The Dark side of Beauty Blogging : Plagiarism

 

As a blogger, the most unpleasant thing I have to deal with is plagiarism. I’ve lost count of how many times my content has been copied – images as well as text – reviews copied word for word and used. Without credit. Without permission. I watermark all my images and while some copycats have the ‘smarts’ to cut out the watermark, some don’t even bother to do that and just use the watermarked images as their own.

I put a lot of effort in my blog. If a photo session doesn’t result in quality images, I don’t post and re-do things all over again. I invest in equipment – camera, lighting etc. to get the best images and it angers me no end when I see people use these images as if it were their own. I spend hours writing every review, I cover every possible aspect of a product I can when I write a review. And I spend so much time on my posts so that every one of them is useful and informative to my readers. I do not churn out half baked, incomplete posts just for the sake of increasing my content.  And it is shameful how people use another person’s hard work like this.

 

Screenshot of Copied Content

Screenshot of Copied Content

 

I’ve seen my work being used by newbies, established bloggers as well as 2 reputed beauty brands. The brands were gracious enough to apologize and remove the content/give credit when I wrote to them. The newbie bloggers also removed the content though citing ignorance as the reason they copied – saying they didn’t KNOW they can’t copy content (umm..really?). In the most recent incident (that created a bit of a splash on FB), a blogger with a fairly big following had used images from not just my blog but various other  blogs in her reviews. On confronting her about it, she went out of her way to explain and justify how she did not know that the images belonged to me. The blog in question is called Guilty Bytes and she had used images from my Lakme 9-to-5 Lipstick post. She has now taken down her post containing my images.

 

I do not want to go into the details of each interaction that I’ve had with the people who’ve used my workSome feign ignorance, some try to justify it by saying that they took it from Google Images and didn’t know about the ownership (even though they crop out the watermark). Some say they picked it from another ‘source’ (though there is no line of credit anywhere). I just wish people would take responsibility, apologize and stop justifying their actions. And equip themselves with a little knowledge about how these things work –

 

[note color=”#FFEECA”]

– If you are a newbie in this arena, you need to know that Google does not OWN images. Google is a SEARCH engine and gives you search results. You cannot pick up any image from Google Images and use it as if it belongs to you.

– If you see a watermark on an image, it is most definitely NOT yours to use. If you really want to use that image, first step is to contact the admin of the page/site where the image has been picked from seeking permission to use the image with due credit to their site.

– And if for some reason you are unable to get in touch, always leave credit by using the words Image courtesy : <source> in your postOr put a disclaimer under your post saying – I do not own the images used in this post.

– And if by any chance you hear from someone who claims that you’ve used their images, apologize and take down that content. Do not make excuses for what you’ve done. Don’t try to justify it. You’re not committing an ’emotional’ crime/hurting people by using their work. Its LAWFULLY wrong. For the tediousness of the process, people don’t like going via a legal route but if someone does, you’ll be in big trouble. It happens with magazines and newspapers plenty of times.

– And for beauty bloggers in particular, it makes no sense to write a review about a product claiming you’ve used it and then using someone else’s swatches and product pictures. If you are absolutely unable to click pictures of the product, use an image picked up from the brand’s official website and mention the source. [/note]

 

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Unfortunately, there is very little one can do prevent one’s content from being used. You might come across something that you recognize as your own but more often than not, its hard to keep check. One of my readers (also a blogger) recently mentioned Online Plagiarism checkers which I wasn’t aware of until now. I’m going to try those and see to what extent they work. If you have any thoughts on this topic especially on how to keep checks on plagiarism, do share your ideas in the comments below.

 

 

39 Comments

  1. September 22, 2013 / 9:52 pm

    Well done! Such people need to be called to task. Yours was not the only image lifted and they were many others “sourced” as well. If someone makes a mistake apologizing and being humble is the way to go and not feign ignorance. On top of that having the balls to say that your written content is unique and that is what you are known for?!?

    I hope people wake up and smell the coffee before they get into serious trouble.

  2. September 22, 2013 / 10:09 pm

    Good post, Ankita. Plagiarism is nothing but shameless and blatant theft, that’s what. No amount of justification, explanation or pleading ignorance can change that. We learn references and bibliography, and not to copy in exams in school – how can anyone plead ignorance, unless they haven’t been to school?

  3. September 22, 2013 / 10:13 pm

    this is the saddest part of beauty blogging… copying pics and reviews!!! and seriously I don’t understand, if someone has not used a product, how can a review be written by using someone else’s pics!
    saying sorry is a far sighted thing, coz ppl are not ready to own up to their mistakes int he first place, siting ignorance!
    I so wish this changes, but… 🙁

    • September 22, 2013 / 10:28 pm

      *in the
      **citing

  4. September 22, 2013 / 10:36 pm

    I know people tend to laugh it off saying it’s just a blog but really, there’s so much work that goes into it. And I really appreciate the detailed reviews you write.

    That said, “guilty bytes” is ironically an appropriate name for the blog… :p

  5. September 22, 2013 / 10:46 pm

    I know ankita…hw much it hurts when u put so much effort into the post…and ppl just copy it! Thats sad! Giving excuses after being caught is great way to escape!

  6. September 22, 2013 / 11:09 pm

    Every blogger whether new or old, knows the effort and time it takes to write a post. It’s not easy taking pics, writing content, editing.
    I’ve not been able to write a proper post in months because my laptop has been giving me trouble.
    I don’t get to do makeup posts because my camera doesn’t capture well.. So I know how much effort and investment it takes to build a good blog.
    If the girl had apologised to you the moment you informed her, it would have saved her the embarrasment.
    Nobody wants to create a scene in public. People make mistakes.Just accept, apologise and don’t lie and justify.
    I’m a much new blogger and I know don’t copy. give credits for the images used.

  7. September 22, 2013 / 11:45 pm

    Hi Ankita, It was kind of an experience reading your content.
    well myself also a very very new blogger and even I was also initially very confuse regarding google images. Then I thought if at all I use some staple ingredient photos (say honey, curd etc.) I should be acknowledging by giving some credits in terms of image courtesy. It was great to know i was unknowingly following good blog etiquette.
    Thanks!!

  8. rd
    September 23, 2013 / 12:17 am

    Plagiarism is disgusting, especially when done on purpose. I used to follow a blog (name withheld by admin) and started realizing that most of the articles published by a writer called Era which seemed like a false name seemed to be plagiarised. I ran the content on online plagiarism checkers and found that they were all copied from International blogs! I liked the blog a lot, so I mentioned checking plagiarism as a suggestion for improvement to the blog owner and from then it seems like my comments never come up on the blog. I wish people would have the decency to own up to their mistakes and make amends, in the least.

    • Juhi
      September 23, 2013 / 7:23 am

      Same here ,I Know whuch blog ur talking about and I know this Era person had a lot of copied articles

    • Mani
      September 24, 2013 / 12:57 am

      Seriously I know what you are talking about. I used to respect that blog but when I saw some gal called Era publishing 4-5 posts back to back and that too all copied I really lost interest in that blog. At least they should have checked whether those articles are copied or not and if they found that articles are copied they should not publish it. It’s unethical

  9. September 23, 2013 / 12:42 am

    Nice initiative ankita, such ppl should need a lesson. It is really disgusting and shameful from a blog that already own so many likes , i mean do they think that we all readers/other bloggers are fool or stupid? well done…you did a great job by posting about it 🙂

  10. sushmita M
    September 23, 2013 / 12:58 am

    This is basically they are not doing justice with the name called “beauty blogger’ not using products, taking other pics etc etc.. makes them more guilty like the name says – guilty bytes!!

    I like all your post and swatches 🙂

  11. Ashu
    September 23, 2013 / 3:52 am

    I have always been inspired by you! I started a new blog recently and I made sure I knew everything about privacy and contents before I go ahead.
    Its been less than 3 months and people have already started copying. So I can imagine how much you go through with all this!! I actually had to ask a quite experienced blogger to take down my image from her page. She wasn’t ready and said its internet you don’t own anything, after 5 emails, she may be got frustrated and took them down.
    I wish there was a way to make our content uncopy-able.

  12. September 23, 2013 / 4:50 am

    why do people have to copy? Its shameful!!

  13. Juhi
    September 23, 2013 / 7:09 am

    Hi Ankita, first of all Guilty bytes takes images from many blogs your correct and do not even give credit.

    Also it is really strange how I was about to inform you that your nail images get used in ebay.in when you came up with this post! Do check ebay.in, various of your nailpaint pictures such as avon are taken.

  14. September 23, 2013 / 10:44 am

    its so disheartening to know that how people r so sick now a days… just for fame n money ppl can go to any extent… Thanks for putting up this article.. will keep my eyes wide open for such things really… you have been doing a great job on ur blog like always 🙂

  15. September 23, 2013 / 10:51 am

    The name totally compliments the blog “Guilty bites” .. and yes she should be guilty of doing such unlawful things. Copying water-marked images and cropping them without any credits given to the creator is so unforgiving.

    Thank u so much dear for the details about how the credit should be given if we use images from Google. Will keep these into mind next time I use google images..!! 🙂

  16. September 23, 2013 / 11:07 am

    I have always been an avid reader of your blog.. your reviews help me to choose and the pictures u put are a treat to the eyes.. I can imagine how much effort u put in.. and yes it is very enraging when people steal credit at your expense and then come to justify it… I think people who are into copy paste more than creating something on their own should just stop blogging! BLOGGING IS NOT FOR THEM!

  17. September 23, 2013 / 11:14 am

    This is disgusting, great that you know your rights..

  18. September 23, 2013 / 12:03 pm

    Hi Ankita I read ur post and u have written what I was myself thinking about since a long time. The place where I live,,there is a small beauty parlor ..They have pics of cindy Crawford,Some other celebrities and also of YOU!!!!! on their roadside window..This parlor runs as a parlor during day time and as a place for doing inappropriate activities (if you get my meaning) during night time….this behaviour is so disgraceful..It’s as if you all are endorsing this place.i m very angry indeed….

    • Triya
      September 23, 2013 / 2:18 pm

      My goodness! How far is it from your place? I think you should probably click pictures and give it to Ankita. Ankita – I really think you should sue. This is illegal.

    • Corallista
      Author
      September 23, 2013 / 2:23 pm

      I don’t know how to react to this, this is sick! As Triya suggested, would it be possible for you to send me a picture if this place is close to you? Thought I doubt I’ll want to pursue this.

  19. Anonymous
    September 23, 2013 / 12:09 pm

    When it comes to beauty plagiarism in India, the worst example is stylecraze.com where there are tons of photos lifted directly from Indian beauty blogs (with watermark and all showing) and used within posts.

    This is not harmless copying, since they are making money through advertising around these posts, so this is stealing.

  20. September 23, 2013 / 12:15 pm

    Gosh i visited that blog too and i thought that blogger had some potential but never knew that it was copied potential. Sad! Really sad! 🙁

  21. Teesha Gupta
    September 23, 2013 / 12:26 pm

    Yeah… even i saw it few days back….shameless people!

  22. September 23, 2013 / 12:46 pm

    That’s why no matter how tired I feel, I still do an extra mile of water marking my images due to this reason only. Love how you put so much hard work to your blog. There will be always be someone who would copy the work but that doesn’t mean we should be quiet about it :).

  23. September 23, 2013 / 1:00 pm

    Ohh!! me too is a newbie but never thot that anyone can do this so openly. I had learnt about it but me too do not have any idea as to how to control all this

  24. Triya
    September 23, 2013 / 2:13 pm

    Personally, I’d ask you to sue. At least if you know any lawyer personally. This is illegal, and it’s high time people in our country knew about citing sources. This is almost a national problem. Starts with college assignments and extends to their jobs too.

    Maybe you could put your watermark “across” the image? Like, not at one corner where it can easily be cropped, but so that it covers the image? I know it can be annoying, but if you are getting saved from plagiarism I think it may be worth it. Because we already know that these people are lazy enough to not do their own posts, so they’ll definitely not want to remove it with that much effort.

  25. September 23, 2013 / 2:13 pm

    I dont get why anyone would want to copy product reviews. Isn’t beauty blogging done mostly for the fun factor of it. What do they get in return?!

    Anywho copying is sad!

    • Corallista
      Author
      September 23, 2013 / 2:20 pm

      They have adsense enabled on their blogs, they are getting revenue from it.

  26. September 23, 2013 / 2:22 pm

    Some people will never understand how much hard work we put in our blogs and while copying content they wont even bother to give credit. Recently, one of my friends entire blog was copied and shameless people wont take it off.
    It’s really sad!! 🙁

  27. Neeta
    September 23, 2013 / 2:40 pm

    I know its very very annoying, I hope google blacklists them.

  28. September 23, 2013 / 2:46 pm

    Ankita you are absolutely right! There should be some steps against such people want to do it professionally yet make no effort!

    Great job! You are raising awareness against such people!

  29. September 23, 2013 / 3:15 pm

    I read a very similar article on a blog yesterday! I was like how on earth copy something straight from someone else! No guilt nothing! It obviously hurts because taking good pictures becomes really important in a blog. And when someone steals the hard work that hurts!

  30. September 23, 2013 / 4:07 pm

    The Bitter Reality- People are Shameless.

    I Particularly Invest in a Lot of Time For Taking Pictures. Taking Correct Swatches is Extremely Important For Me. And, Many-a-times, Just To Take The Correct Swatch, I Have To click More Than 100 Pics or Wait For The Correct Natural light To Appear.. Otherwise, I Can’t Put Up The Post.

    And, When I Saw My Blog Pics Somewhere Else Without Any Credits, I Was Like o__O

    I Don’t Like Putting on Big Watermarks.. They Make Pics Look Bad, But I Guess I Too ‘ll Have To Now!

    Your Blog is Like a Treasure of Makeup Knowledge.. Some Like To Respect it and Some Steal!

  31. September 24, 2013 / 5:16 am

    This is heartbreaking! Like honestly… I refuse to post for weeks but won’t use someone else’s image! Seriously..why even be in this business? Amazed at how people ride on someone else’s hard work! and its a good reminder to me to watermark all my pics..! I’m too lazy somedays! Love your work Ankita <3

  32. sushmamurthy
    September 24, 2013 / 7:40 pm

    i remember seeing ur pics in other sites, i thought they must have taken ur permission coz its ur property! i appreciate dat u took a bold step against them.

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