1) Oh, that’s just flattery, they like your writing.
2) Well, at least the message is getting out.
3) Don’t say anything because that will make you look bad.
All of these have been said to me. And I’m not buying it.
My regular followers know that for I’ve been typing away about Rheumatoid Arthritis on my red Dell laptop for the last two years.
The first and the worst lesson I learned as a writer is it’s horrible to have one’s work stolen. I’ve never spoken publicly about this, but I’ve found my own text and images on other patient blogs and large websites dozens of times, without attribution.
Today, I’m pushing back. I’m calling out Health.com for using a blog post of mine to create new revenue-driven content. If you’d plan to comment about this post here on elsewhere online, please finish reading this post first.
There are many ways to steal an article. Here’s what’s happened to me:
- An entire blog post is pasted into another blog or website.
- My entire blog has appeared on another site thanks to RSS. (This has happened twice.)
- Someone copies a couple of paragraphs, adds a few words, and then calls theirs.
- My basic outline is followed, key phrases are repeated, and the exact same obscure research sources are cited and my post is considered “re-written.”
Perhaps you think the last example of theft is the most innocent. However, it requires the most time and intention. And it’s most difficult to identify.
Look carefully at the image I’ve created by pasting words from my original post (11/30/09) 20 Things Not to Say to a Rheumatoid Arthritis Patient on the left. For the last week, Health.com has promoted their new article, 15 Things Not to Say to an RA Patient. You’ll find “their words” pasted into the right column.
Two things plagiarizers have in common:
- They don’t apologize, even when they get caught and have to take content down.
- They make money from bloggers’ content before we realize what they’ve done.
It seems new sites pop up about RA or PsA almost daily. Competition for RA traffic is cutthroat for an obvious reason: money. The drugs that treat RA are the most expensive drugs in the world.
So-called respectable health sites hire writers to create content that will appear next to Biologic ads. When these writers have no personal experience with the conditions they write about, they read blogs to get information.
It’s apparent that these sites been reading and stealing from my blog. And they are probably reading and stealing from others.
Are we as patients, as writers, or as health advocates going to accept this practice by continuing to treat these “health” sites with the level of respect that they have enjoyed? We need to call them out. Please join me in that.
Notice: The only 2 items from “their” list that were not taken from mine are not things that I’ve ever heard said to an RA patient. People tell RA patients “I know someone with RA and she is not as sick as you are,” not the opposite. Perhaps the “author” should have asked an RA patient about those.
UPDATE 3/10/11: Health.com Replies to RA Warrior
- The Fake Patient (fPatient) & Patient Engagement on Drug Companies’ Sites
- The Difference Between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis
- The Use It or Lose It Approach to Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis