The Copyright Wars – UPDATE

December 16, 2014

I posted last week about content theft by, at least, two virtual service vendors – It’s Not Flattery, It’s Plagiarism! (Georgia Peach Virtual Paralegal Services) and It’s Still Stealing – Another Copyright Violation (Flawless Petitions, LLC).

I emailed the owners of both companies, respectfully requesting that they remove my content from all profiles and marketing materials.

Flawless responded:

email response

(I had to share the email – y’all wouldn’t have believed me if I’d cut and pasted such flawless content.)

Subsequently, she removed the content. Well, she made an attempt to remove it. She has removed all but the first line of my mission statement from her website and LinkedIn profile, but failed to remove other content.

To date, I have not heard from Georgia Peach.

I took the only logical next steps – I filed reports with LinkedIn, Facebook, and eLance (Ms. Peach). I’m still waiting to hear back eLance.

LinkedIn has removed the brochure, that contained my content, from Ms. Peach’s LI profile and has confirmed the removal of all but the first line of my mission statement from Flawless’ profile (although, she is still using the CBA designation without authorization). Facebook has removed/blocked Georgia Peach’s business page and has removed my content from Flawless’ page.

They really shouldn’t mess with a redhead from the GSOT … #justsayin.

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The Content/Copyright Battle Wages On

December 15, 2014

I did some more digging last week and I found a third content poacher!! This one is a paralegal in Texas who claims to be a member of the Texas State Bar Paralegal Division, CAPA, & NFPA. Yes, I reported her to all three entities.inquest

To her credit (and with an obvious dose of sarcasm), the offender pulled the content.  I’m pretty sure, Ms. ‘Inquest’ felt compelled to remove ‘my’ language because NFPA contacted her about her lapsed membership and told her to remove the reference. (Have I mentioned I’m on the Ethics Board?)  Her response is the legalese version of, “I didn’t do it; you can’t prove I did it; and the fact that I’m pulling the content is not an admission … ”

Contrary to your claim, Inquest Resources did not copy content from your website. After receiving your email, I reviewed your website and was only able to find a single instance where language you have used is substantially similar to language used on the Inquest Resources website. While that language is somewhat similar, the visual presentation and the context in which it is used are very different. Moreover, there is nothing particularly distinctive about the language itself. Instead, these are fairly generic descriptions of the knowledge/experience/dedication Inquest Resources brings to its work and clients. Accordingly, your accusations of plagiarism and copyright infringement are unfounded.

While Inquest Resources categorically rejects your accusations, Inquest Resources has made alterations to language on its website (as well as Inquest personnel’s individual LinkedIn profiles) as a courtesy.

First the language is “substantially similar”; then it’s “somewhat similar” (because we moved it around a little and substituted the name of our company; yeah, uh huh, right); and finally, the claim that there is “nothing particularly distinctive about the language…”  If that were the case, she wouldn’t have pulled it. For that matter, Facebook & LinkedIn wouldn’t be removing similar content from the other offender’s profiles.

On another note, it’s bad form to claim adherence to the Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility when poaching content from another paralegal.

inquest ethics

 

 

 

 

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It’s the Shabbas before Channukah

December 12, 2014

… it’s also my father’s yarzheit (anniversary of death). For many, the holiday season is bittersweet. My father (Z”L) will forever be linked to this time of year. I last saw him alive on Thanksgiving Day 1982 and he was gone on December 8, 1982/ Kislev 22 – 3 days before Channukah.

Me and DaddyYou’d think the pain of missing him would have diminished over the years. In many ways it has. Yet the candles somehow don’t burn quite as brightly with his light gone from this life. Tonight, before I kindle my Shabbas candles, I will light a memorial candle to honor and recall the miracle of his life.

They say Shabbas lights have a distinct and special purpose – to remind us of the MooseMenorah3smaller, quieter miracles that take place in our homes every day, while Channukah is about celebrating a magnificent miracle. Whether it’s a moment of peace or the joy of family, take a moment to pause and reflect upon these ‘light’ miracles when you light your Shabbas candles week. And, on Tuesday evening, when we light our Channukiot, we can reflect on the greater miracles in our lives.

I will add a candle every night, for eight nights, until my Channukiah burns brightly, and celebrate the miracle of my life and the lives of those around me.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Chanukah Sameach!

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It’s Still Stealing – Another Copyright Violation

December 4, 2014

I am gobsmacked.

I am NOT flattered. In fact, I’m angry.

A non-paralegal is using my mission statement AND calling herself a CBA to market her virtual bankruptcy assistant business.

To quote @MianneBesser: “That’s pretty unbelievable and downright unethical.  Definitely one of those things that makes you wonder what these people are thinking.”

I know from experience that it is hard to come up with the right words to describe your business; however, it can be done WITHOUT ripping off someone else’s work. When I was developing my website, I went to a lot of other virtual service providers’ websites for ideas. I somehow managed to write unique content that reflected my personality.

Not only is she using:

Our services appeal to attorneys that are operating in a downsizing market, while trying to decrease their overhead, and increase the value of their billable dollar.

She has the chutzpah to use my mission statement on her LinkedIn profile:

Our mission is to provide results that surpass expectations through our dedication to our clients; adding maximum value to their businesses by handling complex bankruptcy matters; being professional, accessible, efficient, and technologically sophisticated; providing a green alternative to the traditional office paradigm; and providing the opportunity for our employees to pursue their religious, family, and community obligations and interests.

She, quite literally, cut and pasted that content from MY LinkedIn profile. Content that I have been using on MY website and profile since I conceived StarrParalegals in JULY 2008.

AND … she’s using the designation “CBA” without authorization.

Certified Bankruptcy Assistants (CBA) Program was developed, and is administered by, the Association of Bankruptcy Judicial Assistants (ABJA); a national organization formed by judicial assistants/secretaries to United States Bankruptcy Judges. The program is supported by the National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges (NCBJ) and the American Bankruptcy Institute (ABI).

One becomes a CBA by taking a certification exam that covers the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, Legal Research, Grammar/Usage/Writing (I keep telling you this stuff is important!), and Ethics.

I took that exam in 2006 and earned the right to use CBA in my signature line. I do not take kindly to others using the designation without the appropriate authority. I paid my dues – figuratively and literally. If she wants to be a CBA, then she can take the the exam.

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It’s Not Flattery, It’s Plagiarism!

December 2, 2014

Imitation my be flattering to some, but when it comes to written content, it is straightforward plagiarism.

Every so often, I run plagiarism checks against the content at StarrParalegals, LLC. I am amazed by the so-called professionals who think it’s okay to acquire my content and use it as their own.

Don’t they understand that reorganizing the sentences, changing the name of the company, and adding a few services does not absolve them of plagiarism and copyright violations?

Seriously, these are paralegals!! Did they miss the ethics component of their training??

This is what I found today:

Georgia Peach Virtual Paralegal Services is dedicated to providing its attorney clients an extensive knowledge of FAMILY LAW, PERSONAL INJURY, ESTATE PLANNING, PROBATE AND COLLECTIONS.

By offering professional paralegal services virtually, we increase the value of our clients’ billable dollars. As independent contractors; we complete the job more efficiently and economically.

OUR Mission is to provide results that surpass expectations through our dedication to our clients.

Our services appeal to attorneys that are operating as a solo practitioner or operating in a downsizing market while trying to decrease their overhead and maintain, or increase, the value of their billable dollars. We provide highly experienced, paralegal services on a transactional basis, thereby avoiding the costs and expenses associated with full time employees.

For comparison, this is the content from my website – content I have used since 2008:

STARRParalegals is a virtual paralegal service dedicated to providing its attorney clients an extensive knowledge of Bankruptcy & Creditors’ Rights practice (petition preparation, litigation, adversary proceedings and preference actions), including a comprehensive understanding of the intricacies (or perhaps annoyances) of the CM/ECF system, as well as a proficiency in UCC (review, analysis and recording), and commercial transactions.

Our services appeal to attorneys that are operating in a downsizing market while trying to decrease their overhead and maintain, or increase, the value of their billable dollars. STARRParalegals provides highly experienced, certified paralegals on a transactional basis, thereby avoiding the costs and expenses associated with full time employees.

By offering professional paralegal services virtually, we increase the value of our clients’ billable dollars. As independent contractors, we complete the job more efficiently and economically.

Our mission is to provide results that surpass expectations through our dedication to our clients by …

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the blatantly obvious.

The content, in part, appears on her Facebook page and Elance profile, and has been committed to a PDF brochure (GeorgiaPeachFlyer)  – I assume this is because her website has been frozen. Perhaps her web host caught the plagiarized content and took down her website.

website frozen

I have sent the offender a ‘friendly’ email requesting that she take down and stop using my content as if it were hers.

We’ll see what happens.

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