Useful Shit

The latest blog post

Choosing Between Who You Love and What You Love

A rare interview of me on Jonathan Fields’ Good Life Project.

Read More



If You’re Going to Rip Me Off, At Least Be Creative About It

May 17, 2013

how savvysexy social ripped off erika napoletanoMy community is awesome. They’re the best RSS feed of information I have, from awesome stories and quirky internet memes…to rip-off artists.

First, no. I haven’t contacted this person. Fuck that. She’ll get the pingback and can learn about it on the Internets, just like I did this morning. If you’re going to rip me off — so blatantly and sans creativity — you’ve forfeited any consideration from me and you’re going down.

So, the issue is that someone sure to be a super rockin’ big fan of my Buy Me Coffee service. So much of a fan that they just decided to rip off the entire thing, virtually verbatim.

First, some facts:

My new website went live on Monday, February 4 of this year (2013). On that date, my Buy Me Coffee Service launched with the rebranding.

Today, I woke up to an email from someone in my community pointing me to a site ripping my page, service, and web copy off.  The similarities between the two are too awesome to not share. I’ve even built a side-by-side comparison so you can see for yourself. It’s also a great way to cache this page of hers for posterity, since dollars to donuts, it’s going to go through some revisions or deletions sometime very soon.

Now, let’s talk about some up-front information we all need to have in hand before I hand someone’s ass to them for ripping me off:

And for anyone who wants to take the stance that I’m a bully — this is copyright infringement. I will defend my intellectual property every day of the week. You can call that bullying. I call it calling my attorney and filing a DMCA Takedown Notice.

Soooooo…let’s get to it. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the two pages — mine, and the one from SavvySexySocial. You can also find her on Twitter here and here. Maybe she’s on Facebook, too. If that link doesn’t work, it’s because she got the pingback on this post, shit her pants, and has taken the page down.

how savvysexysocial ripped off erika napoletano

Click here to view a full-sized version of the image (you can also click the image itself).

Now, in the bottom left corner, you’ll see see some red text about copy that was originally on this page when it first launched in February. It’s the “What You’ll Get” part of the session. I send this information out to participants in a detailed email once they’ve booked. Oh — and I use Uberconference for all of these sessions. For $10/month, I can record calls and send participants an MP3 of their call so they have it as a reference. BAM. Looks like she didn’t rip off Uberconference, but they rock and I wanted to tell you about them (they also have a free version but you can’t record calls). I digress.

Here’s the page revision history from my Buy Me Coffee page in WordPress from February 4, the date I launched the page:

Revisions ‹ Erika Napoletano -- I get people UNstuck. — WordPress

That shit looks FAMILIAR, doesn’t it? I mean, it’s not as funny as this or even this, but I’m going to go ahead and call it funny.

Now, here’s the source code from this gal’s WordPress site showing the time stamps of her image uploads on that page.

first pub date savvysexysocial erika napoletano rip off


All of those images on the page were uploaded in 4/2103. Also, I did a little more Googling this morning and I discovered Google’s Advanced Search Tool. Here, you can do things like search for webpages containing something very specific…like maybe someone who wanted to rip off your content…and Google will then show you the first index date of the page. Isn’t that neat?

how savvysexysocial ripped off erika napoletano


And…my site.

how savvysexysocial ripped off redhead writing


So — here’s the thing:

There are enough words out there in the world that you don’t have to rip off someone’s intellectual property in order to get done what you need getting done. When you do that, it’s called copyright infringement and it’s against the law. See, I’m not just a gal with a big mouth. I’ve got some skills to back it up what comes out of it. I might have also co-presented a session on Fair Use and Copyright for Bloggers in conjunction with Cooley LLP (one of the leading IP law firms in the nation) at Blog World New York 2011. Just sayin’.

More importantly, though, I have an incredible community filled with people who have my back. They’re the reason I get to do what I love every day and when they’re out on the Internets and see shit like this, they let me know about it.

SavvySexySocial: You’ve been slapped. Get my motherfucking intellectual property off your website immediately. Hire a copywriter like every other business owner with half a brain and find some words of your own. You fucked with the wrong redhead this week, because there’s nothing I hate more than laziness. Aside from theft. And you’re both lazy and a thief. The saddest part is that you’re a member of the RedheadWriting community and you turned around and did this to me. While pithy quotes would have us to believe that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, this isn’t flattering at all. It’s shitty. And illegal.


 GREAT Post.

I recently had a web designer grab COMPLETE PAGES of my website and add them to their clients site verbatim!  Needless to say I was a tad bit annoyed. Thankfully Google indexed my site so I did get the credit for the initial content, but the shocking part was the arrogance of the guy who stole my content. I called him and told him I had identified the content as plagiarized. I was giving him the benefit of the doubt since many people use offshore workers to create content these days and it may have been something to that effect. The guy ask me how I found out the content was plagiarized (I do regular plagiarism checks on my pages). I told him the point was it was my intellectual content and I needed the content removed from his site. His response was that if I was not going to cooperate with him then he was not going to cooperate with me. OH REALLY?! I had his ISP and host shut him down. The stats were clear.

It is amazing to me how some people operate.

I love your humor and out right bitch slap here! Kudos!


No one that doesn't live under a rock can claim that they don't understand what plagiarism is and how to avoid it. My 17 year-old son has been beaten over the head with this message from the time he was in sixth grade. Every single English teacher checks their students work using online plagiarism checkers. If a student is caught stealing content it's an automatic FAIL. You can even check online to see who's stealing your photos (I've had my photos used w/o permission more than once). This type of theft needs to be called out continually. Only then will we weed out the posers from the real deal. Of course, the posers will weed themselves out fairly quickly . . .

Hatos Black
Hatos Black

Karma's new name is Erika. Print it. 


and she spells Colombia wrong? She sure doesn't know coffee.


First up - IMHO calling a one hour phone consult something other than "1 hour phone consult" is not what I think Erika takes issue with (though she can and will correct me if I'm wrong). Who knows if Erika was the first person ever in the existence of the world to call it "Buy me coffee" - but, if she wasn't, she didn't find someone else's page doing so and do a "technical rewrite" of the content and call it her own.

Second - this girl claims to be a social media and marketing pro - enough of an expert that you should pay $200 for an hour of her time. Had she been a plumber or a home decorator then she might have been able to chalk this up to not knowing better. But if you're claiming to be a marketing expert then you can't claim ignorance in this scenario.

I've been online for over a decade now and I have my content stolen all the time. The content for my consulting firm has actually been stolen twice in the last four weeks alone (along with my site design). It's bullshit and after a while, you get sick of telling yourself "flattery is the best form of imitation". No - YOU STOLE MY SHIT. And not in a "your shitty scraper is republishing my posts" kind of way, but in a "you're an actual human being who copied and pasted my shit and changed a few words around" kind of way.

I did a post a few years ago along the lines of the post above when a consulting firm stole my content verbatim (when we found it the company name hadn't even been changed - they were in the process of editing it). They blamed a copywriter (natch). Sometimes, you've just had enough. Not only does it piss you off to have your content stolen (especially when it's by people who offer services to make other brands increase their voice on the web), but then you have to waste your time running around sending emails and filing DMCA's. I've got better shit to do with my time.

This all could have been easily avoided...

"Hey Erika, I just bought a 'buy me coffee' date. I love your concept for this service. I'd like to discuss on the call how I can implement something like this for my own brand, without flat out duplicating yours." (She doesn't mind this, I know, because I did this.)

Don't have the money to do that? (I'll pretend you should still be charging people to hear your thoughts about improving their business on the web.) Then see her concept, CLOSE her page, and write your own words, and add your own voice.

But for people stealing content, I'll tell you the same thing I tell my daughter. If you have the balls to (hit a boy) steal someone's content, then you have balls enough to (get hit back) take the shitstorm. 

My two cents.


Ok solutions 1. Cry 2. Buy her coffee (hehehe). 3. Move on! You know darn well that she is a looser who doesn't have much to offer to her clients and will probably fail miserably. Erika, you know darn well that people who buy you coffee do so because you are you! Seeing the way you evolve and the kind of leader you are, prepare yourself, it is likely to happen again! My husband is creator of We've been imitated a few times. At first it angers you but then you realize, that clients are not stupid. The original is the original. Love ya girl!!!


I haven't yet had to deal with this issue myself, mainly because I don't think my stuff is worth stealing. On the flip side, I know that I've probably inadvertently copied other people's work, and if I like something someone else has written, and I use it, I always give them credit for it. I don't make money on what I do, or I wouldn't even do that. Hell, I don't read much any more for fear that I'll rewrite something by accident. 

I hope you can get this resolved soon. I love what you do, and I don't like seeing you upset.


Okay, a friend was asking me this question. "How much of these bloggers, and "leaders" in social media are actually rehashing stuff that others have written? I mean, how many of them are actually doing significant work, rather than just pontificating about the work they would/could/should do if they had the clients. That's why they blog, right?"


Talk about the wrong way trying getting a link-back  ; )  Good for you Erika for calling this out. This happens WAY too much. The world is desperately in need of original thinkers and this is a perfect example. 


I would say that I'm shocked by the reaction you're getting, but unfortunately, the power of uninformed people in a's appalling.  You're completely correct in how you've approached this.  Plagiarism is wrong, period.  I'm a graphic artist and I get so tired of being told "If it's on the internet, it's fair game."  Seriously?  What the HELL is wrong with people?   

I love your blog and I find you refreshingly honest.  And fabulous.  :)  


I'm less shocked by the plagiarism (as a former copyright lawyer I've seen it all) but the weird shit in some of these comments. Are people truly that strange? 

I applaud you for outing her. People think it's ok to do this sort of shit (as demonstrated by the comments) because no-one calls them out publicly when it happens - it just gets handled in private -  and/or it gets buried in letters between lawyers. 

She and all the other crazies can go fuck themselves. Love your work girl :) 

S. Jacob Stern
S. Jacob Stern

I think the real question everyone is wondering ... are your ovaries still screaming? ;-) Regardless of whether you're dealing with incompetence or fraudulent intent, don't let the haters drag your Fuck Yeah Friday into Melancholy Monday. You're an absolute assassin Ms. Napoletano, and even when facing a crisis, assassins remain cold-blooded. I'm admittedly a huge fan of the attitude you bring though.

Also, I'm out of vodka.


Erika, Erika...
Time for a bigass Margarita kiddo.

Remember that when you wrestle with pigs, you both get dirty... but the pig actually enjoys it.

You were exactly right.
You know it.
I know it.
Your fans know it.
Most anyone who is a creator of content knows it.

Drink deep from the well and walk away from the crazys... LOL.

You will survive and thrive, my dear.

Ameena Gorton
Ameena Gorton

Playing devil's advocate after sharing and being totally 110% behind you message, BUT I'm seeing a lot of emulation plus laziness vs. straight out copying. On close examination I'd actually conclude you'd possibly planned this with Amy to elevate her status - sure your die hard fans have gone over to her side to blast her, but far less than I'd have hoped for.

Awesome sauce for calling her out but the copyright infringements are weak considering she paraphrased. The reason you can't /Don't call a lawyer is because words are words, and she's not lifted your exact wording (nor do you own those words).

Given the crazy shit storm of attention you've thrown on this I am pretty certain that we're not seeing the full picture! 

Erika Napoletano
Erika Napoletano moderator

@paigepiskin It's theft and against the law. If I'm a bully for protecting what I create, then I'm a fucking bully and will be until the day I die. I don't mind people being inspired by what I do -- what I do mind, however, is them blindly and ever so blatantly ripping me off and NOT having the creativity to create their own iteration. 

It's not creative to paraphrase someone else's work -- it's illegal. It's called copyright infringement.

It's not creative to take someone else's work, slap a new title on it, and call it your own -- it's illegal. It's called copyright infringement.

And I will not be silent as this web-based theft happens way too often and I'm quite fucking tired of it.

So, thank you for your insights on how I could BETTER be spending my time. Perhaps you'd be better spending your time with those who feel it's okay to steal the work of others. Just my opinion :)


@superiorbms It sounds as if you handled things beautifully. Thanks for directing us in how you dealt with this issue.


@sugarrae I think you nailed it with the perfect solution. If she had purchased a Buy Me Coffee service herself, and had her own service offering as the topic of the conversation, everything would have been above board and clear to everyone, before Ctrl+C was even pressed.

Aliza Stein
Aliza Stein


That's some wise words (and advice) you just threw out. What I found just astounding is that these sites claim they're experts at something. Honestly, they just look like they're experts at cut and paste. 


@SpartaJen As a dissenter, I don't think it's OK that the plagiarism occurred. Erika's call-out was a necessary thing.

Did the public thrashing clear up the issue? Not for me and not until I questioned what the infringement was.

I am troubled by the fact that quite a few of the commenters railed against Savvy's age, gender, face, abilities, etc - just on the basis of Erika calling her out. I'm troubled by the fact that nobody else seems troubled by that (or at least, isn't troubled enough to comment on it) and even more troubled by the fact that other commenters applauded and encouraged those ad-hominem attacks...

At the end of the day, the infringers learned nothing of copyright besides "don't fuck with Erika", some trolls were allowed to spew ad-hominem venom towards the target of the day, all while the original plagiarism might have occurred precisely because the line isn't a clear one until the execution is described (look at how many commenters equate copy to the idea itself - when it's a combo of the system, the design, the copy, and the idea itself). 

If the only education opportunities these types of things get are either "CUT OFF HER HANDS"-level public call-outs or private letters between lawyers, it's no wonder they keep happening.


@jmacofearth it's definitely actionable. 

You can't claim copyright over the concept of "buying coffee" but when both pages are put next to each other and you see the extent to which it's copied - now that's actionable.

Erika Napoletano
Erika Napoletano moderator

@jmacofearth It's not about the "consulting over coffee." I don't give a shit about that. I care that she stole my execution -- my words. She's taken down everything that has to do with her "Buy Me Coffee" service. And damn straight she should have. She's welcome to sell whatever she wants, as long as she doesn't use my words or paraphrase them to describe it.

Erika Napoletano
Erika Napoletano moderator

@ssusina Here's what HER letter looks like, just sent on her contact form:

You are hereby requested to remove the copy you've stolen from my website on your "Buy Me a Chai Latte" Page. Should you fail to remove it or materially change it within 7 days, I will be filing a DMCA takedown notice with your ISP and my attorney will be issuing a Cease and Desist.

I recommend that you read up on copyright law, Fair Use, and the fact that "paraphrasing" does not exempt you from infringing on the copyright of my work.

You know who I am.

You know where you've stolen this from

There are plenty of words in the world so that you don't have to steam mine to sell whatever it is you're selling.

I have screenshots recorded and will be reviewing your site in 7 days time.

Erika Napoletano


@ssusina No kidding! This one didn't even bother to spin anything... that's just terrible. Well Erika, you're so awesome that these lazy people are just ripping you off left and right...


@Ameena Falchetto Erika has a powerful personality, and a dynamic air of energy on her site. To accuse her of lying to her readers and manufacturing a potential lawsuit worth situation (and yeah, if you'd actually read about copyright law, you'd understand that before spewing your bullshit up there) is not just reprehensible but it's ludicrous. Erika has scraped and scrapped to build a reputation that is based on honesty, respect and transparency.

Hope you managed to get your pants back on after talking so loudly out of your ass; it's still pretty cool at night.

Erika Napoletano
Erika Napoletano moderator

@Ameena Falchetto  Are you KIDDING ME? I PLANNED THIS? Please -- this is the most insane thing I've heard all day. AND - the reason I don't call an attorney is because it's going to cost me $800 to start that conversation. I've already filed a DMCA takedown notice with her ISP.

This. Girl. Stole. My. Content. "Paraphrasing" doesn't make it not theft. And yes -- I DO OWN THOSE WORDS! That is what a copyright is! That's like saying JK Rowling doesn't own the words in a Harry Potter book. Maybe you want to read up of Fair Use, Infringement of Copyright, and Plagiarism. Good grief.

You can skip the conspiracy theories -- theft is theft is theft. and there's a reason this girl took her offending page down 5 minutes after this post went live this morning. IT'S THEFT.

And finally:

an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author's work as one's own, as by not crediting the original author.Synonyms: appropriation,infringement, piracy, counterfeiting; theft, borrowing, cribbing, passing off.


the exclusive right to make copies, license, and otherwise exploit aliterary, musical, or artistic work, whether printed, audio, video, etc.: works granted such right by law on or after January 1, 1978, are protected for the lifetime of the author orcreator and for a period of 50 years after his or her death.

Erika Napoletano
Erika Napoletano moderator

@WTFMarketing @SpartaJen There was a section of comments on my FB page where one of my community shut this shitty behavior down. I thanked her, agreed.

And I don't think Jen said anything about anything being OK. She said they "think" it's OK to steal content. Clearly, as a former IP attorney, she contends it is not :)


@Erika Napoletano@Ameena Falchetto WAIT.. SHE SAID PLAYING DEVILS's my definition and wikipedias.... Devil's Advocate:  Acting or taking on the position as if you are the DEVIL to reveal the ugliest possible truth available... sickening yes.. but to debate the Devil himself and Win is quite a Feat...:)

In common parlance, a devil's advocate is someone who, given a certain argument, takes a position he or she does not necessarily agree with, for the sake of debate. In taking this position, the individual taking on the devil's advocate role seeks to engage others in an argumentative discussion process. The purpose of such process is typically to test the quality of the original argument and identify weaknesses in its structure, and to use such information to either improve or abandon the original, opposing position. It can also refer to someone who takes a stance that is seen as unpopular or unconventional, but is actually another way of arguing a much more conventional stance.

 btw.. she also said she share and agreed with you 110%.. Hmmm now that's fishy since that's more than the most.. idk... I wouldn't trust her...tbh... 

also I am smart ass and my comment is lovingly deletable.. is that a word?


@Erika Napoletano

"I'm tired of getting ripped off and having people plead "Ohhhhhhh -- I didn't know! I hired someone! Oh my, oh my..." Yeah, you knew. And if you didn't, you should have. Ignorance isn't a license for fuckery or theft."

Yes. YES. YES. I am a freelance illustrator, and I see this way too much. Someone thinks that if they change X% or X amount of words, it's theirs. Not true. 

And I also don't give leniency for "not knowing". If you're going into business and you want a legitimate business, you will take the time to know. Because if you're that serious, you're not going to let your baby go down the tubes because you didn't learn about basic copyright infringement or legal laws, and you're certainly not going to be willing to lose it all on a "whoopsie!".


@Erika Napoletano @SpartaJen Erika, right back at ya (mad respect).

You didn't call me an idiot, I was just using me as the perfect example of someone who could have been the exact target of this bitch slap because of my understanding of what constitutes plagiarism :-D - and if the line was blurred for me until you explained it wasn't the content but the execution, maybe it was blurred for this Savvy girl, too.

Chai woman? Yeah, that's totally fucked up. I'd have expected this blog post and resulting outrage for her.

Savvy? The obvious change in content (if not other bits of execution) and her quick removal stops me from being outraged; so the slamming of her character, gender, and age seems really out of line to me. 

Granted, I don't know what the back-end communication looked like. Maybe Savvy told you to fuck off or was rude. Maybe it was an innocent mistake which is now fixed. Even so, the fact that you're indifferent to it going forward now is troubling to me. You can't control what other people say and do, but you do set the pace and tone of your own community.

You and I, and all content creators - we SHOULD care about educating ALL our readers on this - and not on the Sesame Street-level lesson of "why you shouldn't steal things" (fucking duh) but instead on the much more advanced "you might think this isn't theft because you made an effort to modify it, but it is still theft..." Semantics and intent in that sense are *everything*.

That's not licensing ignorance or fuckery, that's basic business survival to prevent fuckery from propagating.

Erika Napoletano
Erika Napoletano moderator

@WTFMarketing @Erika Napoletano @SpartaJen Nick -- then take it up with the people doing what you perceive as bullying. And I'm also not interested in educating the world on WHY YOU SHOULDN'T STEAL THINGS. That's not what this post was about. It's about calling out a thief who stole my stuff.

And I have to say in all honesty -- if people want to call her AND the OTHER gal who stole my shit today here: NAMES

Let them have at it.

I'm not saying you're an idiot and you and I go way back. Mad respect for you. But I'm done with this shit and I'm pissed. I've spent 40 years living a life to create what I create -- and in one day, I've had not one...

not two...

but THREE people who have ripped my shit off -- and the same shit?

Low. Life. Lazy. Ass. Mother. Fuckers.

And I haven't even had TIME to deal with the third one yet.

And I'll close with this: I want you to go out. Have two beers. Drive your car and get pulled over by a cop. He'll say he smells beer on your breath and wants you to blow or take a blood test. You know you can't refuse in Colorado. And then, when you blow a .08, which is what 2 beers in an hour will get you, I want you to explain to the copy that your INTENT wasn't to get drunk. Lemme know what he cop says. I'm betting it's a free ride in a black and white cab and from $5000-7000 in attorney fees. Community service. Fines. Education classes.

And the law? They could give a shit about your intent.

Part of a responsibility as a site owner, content creator, or purchaser of created content is to ensure that copyright is cleared on EVERYTHING you purchase, create, or have created for you. Can't do that? Get fucked. I'm tired of getting ripped off and having people plead "Ohhhhhhh -- I didn't know! I hired someone! Oh my, oh my..." Yeah, you knew. And if you didn't, you should have. Ignorance isn't a license for fuckery or theft.


@Erika Napoletano @SpartaJen Erika - it's your community, their behavior as a result of your call-outs is on you.

I haven't been watching Facebook, I've been watching here. It's not being shut down. Your reaction to an ad-hominem commenter (Jackie Dotson) was "She knew what she was doing." Your reaction to another, similar commenter, Carol Smith, who commented on Savvy's genital configuration, was silence. Schadenfreude is an ugly fashion accessory.

As an aside, I'm not attacking Jen's stance. She never said anything was OK. I'm challenging her that copyright infringement won't decrease even with call-outs like this - if anything, future infringers will be much more unlikely to do anything once they get caught and become more embedded in their belief they didn't do anything wrong (because they don't get it in the first place, they just think they're being thrashed by a bully). It'll turn a legitimate request to remove copied content into "bullying", when it's really not.

I'm saying if we don't turn these into teaching moments, as to the exact nature of WHY they think it's OK to steal content... it won't change for anybody and you'll have made a rather large wave signifying nothing.

Just look at the comments. You have four basic groups: The folks who agree outright because you're Redhead Writing, then the folks who agree because they have similar knowledge or understanding of the copyright line, then you have people who think if they change the copy, but leave the system, the concept, and the design the same, it's not plagiarism... and then the last group are wondering why you think you can "copyright" the idea of coffee consulting.

That's the problem - the lines aren't clear because education is lacking. I'm no idiot, and even I was having trouble understanding your call-out until you put it in a different context for me.

It's EXACTLY the reason why I'm troubled by the ad-hominem attacks, because while the *intent* doesn't lessen the crime, it certainly should meter the response.


  1. [...] Erica Napoletano (RedHead Writing): If You’re Going To Rip Me Off, At Least Be Creative About It [...]

  2. [...] my friend Erika had this happen to her, too. Her “Buy Me Coffee” consulting offer was stolen not once, not twice, but three [...]

  3. [...] Friday morning, these are just some of the things I’ve heard when I busted a “social media expert” for stealing my web copy for my Buy Me Coffee service. The plain, no-bullshit truth is that just over 24 hours later, I [...]

  4. [...] possible to so badly misinterpret what I wrote is if you skimmed for all the swear words. Of Erika’s post, the former reader mentioned they weren’t interested in “all the words”. What [...]

  5. [...] her words, “ripping her off!”  She published two phenomenal blogs on her experience:  If You’re Going to Rip Me Off, At Least Be Creative About It and On Stealing Shit. Check her blogs out, determine a plan to deal with it if and when it happens [...]

  6. [...] Erica Napoletano (RedHead Writing): If You’re Going To Rip Me Off, At Least Be Creative About It [...]

  7. [...] still driving traffic to the Death of a Social Media Strategist post. And also a single link from, where I posted a comment on her post about plagiarism. (Yes, a well-placed, well-time comment can [...]

  8. [...] could verbatim write what Erika did in her blog post to illuminate the dumb-ass of stealing, but why would I do that when she does it so [...]

  9. [...] on your website or blog. Whether by accident or blatant copyright infringement (like this one or this one) there is nothing glorious about passing someone else’s content off as your [...]