Plagiarism Update

The flurry of e-mails (thank you!) generated by my previous message about WackyWits.com’s use of one of my dad‘s original cartoons finally prompted a response:

We have had an e-mail from your daughter re a page done a long while ago. She has said we used one of your pictures. This picture was freely available on the internet at the time with no copyright notice on it at all.

We take very great care in trying not to use copyrighted images or pictures and always, always give the name of the author,writer, or whoever, whenever we know.

We do not have this picture at all now so cannot show you the original we received.

We have also had a few rather rude e-mails re the above stating that we are making monetary gain from your copyright. We have never and I repeat never asked or received any money at all for our pages. In fact we have spent rather a lot of our own money in buying licenses etc to enable us to use certain copyrighted stuff.

We do sincerely apologise for our error and can assure that we will in future be even more aware of pirated stuff being available on the internet.

Kind regards
Sandi and the thingos team

Have you ever known one of those people who blame everything on everyone else? Caught with their hand in the cookie jar, they’ll look you right in the eye and claim it’s your fault for not putting the top on securely.

I will admit to having gotten the wrong impression from her website’s language. Apparently her “subscription service” is actually a mailing list, not a subscription service (which is, by definition, when a payment is made in order to receive consecutive issues of a publication), and the fact that the website gives you the opportunity to view a sample page doesn’t mean to imply that there are others you can’t view unless you subscribe. But somebody is making a profit from the advertising, at least, so I don’t think I was completely in error in saying that she’s profiting from other people’s work.

Sandi has also apparently not read the copyright law she so extensively references in her own copyright notification page, since she doesn’t know that copyright is implied in any work regardless of whether it is explicitly claimed. In other words, if it doesn’t say it’s not copyrighted, then it’s copyrighted, according to the law.

Here is my reply:

Since I designed the FamilyPoet.com website and wrote the software that generates the pages, I can tell you with certainty that there has *always* been a copyright notice on every page of FamilyPoet.com. The home page has always carried a notice that all text and images contained within the site are copyrighted, and every poem page contained a copyright notice within the title displayed at the top of your browser window, as well as the name of the author and the date of creation under the title of the poem. Even if this hadn’t been the case, however, it would be irrelevant, since the law assumes that an artist’s work is copyrighted. Even if an image doesn’t specifically carry a copyright notice, that doesn’t mean it’s free to use. When someone’s work is displayed on their website, especially with their contact information readily available as it is (and always has been) on FamilyPoet.com, you are in the wrong if you take that work without first asking permission. Period.

As for “always” giving the name of the author/artist, you didn’t do that, and again, that piece of information is plastered all over FamilyPoet.com and always has been. So you knew whose image it was and how to contact him, but you took it anyway and put your own name on it, with no credit to him, taking the credit for yourself.

If you do not make monetary gain from your pages, then you should change the wording. “Subscription” is defined as a payment made for receiving consecutive issues of a publication. And the advertisers on your site are paying *someone*.

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