Plagiarism Strikes Intothegrain.com!

| December 11, 2010 | 7 Comments

Article on Tallahassee.com that was copied from Intothegrain.comIf imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, consider us flattered… and maybe a bit peeved. Last week a reader brought to our attention that someone had stolen our work and used it as their own. After following up on the report, I found that an LPGA Teaching Pro had “borrowed” large chunks of a piece I wrote in January, 2010. Ok, maybe “borrow” is too nice a word. She basically cut and pasted my writing and changed a few words to suit her style. The work in question also happens to be one of my personal favorite articles and is called “Ten Cold Weather Golf Tips

The timing of the plagiarism was pretty good, as a recent cold snap here in Florida made the article very relevant again. Now, I’m not a professional writer and by no means would I ever refer to myself as a journalist, but it goes without saying that after learning of the theft I took steps to protect my intellectual property by contacting the publication that posted the stolen article – The Tallahassee Democrat and Tallahassee.com. The author of the ripped off article was a freelancer and not directly employed by the paper, but that doesn’t excuse someone for copying someone else’s words, and as a result the paper has severed ties with the copy-cat artist.

While awaiting a response from the publication, I took to Twitter to spread the word and discuss the issue with some of my fellow golf bloggers and friends in the golf industry. The response was predictable. Most everyone was appalled, supportive and wanted to be kept up to date. A few of our close friends lashed out against the writer of the bogus article.  While not part of the traditional media like newspapers and magazines, many bloggers take journalistic issues like plagiarism and very seriously. Since starting intothegrain.com I have learned that most golf bloggers tend to support each other and I feel a sense of solidarity with them. The cut-throat competitiveness that exists in traditional media doesn’t exist with bloggers – maybe because we all do this out of a love for the game, and not a mandate to make stockholders rich.


Traditional media or not, no reputable publication in the world will accept work that isn’t original, and the Tallahassee Democrat is no exception. After verifying the facts and comparing works, they acted ethically and swiftly to remove the article in question and published a correction/apology in today’s paper and at Tallahassee.com, which I gladly accepted. I appreciate the way the Executive Editor and his staff handled the situation, and I want to publicly thank the attentive reader who brought the issue to my attention on Tuesday.

This unfortunate sequence of events did lead to a happy ending however. Established in 1905 and reaching over 155,000 readers every week, The Tallahassee Democrat and Tallahassee.com are part of the Gannett Company – A worldwide network of newspapers, broadcast companies and other communications-related interests, and they happen to be down one contributing golf writer. Since they liked my writing enough to publish it in the first place, they have extended me an invitation to contribute original articles for the paper and website going forward. So, as time permits and when relevant I will be happy and honored to contribute to the Democrat, and I look forward to extending the reach and audience of intothegrain.com!

Thanks again to all my readers, supporters, friends and advisers. You all are the reason this site exists and why I have so much fun bringing it to you!


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Comments (7)

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  1. Lindsay says:

    Way to go mate. Build the brand and protect your intellectual rights. Amazing what people will do.

  2. John Duval says:

    Editors Note: I have removed the offenders name and photo from the screen shot of the original article posted on this page. I have not identified the person because my intention was to draw attention to the act of plagiarism, not to attack someone on a personal level.

  3. Kyle Nail says:

    Good job for taking the necessary steps, and congrats on the invitation to contribute.

  4. Rob Pritts says:

    I had a great comment but it is in full review for original content! Keep up the great work and I am glad you handled this in such a professional manner!

    Thanks and Regards
    The Golf Expert for uptoparmarketing.com
    professional golf website design solutions

  5. John –

    I just dealt with a similar issue. A published article, a few blogs posted on a decent sized magazine’s website and the “theifs” own blog.

    What was funny is that the copy-cat actually took credit for several “great writing” “great article” comments.

    Got the issue resolved and it also lead to an opportunity for my marketing business as well – so things are good.

    Check out and register at copyspace.com it will actually notify you if someone tries to steal.

    Ed

  6. Mike Leopold says:

    I have a couple of blogs of my own and I believe original content is the best way to sustain a long term relationship with your readers. If you use someone else’s content, you should give them the credit, not spin it around to look like you wrote it yourself. Good job in dealing with the issue.

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