A few weeks ago I stumbled across an entire post of mine for Bleacher Report, which was ripped off word-for-word by a “writer” at Elite Daily. I contacted the site and the offending post was immediately removed, the explanation being that the site was in its infancy a year ago and standards were low.
I chose not to do a post calling out the author, who actually denied any wrongdoing, because of the quick action taken by the site. Given the explanation I received from them and his vehement denial, it certainly seemed plausible that the work was wrongly attributed to him, and I didn’t feel comfortable calling him out publicly.
The piece was published just days after mine and existed online for a full calendar year before I just happened to stumble upon it.
The incident bothered me greatly, but the time that had passed since its initial publication somehow served softened the blow of having my hard work stolen. In the case of supposed writer/editor/blogger/storyteller Lee Barnathan, he’s unfortunate in that I stumbled across his plagiarism at a much earlier date.
First off, let me explain plagiarism in this case. What he stole from me were actually the words of others, so it might not technically qualify. Though there is no question that Mr. Barnathan ripped off several days worth of my hard work and passed it off as his own.
Last week I published “100 Amazing Sports Quotes” for Bleacher Report, which may sound like a throwaway assignment, but I put over 30 hours of work into it, hoping it would come across as anything but. I was rewarded for the extra effort with over 100,000 views in under four days.
Three days after publication I was asked by B/R to go back through the slideshow and source the quotes, which I probably should’ve done to begin with. That’s when I stumbled across Barnathan’s post entitled “Sports People Say the Darndest Things,” published less than 48 hours after my original piece.
Barnathan took 14 direct quotes from my B/R piece—the only place online to find them together—and published them as though they were the part of his own original idea and/or research. Nowhere did he link to my piece or credit me for the work.
I’ve been told by many that having my work ripped off should validate me as a writer or flatter me in some way. I only wish that’s how it made me feel. Instead I feel robbed, marginalized, disregarded and otherwise invalidated. As though my work is too insignificant to warrant being treated with respect.
In the past I haven’t made it a habit of looking for this occurrence, which I’ve now stumbled upon twice in last month, but in the future I will be more diligent. If someone with the supposed credentials of Barnathan is willing to use my work as a shortcut, who knows where it stops.
This is my effort to stop it right here. Or, at the very least, stop my own complacency.