Copying my work is OK – up to a point

From time to time, people ask if they may republish my articles; sometimes they simply go ahead and copy them without asking. I am usually relaxed about this – although most of my work involves writing, that is not what I am paid for; the job is to spread the word about e-disclosure / ediscovery as widely as possible, and that objective is best served by wide republication of what I write. I ask only that I am credited with it, and that anything of mine which is quoted, whether the whole or any part of an article, appears exactly as I wrote it – I am not tolerant of people “improving” my prose.

I do not have a Google Alert set up for my name (although perhaps I will from now on), but I do have one for “e-disclosure”. An alert turned up this morning with a text extract which looked familiar, although the heading and website address did not. It turned out to be an article copied from my website or, rather, an article made up of passages cobbled together from various articles on my website. So far as I can tell, most of the extracts have been reasonably faithfully copied, although there is at least one passage which I do not recognise.

My name appears at the top and bottom, along with the incorrect statement that I am based in London and the otiose reference to my being a “qualified solicitor” – as opposed, presumably, to an unqualified one. Curiously, given the provenance of the text, there is an assertion that the article was “first published” somewhere with which I have no connection, although anyone reading it would conclude that I do. This will not please various people who have asked me for original articles, and those who are kind enough to sponsor what I do will be less than thrilled at the hyperlink through to a litigation services provider which is not of their number.

When I went back later to look at the article again, it had disappeared behind a password-protected page. Ha! You don’t catch me like that – I save any web pages which interest me into iCyte which stores them in the form originally seen, so I can defeat the password and share the page with other iCyte users. By coincidence, I was at a drinks party in Las Vegas last week with Graham Smith, who founded iCyte after selling LiveNote, and we travelled back on the same plane. It is good to have so prompt an opportunity to mention a product of his which I use all the time.

It is hard to know what is the proper reaction to the plagiarism of my articles. On the one hand, it is gratifying to have one’s work deemed good enough to copy. On the other, the original was written over three years ago; so far as I can see on a quick skim, it makes no reference to the new practice direction (which people might think a little odd on my part); it has been hacked about; and it includes my apparent endorsement, in the form of the hyperlink, of a company of which I know nothing.

You know who you are. Perhaps you would be good enough to get in touch to discuss the terms on which my words may continue to inhabit your pages. Those will include, at the least, either the removal of the hyperlink or the addition of your company to the list of those who actually do support the e-Disclosure Information Project.

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About Chris Dale

I have been an English solicitor since 1980. I run the e-Disclosure Information Project which collects and comments on information about electronic disclosure / eDiscovery and related subjects in the UK, the US, AsiaPac and elsewhere
This entry was posted in Discovery, eDisclosure, eDiscovery, Electronic disclosure, Litigation Support. Bookmark the permalink.

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