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Wednesday, January 3, 2007

First Cara wrote about “the problem”.
And Norma mentioned it last week too.

Now it’s my turn.


I usually do not write about the downside of being online, but it’s a New Year, with new corners, new roads. New surprises.

I was contacted this weekend by a lady who wanted to exchange website links with me – the usual I’ll show you/yours if you show me/mine…

Because of the way the email was written with misspellings & weird syntax, I went to the site and looked it over.

On this site I found a blog created entirely from what appeared to be other people’s content (a splog). No visible attribution. Just entire posts, articles, patterns, pictures (hotlinked but of course) etc. published online AS IF they came from that site itself.

Not RSS feeds. Not aggregator-gathered entries used with your permission. Your blog – but not your blog.

Digging around a little (after I notified the people I recognized), I found out a curious thing.

This site was built using Mechanical Turks.


Well, my fine friends, for the princely sum of $1.00 per article or link, a *requester*, in this case, someone representing a yarn outlet, wants YOU to do all of the heavy lifting (Human Intelligence Tasks) for him. Apparently, several individuals are willing to work for one dollar and are harvesting any ole knitting content out there and publishing it. In THEIR name. To support his commercial site.

Unbelievable. Intentional.

Since I started this blog in 2001, I have learned several lessons about copyright and trademark. I’ve been threatened by a big yarn company in a ridiculous situation. I’ve been copyright violated six ways til Tuesday by people wanting to make money from my hard work without my permission or knowledge – everything from photo *borrowing* by major newspapers to entire pattern reproductions on CD’s for sale, article siphoning, patterns being cloned and offered as someone else’s originals, free patterns being sold in stores, name cloning, you name it.

All of these things, when they happen, cause anxiety, confusion and incredible wastes of time and money.

I’ve never mentioned here how this can banish one’s imaginative spirit. But it does. Thoroughly. Quickly. I know this first-hand.

It does not induce more creativity. It induces Chaos.

Imitation (i.e. plagiarism) is NOT the sincerest form of flattery. It IS an injurious and crippling form of insult.

Copyright means the content creator gets to control how and where their stuff is used. That’s all. This, at its most basic, is just common courtesy.

Yet, there appears to be no end in sight for the wholesale lifting. No end in sight for greedy (and false) concepts like “how much do I have to change before I can call it mine”; no end in sight for the people seeking business short cuts at your expense.

I have one thing to say to all of this: Get off my back.

M. TURKS & other JERKS: Write your own blog entries. Link to a site instead of lifting other’s content. Design and write your own pattern without cribbing someone else’s. Ask permission before posting graphics and pictures. Don’t assume it is free advertising – if you don’t have the knowledge and permission of the content creator, it is not OK.

If you see original work used in an inappropriate place and know the author, photographer, designer, etc. please let them know. It would be a kindness. It’s become a prevalent COMMERCIAL trend to harvest content from our community; the Bottom Feeders need to come into the Light…


32 responses to “Wednesday, January 3, 2007”

  1. caroline says:

    well said, chica. Sorry you’re having to deal with this crap.

  2. Cara says:

    I’m so sorry, my friend. I just have to keep thinking – what goes around comes around and Karma has some really big teeth!

  3. Norma says:

    What Cara said. And my addition: “Bastards!”

  4. Connie says:

    You need to report this to Google, Yahoo, & MSN search as a “Splog”. They will then be removed from the search engine – which is their life blood.

  5. amisha says:

    ugh. so sorry you’re having to deal with this… it sucks when this takes time & energy away from your creativity.

  6. pixie says:

    how awful, I know the lady who makes those cute stitch it kits for embroidery finds t-shirts for sale with her designs on them all the time. Really stinks.

  7. Theresa says:

    Well said. Well said.

  8. Susanne says:

    VERY well said!!

  9. I wonder what Lawrence Lessig is thinking about this kind of plagiarism/copyright infringement?

    I can tell you for certain, that it is very common to find that students feel that if something is web accessible, then it is free. They have no intellectual property concept. Frightening.

  10. Dana says:

    wow. i had no idea that kind of thing was happening. sorry you have been affected by someone’s greed and dishonesty. :(

  11. Melinda Morrissey says:

    In addition to expressing my outrage at this situation, I’d also like to extend my thanks for all the work you put into your site. I check it nearly every day and realize I should let you know that yet another person out there is inspired and feeling connected to the knitting community through your work. Humor and substance…please keep it up!

  12. Gina says:

    Do report this, and please don’t let it drain your creative spirit. The knitting world needs ChicKnits — your patterns, your Monday Morning Mirth, your writing, your knitting adventures.

  13. Julie says:

    I hate it when these things happen. Seems like all too often I have a problem like this — and it is draining. I love being on the net, but I hate when people take advantage because of it. sigh. Take care and try not to let it bother you too much.

  14. Stacie says:

    That makes me so angry!! People really take advantage of the internet. I have to delete spam from my comments all the time, and who knows how much of my stuff is hotlinked. I’m sorry you have to put up with that crap.

  15. Leslie says:

    Call me naive, but I had no idea this happened. Such a waste of time and energy to remediate the problem offenders.

  16. Ruth says:

    How tremendously disheartening! It certainly makes me think twice about aspiring to design for anyone but myself – theft and personal attack is an awfully high price to pay for creative expression. I think talking about it publicly is a good start – plenty of folks DO value individual creativity and generosity of spirit over corporate greed, we just need to know where to look, and how to discern the difference.

  17. Debbie says:

    Thanks for the info. After reading Cara’s post, and now yours, I decided to google my blog name. Interestingly my blog is listed on other search-engine-type sites. I have no idea yet about whether they’re hotlinking etc., but I’m gonna look into it more. I sure as heck didn’t invite them to link me!

  18. SallyA says:

    As a former vp of a couple of publishing companies, I had to deal with copyright infringement more than once. Copyright is a great idea but unless you’re a major corporation going after another major corporation, it doesn’t really give you anything to go after the offenders for except the legal right to make them stop. If there was a way to penalize these people, maybe it would really make them think twice! I’m sorry this has happened to you and Cara, two of my faves!

  19. Marlena says:

    I’ve often wondered how people in your position (authoress of a very popular blog and patterns) protects her copyright in the (somewhat) anarchy that is the World Wide Web. I guess it just comes down to vigilance. How sad that some have so little creativity and sense of self that they feel they have to steal other people’s ideas and hard work to feel important.

    I will be a vigilante for you! Searching out wrongdoers and setting things right!

  20. Colleen says:

    I am so sorry you have had these experiences, but sadly, it is all too common. I only have a few (free) patterns on my website and some have been offered by others (for sale, of course). It is a terrible aggravation.

    On the upside, I spent a great evening last night, making most of a felted bucket hat. Not that it makes the other aggravation go away, but I (like many knitters out there) really appreciate your hard work and look forward to seeing what you come up with next.

  21. Debi says:

    Sorry you have to deal with these knuckleheads and thieves Bonne Marie!Stay strong and vigilent cause what would Knitbloglandia do without ChicKnits?

  22. Karen B. says:

    I’m no where near a prolific or high-profile as you, and I’ve found my own patterns grabbed up into online collections sans permission.

    We’ll def keep an eye out for the infringers and thieves. Don’t mess wit da knittahs!

  23. Tracey says:

    Ugh, I’m so sorry. I know it doesn’t exactly help matters, but I, a loyal fan and reader love your patterns and creativity. You have put the juice back into my own creativity. AND I am currently working on a lovely Ribbi Cardi which will break my own personal sweater curse. So thank you, screw them, and keep on keeping on.

  24. Shelagh says:

    Amen. I’m sorry this is even an issue for you and the other creative folks who share their gifts and talents with us in blogville.

    Thank you for sharing, and continuing to share.

  25. Carol says:

    This just ruins things for this little world of ours. Where might we find some of these bottom feeders? It’s got me thinking, if I WERE to design something (stop laughing), where might it end up and who else would profit? That crap just poisons our garden of fiber and friends.

  26. laughingrat says:

    Ridiculous! I am sorry this is happening. It sounds very difficult to avoid, too.

    This is a dumb question maybe, but can one just put up a copyright announcement on one’s blog (something along the lines of “Hey don’t copy my stuff, yo”) or does one have to include one’s name? I don’t know why I’m funny about putting my full name out there in blogland, but there you go.

    Not that, like, I’m thinking my content is fab enough that people are swiping it, but I’m just wondering. :)

  27. Daphne says:

    Wow. I’m really sorry to hear about this. It still surprises me how stupid people can be. I mean, there will always be copyright arguments and gray areas — and I usually give too much benefit of the doubt to people in the gray areas. But I’m really sorry about the fact that it takes away so much creative energy–no one deserves this robbery or to have their lives taken up with fighting it.

  28. Daphne says:

    (Sorry to double comment but I wanted to clarify: There’s no gray area here/in the examples you talked about. It’s plain wrong.)

  29. therese says:

    Day after you blogged about this I received an email. It starts, “Hi my name is Maya and I would like to exchange links with you,” I trashed the email immediately and then decided to retrieve it out of curiousity because the site was called “diyforum”. You know how we all salivate at seeing DIY! Anyway, it looked like a blog but was filled with DIY tool and supply ads done blog style. Hmm, clever, but annoying.

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