Last week, Charlene Davis (my friend, colleague, and
occasional co-author) joined a Yahoo! Group called Clever Homemaker. The group
has 6,000+ members and Charlene thought the articles the list owner was posting
about business were very well-written. Then she recognized one of the articles — it
was actually excerpt from one of my books on starting a business.
Charlene started doing some research and quickly discovered
more than 100 times that Shirley, the list owner, had lifted articles from
Entrepreneur.com; had copied entire web pages from other sites; and had taken
articles from free article directories such as ezinearticles.com – all without
the proper byline, author bio, author contact information, or any other
attribution. Apparently Shirley is claiming that what she is doing is "fair use" under the copyright law — but it is not, it's theft.
At first, Charlene thought maybe Shirley was just ignorant
and didn’t realize that what she is doing is copyright infringement and is
both illegal and immoral. So Charlene notified Shirley of that fact – and Shirley
promptly removed Charlene from the list.
Charlene’s next step was to notify Yahoo! of Shirley’s
violation of its terms and conditions. Yahoo! essentially blew Charlene off
with a form e-mail suggesting that each author deal with Shirley individually.
I’m sure most of the ripped-off authors are like me – we wouldn’t
have realized this was going on if Charlene hadn’t discovered it. Yahoo! has a
responsibility to police its groups and not make it easy for its users to
engage in intellectual property theft.
I’m still considering what my next step will be. I’ll let