without my permission and have to choose, after the fact, if I’m OK with it; it’s their choice to do the decent/legal thing and seek permission first and/or provide links instead of full texts. 6, I don’t care how big the membership of ONTD is. They don’t gain the right to do whatever they want just because there are a lot of them.

  15. Note: While I appreciate that the comments are getting more polite and more reasoned, we’ve hit a point where we’re going around in circles here. I’m temporarily suspending comments for this article, which is something I don’t want to and have never done before, but I’m tired of repeating the same argument. Since the comments which have made what I feel is the best defense of ONTD also admit ONTD’s wrongdoing, it seems like there’s little else to be said. If you feel you have something genuine to add to the conversation, you can send me a message via the “contact” link at the top of the page. If I get a good message or two, I’ll reopen the comments and post those messages here.

    At this time, however, I’m only interested in hearing from anyone who can legitimately claim that ONTD has a legal right to republish copyrighted material without permission. That’s the only point that can actually lend them any credibility in this issue, the only point that would prove me wrong… and the only point nobody has yet managed to make.

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