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

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:

  • My rebranded site was published on February 4, 2013.
  • I will document that I contend that her page was published sometime in April based on image upload dates in WordPress. Ah, WordPress — you’re super awesome about time stamping media files by their upload date. Thank you, pumpkin. I might have also found another nifty tool to back up my assumptions. Wait for it…
  • And, well — I’ll just leave the rest up to you.

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.

148 replies
  1. SarahArrow
    SarahArrow says:

    I’m sick of “social media experts” doing this to other content creators and bloggers. I’m sick of seeing ideas ripped and stolen with no acknowledgement, ffs even Homer acknowledged his muse. What is it with people? Do they think they will never be found out? what happens if you are run over by a bus? Where will their ideas come from then? Will they suddenly close down their business as they can no longer steal from you?
    Riff off of an idea by all means but make it your own, make it unique but most of all make it up instead of stealing.

    • Donna Ray Berkelhammer
      Donna Ray Berkelhammer says:

      SarahArrow Technically speaking, copyright law does not protect ideas, only the expression of ideas. The problem here was the exact words were copied and uses, not that she took the idea of “buy me coffee” and expressed it in different, original words.

      • SarahArrow
        SarahArrow says:

        Hi Donna, I know that copyright doesn’t protect ideas and that’s fine. But basic good manners would say that you acknowledged the source of the idea? Calling out people for infringement of copyright isn’t unique to Erika, not even how she deals with it is unique but she’s not copying someone else in her bitch slap? It’s all hers. 
        Now if I was brave enough to go and do this to the people that do this to me, I’d link back to this post or mention that here is where I got the backbone to stand up for myself, and then all my friends could say “she was such a nice person until she started reading that Redhead Writing…” ;). It’s a bit like exams at school and showing the working out, in the showing you demonstrate understanding of something so ever if the end answer is wrong you can track it back.
        Acknowledgement is powerful to all involved but today’s experts want you to think they are the next Don Draper when in truth they are all Pete Campbells… *ends rant, thank you for listening*

        • Donna Ray Berkelhammer
          Donna Ray Berkelhammer says:

          SarahArrow I think the Internet is an amazing, powerful resource and I don’t know how we lived without instant access to information, but the downside is that it is too easy to copy and paste (i.e., steal).  A lot of people don’t think (I guess I could stop right there and be accurate) that content in the internet is copyrighted.  They think just because they have the ability to copy it, they have the right to use it.  And I loudly applaud Erika for calling it out and drawing attention to the problem.  I wish more people would make a stink.

  2. ihavenocomment
    ihavenocomment says:

    I’m so fucking happy you did this. I hate people who lie and steal. Good for you for holding this individual responsible. Now I’m laughing though… I mean seriously.. WTF did she think you were going to do? And what’s even more funny, is that she did it to you OF ALL FREAKING PEOPLE!! After the fact it’s kind of funny actually… in a sick way… not in a real like ripping off your stuff kind of way…  but YOU… HAHA.. Of all people to rip your shit off…

  3. Allison Gamblin
    Allison Gamblin says:

    Amen sista’. I’ve had a couple former colleagues do this to me. It sucks. On the bright side, they fell flat on their faces. I’m still going on.

  4. ihavenocomment
    ihavenocomment says:

    OMG did you see this girls face. She looks like she’s 12. Now I feel bad. I don’t want her going to kill herself or something. It’s still wrong… but she looks like a baby. Sheesh.

    • ihavenocomment
      ihavenocomment says:

      MJRovner Silver lining. Marketing and services monetized completely. 
      This should be a new monthly feature for you Erika. 
      “What member of the global digital braintrust ripped off my shit this month?” Great ROI.

  5. @jason_
    @jason_ says:

    Did she really think she wouldn’t get caught doing this? If you’re not creative enough to come up with original wording for your sales pitch to potential clients, you have no fucking business doing the job to begin with.

  6. KristelMesh
    KristelMesh says:

    I wonder who’s content she ripped off to write the e-book I see being advertised on her site.  Oh, & ditto what MJRovner said!

  7. carrie_AGIns
    carrie_AGIns says:

    Wow. And amazingly enough, this is someone in my own backyard (literally 45 minutes away) and someone I’ve conversed with on social media mutiple times. She runs around with a lot of the Columbus social media group I know and consider friends.
    It’s sad when things like this happen, but for me, the moral of this story is if you build an interested, invested community, they will come to your defense. That’s why you work so hard. And the response from your community tells me that you’re doing a bang-up job. And yes, her website is no longer working 😉     Keep rockin’ on Erika- you are a model of inspiration to me- always.

  8. skyddsdrake
    skyddsdrake says:

    I don’t get it.  I don’t even write professionally.  I don’t get any revenue from writing my blog, and I don’t expect that will ever change.  I worry about stringing a few words together the way someone else did without knowing about it.  I can’t imagine going out there and blatantly copying not only an entire page worth of text, but *the idea and concept behind the text* without asking.  And then expecting to get paid for it!  Granted, it’s a phenomenal idea (and I can easily see fans swinging the cost just to have the chance to chat with you one on one), and I can see how people would wish they had thought of it first.  But ripping it off?  Particularly in such an overt way?  That’s some bullshit, right there.  I’m glad to see you called her out on it, and I’m sorry that you had to wake up to such rude nonsense.

  9. LindaEsposito
    LindaEsposito says:

    She accepts guest posts…On second thought—looks like your stuff already met posting guidelines.

  10. mcdougherty
    mcdougherty says:

    The idea of sitting down over a cup of coffee isn’t new. Shit, it was part of my speil when I had my design firm, Wicked Java, up and running years go. But the way you worded this was and are doing it is was very specific. 

    This was blatant on her part and it looks like she knows it. She’s taken down the post. The page gives a 404 error, which means it has been removed, and there’s no mention of it on her twitter/facebook. It’s like…it never existed.

  11. Ameena Falchetto
    Ameena Falchetto says:

    Wow! This stinks. Seriously. I do seriously admire you for just calling her out too. 
    When will people learn that this is illegal, it’s uncool and in doing this they are doing themselves the biggest disservice ever? 
    Next idiot who copies my work, turns my words into vids etc .. is gonna get a slap
    Guess someone’s gonna have to change their name to CRAPtatsic this weekend!

  12. JHerbert
    JHerbert says:

    Didn’t anybody teach that girl to never fuck with a redhead? She’ll always remember this lesson….. 🙂 Please share the response from the wrath of the redhead.


    I’m glad you are strong enough to stand up for your rights, Erika. You serve as an inspiration for us all when you protect your work this way.
    But, you also serve as inspiration for us all in how you run your business…how you structure your revenue streams…and how you integrate clever customer friendlies like BookFresh.
    So my challenging question is: where is the line between inspiration and infringement?
    Your Buy Me Coffee service is a great idea. For your clients, for your business, and for your students.
    When we are building our own businesses, and structuring our own offerings, we look to those above us who are successful for guidelines on how to put everything together.
    If she hit Copy + Paste, and linked back to your images, I’d be howling too.
    But it looks to me like she took the time to rewrite. Restructure. Personalize.
    Your work is, undoubtedly, undeniably, the inspiration for her work.
    How many revisions, and how far from your original message, would she have to go in order to safely claim the work as her own? How could she have done this better?
    As a content marketer, repurposing is part of my business. When I want to write a blog post, an ebook, or a landing page, I often start with reading a whole lot of good examples. I bookmark good examples to refer to when I start a new project, so I’m always cribbing inspiration from my heroes.
    I will freely admit, I use the structure and outlines of my inspiring pieces during my first drafts. If I am emulating something really good, after multiple revisions, I end up with a good piece of content, personalized for my audience, with my voice. 
    Am I guilty of infringement, too, because this is my method?
    Where do you draw the line?

      • MJRovner
        MJRovner says:

        Erika Napoletano CAELANHUNTRESS memo to self. Do not cross a redhead who can toss the F-bomb better than i can. And i can toss it pretty fucking well.

        CAELANHUNTRESS says:

        Erika Napoletano My question is: What DOES not make it infringement? If she was inspired by your service, and wanted to make a similar one, how far would she have to go?
        How could she have done this better?

        • Erika Napoletano
          Erika Napoletano says:

          CAELANHUNTRESS First, I can appreciate your questions. But secondly, it is not my job to educate a self-proclaimed “social media expert” on copyright law, fair use, and what constitues plagiarism. And as I’ve told another reader, I don’t give a shit WHO offers a Buy Me Coffee service. I do, however, care that they don’t rip off my execution of an idea in order to do it. Hence, the graphics above and side-by-side comparison.

  14. WTFMarketing
    WTFMarketing says:

    Just to play devil’s advocate against the pillaging hoard (not the Redhead, because I think you’re right with your response)… 
    When someone ripped off my PSA (Are You Burnt Out?) that went viral on Reddit, they left everything else, just removed my logo. That version was then shared by a page with 50K likes… and shared another 500 times after that. Which then found one of my friends… I was pissed, hurt… and I wanted to give up on writing another PSA, ever.
    In your case… I get why you’re pissed. I’m on the fence as to SavvySexySocial’s intentions, though.
    I think honest intent is what’s key: she probably thought she was too small fry to show up on your radar or affect your business (which isn’t really true for anybody or anything anymore). She probably thought she really doesn’t offer the same services. She probably thought she changed it enough that it wouldn’t be a problem. She probably thought it was an idea worthy of trying and thought she’d done enough to make it original. 
    I can’t claim to know what she was thinking, but I know the mindset because I’ve been there, too (15 years ago when I was 12 and knew nothing about copyright and wanted to share my love of Star Trek ships, maybe by borrowing content from StarTrek.com and adding my own twists to it, but I’ve been there). 
    It’s the mindset of a rookie making a mistake, not a master criminal.
    I know a lot of people look up to you, me included. Of course a few of ’em are going to try out your tactics. Hopefully, they’ll have enough common sense to change it up more than what happened here. With original layout. Original copy. Original spirit of the idea… not just a revision.
    It should go without saying that if Erika Napoletano asks you to take down a page with a bitchslap, you’d better believe someone’s gonna haul ass to take it down as a sign of good faith until they can figure out if they screwed up. It’d be more telling if they left it up.
    That doesn’t mean she *knew* that what she was doing was blatant theft or was intentionally doing something duplicitous; she probably assumed it was unique enough.
    Was it a bad assumption? Fuck yeah. Was it blatant, intentionally harmful, “suck it, Redhead”-level theft? Hmm…
    And, echoing what Caelan said – when does a revision become an original work? Obviously, SavvySexySocial didn’t go far enough yet. If I were to launch a “buy me lunch” program with a similar sound (in my voice, of course), cost, benefit, and structure (because, a virtual one-on-one product and recording it and providing a report are not exactly new ideas) and we’re masticating over marketing rather than sipping over being stuck, should I expect a bitchslap, too?
    Obviously – I know enough not to directly copy your stuff, structure, etc – and to give credit where credit is due. But like Caelan said – she obviously edited the copy to be in her voice, if not the intent of the idea or the overall layout or structure. At what point do changes in copy become a unique iteration of a common idea?

    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      WTFMarketing I’ll argue: why would she think she’s too small to show up on my radar? SHE WAS A MEMBER OF THIS COMMUNITY. The execution was such a blatant copy of mine, therein lies the crime. I don’t give a fuck WHO offers a Buy Me Coffee session. I do, however, care that they use their own goddamned brain to describe that service.

      • WTFMarketing
        WTFMarketing says:

        Erika Napoletano That’s an excellent answer, and it clarifies a lot for me: when you said the *execution* was the thing being copied. It’s not about the words, the format, or the layout, it’s about the execution (which is a combination of all three of those things plus intent) – which I whole-heartedly agree with. It’s pretty clear that WAS copied.
        I’ve said it before: I’m not bothered by you defending your territory or standing up for yourself.
        For what it’s worth, before the “execution” clarification – when I look at the side-by-side comparison, I get the similarity in layout. But, to a semi-layperson without that “execution” explanation, the content change and slight layout changes were enough to raise questions for me but not outrage. I’m not exactly uneducated on the topic of copyright law, but I’m also no lawyer.
        Someone with a similar perspective to my original position (questions but not outrage) might have a difficult time differentiating “theft” from “building on”. It doesn’t make the theft any less wrong, but to say they “knew better” probably isn’t accurate because it becomes a question of intent. 
        The semantics aren’t always black and white – which is why Apple vs Samsung went different ways in different courts. The theft is that the bones here haven’t been grown or modified, just redecorated – as in your couch metaphor. To “know better” requires an understanding that the execution – and not the copy or layout – is the soul of the thing being stolen.
        You’re right to call her out, but the community outrage based on an assumption that she had malicious intent (that she “knew better” when that hasn’t been established) … is troubling.


      WTFMarketing Totally agree. If she’s crossed a line here, I’d like to know exactly where the line is. 
      If the line can’t be identified, other than ‘I know it when I see it,’ then that leaves infringement in the eye of the beholder.

      • WTFMarketing
        WTFMarketing says:

        CAELANHUNTRESS I do think SavvySexySocial made a mistake here; the mistake was that she stopped at the paint.
        The execution of the idea was the problem (that it had such similar concept, copy, systems, and layout which add up to execution).
        It’s sort of like stripping the internals out of an iPad, copying it verbatim, and then redressing it as a myPad in green, orange, and red instead of black or white and selling it for half the price.
        The “line” that was crossed was that there wasn’t at least some attribution back to Erika for the concept, systems, or layout (internals) – which weren’t changed here, even though the copy (paint) was.

  15. CarolSmith1
    CarolSmith1 says:

    In business and lazy too?  Unforgivable.  
    Thievery?  Unforgivable.  Combined with arrogance … UGH!
    The lighter side of the whole thing … just imagine the size and configuration of the balls she must be carrying around.  Does she tape them down, tuck them in, hide them in a dress?  I’ll leave that discovery to you.  🙂

  16. JellybeanBoom
    JellybeanBoom says:

    I too want to jump out there and say while it sucks to be copied, it’s just part of doing business to be honest. That’s the real bitch slap, I’m afraid. The bitch slap is that you don’t own the idea of “Buy Me a Coffee” to the point where no one else can do something similar without checking in with you first. 
    Another bitch slap — and something people are woefully naive about — is that you can’t copyright ideas, especially pretty generic ones. I met a gal in January who, for the past couple of years, has been doing something called “Coffee Sessions” or something where she charges people to get together with her and brainstorm. It’s basically what you are doing. It is “her” idea, or is it “yours”? Sexy Sassy Social– yes I think she saw your idea and emulated it, but the copy is completely reworded. That’s not illegal — she’s as free to use your idea as I am to make go shoot a movie about an island of reanimated dinosaurs with my iPhone camera. Maybe my dinosaurs wear berets, and have tortured backstories — just because I use the basic gist of Jurassic Park doesn’t make me guilty of “copyright infringement.” 
    What’s more, this is a story repeated a billion times every day in business — and it’s one that’s only won by being better, faster and more agile. You can’t hitch your wagon to an idea, because ideas are free and there will always be someone out there either blatantly copying you or (much more common) working on the same idea simultaneously, as above. 
    What is protectable and what is yours is your execution of the idea. You differentiate yourself by providing superior service, by providing something no one else can steal.

    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      JellybeanBoom I’m not understanding your point. I don’t “own” the idea of Buying Me Coffee. I do, however OWN the copy on that web page. How is is formatted, laid out, and the verbiage used to describe that service.
      She stole it. This is why I documented EVERYTHING. Ideas are free — sure. But her execution was such a blatant rip-off of my execution that she’s a thief. Hope that backs up what you were trying to say.

  17. aleshabishop
    aleshabishop says:

    I am so glad you caught this person and called her on her shit in a professional manner. This kind of thing could destroy her  reputation if she did it to a vengeful person.

  18. veryafraidtosay
    veryafraidtosay says:

    Kinda seems like you pulled a gun at a pillow fight. Sexy Savvy put her pillow down, held her hands away from her body and slowly backed out of the room. Yikes. Did you agree with what the SparkFun guy said at TED the same night you spoke? Is this different from the point he made about patents, that spending energy protecting IP distracts from being truely competitive through having superior products, services or execution? This seems less blatant than The Oatmeal / Funny Junk dispute, since it wasn’t a strict cut and paste job of original artist content.

    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      veryafraidtosay No — copyright infringement is illegal. Here’s the deal:
      Say I came up with the plans for a sofa. The idea of a sofa isn’t new, but I drew up the designs, built it lovingly by hand, upholstered it, and placed it in my living room. Someone breaks into my house and steals my sofa. Then, I get a tip from a friend that they saw my sofa in someone else’s house, but with blue throw pillows on it and some cat hair. I call the police — I say: THAT IS MY SOFA. The person with my sofa in their living room says: “That’s not your sofa — yours didn’t have blue throw pillows and cat hair on it.”
      Get it? Just because you throw blue throw pillows and cat hair on someone else’s sofa doesn’t change the fact that you stole it and it doesn’t make it yours.

        CAELANHUNTRESS says:

        Erika Napoletano But in this case, you still have a sofa in your living room, and she only copied your plans and fed them into her 3D printer to make her own.
        I would contend that this isn’t theft; it’s piracy.

      • veryafraidtosay
        veryafraidtosay says:

        Yes, the sofa never left your possession. She copied elements of it and made it her own. To continue the analogy, you charge people for the service of sitting on your couch with you. But the real product is you – that can’t be copied, Thank Jesus. She made her own couch using elements of yours, and hoped people would pay to sit on it with her. I’m not sure that’s an infringement.
        As a practical matter, how many times can you mobilize and shame/scare off competitors? 3? 9? There must be a limit. Better to have the best fucking couch service and own the market on merit rather than questionable and time consuming IP defense. This thing is blowing up in a mostly good way for you this time, but you can’t release your social media flame thrower on every couch that looks like yours on the Internet.

        • WTFMarketing
          WTFMarketing says:

          veryafraidtosay To be fair, it was a pretty blatant copy of the system, layout, and concept – if not the copy (which changed slightly).
          The execution of the idea was the problem (that it had such similar concept, copy, systems, and layout which add up to execution).
          What SavvySexySocial did here is look at a sofa, built an identical sofa, moved the cup-holder, and upholstered it in a slightly different color.
          The “line” that was crossed was that there wasn’t at least some attribution back to Erika for the concept, systems, or layout (internals) – which weren’t changed, even though the copy (fabric) changed shade.
          The merit of the idea is in the execution – most of which was copied in this case.

  19. goettemoeller
    goettemoeller says:

    I’m glad to see that you made the effort to connect with her and ask about it before publicly defaming her. At a distance of about 1,300 miles, I’m sure this is a detriment to your business. You probably have a copyright on time based consulting and coaching as well. I’m sure.

      • goettemoeller
        goettemoeller says:

        Erika Napoletano goettemoeller I get it. In the perfect world there would have been a cool post from her that said, “hey, I found this page on readhead writing’s blog and thought it was a great idea” “I’m doing this anyways, and she states it more eloquently, so I’d like to model what I’m doing after her.”  Or take the idea and repackage it as buy me lunch or something. I don’t know.
        That should have happened, and didn’t.
        I re-read the copyright stuff, and it’s probably infringement. but if trashing others is the best way to get awesome traffic on your blog, that’s kind of sad.

        • Erika Napoletano
          Erika Napoletano says:

          goettemoeller I won’t stand by as someone steals my stuff. Period. And I could care less if she or anyone else has a product called “buy me coffee.” I do care, however, that she abides by the law when it comes to describing such.
          And I could give a shit about traffic. She broke the law. And now, maybe she’ll think twice about holding herself out as a “social media expert” when she clearly has no understanding of infringement OR Fair Use. I called her a thief because that’s what she is. She did her own “trashing.”

        • FreshRag
          FreshRag says:

          goettemoeller Not that Erika Napoletano needs anyone to come to her defense here, allow me to paint a picture.
          Someone steals your car. They drive it around like it’s theirs, but they bang it up a bit, run over curbs and tarnish the paint. If you see them on the street, do you say, “Excuse me, but you’re using my car, would you mind stopping kind but misunderstood person?”
          No, you pull them from the car, beat their ass, and then call the police. Ok, maybe you don’t have to beat their ass, but you definitely want to scare the crap out of them so they don’t do it again.

        • goettemoeller
          goettemoeller says:

          FreshRag goettemoeller Erika Napoletano No. It’s looking at an outline, liking the outline and using the outline to write your own book report. No property was bashed up and returned here. Structure and execution may have been copied, but core content is different. A specific model of consulting is hardly a revolution, and any argument otherwise is pretty pedantic.
          Did she copy the format? Yes. Should she have? No. Could a simple hey, stop copying my work suffice? Yes.
          Erika was nice enough to post the copyright rules including fair use, so let’s look at that.
          The same (fair use) act also establishes a four-part test to determine fair use according to the following factors: (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work (17 U.S.C.A. § 107).
          I think that Erika has a fair case for the first one and a little bit for the second, but as for the last two there is no way, Esp. 4. This will not affect her business in the slightest. 
          This is why it’s such a toss-up. I think there is a case, if only more than a hair over medium, to say that copyright infringement occurred. I will agree with that.
          But to go out of your way to encourage/allow (by creating the post) this defamation of character to occur (for self-justification) is just unreasonable.
          As a P.S.: I’m not really trying to be a dick, (although after re-reading today’s comments, it seems pretty dickish) I just really, really like semantic arguments. So I’m sorry if it comes off that way. My first comment was pretty snarky, but I’ve been thinking about this a lot today, and it’s actually just become an interesting argument to me. (I’ve borrowed ideas from others, and had content [pictures OF ME] blatantly stolen for other people’s blog posts, so I feel the pain, but understand how easy it can/could be to try to imitate or model a page/post after others.

  20. JackieDotson
    JackieDotson says:

    Let’s start with the fact that this person is yet another “social media expert”, which to me is 21st century code for “I don’t want to get a real job” or, “I want to shoot straight to the head of the line without paying my dues first”. Add in the fact that she looks to be in her early 20s, which suggests: very little to no significant employment history. 
    One of the common traits found in so-called “social media experts” is LAZINESS. They do not want to work hard. They want to throw up a couple of web pages and “generate passive income” through inane crap like webinars and e-books, which are, all too often, recycled dog food from other places. Just the very name of her blog “Savvy Sexy Social” tells me that this is someone who thinks stuff should come easy. Shit, just last night, I started writing, yet haven’t finished,  a blog post titled “Bringing Unsexy Back” which addresses the very issue of only wanting to do the fun stuff in life. 
    I took at her internet presence, she has: pithy sayings (check), corny videos (check), pouty duckface shot (check), prices for products that end in the number 7 (check). Yes, in my estimation this has all the markings of yet another internet fraud. 
    I looked at some of the other comments, and saw phrases like “honest intent” and “rookie mistake”. LETS NOT BE NAIVE. Stop giving people the benefit of the doubt. I’ve had it up to here with the benefit of the doubt crowd. She knew full-well what she was doing. She took the time to carefully change phrases, even though the structure and the message was clearly poached whole-cloth. 
    And I am still peeing in my pants over the fact that she has a video called “Prepare to Be Googled”.

    • WTFMarketing
      WTFMarketing says:

      JackieDotson I’m honored you took the time to read my comment and quote portions of it (obviously, I had both of those quotes in my comment), but I’m afraid without attribution that’s copyright infringement. 😉 I think people who quote me without attribution are lazy, throwing up comments to generate passive praise. I mean, just look at her, her name is Dotson, like she owns all the dots over all the i’s and j’s on the internet!
      Look… joking aside, my point is this: I DON’T think Erika’s response was uncalled for. She made the right call with the right amount of Redheaded fury.
      I DO, however, object to high-and-mighty pitchfork and torch lighting and hating on a woman who we don’t know by people in the audience. 
      Schadenfreude is a dangerous game when we only have half of the story. Did SavvySexySocial screw up? Sure. It was a doozy. But the intent MAY have been honest.
      You can rail against young people, “social media experts”, and those who don’t want to pay their dues all you want, but it comes off sounding jaded and bitter, not witty. I’m only 27. I’ve had more jobs than most people I know before I started my own company. And I work a lot harder than most people I know. I also have been called a “social media expert” because I teach classes on social media for charity, have pithy sayings, corny videos about speaking Klingon, and prices that sometimes end in 7’s. I also occasionally make a duck face, though if anyone has proof I’ve probably murdered them already and destroyed the evidence. Do I make your list of an internet scammer? Or is that a reserved title for when I make a mistake?
      Ad-hominem attacks don’t help teach folks that copyright infringement is wrong – or even where the line is. And that’s the point of my asking the question: where is the line? She obviously took time to recraft the message and the offer (though not the format or the idea itself – the bones were identical). But when do the bones stop being the thing that is copyrightable?
      Your answer to that question is at the heart of the issue. Because that’s what makes the difference between blatant theft and rookie mistake. That’s not naivety, that’s keeping an open mind until we know the other half of the story.

  21. Erroin
    Erroin says:

    Intellectual property theft is one of the biggest concerns my clients have when it comes to putting content on their websites.  They fear what you just went through.  Thank you for highlighting the tools any business owner can use to monitor their content.

  22. FreshRag
    FreshRag says:

    Let me see if I get this straight? This girl, this amateur, who claims to be a professional copywriter, blatantly steals near verbatim content from Erika (who everyone knows is a pretty feisty lady), but she’s supposed to remain civil and understanding?
    So, we’re holding Erika accountable for vehemently standing up for her brand and her content, yet we have little to no disdain for what amounts to common thievery? 
    Those of you who think Erika handled this poorly; there are a couple things you have to keep in mind. First, its her blog and she’ll do whatever she pleases with it. Secondly, as she mentioned in her video post about the Abercrombie & Fitch CEO, if you don’t agree with Erika, you have every right to vote with your wallets.

    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      FreshRag Precisely. And thank you 🙂 For the record — I do believe I was civil. I never called her names (other than thief and lazy — which are both evidenced). And if you don’t like it, there are a gazillion other blogs out there to which you can subscribe.

    • YourOrganicLife
      YourOrganicLife says:

      FreshRag I also believe she was civil.  Erika could have just sicked her lawyer on her.  Giving her her an opportunity to take the content down without having to pay for her own attorney was quite civil.  And, considering how often copyright infringement happens on the internet, I think it’s quite prudent to publish the information so others can learn..both those who have had their content stolen, and those who steal content, especially those who do it unintentionally due to a lack of understanding of the law.

      • FreshRag
        FreshRag says:

        YourOrganicLife I never said Erika was uncivil. I’m pretty sure we’re both on the same side of the conversation.

        • YourOrganicLife
          YourOrganicLife says:

          FreshRag YourOrganicLife I wasn’t saying you did.  That’s why I said “I ALSO believe she was being civil.”  Be are definitely on the same side of the conversation here.

  23. MitchRezman
    MitchRezman says:

    As I once heard from http://www.emersonspartz.com/ “there are no copyrights any longer” personally I think Pinterest put the nail in the coffin of copyright law. That said my plan would be to wait six months or year to allow her to get some branding going and then spend a few grand with a good Internet lawyer forcing her hand to either pay you off or take her almost established site down. We just got a letter from Getty images saying that a stupid fucking little parakeet on top of one of our bird scales was copyright infringement and they wanted $1100. As we are very careful with copyrighted images and we got this image from the manufacture – we sent the letter to them and they wrote the check, thanked us & immediately sent us all the product pictures sans parakeets. By the way I called Getty with the argument that all parakeets look the same they are identical unlike dogs and cats. They said they can they can identify the picture using pixel by pixel technology- go figure personally I think they were bluffing but I didn’t have to write a check. Some tools you may be interested in http://www.copyscape.com/ and http://tynt.com/ and remember much like fake tits – the real ones always feel better

  24. netmeg
    netmeg says:

    Happens to me a lot, to the point where I had to add this to my republishing policy:
    ” I reserve the right to make as much a nuisance of myself as I have time to become. In past years, this has included (but is not limited to) phoning your place of business to discuss the matter, firing off emails to  your management, issuing DMCA takedown requests to your internet service provider to have your offending pages removed, issuing DMCA takedown requests to Google to have your offending pages removed from the search engine, calling you out as a douchebag on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and any other social network where you maintain a presence, and posting screenshots of your theft alongside screen shots of my pages.  I also have a lot of lawyers in the family, and I’m not afraid to use them. ”
    And I’ve made good on ALL of those.

  25. AndyMathisDVM
    AndyMathisDVM says:

    <—- imagines this conversation-
    “Hello Sexy, Not so Savvy, Social. This is Michael Port. I’d like my interview back please.  That’s right. Let’s just pretend this never happened. . . .”

  26. Saucy Sparkles
    Saucy Sparkles says:

    Wow.  This is an epic clusterfuck.  I recently had a coffee date with Miss Erika and one of the questions I had was how to avoid the “copycat” syndrome. You wanna know what she said? She told me that it’s fine to be inspired by others but the one thing that you gotta remember (and thus will set you apart) is to be YOURSELF.
    By the looks of things SexySavvySocial tried to used someone else’s “voice”  instead of her own. Shame really. She just lost her crediblility, a community, and a great connection.

    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      Saucy Sparkles And I answer this question for people ALL THE TIME — they see something they love and want to know how to achieve that for their brand *without* being a ripoff artist. And we get it done.

  27. ProduktionModal
    ProduktionModal says:

    Boo hoo? All talented individuals get ripped. Myself included. In fact so much so that I fail to see the point of this article. Calm down, move on, and continue being successful.

  28. PegFitzpatrick
    PegFitzpatrick says:

    You go girl. I’ve had similar problems and it SUCKS! I called the last guy from the number on his webpage to tell him to remove it. He was quite surprised and thought he was helping me “get more exposure for my writing” by stealing it to use on his businesses website selling social media services. (using my social media content)
    Sorry this happened and AMEN to telling people to remove it. I do the same thing, I won’t ignore it and say it’s alright either.

  29. Chutnay
    Chutnay says:

    Damn I just had to write a 15 page paper on copyright infringement on the Internet for my ethics and legal class–  this would have been a perfect case study.
    There’s a reason you’re my hero 😉

  30. Ameena Falchetto
    Ameena Falchetto says:

    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 says:

      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: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/plagiarism
      an act or instance of using or closely imitating the http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/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.
      Also: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/copyright?s=t
      the exclusive http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/right to make http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/copy, license, and otherwise exploit aliterary, musical, or artistic work, whether printed, audio, video, etc.: works granted such http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/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.

      • PegFitzpatrick
        PegFitzpatrick says:

        Erika Napoletano Ameena Falchetto  There’s good information here about what to do when your content is stolen http://www.savingforsomeday.com/blog-law-what-to-do-about-blog-copying/ and here http://plagiarism.org/

      • JasonRasset
        JasonRasset says:

        Erika NapoletanoAmeena Falchetto WAIT.. SHE SAID PLAYING DEVILS ADVOCATE….here’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 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parlance, a devil’s advocate is someone who, given a certain http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument, takes a position he or she does not necessarily agree with, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/For_the_sake_of_argument.
        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?

    • KillianMIck
      KillianMIck says:

      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.

    • carynmurray
      carynmurray says:

      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…

    • Erika Napoletano
      Erika Napoletano says:

      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

  31. DonaldGiannatti
    DonaldGiannatti says:

    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.

  32. S. Jacob Stern
    S. Jacob Stern says:

    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.

  33. jmacofearth
    jmacofearth says:

    Well, I suggested consulting over coffee back in Feb 2012. http://uber.la/2012/02/consulting-offer/ AND Coffee consulting over a Google Hangout in JUNE 2012 http://uber.la/2012/06/tomorrow-morning/. But hey, I think you have a point. I think the SexySavvySocial woman was inspired a little too closely by your success. 
    An honor to be sure. Actionable? I don’t know. What’s the status at this point?

  34. SpartaJen
    SpartaJen says:

    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 🙂

    • WTFMarketing
      WTFMarketing says:

      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.

      • Erika Napoletano
        Erika Napoletano says:

        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 🙂

        • WTFMarketing
          WTFMarketing says:

          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.

        • Erika Napoletano
          Erika Napoletano says:

          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: http://thelovecoach.com/buy-me-a-chai-latte 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.

        • WTFMarketing
          WTFMarketing says:

          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 😀 – 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 says:

          WTFMarketing Erika Napoletano SpartaJen I’m over it, Nick. And please — I do adore you, but I would never walk into your living room and tell you to clean up your fucking house. That’s exactly what you’re doing here.

        • Mirilovelove
          Mirilovelove says:

          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
          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!”.

  35. dreams2media
    dreams2media says:

    I would say that I’m shocked by the reaction you’re getting, but unfortunately, the power of uninformed people in a group…it’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.  🙂

  36. JasonMillerCA
    JasonMillerCA says:

    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.

  37. jmacofearth
    jmacofearth says:

    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?”

  38. PhineasDelgado
    PhineasDelgado says:

    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.

  39. SophieLatulippeOuellet
    SophieLatulippeOuellet says:

    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 http://www.wonderword.com. 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!!!

  40. sugarrae
    sugarrae says:

    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
    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

    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
    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
    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.

    • Saucy Sparkles
      Saucy Sparkles says:

      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.

      • Erika Napoletano
        Erika Napoletano says:

        Saucy Sparkles sugarrae Y’all should meet — ballsy broad to ballsy broad. And you’re both Buy Me Coffee clients who asked the exact same question: “How can I make this my own?” 🙂 *fistbump*


      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.

  41. Samjb
    Samjb says:

    Holy crap. I’m going to show this to my students, and I think you should do everything in the legal universe to get this scumbag’s plagiarism deleted once and for all.  Your friend Scott Vann called this to my attention when he commented on my most recent blog post, http://theviewfromlittled.blogspot.com/2013/05/why-im-changing-my-academic-integrity.html.

  42. veganmama
    veganmama says:

    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 . . .

  43. superiorbms
    superiorbms says:

    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!

    • veganmama
      veganmama says:

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

  44. Erika Napoletano
    Erika Napoletano says:

    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 🙂

  45. alaanile2
    alaanile2 says:



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