I Wish I Had Written That — Oh, Wait. I Did.

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.

So, here is an article that has been up since October on a competitor’s website: attorneywebmarketing.net.

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?

5 thoughts on “I Wish I Had Written That — Oh, Wait. I Did.

  1. Great article. I think I’ll use it…

    This has happened a few times to me (a few that I learned about). Each time I’ve contacted the offender and the article was taken down. The excuse was always that the Web site developer had put up the content without the knowledge of the owner.

  2. It looks a lot like copyright infringement to me. You can “make a federal case about it,” as we used to say in New England. I think you remember that, Mark.
    Your remedy, should you choose to pursue it, might well include all profit made from the infringement. That might be an interesting case for an IP lawyer. (E.g., does the damage remedy extend to the profit on business generated by Mr. French from all lawyers seeking marketing from his firm during the infringing time period?) At a minimum, you could get an injunction and seek attorneys fees. Surely you know some good lawyers . . .

  3. Had it happen to me with a competitor’s website, an entire page word for word – right down to a tag line (if that is the right term, Mark?) .
    The tag line said ” We invested the time, so you don’t have to”
    I guess they took that literally!

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