NOT. FROM. ME. - a word or two on writing reports and copyright infringement 20211005 114456 0000

I filed DMCA takedown request against the owner of the perfume site because the article published on that site unabashedly contained the work I did as a reporter.
The person who published the article copy-pasted the exclusive part of my report, together with my editorial remark!

Yes, I know: these things happen, whole sites are being content-scraped, and then even published as books signed by thieves!
This almost became normal.

But, it isn’t.

Making a decision to exercise my legal rights was not emotionally nor technically easy at all, and it wasn’t completely free, too.
I nevertheless decided to do it, because I personally think that content infringement isn’t and won’t be accepted as good editorial practice, ever.

I created Mirisna, a small perfume site outside of my professional area of expertise, for my own personal pleasure.
As an already self-realized and published author of half a dozen scientific papers and as an author/editor of the three books, I have my professional standards already set, and as a perfume writer, I have made my decision to be reliable, verifiable, to expressing my own personal voice while writing about what I love – fragrances – and things about perfumes I believe that have to be said.

I haven’t founded Mirisna with any future profit or a future career in mind.
So, Mirisna is all about my own pleasure and the content I create: read it and link it if you like it, or ignore it if you don’t.

As a reader, you might profit from Mirisna (not in a material way), but, if you read and love my insights, that means we agree that we all get some joy, and that’s enough for me.

Since I am the sole owner of an independent, ad-free platform and also my own editor in chief, I am truly free to follow and promote the vision of ethical, verifiable perfume writing, and I plan to stay trustworthy along the way.
That’s why I made The Perfumery Code of Ethics my own Editor’s choice N.1.

Sorry for the digression, but for those who haven’t read the Code, allow me to liberally and generally interpret what is written there, and applies to the perfume writers/sites, too:

Be original, and create the original intellectual works.

Acknowledge and respect the intellectual work of others.

Respect and pay the credit to those less visible who contributed to the creation, but remain out of public focus.

Be reliable, make trustworty texts. Do not claim something that is not true.

Don’t make profit on perfume items that were gifted to you for free.
Give them to charities, or make them a learning tool for those who want to learn about perfumes, and can’t afford buying.

Disclose your actions. Flagg the actions you find wrongful.

You can read The Perfumery Code of Ethics here.

I don’t have a problem with that.
Moreover – I very much like what The Perfumery Code of Ethics says because it represents the very foundation on which each respectable profession builds its reputation, distinguished publishing included.

Running Mirisna is also my personal way to re-live the young days, right after University, when I worked as a journalist in the traditional newspaper company and, among other things, wrote reports.
In fact, my report that got copy/pasted was the first report I wrote after exactly 20 years. I wanted it to be personal for that and many other reasons.

While writing a report, I remembered the strong and just mentorship of my newspaper editor. I also wanted to do it right, from the reporter’s point of view.
I will probably never ever forget the sound of my editor’s voice when she pointed to rule number 1 of any reporting job:

“For starters, you actually have to be there!

As simple as that.
This is, and always will be, the conditio sine qua non of any authentic report.

I financed being on the event I was reporting on myself. Before I even arrived, I studied the events calendar, planned each step ahead, and did my schedule. I also made pretty-damn-sure that in the times of Covid-19, when the “new normal” means also the limited number of persons allowed to attend some of the events, I will not lose my seat and the opportunity to be a reporter from these RSVP events, too.

That’s why Mirisna was able to publish exclusive content: in the first place – I was there. I wasn’t the only one who did everything by the book. My colleagues, perfume writers/reporters, also followed the first rule of any report – they were there.
Why?
Because that’s the only way the trustworthy report can be done.

Imagine my professional and personal shock and anger, after being introduced to the fact that someone who missed to be personally present did his/her job by literally copy-pasting my text, along with my editorial remark, published in brackets!

Why was it done?
Because he/she did not care for the first rule of any reporting. Or at least a trustworthy and authentic one.

I did not know that the instinctive reaction I developed while working as a reporter will lead to creating the exclusive content: I recorded some parts of the event, and it turned out that the organizers did not. Also, no one else published the content in a way Mirisna did.
I would have published the recording in my report, instead of the transcript, but the video I made with my phone turned out to be very lousy done, once I watched it on my desktop computer.
So I decided that the transcript will suffice because it looks less embarrassing for Mirisna’s way of making the report.

Because of the fact I thought that my video looks too crapy to be displayed on my site, the full recording was unavailable at the time the content scaper approached my published work, so he/she could not have used it in the way he/she used the official recordings.

Plus, among other details, there were the brackets:

If the content-infringer had remembered the speech well enough to replicate it with such accuracy to the last word, or had his/her own recording, he/she would have recognized the brackets, signaling that some content was added later, in editing.

The fact that the content-infringer did not know that he/she has cut out some copy-pasted parts, made my DMCA takedown job easier.
It also helps me write a word or two on how reports are done:

  • Be at the reporting site at the right time.
  • If you steal and don’t want to be caught – do it smartly, for your own sake.
    Reports are particulary tricky because they have to be verifialble and they highly depend on the laws of the physics and verifiable facts: something happened – or not, someone witnessed it – or not, someone registered the witnesses – or not, it was recorded – or not. Opinions and impressions come later.
  • If you decide to copy-paste anyway, it’s kinda useful to have the additional human resources at your disposal. Friends are great for this: if they were there, they can be your proofreaders and warn you what to cut off.
    Colleagues are the best proofreaders of all, they frequently spare from the embarrassment.
    If they want to.

In all other cases, if you weren’t there, you can’t make the authentic report.
It is that simple.

Once I cooled down and started thinking clearly, my perspective on the copy-paster’s actions changed:

Regardless of the profession, it is always about how you treat those around you: your partners, your present and ex-colleagues (or workers), and your competitors.

In literally any business, the colleagues are always to some extent the competitors, but the fair-playing and honest ones don’t ever steal from you, and those who are also friendly ask before they borrow anything.

In my all blogging experience, the most competent colleagues, and also the very best of them, self-confidently say: “Thank you!”.

My professor thought me:

Each time you feel the need to use someone else’s work, you’ve also learned something and become more complete.

There is always a good reason why some content has caught your eyes,
so by finding something you want to use, you have already given the credit to the person who created it. Transform your own silent appreciation to a proper, professional credit.

In the professional and the only legally acceptable way, by linking other person’s work to yours, you are also giving your readers the opportunity to extend their own knowledge.

Remember, extending their knowledge is the most important reason why they read you!

It’s easy, that’s what quotes and links are for.

And, trust me, a “thank you!” to a colleague does exist among writers in our beautiful community.

The fact that the person did not bother to ask, and did not link or quote Mirisna, but instead chose to steal the content he/she was not able to create, made my final decision quite easy:

My content is going down from that site, or that patchwork of a report is going down from the internet!

So I used DMCA portal to perform the legal takedown action.

We all have signed contracts with our hosting providers that include the obligation not to perform any illegal activity, such as copyright infringement, through the infrastructure we use.

After my case was reviewed by the legal and technical professionals, the experts in American Digital Millenium Copyright Act, I got the confirmation that there is a strong case and that my notice meets all legal requirements. The company which provides the hosting was served with takedown notice and had to inform the site that stole my content about illegal activity on their servers, which triggered the start of takedown process.

In order to be legally compliant and remove its own liability for providing the infrastructural support to any supposed illegal activity, ISP / hosting company is obligated to take down the site (or a page, depending on how much you pay for your hosting) from the internet as soon as possible, unless the infringing content is removed.

The hosting provider did what had to be done, so they gave a site owner a short window of time to decide on what to do. There are only two options:
The alleged infringer has to remove stolen content from the web page (thus admitting the violation of the law), or may fight back and file a counter-claim, under the penalty of law, and expose his/her business to legal prosecution.

That’s how takedowns work on a technical level.
But, there’s a brutal message hoovering all over the dry legal vocabulary:

Since you did not bother to get in touch with the copyright owner when you had to, deal with it!

The perfume site decided to remove the content that was copy/pasted from Mirisna in time to avoid further actions.

So, put the DMCA badge on!

The protection is free of charge.
The takedowns are not – if you are technically skilled, for 10 bucks a month you are provided with the platform to manage takedown by yourself.
And if you are not, the cost of professionals who will do that for you is somewhere around the cost of one very nice perfume bottle.

Copyright infringement is a matter of personal choice.

Fighting it is too:

If you don’t value your name, or the name of your brand enough to require a proper metion or credit, don’t expect to be valued.
That’s how the world we live in works, unfortunately.

And if you don’t value your content enough to protect it, why are you putting it out?

Since I prefer buying perfume bottles over takedowns, I did takedown preparation myself, because I have technical skills and skill of using and interpreting legal sources, both grandfathered, and currently in force, from different foreign countries.

It took me two sleepless nights, literally from dusk to dawn, to make my first takedown notice.
I am a mom of a teenager, a wife, a working professional, and a housekeeper, and I still heavily feel these two sleepless nights, as I write this text.
I remember my personal frustration, self-doubt in my capabilities, opened windows to clear my head and try again, over and over.
But, I have learned how to do it myself, and my work and all other evidences I submitted, passed the professional review!
The knowledge and know-how are now my own!

I know that there will always be some copy-paster who thinks that he/she can get away with it because he/she is bigger, better connected, and more visible, or because he/she is exactly the opposite: smaller, less visible, and thus more likely to get away with the theft.

Or someone who doesn’t even know that such things as copy-pasting someone else original content and then publishing it under his/her own name, without mentioning or linking the source, represents the violation of the law.

I know that no one, including me, can’t change the way things work.

It is sad. Truly sad.

But, I dealt with my anger and sadness in my own way:

First I protected what I love, after that I sent the message, and finally, I broadcasted it.

The message is three-word simple:

Not. From. Me.