Every time someone rips off my intellectual property, I feel two conflicting emotions. The first is a little thrill — hey, somebody out there thinks my stuff is good enough to steal! The second is a resentment that is ignited by several aggravation factors. If you didn’t give me any money, I’m annoyed. If you didn’t ask my permission, I’m annoyed. If you didn’t give me any credit, I am really annoyed. If you are a direct competitor of mine and you just took my work, without payment or attribution or a link, well…I’m moving beyond annoyed to…aggravated.
My first reaction on reading it was, “My, that’s awfully well written.” (Ha!) My second reaction was, “Hey, wait a second…”
Here is an article written by me a long time ago (Feb. 2005), published in a law journal, and featured on my company’s website.
Mind you, I’m a nice-enough fellow. If someone called me and said, “I’d like to reprint your article, giving you full credit” I’d have said okay — even if that person was a competitor. I’m down with the abundance philosophy: plenty of work for everyone. I’m not so down with competing against my phantom self, however.
So, let’s see…possible explanations. Perhaps Brian French hired some (foreign?) firm to create content for his site, and they are the culprits, and if he knew about the plagiarism, he’d be horrified? Perhaps he, or someone working for him, was lazy and intended to call me and seek permission — but just forgot? I know, god do I know, that creating new, worthwhile intellectual content requires time and thought and work. It would have been easy enough (even without my permission) to have written something that said: “Great article on creating elder law referral sources here” with a link to my article. But instead, it seems, this was deliberately presented as the work of Brian and/or his company.
So, what to do, what to do? Call Brian French and ask him to take it down? Call my lawyer and send a formal cease-and-desist letter? Do nothing, forget it, don’t worry about it?
Or perhaps just write this blog post and hope that embarrassment accomplishes the task?