This dress isn’t black, it’s African American

It’s been a while since I last caught(y) someone doing “a McNaughty”, so for the benefit of those just joining us, hi, I’m Amber and I’m the most-imitated woman on the Internet! You can find a full list of all the people who have impersonated or ripped me off here: read it and weep, folks! (God knows, I sometimes do.)

Anyway, as I was saying, it’s been a long time since I last wrote about my copycats, so you’ve probably been thinking, “Gosh, people must have finally given up on relentlessly copying Amber: that’s nice!” Or, I mean, you probably HAVEN’T been thinking that at all, but if you had, you’d be wrong: people have, indeed, been continuing to steal my images and text (mostly on eBay), it’s just that it happens so often that it’s not really worth mentioning most of the time. Until now, that is.

Sunday night, as you probably all know, was Oscars night, a.k.a The Worst Night of Amber’s Year. Because I have a website about fashion, I am obliged to write about the Oscars red carpet, and because I’m not a filthy rotten image thief, I buy all of the images I require to do this from an image agency. With money. Money that I work for, and which I can’t spend on shoes and green dresses once I’ve spent it on image licences for my website. Boo hoo, woe is me!

On Oscar night, however, my image agency messed up. I sat up late, waiting for the images to come in, and, when they didn’t, I set my alarm and got up early the next morning. And the images still weren’t available. So I freaked out, and then Gemma told me I could get (legal) images from the PR Section of the Academy Awards website, so I did that, then my own agency coughed up the goods too, and I spent basically the entire day editing photos and writing text to accompany them.

Then I got up the next morning and discovered that some other website had just stolen all the posts and republished them, so all of those hours of work, all of those  images, and all of the money I had spent purchasing them, had not, as I had imagined, been done to benefit my own business and website, but had been done to benefit someone ELSE’S.

Which was… yeah.

It’s OK, though: I mean, they didn’t actually COPY me. Oh no. I mean, compare this, from my site:


With this, from the plagiarist, I mean “person who just happened to write exactly the same thing, but in Pidgin English, because that totally makes it OK”:

people who plagiarise should be made to walk the plank
Occasional actress. My Few Days With Marilyn. Your woman. The night-time.

Let’s just admit it: this is funnier than what I wrote, isn’t it? Only I don’t think that was the intention somehow.

There’s more:

thus boom about trend

Oh yah, totally: thus boom about trend! I SO know what you mean! Except, not really. I don’t think ANYONE would know what this meant, if it weren’t for my helpful translation above, which has obviously been run through some kind of software designed to replace certain words with other ones.

(In other news, I think my next tagline will be “One ruffle lacking any seventies bedspread.” Catchy, no? Orange can make it!)

There’s even more, too: this company has copied lots of my posts – I actually don’t know the full extent of it yet, because I had to stop counting in order to come here and take the crap out of them – and posts from other bloggers, too. My guess is that they think the fact that they’re re-writing the text makes it OK, so here is a newsflash for them, and for anyone else thinking, “You know what: I’d like to make money from blogging, but I can’t be assed doing any work or investing any money in it, so I think what I’ll do is, I’ll let AMBER do the work and spend the money, and then I’ll just steal it!”:

NEWSFLASH: RE-WRITING MY CONTENT IN THE MANNER OF AN (ADMITTEDLY HILARIOUS) NON-ENGLISH SPEAKER DOES NOT MAKE IT OK TO COPY ME. Or anyone else, for that matter.

This is plagiarism, pure and simple. I’ve done the work, now this company is profiting from it. (And I found the copycat site because I was Googling for info on Oscars fashion, and it came up in the search results before mine. So this site is stealing my work AND my traffic, just in case you were thinking this kind of thing doesn’t matter, or that it’s an essentially victimless crime.)

I’m not really concerned about the images on this particular post, because they’re ones I got from the Oscars’ press section, and anyone who is registered there would have access to them. They’ve also stolen images which I paid my agency for, though, and that REALLY rankles with me – as it does when any blogger takes images I’ve paid for – because images aren’t cheap, and I hate feeling like I’m paying for something just so other bloggers can use it for free. I’m willing to pay for my OWN images, but I don’t see why I should pay for yours too.

(Incidentally, this is another reason why it’s not nice to steal images. Someone had to pay for them. They didn’t pay for them FOR YOU. And some photographer DIDN’T get paid for your use of them. Not cool.)

We will probably be able to get Google to remove our content from this site (we always have before), once we’ve worked out exactly how much of it they’ve used. I’m not going to link to them because I don’t want to send them the traffic, but if you’re thinking it might be called “Fashion Trends for 2012″, then you are thinking right: please don’t reward it with clicks! And if you wrote any coverage of The Oscars this week, or celebrity fashion in general, there’s a good chance your re-written content is on it too.

I leave you with one of my favourite automatic re-writes of my text:

 

I said I liked Flower Byrne’s “bob”. They said they liked her “frank”. And I said her dress was black, but what was I thinking? That dress is AFRICAN AMERICAN, people. I hang my head in shame.

(Is it wrong that I want to ask them which program they’re using to do this? I’m thinking my blog would be MUCH funnier if I ran my posts through it too…)

28 Comments

  • It is funny, tragic, but fun to read all the same xxx

  • Myra via Facebook says:

    It is funny although infuriating for you x

  • Alison via Facebook says:

    A side-splittingly hilarious read, but not at all funny. It may be better to preserve your sanity by keeping these copycats “out of sight, out of mind”, or “invisible idiots” as the literal translation goes. (Ex translator with many a story to tell in three languages!)

  • I know I probably shouldn’t be laughing as I completely agree with you that it is a crime, but god, that ” african american” dress is sooooooooo funny!

  • Andreea Irene via Facebook says:

    Well, there will always be a lazy ass who prefers to “work” stealing other people’s hard work :(
    On the other hand, I just wanna let you know that Fashion Police was the first site I opened looking for news from Oscars, you’re the best! :)

  • via Facebook says:

    @Alison – we can’t really afford to just ignore, them, unfortunately: as I said, it can have a really big impact on our business if we don’t have the copied content removed. Luckily we have the process down to a fine art now, so it’s less time consuming than it used to be: I just wrote about this one because I thought it was funny!

  • via Facebook says:

    Andreea – thank you for saying that! I had an absolute nightmare getting the content up this year (I usually work through the night for the Oscars, but the images weren’t available – gah!) so I’m really glad to know it was worthwhile!

  • via Facebook says:

    Anouschka – I *literally* laughed out loud when I read that: polotical correctness gone mad :)

  • Alison via Facebook says:

    Yes it is indeed very serious, Amber, and I understand the frustration you must feel about such regular ripping off. Your post reminded me of some of the extremely dodgy ‘copy’ I have seen in my time as a translator. Utter nonsense had sometimes gone to (sometimes embarrassing) print courtesy of BabelFish or similar because human professionals were too expensive. :(

    • Amber says:

      I’m just glad it doesn’t have my name on it anywhere (that I’ve seen, anyway!) – it would be horrifying if someone stumbled across it and thought I’d actually written it!

      (Actually, that reminds me of the time I wrote copy for a client’s website, and a couple of years later got a really nasty email from someone banging on about what a terrible writer I was, and how amazed they were that I had the gall to charge people money for the type of copy I’d written for X client…I was mystified, until I looked at the website in question and realised they’d decided to update the content, couldn’t afford to pay me to do it, and so had just done it themselves, really, really badly. The problem was, they’d just left my byline and company name on the pages, so it looked like I’d written it all. I wanted to die.)

  • Jessica says:

    Too too funny – I doubt anyone would spend much time on the blog with ridiculous mistakes like that – well they may stay for the hilarity but not for the Oscars commentary. I appreciate this is awful for you of course.

    • Amber says:

      They do it purely for the clicks – they’re banking on the fact that someone will find the page via Google and then hopefully click an ad to leave: they definitely won’t get regular readers from it, that’s for sure! (Although, mind you, it IS hilarious… :) )

  • Taryn via Facebook says:

    I like the way Rose also got renamed to Flower :)

  • Taryn via Facebook says:

    But I very definitely don’t like the plagiarism :( Boo to them – it must be sooo frustrating to have to fight this again!

  • via Facebook says:

    @Taryn – I know! She will forever be “Flower Byrne” to me now :)

  • i thought her frank looked fabulous.. but not as much as her African American dress!!

  • danielle chambers says:

    It’s ridiculous that people think it’s ok to do this. I’m a student and I would have been kicked out of the university if I had submitted work as my own. Also love TFP and your other blogs, always the first place I go (actually, the only!) And want to say thanks for helping me find glossy box!

  • If this wasn’t so depressing it would be funny. I honestly don’t know how you can laugh about it. Actually, the ‘african american dress’ is pretty funny…

  • Lela says:

    Bastards. Props to you though for your sense of humour about it :) I want that program, too! What a drinking game that would make…

    Besos,
    Lela
    (I’d love if you checked out my fashion blog/shoe blog/etc!)

    • Tanya says:

      I was just thinking that trying to re-translate and work out what the original said does make for a hilarious game. In fact I think they used to do a quiz on Radio 1 where they put song lyrics through a translator and back again and you had to guess what the song was…

      Sad the amusement doesn’t cancel out the hassle and lost business though Amber :(

  • Teresa via Facebook says:

    Omg! Hilarious.
    By the way, I’m a litle bit scared: my closet is full of african american :-)

  • Britta says:

    It’s scary to hear how much this happens on the internet! It makes a new blogger very wary of what could happen… do you find it helps at all, having a watermark of somesort on your photos?

    ~Britta

    • Amber says:

      No, it really doesn’t seem to make any difference: stuff like this isn’t an actual person stealing content, it’s an automated script, so it just takes everything, watermarked or not. That said, I have had posts and photos stolen by “real” people: sometimes they crop the watermark out, but most of the time they just leave it – lot of people genuinely don’t seem to realise they’re doing something illegal by stealing images!

  • Elizabeth says:

    I’m sorry to laugh, but the last one was hilarious.

    I’m glad you spotted them and getting it sorted. It just sucks you have to do this so often.

    Stop being so rad and you won’t get copied?
    x

  • Katie says:

    It’s outrageous that people are stealing your content like this but at least irony arranged for them to do it in an unintentionally amusing way. I laughed out loud at Flower Byrne and her sleek frank, which, by the way, sounds vaguely rude and euphemistic.

    Best of luck with having your content removed from this site. It’s so annoying that you have to waste your time on things like this, thanks to people who think it’s OK to steal.

  • Rachel says:

    You should report them to the image agency too- the more people you can get on their backs the better. Even better than that they might get sued ;-) I’ve heard of bloggers that steal pictures getting sent bills for thousands….

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