Madame Pickwick Art Blog: Unattributted Plagiarism

January 10, 2011

My composite image, my words... but where is my name?

Edit: I have since been contacted by the author of the offending blog, who despite thinking my response was "completely out of line" has since removed the two offending articles, as re-writing them with correct attribution must have again seemed too arduous a task. Hence the links to the Pickwick articles below will now display blank pages. I will leave this piece here in testament to the vigilance required by bloggers who strive to produce content in their own words, and do the right thing as far as giving credit and attribution.

I would like to draw attention to a recent discovery I made which was somewhat distressing. Plagiarism is a perennial concern for people who deliver web based content. As a result, many sites uses packages such as  copyscape and attribute creative commons licenses to their work.

I  love the idea of anyone reproducing parts aspect of my work, as long as they provide attribution and state "from H Niyazi, Three Pipe Problem." All my articles are clearly labelled as being authored by me, and appear prominently on search engines, so it should not be a problem.

Apparently, mentioning my name was too hard for Madame Pickwick Art Blog in a September 2010 piece on Simonetta Vespucci, which quotes entire blocks from my April 2010 article : Simonetta Vespucci: Real-life muse of the Renaissance?

The Pickwick Art Blog seems to be written by a Canadian by the name of "Dave", who runs an affiliated arts supply store in Quebec.

It is one thing to have your work stolen by a headless, auto-generated blog that exists to generate ad revenue, but when a dedicated arts site with a significant following does it - one needs to make note - which I am doing here. I find it strange because Pickwick seems to have no trouble quoting others, which I noted to Frank DeStefano when Pickwick recently did a series of posts on Giorgione and successfully attributed Frank's work.

Strangely, in another post on The Pastoral Concert, Pickwick quotes my work, but incorrectly attributes it to Frank!  Immediately below my work is again quoted, and my own composite image used, but NO attribution!  WHY? 

Pickwick has no qualms quoting others... just me it seems. Maybe my name doesn't sound authoritative enough!

In the same piece, he does provide a link to my article(with the words ethereal haze) , but incorrectly attributes my words about emblem books(a pet topic of mine) to Frank! 

Does Pickwick have no respect for other bloggers - is that it?  Does he not view them as a credible resource - but still enjoys the content enough to steal entire passages without mentioning the original author?

I have tried to contact Dave, and merely wish him to insert my name into his numerous block quotes of my pieces (per article) If this is satisfied, I will update this post accordingly.

In the interim, I suggest people be vigilant, and look into something like copyscape for their sites. I actually found this example of plagiarism because of Pickwick's linking to my Simonetta composite images, but a (free) search on copyscape using the Simonetta article web address(URL) also successfully identified the Pickwick piece. Those wanting automated alerts are required to pay a small premium using the affiliated copysentry service. I presently haven't signed up, because I am very diligent at checking links to my site, but it may be worth the fee for those who do not monitor their stats as closely as I do.

Now I know what friend of 3PP UK art historian David Packwood felt like when his blog was plagiarised by pirates last year! Ahoy!


Juliette said...

:( I hope you get this cleared up OK.

Unknown said...

Cheers Juliette! I never thought it would happen to me!


David Packwood said...

Hi H. That's pretty blatant; not only taking your image, but your words as well! It's not happened to me again- I think- since last year, but I'll keep an eye out.

It doesn't happen frequently, but unfortunately, it happens enough to put art historians off the idea of publishing on the web.

Unknown said...

Cheers David.

I don't see why it should put art historians off web publishing though - at least when your work is in a digital format you can easily root it out with services like copyscape etc. When it is in ye olde paper format, how is said author going to police whether they are being plagiarised or not.. they can't!

The message here is actually a positive one for digital publication - teachers working in digital formats can easily check their students work, and bloggers can easily track down people scamming their work!


Seingalt said...

I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed here. As a blogger who often uses externally sourced material, although in my case it is usually material in other languages which I make available in English, I believe all such material should be properly attributed, INCLUDING clickable links to the pages where the original content came from.

Also, I think bloggers should always respond positively to requests from the creators of the original material, either partially or completely removing content according to the creators' wishes.

Perhaps something like a Bloggers Charter is needed, a set of guidelines for use of externally sourced material, which bloggers can sign up to and display a badge or such like on their blog homepage?


Unknown said...

Cheers for the support Seingalt! The creative commons licenses fit the description of the charter you describe, as they are written in legal terms. Make sure you get one for your site!

The issue has since been resolved, for those two articles at least. The post has been edited to reflect the changes.


Heather Carroll said...

What is "out of line" is when you have already attempted contacted the plagiarist about the issue and they fail to respond and then are insulted when you publicly call them out. Plagiarism is stealing; if they stole your tv it isn't common courtesy to warn them you are going to report them, you just do!

Glad things seem to be straightened out now

Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

Yikes, I had no idea. Sounds like you've handled the situation with class. Unfortunately, they don't seem to have any.

Alberti's Window said...

Sad to hear that this happened to you. I once had a problem with spammers reposting my material on their sites. The COPYSCAPE button at the bottom of my blog has been helpful for me to stay alert. I'm glad that there are ways for bloggers to make sure that they are plagiarized.

Like David, I can see how people are put off from putting their original research on the web.

Unknown said...

Cheers for the support Heather, Vicky and M!

I'm pleased this was quickly resolved - the speed at which this occured is also a plus for the digital format in my mind.

One side effect of bringing attention to this older piece: it made me realise it needs a few grammatical and visual tweaks! More work! :)


Alberti's Window said...

Ha! I just realized that I mistyped my comment. I (obviously) meant to say: "I'm glad that there are ways for bloggers to make sure that they AREN'T plagiarized." (Whoops!)

And hey, it's always good to come across an older post that needs updating! :)


Unknown said...

Knowing your thoroughness, I was expecting you to come back for that M!

I have always wished that the blogger team would hurry up and make the comments editable after posting.

I have received much positive feedback on this little escapade - bringing it to public attention should hopefully serve as a strong deterrent for the site involved, and anyone else who thinks they can get away with such rampant copy and pasting without the courtesy of honouring the license of the site, or even just basic net-ettiquete.


Unknown said...

I expressed my view to you yesterday via twitter, but wanted to show my support here :)Well handled and kudos on the blog snatchers beware! :)

Unknown said...

Cheers Ellie! Thanks to everyone for the wonderful support :)


jacob rodger said...

Thanks a lot Mr.Hasan Niyazi for this beautiful post.i'm glad to read this post.

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