Big Plagiarist Mark

So, Lindsay at BABble noticed that there’s a blogger out there plagiarizing entire posts from other fatosphere blogs, AND their comments (delightfully, he even changes female names of commenters to male ones), AND… drumroll… the friggin’ NYT article on the fatosphere. Into which he’s inserted himself, at the expense of FatGrrl. (“Smart, sassy and irreverent, bloggers with names like Big Fat Deal, FatChicksRule and BigBoyMark [“Now with 50 percent more fat!”] buck anti-obesity sentiment.”)

THE FUCK?

I have no idea if “BigBoyMark” has stolen any of my posts, ’cause I’m not even going over there to read. But according to Lindsay, he’s at least ripped off her, TwilightRiver, Paul, Thoughtracer, Fatty McBlog, No Starting Point, and The Rotund. And, you know, Roni Caryn Rabin.

Maybe I’m just incredibly naive, and people are out there starting blogs just to steal other people’s content every day, but man, my jaw is on the floor. I think it’s the comment-stealing that really blows my mind — especially the part where he turned Fillyjonk into “Phil,” and The Rotund into “Raymond.” ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?

You know, a while back my beloved wrote a 10 Tips on How to Blog post that included this:

9. It’s OK to link to stories by other folks, but don’t steal. One of the biggest bummers I’ve had to personally deal with as an aspiring web-based author is people ripping off my content. It’s not okay to republish my entire article, just because you kept my name on it. You’re taking traffic away from my site, which I can track, and sending it to your site, which I can’t track. Quoting a few sentences and linking to my article is acceptable. And I welcome it! Send traffic my way and I’ll try to return the favor. But duplicate my content elsewhere and you’re going to confuse Google into thinking we’re trying to search engine spam, or people are going to visit your site and think it’s my site. Not cool.

You want to talk about naive, at the time I read that, I was like, “SERIOUSLY? People just republish your ENTIRE posts?”

Then it started happening to me. I’d click on a link in my referral log and find that someone had cut ‘n’ pasted a whole post of mine into their own blog or livejournal. There was always a link back here, and sometimes even a bit of gushing about how much they liked the site — so far, I haven’t seen anyone trying to pass my work off as their own. But it still pissed me off for the reasons Al lists above. You’re stealing traffic from my blog, which is a valuable commodity, considering I do this for free and would eventually like to parlay it into some paid writing work. You’re confusing Google. You’re confusing readers. And most of all, you’re USING MY FUCKING CONTENT TO FILL YOUR OWN BLOG.

I know that most of the people republishing entire posts just don’t get it. I worked as a writing tutor long enough to realize that plenty of college students don’t understand how to attribute quotations properly, or how much they can quote before they’re actually stealing rather than just responding. That fact hurts my brain a lot, but it is a fact. Most of the time, there’s nothing more nefarious than ignorance going on.

But an entire blog full of other people’s posts, and other people’s comments, and New York Times articles, all without attribution? That’s not ignorance. That’s balls of steel combined with brains of oatmeal.

BigBoyMark needs to take “his” blog down right now. Period.

140 thoughts on “Big Plagiarist Mark

  1. The people who’ve had their work stolen should go screen capture and/or or print the entry he stole from them (view source then print would give additional data). When he figures out that he’s caught he may just try to delete his blog and pretend it never existed. If you complain to his ISP (or sue him outright), the more paper trail you have in your posession the better.

    What a complete and total ass-hat!

  2. That is so bizarre. What an odd combination of ambition, laziness, and technological ignorance. The fool apparently doesn’t realize, as JoGeek pointed out, everyone leaves digital fingerprints. Nail his ass.

  3. Ahhhh, but it’s NOT just reposts. He rewrites every single gender specific reference {bras to pants, all pronouns, etc}. He changes the names.
    No, this is not ignorance. He knew damn well what he was doing.
    His domain host was contacted at “you’ve got to be KIDDING ME” AM this morning, long before any of the traffic started working its way to him.
    Incidentally, just as a point of interest… so was the NYT legal department, through Rabin.
    I’ve got to say, watching y`all in action is an awesome sight. Everyone’s been on top of this with a speed, focus, and skill that makes me damn glad we’re on the same side. This is a bad day to be a delusionally egotistical plagiarist.

  4. I’ve seen numerous blogs that capture and repost entries written by other people. I don’t quite understand the algorithm they lose, because I’ve seen posts of mine reposted on diet and weight-loss blogs. But these blogs aren’t written by individuals; they’re rather spidering posts and then reposting it.

    I think this has to be the most blatant kind of web plagiarism I’ve ever seen, though. It appears as if it was consciously and purposefully done. Do people really think the web is so big the blog authors would never find out about this?

  5. I was reading a site yesterday that copied an entire blog post from someone (though, to be fair, it was a short post, and the two authors know each other and there was a lot of back and forth about the content, so the original author seemed ok with it), and as a reader I just found it confusing. Since the convention is to excerpt a short sample of the original work, it’s disorienting to click back and realize you’ve already read the entire post, but without that internal sense of “beginning, middle, and end.”

    I feel like I’m explaining myself badly… I just remember one of my lit professors talking about how we kind of mentally pace ourselves when reading by how much of the work is left, and that it would strip away a layer of meaning if we were unable to see “Oh, I have 20 pages left, so this must be wrapping up” or “Hmmm, there’s another 200 pages left, there must be a new plot point coming up.” I get that sense of disorientation when reading entire embedded posts.

  6. Rachel, yeah, it’s one thing to be a robot or a totally lazy MySpace blogger, but it’s quite another (fucking damaged) thing to put this much work into revamping someone else’s efforts. I have a feeling he had a point to make about men’s rights, to wit: the fatosphere would never get as much attention if it were written to, by, and for men. Could be wrong, but it’s hard to peer into a mind that weird.

    Kate, this means you’re at least as famous as this guy who writes about ferrets. Can’t wait to see SP content cropping up in romance novels!

    ETA: Actually, since I guess we don’t know if he nabbed your stuff, it means everyone in the above list is as famous as ferret guy! Go everyone!

  7. Oh jeez, fj. I heard that ferret story on NPR a couple of weeks ago (last week?) and couldn’t believe it.

  8. It would never occur to me to copy/paste chunks (or the entirety) of someone else’s blogpost and slap it into my Livejournal with credit yet no link because I want Kate (or the Rotund or whomever) to get the traffic. And I’d hope if I actually pulled something eloquent and intelligent out of my ass that the same would happen for me because a large part of why I’m glad to be a part of FA community in general is because we’re all in this together…right?

    So, in short — linking rocks. Ripping off is…the…opposite of rocking.

  9. Completely unrelated, but I wanted to get the word out that the Diane Rheem show on NPR in twenty minutes (at least in Michigan) is featuring an “obesity expert” who blames fat on the economy and calls for government intervention. It’s a call-in show, so a great opportunity to challenge assumptions and have an FA dialogue with a really great talk host.

  10. Hey, I saw the ground floor of the ferret thing because I read the blog that broke it. They have an interview with him posted up this week, and he’s a hottie (and been incredibly gracious to the community of romance readers).

    Of course, this is moving much faster…and it sounds like this was even more blatant.

  11. They have an interview with him posted up this week, and he’s a hottie

    Link pls!

    My sister sent me the article and it kills me… it’s great that he has enough of a sense of humor about it to actually WRITE humor about it.

    But that was much funnier than this. And yes, much less blatant.

  12. nto which he’s inserted himself, at the expense of FatGrrl. (“Smart, sassy and irreverent, bloggers with names like Big Fat Deal, FatChicksRule and BigBoyMark [“Now with 50 percent more fat!”] buck anti-obesity sentiment.”)

    I don’t know any HTML-fu, so I can’t make the pretty italics…BUT….

    Hey, Mark, from one of the REAL FatGrrls (*I’m* the 50% more fat..) …fuck you, dude. Fuck you right in the ass. Morgan and I don’t sit at our computers and stare at them and try to think up new and interesting posts so that you can steal from us. Bite me.

  13. Oh my god. He gets called on for stealing posts – so he goes on to steal another post?

    I came on and saw some of the posts, but then I went elsewhere for a moment and ALL blogs were gone. Too bad; I was kind of curious to know if he posted any of mine.

    Well, curious and furious. Like everyone else.

  14. “I know that most of the people republishing entire posts just don’t get it. I worked as a writing tutor long enough to realize that plenty of college students don’t understand how to attribute quotations properly, or how much they can quote before they’re actually stealing rather than just responding.”

    Maybe this is something you guys can add to the FAQs you were working on? Something like, “Like what you’ve read? Want to reference it?” and then list out the proper way to do it. I am woefully in the dark about how much text you can quote, and am sure I am guilty of ignorant plagarism. As opposed to this douchebag’s brand of plagarism.

  15. “Like what you’ve read? Want to reference it?”

    That’s a really good idea. I’m new enough to blogging that I wouldn’t mind clear guidelines for when I’m referencing other blogs, or even other blogging etiquette I might be unaware of. Anyone care to take a stab at it?

  16. Julia, the link works, you can click it and get to the article. This happens on most blogs when you link in comments – the whole link doesn’t show, but it still works.

  17. Deniselle – when that “down for maintenance” message has his webhost’s logo instead of his?

    Then i’ll take a breather. Until then, bitch is TOAST. I have not been described as a “one woman force of nature” for nothing.

  18. I’ve heard of people stealing posts in order to look like a real blogger and get ad revenue, but changing names and genders takes plagiarism to a whole new weird level.

  19. Paul, unfortunately it looks like Wayback only has his site archived from before the really rampant plagiarism started. The posts that Lindsay has captured are from later.

  20. JM, people take my content and research all of the time, use the links and claim the research as their own, take analyses without attribution, etc… and do not understand copyright issues and don’t credit sources. The venue/format of the publishing (newspaper, website, magazine, book, etc.) does not matter — copyright laws still apply and it is still intellectual property.

    But this bozo Lindsey is brilliantly taking on, has lifted entire articles from me and others, unchanged, and claimed them as his own.

  21. Wow, a quick stroll through the wayback machine makes it look like he’s had this domain name for years and has cycled through the gamut of Failed Online Business Concepts with it…

  22. Might be a stupid question, but do you somehow get traffic counts from RSS feeds? I assume you can count subscriptions, but can the sites track when I’m reading the posts on Google Reader, or should I click over to the site when I see something new?

  23. my firstborn daughter is totally being called philliam.

    This guy strikes me as incredibly lonely, really. I feel sorry for him, but annoyed at the same time because YOU JUST DON’T DO THAT. The changing the names and genders kind of makes a little more than ‘HUR HUR I HAS YUR INTELLECTUALZ STUFF’ I think.

    i keep thinking ‘maybe he feels left out…’

  24. Some of these don’t show up on Google (or show up as BigBoyMark’s posts), so maybe he actually wrote some of these?

    I just don’t get why, for instance, he’d say that if he’s considered overweight, no wonder kids have image problems (exhibit 37-b).

  25. Yeah, 37-b really bugs me. He’s obviously fat in his pictures and is supposedly into fat acceptance so that entry just seems weird, but I can’t find it either.

    A few others took awhile to find because he changed just enough, you know? Maybe that’s one of them.

  26. I agree, the other posts aren’t in sync with the message of that one. Even if he just stole them, he’s trying to portray himself as fat acceptant, so it’s odd.

    It seems to be a Las Vegas-based university, and he wrote about his hometown being Las Vegas in another one (28-B).
    So maybe these two posts come from the same author.

  27. I’ve known a couple people who’ve had content stolen by other people. One started inserting a paragraph into her posts saying if you are seeing this post someplace other then her site, then it was stolen. Amazingly enough the person stealing her stuff didn’t remove that from the content he stole.

    There are some truly sad people out there if they have to get traffic to their sites using stolen content.

  28. What are the legal ramifications of what this asshat did? Other than having his blog shut down? Can he be sued? This is not something he should be allowed to get away with, and needs punishment of some kind, IMNSHO.

  29. vesta: i spoke with a friend, and now have the name of a copyright/trademark attorney. I’m going to sit on that for a minute, see if anything comes of the fact that the NYT was also plagiarized. NYT has way more money than me any day of the week. If they wanna rake him over the coals, i’ll be more than happy to cheer them on and provide as much evidence as i’ve managed to collect.

  30. Wow, incredible (but not surprising)… I don’t blog THAT often because I don’t wanna repeat the same thing as everyone else (and I mean in terms of writing subjects, not actual plagiarism)…

    And what’s the point of plagiarizing down to the comments anyways?

  31. YAY PUPPY!

    Deniselle, you should have SEEN me this morning. My morning commute, which normally takes 30-40 minutes, only took about 10-12. And i wasn’t speeding. I think time itself wanted to get out of my way.

  32. This is AMAZING. Dammit. I decide to sleep in and miss all the drama?

    And right ON with the swift and decisive action, yo. I used to be a writing tutor too, and not knowing how to credit properly burns my grits.

  33. You can sue him…but you would have to pay for a lawyer and hope he doesn’t have more money than you. :-/

    I am assuming the BBC and the NYT has been alerted to this creep? If not, then those of you with the evidence really needs to let someone there know…

  34. Sandy, i think the NYT has already been alerted. Not sure about the BBC, just yet. I’m sure i personally can’t afford a lawyer, but since he stole from so many people, maybe we could pool together or something. I dunno.

    But if anyone here was plagiarized and wants to complain to his webhost about it, here’s a linky.

  35. He hasn’t taken anything from me…but I mostly blog about my son and my pregnancy…LOL so not sure how he would change that to suit his needs. :-P I refuse to click on his link to give him any traffic as well.

    I just read through some of the other blogs about this and noticed that they did contact the news sources… Very good. Maybe they will take him to the cleaners. I just know that one of the screen shots looked like a BBC article (I could be wrong though I was just kinda flipping through seeing if anything I had was up there).

    Just knowing that the others were notified is enough for me. They have the power to get things done.

  36. Oh, it was a BBC article all right. There should have been a link either in the descriptions or the comments.

    Wait, i haven’t been putting the original links in the screencaps of the sources… *facepalm*

  37. I just keep wondering WHY someone would do this. If you read through all of the saved posts, you can really tell he hasn’t written all of those himself – the style, as well as spelling and grammar, keep varying in a way that implies several authors. Anyone with a brain will see that.

    And what did he really want to say then? Did he just want more clicks to his page – did he have paying ads or something? Or was it a need to be a part of the FA community, but without making much effort? Why would he turn a gay porn site into an FA blog site?

    Based on the changes he’s made, he’s an awful writer. The additions/modifications are all in poor spelling and grammar, and not very convincing in style. If anything, using others’ posts makes his own flaws as a writer even more glaringly obvious.

  38. Yah know. . . . Sometimes it takes something like this to REALLY put things into perspective. I came across this guys site a while back via a link-through or in Google search, and thought ‘Hey! Here’s a site from a guys POV.’ Followed closely by ‘He sure does have a lot of FA/SA material. Must be pretty involved with the community’. From what I can remember of the site, it did seem a little odd (self depreciating humor and all) but the fact that most, if not ALL, of the info and material was, cold, RIPPED from several sources Never. Even. Occurred. Now to find out, not only was it mostly vapor, but that ‘Names in comments have been altered to make the site owner appear impressive’. Yeah, ok. The creepyies are a’ crawling all over this one folks.

    As a human being I can see exactly where the wildlife writer, Paul Tolme, is coming from when he talks about feeling sorry for the person who stole his work. As a writer wannabe, I know precisely why anyone who’s had their work claimed by this Mark guy would be all for heating up the branding irons and oiling up the Iron Maiden. Very confusing. Extremely unpleasant.

    More so on the internet than anywhere else I am, once again, reminded that things are not often what they seem.

  39. Kate, this is fairly easy to deal with.

    Registrant:
    MARK JACKSON
    BIGBOYMARK ENTERTAINMENT
    SAHARA AVE
    LAS VEGAS, NV 89117
    US

    Registrar: NameSecure.com
    Domain: BIGBOYMARK.COM
    Created on 01-19-2006
    Expires on 04-09-2011

    Administrative Contact:
    MARK JACKSON
    Phone: 330-849-0834
    E-mail: bigboymark@aol.com

    Technical Contact:
    MARK JACKSON
    Phone: 330-849-0834
    E-mail: bigboymark@aol.com

    Name Servers:
    NS1.THINKHOST.COM 64.40.100.183
    NS2.THINKHOST.COM 64.40.109.99

    He’s in violations of their terms of service:
    CONTENTS OF MESSAGES
    You are responsible for the contents of your messages and your website and the consequences thereof. You agree not to do anything that would restrict or inhibit any other user from using and enjoying the Internet. You further agree not to use ThinkHost, Inc. to send any messages or material that are unlawful, harassing, libelous, abusive, threatening, harmful, vulgar, obscene or may otherwise constitute a criminal offense, give rise to civil liability or otherwise objectionable material of any kind or nature or that encourages conduct that could constitute a criminal offense, give rise to civil liability or otherwise violate any applicable local, state, national or international law, regulation or court order. ThinkHost, Inc. reserves the right to terminate your account without prior notice if ThinkHost, Inc. becomes aware of and determines, in its sole discretion, that you are violating any of the foregoing guidelines

    [copywrite infringement being the offense]

    Vladislav Davidzon
    Executive Director
    ThinkHost, Inc.

    Mailing address:
    3848 SE Division, Suite 364
    Portland, OR 97202

    It’s all public domain information.

    A letter from your agent might suffice. OR even a phone call from you. These companies have processes in place.

    Please feel free to send this to any of the aggrieved parties. I went through this in 1996, back when web hosts didn’t have policies about plagiarism and it really, really sucked. It doesn’t suck any less right now.

    Judging by the domain name and the location of the company, this is someone who is creating the site to capitalize on the trend for advertising sales purposes.

  40. Deniselle, I’m no psychiatrist, but I’ll go ahead and say it: sociopath.

    He wants status, and he doesn’t care how he gets it.

  41. Jessica, if he were a sociopath, he wouldn’t care how many people were linking him, and probably wouldn’t take his site down until forced to do so.

    The man has problems yes, but not a one of us here is qualified to diagnose him. Even those of us who might have degrees in such areas should know better than to attempt to diagnose someone over the internet.

    And besides, what diagnosis is needed, other than “asswaffle-tastict fucknugget”?

  42. I had this happen to me once — was reading a blog and thought, hey, I like what this person has to say… actually that sounds quite a bit like what I would say… hey, that *is* what I said! I emailed the plagiarizer and told her she needed to take my uncredited words down immediately, and she was pissed off with *me* for reading her “private diary”. She did take my stuff down when I threatened legal action, but oh my god. What the hell is wrong with people?

  43. Geez Louise. I was pissed enough when I read that he was stealing from all the bloggers I read. Then I saw that he stole one of my posts. Talk about pissed off all over again. I sent a complaint to his webhost, we’ll see what they have to say.
    On the one hand, I’m pissed as hell that he would do that, on the other, does that mean I’m in good company because not only did he steal posts from people I admire a lot, he also thought I was good enough to steal from? Talk about dissonance here. It’s not much of a compliment, I guess, when it comes from a thief.

  44. Fatadelic, I feel the same way. Why are we so discriminated against? Maybe we should email Mark and ask why we didn’t make the cut. :D

    Linda, I can’t believe the nerve of that person. Why would she put it online anyway if it was PRIVATE and not to be read by anyone? What an ass.

  45. $1 – 2.5 Million?

    Considering the number of failed business concepts his website seems to have gone through before settling on “Plagiarized Fat Acceptance Blog To Prop Up Local Sponsorship Of My Podcast” , I really doubt he’s got 10-19 employees, either.

  46. I have ever heard of this, I am so glad you participated in the whistle-blowing. How would you even know if you had been gotten? I am guessing you’d google a sentence or paragraph from your post maybe? Wow- what an idiot. I can’t believe someone would do that. Writing is so much fun, most bloggers blog because they like to express themselves. What was this guy’s goal? If he’s in it for the money then he needs to just maybe put his skills into positive use and HELP bloggers instead of hurting them. What a jerk.

  47. I am so clearly C-list, I wasn’t selected for plagiarism.

    Neither were we, at least not in any of the screenshots Lindsay took. The selection seems to be really random — old blogs, new blogs, big blogs, small blogs, one fish, two fish, red fish, BBC.

  48. Oh man, and I was annoyed when those sleazy web-crawler robot blogs were syndicating my posts in their entirety under “weight loss.”

    I’d love to see what else he stole. Who in the hell was this guy, anyway? I’ve never heard of him!

  49. Complaining to his webhost isn’t going to do any good. I did that and was told that screen shots can be faked, so, since the content is no longer there, we have no proof he plagiarized anything. What do you want to bet he finds another webhost and starts all over again?

  50. I’d suggest that everybody who was plagiarized contact his provider anyway… maybe they’ll shrug off the first reports but when they get more they might decide this guy’s business isn’t worth it. In addition to screen captures, you can include a link to Google’s cached copy.

  51. Thank you, deniselle. I found the google archive of my plagiarized blog post and sent the url of that, and the url of my original post to his webhost. I told them I hoped that they would not say that google could have faked the cached page. I also told them I hoped they would do something about that travesty of a website. For all the good it will do, I don’t think they really care.

  52. yeah right for the estimated revenue… Color me skeptical too.

    Me, too. If you put that address into MapQuest and look at the aerial photo, it’s clearly an apartment/condo development – maybe 40 apartments and a pool. There’s no way he’s running a 10-19 person operation worth a million dollars from there. It’s just as much a lie as “his” blog was.

  53. I can see your point for “real” blogs (especially behavior as egregious as this character), but I don’t know that I agree for every dinky little LJ and whatnot. I don’t know if I’ve ever been moved to copy a whole post or news article into my LJ, although I’ve occasionally quoted a paragraph or two and always with attribution. The way I see it, my (friends locked) LJ is hardly stealing anything from anyone, it’s a private conversation with my friends and quoting is equivalent to reading a passage or an article aloud while hanging out over breakfast. If someone gets upset that I want to tell my friends about their writing…well, I’m not sure what to tell ya…”Sorry your ideas are interesting?”

  54. @Kimu:

    And what if one your friends likes it and, since it’s just something on your LJ, they repost it somewhere else, more public? Or e-mail it to just one person, who then turns it into one of those worldwide chains?

    One you remove somebody’s writing from their control, you’ve set it loose in the wild and there’s no way to call it back. It’s an arrow in flight. If you can’t understand how that hurts a writer, I’m not sure how to explain it.

    It’s generally just as easy to link to something as it is to repost it, anyway… and if you REALLY like somebody’s ideas, why wouldn’t you want them to get traffic and the benefits thereof?

  55. Personally, i LOVE it when people think i’m interesting enough to quote and link. It’s a huge compliment, and every time it happens i get a warm fuzzy. Yay me for being swank.

    But for someone to take my words en masse and pass them off as their own? Completely different story, that.

    It’s not even a fine line between those to things. You either give credit and give some indication that you were not the original author (hell, even a “i don’t know who wrote this, but check it out” will suffice), or you imply that you yourself came up with that thought, with that particular combination of words.

    And that’s what he’s done. He hasn’t linked us, hasn’t quoted us, hasn’t given any indication that the material on his blogs is anything other than His Stuff. In FACT, he has gone so far as to slightly rewrite articles as necessary – changing feminine pronouns to male pronouns, changing “bra” to “pants”, changing the names of the city in question. This isn’t a straight cut and paste: he has deliberately modified our works to directly imply that he was the original author.

    I blog. I post my thoughts. I don’t consider myself a Writer; i’ll never have a book deal or have an entire article in the AP attributed to my name. But i’ll be damned if i sit back and watch someone try to take my thoughts and pass them off as their original works. Oh HELL no.

  56. There’s an awesome poem I wrote* that I like to quote to sum up my stance on intellectual property/idea theft:

    “I have spread my dreams under your feet;
    tread softly, for you tread upon my dreams.”

    *Just kidding, it’s actually William Butler Yeats.

  57. Y’all have posted several optimal evidentiary tools, so I have little to add, other than

    And besides, what diagnosis is needed, other than “asswaffle-tastict fucknugget”?

    Excellent.

  58. There’s no implication about it, and I’m a little bewildered at how little this point is emphasized.

    Let’s take a hypothetical scenario. I, BEn TeH Plajaryst, decide to appropriate an essay by Sally Serendipity. Now, Sally tends to write a lot in the first person, so to pass this essay off as my own I’m going to make some changes. Obviously, anything that refers to her by name I’ll need to fix, and that includes the comments and favorable reviews that I’m ALSO going to steal. I will also need to tidy away all those gender specific references. Can’t have my readers thinking I go bra shopping, now can I?

    At this point, I *could* consider the work done, but no. I’m going for some verisimilitude here, so I need to refit any and all geographical references. Sally has a regular crowd of commenters, some of whom are pretty well known, so I’ll need to change those names. I know! I’ll use the names of some of my project collaborators! That’ll work! It creates the illusion of a community actively reading and providing positive feedback on my blog.

    But wait…. some of this stuff I want to steal is AWFUL technical. It’s clearly WAY beyond my education level and outside my area of expertise. Hell, why did I think it would be a good idea to steal from a medical professional? Aha! Inspiration! I’ll tack other people’s names onto the essay, and names no one recognizes, give em a thanks for all their help. People will assume that THEY are the experts. Genius.

    If I’m “writing” all this brilliant material I should get some recognition. That poses a problem, as any ACTUAL recognition would rapidly lead to torches and pitchforks. Fortunately, some of the people I steal from are getting a fair bit of media coverage. It’s no harder to swap names in text copied from a major media source than a random blog, so that’s another problem solved.

    The only remaining issue is that I don’t have a bio on my site letting people know how incredibly great I am. After all, I practically invented Fat Acceptance. Well, I’ve stolen from almost every major contributor on the subject, and that’s almost as good, so that’ll work as a good centerpoint for my bio page.

    That silly little description is EXACTLY what Mark Jackson did on at least 55 articles {and counting}. This is not a misunderstanding. This is NOT a point of failed courtesy, or Mark Jacksons unfamiliarity with MLA format citation requirements. He changed every post PRECISELY enough to create the illusion that he wrote it. This was meticulous and intentional as the thief who disables your car alarm before driving it to a chop shop. Even momentary pretense that this could be the result of apathy, lazyness, or misunderstanding flies in the face of the increasingly damning evidence.

    The main question that remains for me is exactly how much profit he turned off of months of careful, systematic theft. If nothing else, we know for a FACT that the stolen articles were used as assets and draw to secure advertising dollars.

  59. One you remove somebody’s writing from their control, you’ve set it loose in the wild and there’s no way to call it back. It’s an arrow in flight.

    Alexandra Erin, not to get all poststructuralist, but I would argue that that’s the condition of all writing. The moment someone else lays eyes on it, it’s out of your control. This is *not* to say that that means I think plagiarism and profiting off others’ work is okay, but I think that “control” is, to me, not quite the issue.

    Your poem is one of my favorites! ;-)

  60. Take it back (having little to add) – didn’t see vesta’s other comment.

    What are the legal ramifications of what this asshat did? Other than having his blog shut down? Can he be sued?

    Possibly (although attempting to collect a judgment is something else again, depending on how many assets he doesn’t have), under the federal statute.

    Last time I looked at it, there were also criminal penalties for infringement, although the evidentiary standard that has to be met (and possibly the level of damage sustained by any alleged victim(s)) is a little more stringent.

    Lindsay, if I may inquire, which IP firm did you reach out to for suggestions?

  61. The hardest part? I know not 1, but 2 Marks Jackson. My ex-boyfriend from high school (who now lives about 40 miles from me) and a friend from my favorite pub. Luckily, neither have a connection with this, but it is making me giggle hilariously (not at the situation, but at the thought of my Marks doing any of this).

  62. @Alexandra Erin:
    Note I said ALWAYS WITH ATTRIBUTION.

    But, hey, if you’d rather not have me quote your stuff to your friends, I’m just as happy not pointing out to them that you’re an interesting writer.

  63. @Kimu: You know, I somehow mangled a couple lines of your post together in my head when I read it… talking about a couple paragraphs with attribution really isn’t an issue on any level.

    Sorry ’bout that.

  64. This is surreal. What on earth can he hope to gain from it?

    I am so adding asswaffletastic to my vocabulary. Or is that plagiarism? :)

  65. I have turned to one person for official-ish counsel, and that’s a family member who has experience in intellectual properly law.

    His advice was that most places are happy with compliance of a simple cease and desist – in other words, since he’s taken down the site, they probably will consider the issue resolved. Our greatest victory has probably already been had, as far as this is all concerned.

    In order to push the issue further, someone would have to be in standing to prove damages – meaning, one of the people (or companies) who was plagiarized from would have to prove that he was using their material to make money that should have (and would have otherwise) gone to them. In a case like this, it can be incredibly difficult to prove.

    And since this guy probably really isn’t worth a tenth of his supposed income, you’d most likely end up paying more than you got out of him. So you’d have to have enough money that you wouldn’t care if you lost some. Translation: unless we can find a pro-bono lawyer who wants to take this on, any further legal action will most likely be on the part of one of the companies from which he stole. If at all.

    At this point, we watch him like a hawk. He’s been on the net for almost a decade, and he’s done this before. He’ll probably do it again.

  66. Alexandra Erin, fair enough — I’m just saying that that only way to have complete control over your writing is to never show it to anyone, ever. Maybe you’re talking about a different kind of control (legal? intellectual property?) and I’m misunderstanding you. I was just a little thrown by your statement “If you can’t understand how that hurts a writer, I’m not sure how to explain it.”

  67. I think we’re still hoping for a notice that says “this account suspended” instead of one saying “we’re offline, folks.” But thanks for the update on the status change, Catherine… I think we’re getting there! (Thanks to Lindsay’s tireless work and everyone’s help.)

  68. @sweetmachine:

    Bear with me, as I literally just woke up and rolled out of bed, so this may be rambly.

    Think about it this way: you both “own” and “control” the junk in your hous or apartment, right? It’s yours and it’s under your control. We could get all philosophical and talk about how that “ownership” isn’t an actual physical or intrinsic property and won’t stop somebody who smashes your window with the intention of taking some of it, that you any control you have over it is ultimately illusionary, and so on.

    All of that would be true, but the fact still remains that you have more control over your stuff then you do my stuff, anybody else’s stuff, and nobody’s stuff… and more control over it than anybody else does, too. You have more control of it than you would if you left it sitting out on a sidewalk, too.

    This control comes from the practical effects of it being physically within your domain, the legal effects of laws regarding ownership, and the social effects of people just plain respecting your rights.

    So now, writing. You own your words, under the law, and this means you can control how their used. Yes, you have more control the less you share it with the world. No, that control is not absolute. No, the degree of control you are able to exert will not necessarily stop somebody who’s bound and determined to steal them. No, you can’t hold back the sea with your arms.

    But none of that changes the fact that while your work exists only in forms you have approved or distributed yourself, while there’s widespread respect for the rights of a creator and easily enforceable legal remedies, you have greater control over your work.

    “You can’t control your writing once you’ve shared it with the world.” is ultimately right up there with “It’s the internet! It’s not stealing because it’s all just a bunch of 1s and 0s!” as far as intellectual arguments go. It’s like saying “You can’t stop yourself from dying some day so you might as well eat nothing but candy. Or poison.”

    It’s a fine thing for college students to philosophize about… just like “Like… how can anybody ‘own’ a couch, man?” is a fine thing for cartoon hippy stoners to philosophize about… but the ability of artists to create ultimately depends on their ability to be compensated for their work, and that ultimately depends on the degree of control they are able to exercise.

    If the choices really were reduced to a binary system of “share with all and have no control” or “have all control and share with no one”, the extent to which most individuals would be able to create works for the public sphere would be directly tied to their amount of leisure time.

    Even in a “freeware” scheme like what Radiohead (or any free content site that depends on donations) used for their last album, the system ultimately depends upon the perception that the artist owns and controls their work.

  69. Okay, I was actually i the middle of a long response to Sweet Machine, and then Alexandra Erin got all smart and shit. So I’ll just say yes to all that, and add a bit.

    the ability of artists to create ultimately depends on their ability to be compensated for their work, and that ultimately depends on the degree of control they are able to exercise.

    Indeed. But the other thing that comes into play here is reputation.

    The comments here prove every day that even if I make my best effort to be as clear as possible, someone will interpret my words in ways I never imagined. That’s fine. That’s normal. (In fact, what’s not normal is actually having a forum to clarify things with readers. Or, well, it wasn’t normal until very recently.)

    But it’s not fine if, say, someone else posts my work as her own, then presents her own false interpretation of it as the authoritative one. It’s DEFINITELY not fine if someone takes my work and makes changes to it, then posts it as his own. Different versions of my writing (or Alexandra’s, or yours, or anyone’s) floating around the internet, attributed to different people, can have a real affect on my reputation.

    I mean, hell, look at the “We know you’re that chunky chick Kate Harding” comments. It’s turned into a great joke around here, but it actually really fucking bothers me that there are people out there saying I’ve written things I haven’t — and undoubtedly other people who believe them. It bothers me that there are people assuming I spend my time writing angry comments under false names — instead of, you know, working on my blogs and book and hanging out with my friends and boyfriend and dogs, which is what I’m actually doing. If I were important enough — which, fortunately, I’m not — that rumor could easily go viral, and suddenly everyone would know me as that asshole who goes around playing sock puppet, instead of that asshole who writes a pretty good blog, period.

    This is also why I go apeshit when I get e-mail forwards attributed to people who clearly didn’t write them. Take the sunscreen thing, which was a column by Mary Schmich that magically became a commencement address by Kurt Vonnegut. The fuck? That hurt Schmich, because she didn’t get credit for something that people obviously responded to like crazy, and it hurt Vonnegut because, as Schmich is the first to admit, it was way too cheesy for him. (I mean, obviously, I don’t think it really made a dent in his reputation or sales, but it’s still pretty insulting to have something that is so obviously NOT your style attributed to you.) And it all started with some asshole taking the liberty of deciding his chain letter might go further if it was attributed to Vonnegut instead of some Trib columnist. That shit makes me furious.

    Now, both of the examples I’ve just given are the downside of the internet, and there’s not much anyone can do about it. Rumors will spread like wildfire, e-mail forwards will be corrupted as they’re passed along, so it goes. But as Alexandra says, acknowledging that is not the same as thinking it’s fine, and no one should even TRY to maintain some measure of control over her own work.

    The best analogy I can think of is this: when you send your kid to school or a friend’s house, you don’t have control over what they’re doing, and you’ll never know every last thing they did during a given day. But at least you know where they are, and you can have confidence that it’s a reasonably safe environment.

    If you just boot your 6-year-old out the door and say, “Have fun! I can’t control what you do when you’re out of my sight!” that’s a whole other story. There’s a big fucking difference between acknowledging that you can’t control every little thing and making no effort whatsoever to control the things you can — and should.

    (No, I am not saying that kids are like intellectual property, btw. I just think it’s a useful analogy.)

  70. Ugh. I share your pet peeve.

    Like every “non-P.C.” rant, no matter how absolutely illiterate it is, gets attributed to Dennis Miller or George Carlin… or that horribly homophobic “poem” about gay white male fashion designers that has Maya Angelou’s name on it because she’s the only African-American poet, ever.

  71. Oh buddy. I foresee a misattribution hit squad forming. I’m down, but only if I get the machine gun crutches and Kate wears a mohawk. I’ve actually seen “athiesm as social justice” quotes attributed to Ghandi {ones I know originated with Stalin}.

    Funny little story on intellectual property that’s half example and half kvetching to understanding parties:

    A little over a month ago I discovered that I have a readership in the hundreds of thousands. My genre defining work has been translated into eight languages, has multilingual dedicated fansites, has been reposted thousands of times, and is generally regarded as the final word on the subject in question. Sounds pretty badass, eh? It would if this wasn’t an elaborate setup for the punchline:

    The work in question was a forum post that constituted a guide on how to tank as a paladin in World of Warcraft. I knocked it out, answered a few questions, interest waned, added a few revisions along the way, and discovered a year after the fact what it had become. The most wildly popular piece of writing I’m likely to produce is a freaking GAME GUIDE. I’m the Goedel of Paladin Tanking. There was some heavy drinking involved in that realization.

    There’s your “bird out of the hand” example. The other side of the question is illustrated in how this came to my attention.

    After half a million email requests, the guide got forum stickied. The post the WoW guys selected for the sticky was the original, months out of date, and they requested that I update it {not aware that updates had already been posted, neither here nor there}. Some very enterprising parties who had set up a site centering around the guide volunteered to get in contact with me, and when that contact failed, volunteered their version of the guide as a replacement, i.e. So and So’s version of Ben’s etc. They offered this substitution less than 48 hours after the initial sticky and, despite some of the involved persons having my email address, no contact efforts reached me.

    I discovered this by pure chance, wandering around a forum I hadn’t read in months. Long story short: I discover something I wrote has “gone viral”, that updates which I already have ready are requested, and that “fans” are attempting to substitute their edit of my work FOR my work {including hamfisted edits and blank chops to “tidy up the prose and remove the conversational tone”}.

    Smack in the middle of sorting out that mess, someone emails me a photograph of the hardcopy of my guide available for purchase in S. Korea.

    *facepalm crits. Ben dies*

    Intellectual property on the internet can be very strange, but there are still lines that can be drawn. I can’t even imagine how different my life would be if I were in a position to recieve residuals from that guide.

  72. Eh. Not to undermine my position, but do you imagine it would have spread like that if there were a reliable method of ensuring it couldn’t be reproduced/used without payment?

    I think it’s important to separate rational talk about intellectual property from RIAA-type thinking that regards every single one of those forwards/copies/whatevers as a “lost sale.”

    If you ever take it upon yourself to write another such opus, you might consider appending a license to it that allows it to be freely distributed with a donation/honor system payment link included. Imagine if one percent of the people who used the guide each gave you a buck or ten?

  73. Would it have spread so far? Certainly not. Would I have grounds for residuals for the hardcopy? Sure, if international law didn’t make the matter almost impossible to pursue. The original intent was free distribution, though in the future a goodwill link is something I’ll consider {should lightning ever strike twice}.

    What I found most confusing and unsettling about this incident was the reaction of the “fan” who sought to replace their idea of my work for the work itself. It wouldn’t impact all the reposts or translations, but it would’ve hit the closest thing to an inheritace trunk the net has: the most commonly linked source. It was my first real brush with “fan ownership”, i.e. “We supported this, distribute it, debate on it, and spend WAY more time on it than the author. It’s OURS, not his.”

    I’m trying to imagine Next Generation episodes that center on Picard wrestling with the question of his merits as a captain comparative to Kirk.

  74. It was my first real brush with “fan ownership”, i.e. “We supported this, distribute it, debate on it, and spend WAY more time on it than the author. It’s OURS, not his.”

    Yeah. Fan entitlement can be an ugly and even disheartening thing.

  75. Alexandra Erin (and Kate), thanks for your reply — as I suspected, you were using “control” differently from how I was (and from how I understood it in your first comment). When I’ve heard (some) writers I know talk about control, it has often been about controlling the meaning of their work: I didn’t intend to put Oedipal overtones in this poem [or what have you], therefore there ARE no Oedipal overtones in this poem and anyone who says otherwise is doing it wrong. That kind of thing. Or alternately not wanting their words to be read by people who would take a different meaning from them. You’re talking about “control” as in control of distribution, attribution, and the like, which is, of course, a totally different matter.

  76. sweetmachine:

    See, that’s where post-structuralism’s not allowed to talk to me.

    I’d agree with you that an overtone or undertone may be there regardless of whether the author meant it or even sees it, but just like with the other type of control, it’s a matter of degree.

    On any practical level, the author’s intentions are of primary importance because without them, the text and its subtext would not exist. Any unintended meanings are merely a result of how well or how poorly the author has hit the mark he or she aimed for… to say that this aim is unimportant is like saying that it doesn’t matter where you point a machine gun because there may be collateral damage.

    As far as I’m concerned, the only “Death of the Author*” that can sever that connection between text and author is… well… the death of the author.

    *Note: I absolutely hate people who drop “Well I guess you’ve never heard of a little something called Death of the Author” into a debate. Yes, yes. I’ve heard of it. I simply do not agree with its conclusions.

  77. Here’s a page with an exact copy of a post by Kell Brigan. Which says that you can’t “eat yourself fat”. Yet BigBoyMark keeps saying how he’s eating all the time and how “Us fat folks” lurve to eat junk food and not exercise! In fact we hate exercise! It’s bad for you! I just, ugh. He’s not fat acceptant in the least. He makes us look really bad. And then he steals our posts.

    http://209.85.129.104/search?q=cache:gTfB6m1ovb8J:www.bigboymark.com/%3Fm%3D200710+site:bigboymark.com&hl=fi&ct=clnk&cd=28&gl=fi&client=firefox-a

  78. Any unintended meanings are merely a result of how well or how poorly the author has hit the mark he or she aimed for…

    Well, I would agree with this statement up to a certain point — it’s true when you’re the one writing the work, and when you are still in the process of creating it. But (IMO) it’s not true once you’ve let that work into the world; the moment you have a reader who says, “hey, these words suggest this meaning,” well, then, that meaning is there. The reader isn’t wrong just because it wasn’t what you originally intended! If you didn’t hit the mark you were aiming for, but you hit something else instead, it may frustrate you, but it’s significant, it’s often interesting, and it’s pretty common. In my own experience, I know that I’ve shared work with people (often while it’s still in what I would consider the drafting stage), and they’ve pointed to undercurrents that I didn’t initially intend and didn’t consciously add to the poem, but which made the poem richer in some way. If I’m still working on the poem, then often I’ll try to bring that element out more consciously in the poem. That part is up to me. But the reader seeing it there in the first place? I can’t deny that just because it wasn’t how I initially saw it.

    A recent example of dynamic is JK Rowling declaring that Dumbledore is gay. It’s fine for her to do that, but her intention to make him gay doesn’t actually change the fact that he’s *not that gay* in the novels. Some people read him as gay, some people didn’t, and though of course he’s fully realized in Rowling’s head as she writes the book, that idea in her head doesn’t somehow replace the words on the page, which can be interpreted differently.

    Anyway, I don’t want to rehash arguments I’m sure we’ve both already had; I was initially confused by your comment because I was coming at it from a different perspective. I’m no longer confused.

  79. Anyway, I don’t want to rehash arguments I’m sure we’ve both already had;

    That’s what I mean when I say I have a mutual restraining order with the subject.

    For what it’s worth, I have a standing policy of declining to interpret my works for my readers. If I’m asked, “Did you write this scene to be [whatever] or [whatever else]?”, I tell them, “I wrote it as it is.” But that still speaks to my intentions.

  80. There’s a different message now, but still from BigBoyMark, not from his webhost. It does sound like he thinks he will be back after a while, which bugs. I hope they at least take it down.

  81. So if we’re going there, I have to add something. I’m a writer and performing artist, and I see things really differently, Alexandra Erin.

    Think about it this way: you both “own” and “control” the junk in your house or apartment, right?

    It’s true. And if someone comes in and steals my favorite red dress, that sucks, because now they have my red dress, and I don’t.

    But if someone republishes a piece of my writing or a performance video that I’ve put up on the internet – and attributes correctly – that’s different. I still have my own copy of the work, and so does someone else.

    Do I loose page hits? Maybe initially. But I don’t see “stealing” as the right metaphor. I see it as some other publisher going into competition with me, the self-publisher. But I don’t really care about my success as a publisher. I don’t need a publishing monopoly.

    I care about my success as an artist, which means I want to connect with readers and audience members. If my work reaches new audience by means of another publisher, and this audience likes what I do, they’ll find my website and my performances. I figure it’s a win.

    And I know not everyone feels the way I do about correctly attributed republishing, but still. I think BigBoyMark is an asshat because he’s a plagiarist.

    Even in a “freeware” scheme like what Radiohead (or any free content site that depends on donations) used for their last album, the system ultimately depends upon the perception that the artist owns and controls their work.

    But I don’t think so. It’s a subtle difference, but I think that the system Radiohead used is awesome because it’s based on the idea that artists should be paid for the act of creation.

    The act of distribution? This used to require lots of resources, so it used to merit compensation. Now that the internet allows lots of us to be self-publishers, we can cut out the middle man.

    And the idea that money is a necessary motivator for artists to do art? No. Artists have this unyielding urge to make art. They should be paid well, but even if they aren’t, they’ll still make art – not the same art at the same rate, but they’ll create nonetheless.

    In summation, BigBoyMark is an asshat.

  82. Oops – forgot to italicize your comment above, Alexandra Erin.

    Even in a “freeware” scheme like what Radiohead (or any free content site that depends on donations) used for their last album, the system ultimately depends upon the perception that the artist owns and controls their work.

  83. @Jessica: It’s worth pointing out that my initial comment on this topic was predicated on a mistake… I completely misread where Kimu said she attributed it and thought she was arguing that there was no harm to posting without attribution.

    In other words, I thought she was defending plagiarism based on the scale and a perception that it hurt nobody. That was my mistake, due to careless reading.

    I don’t have a problem with people quoting or excerpting my work with proper attribution. I actually give explicit license to republish the entire (admittedly very short) first installment of my story across media as long as they have the link and license attached. I get a lot of traffic from people who put my story quotes in their forum signatures and things like that, and it’s a great thing. It’s actually awesome when I stumble across somebody using that, or one of the character memes that have sprung out of my stories.

    That having been said: while I heartily respect the fuck out of the right of other artists to scatter their works to the four winds and reap whatever comes back, I reserve the shit out of my own right not to do that, and have more contempt for anybody who shouts “Information wants to be free!” while usurping another artist’s rights to control distribution than I do for the Evil Corporations who drove us all to the internet in the first place.

    If somebody doesn’t want their art copied and reposted in its entirety, nobody should copy and repost it. Period, end of story.

    And to quote Forest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

  84. Oh, my goth… what a self-serving, self-promoting… this guy’s like a one man astroturf campaign. Last edited April 27th… I’m guessing that’s around the time he decided to re-invent himself as a “size acceptance” advocate, complete with blog.

    Before that, he seems to have been (or tried to be) a webcam performer.

    I wonder what he’ll be the next time he pops up?

  85. “…the BIGBOYMARK name became more popular. The unprecedented internet success gave the name it’s legendary texture that it adheres today.

    Um, say whaaa? Legendary texture? That it adheres today? The only adhering legendary texture that applies to this moron is shit. And it’s going to stick for a long time, methinks.

  86. And the idea that money is a necessary motivator for artists to do art? No. Artists have this unyielding urge to make art. They should be paid well, but even if they aren’t, they’ll still make art – not the same art at the same rate, but they’ll create nonetheless.

    Not to beat a dead horse (WHAP!), but the urge to make art and the ability to make art are two very different things. I know plenty of gen-yoo-wine artistes who are so exhausted after taking care of the kids and working the job that pays the bills, they forget about their unyielding urges to eat, let alone make art.

    Yes, they do ultimately make a different kind of art at a different rate. The kind is “frustratingly incomplete,” and the rate is “fucking slow.” And these are talented, driven people. So it’s all well and good to say that a real artist will make art under any circumstances, but those who are compensated for it have a hell of a lot more freedom to explore their potential.

  87. He said himself in a blog – which I believe he wrote himself because it was so poor – that he doesn’t call his page a “fat acceptance page”, because quote unquote, “I don’t support all of their motives”. I’m sure he means discussing the issue seriously and/or considering health, because the blog posts he wrote himself were all blabla junk food, no exercise, stupid fat jokes at my own expense because I bring laughter to the world!

    I have a lot more to say about this, but I think I’ll turn it into a blog entry instead of a ten-paragraph rant here.

  88. I’m going to second what Kate said… money isn’t a necessary motivator for art, it’s an enabler of it.

    And just like we can’t look at our lives and go, “Well, I can find an hour to get to the gym every day so why can’t everybody?” or “I work two jobs and still have time to cook a healthy meal from whole foods so why can’t everybody?”, we also can’t look at the artist who has the time, space, and peace of mind to create sculptures on the side of their busy day job and go, “Why can’t everybody do that?”

    Everybody’s circumstances are different. If your circumstances don’t allow you to create, you need to have the power to change them, and in this life, that so often comes down to financial power.

  89. Hey, there you are! I had you bookmarked ages ago, and then Firefox decided to eat my bookmarks and because this is the result of becoming overly dependent on technology, I had quite forgotten your name.

    I’m so glad to find you again. Hope your efforts to parlay blogging into a paying gig worked out?

    In any event, I have now bookmarked and blogrolled you. Found you through PhysioProf, thanks to a commenter named Nan.

  90. Of course, the reason I even came here at all was to whine about how the same thing is happening to me. People are stealing my posts, and putting them on their own blogs without attribution.

  91. Hi!

    I’m Emily, one of the writers of Fatty Mcblog. Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention. I’m in utter shock. Mostly because who would take the time to rip off a fat blog written by two girls and manipulate it to look like a man wrote it, but also because, well, that’s mostly the reason.

    Besides the site being down, is there anything else happening to this disgusting man?

    Oh, and if that guy is reading this…LOSING YOUR WEIGHT WATCHER BOOKLET IS MESSED UP AND I AM NOT A FREAK FOR FREAKING OUT.

    Thank you.

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