Content thieves: I want to punch you in the face
Ian Lurie Feb 24 2010
Lucky for all of us, I’m a pathetic weakling.
Still, I am blogging angry. Furniture-throwing, people-punching, burn-your-business-to-the-ground and then watch you weep over the ashes angry.
Your typical plagiarism I can deal with. I booby-trap pages and send pissy e-mails. I’m OK with all of this. Most of these people are stupid – they’re using scrapers, etc. without bothering to learn how they work.
But ‘professional marketers’ who brazenly steal content for their own company sites are different. They’re evil. They’re not qualified marketers and they know it. To fool unwitting potential customers, they steal someone else’s copywriting.
So, scumbags, from now on you’re going to get new treatment: I’m going to out you and your lazy, incompetent, dishonest businesses for the entire world to see.
How this started
I thought I’d search for a sentence on one page of my company web site. I saw this result, and my jaw dropped:
I started to look at some of these sites. There’s some amazing stuff, like:
The press release where a marketing agency stole the first sentence of our home page:
Who could be so careless? Apparently, Flex360. Wonder what they’ll do when they market your business… (Flex360 has removed the plagiarized content – thank you!)
Then there’s the idiot who plagiarized our services page and put it in his LinkedIn profile:
If you employ a guy named Kamran Ashfaq, check your wallet. He may have stolen from you, too. He’s too stupid to even delete my company’s name when he steals, but play it safe.
Hype Internet Marketing was more efficient, basically creating their entire home page with our writing:
If you use Hype Internet Marketing, you might want to search a few sentences of copy from your own site and make sure they didn’t steal that, too. Or, just fire them and hire an agency that doesn’t use plagiarism as a marketing strategy.
The Alternative Solutions site is so ugly they should’ve copied our design, too:
Servo Marketing apparently thought stealing our writing and surrounding it with their own crap would make it OK:
My favorite, though, is Strawberry Jam Marketing, who even with runaway plagiarism, could only manage a 1-page web site:
It’s an endless list. If I pick any starting sentence, anywhere on my site, there’s a parade of worthless marketing wannabes copying it in an effort to dupe a few paying clients before they go out of business.
There is no excuse
Don’t protest how you hired a writer and you didn’t know they were stealing. You frakking idiot, you are responsible for their work. You take one sentence from their writing, put it in quotes, and search for that on Google. Instant plagiarism test.
Don’t tell me how ‘imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’. That’s sort of like saying ‘beating you to death and stealing your shoes shows I respect your fashion sense’.
Plus: You are (supposedly) a marketer!. Flex360, Servo Marketing, all the rest of you, you all mention copywriting and marketing messaging or some such as part of your services. How can you do that when you can’t even develop your own?
There is no excuse for this crap.
If you’ve hired these firms/people….
…think very carefully about whether you should continue to work with them. When they had a choice between honest work and outright theft, they chose theft. Doesn’t mean they’ll steal content for your site.
It does mean that ethically they’re pretty shaky. Do you want them selling your products? Would you hire a child care provider who steals? How about a doctor who faked his medical degree? Or a lawyer who’s a shoplifter? Didn’t think so. And this is no different.
It also means, frankly, that they are, at best, grossly negligent. Really, did they think no one would catch them? Or did they not know to check their writers’ work? Either way, they’re not too bright.
So, now what?
What do we do now? I don’t know. Maybe I just keep outing agencies that steal. I can do it for months. It’ll be a fun weekly post.
Or maybe, you get a clue, check your content, stop making excuses, and write your own goddamned copy.
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Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent Inc. He's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Forbes.com and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, SIC and ad:Tech. Follow him on Twitter at portentint.He also just published a book about strategy for services businesses: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle. Read More