I must be a good writer – my blog has been plagiarised!

An example of Prague architecture to brighten a dark winter day © Ricky Yates

An example of Prague architecture to brighten a dark winter day © Ricky Yates

By far the most popular post on my blog, is one I wrote in February 2013 entitled, ‘How to be Czech in 10 easy steps‘. As I explained in a follow up post last month, ‘How to be Czech in 10 easy steps – revisited‘, the original post almost immediately went viral resulting in the blog getting 2,040 visits, the day after it was published. And as explained in that follow-up post, there was another major surge of interest in the first half of December 2013.

But all of this pales into insignificance in the light of what has happened in the last few days. The reason – an online Czech tabloid ‘newspaper’ Prásk!, has published in Czech, a completely plagiarised version of ‘How to be Czech in 10 easy steps’. To see it, follow this link .

It is one the worst examples of tabloid journalism I have seen in a very long time. The headline reads in translation, ‘Shocking instructions from an American website: Ten Steps on how to become Czech’. I presume that, purely because my blog has a dot com domain, the ‘journalist’ has immediately assumed that the author is American and the website is based in the United States. Wrong – the author is British and has lived in Prague for over five years. Incidentally, I do have great difficulty calling the creator of this article a ‘journalist’ – his activities are a complete denigration of an important profession.

What follows is a completely plagiarised version of my blog post. In places, what I wrote has been abbreviated. In other places, in particular under point seven, there are additions which are not part of my original text. Nowhere is there any acknowledgement of the source of the original article.

The article is illustrated with five photographs. Three of them are from microstock sites to whom I assume, the publishers have paid for the rights to use them. However, the other two photographs have been pulled directly from my blog post. One of them, the photograph of the lady in skin tight black jeans and knee-high white boots with serious heels, is from a free image site. It was found by Sybille for me to use, hence it appears in my blog without acknowledgement. But the other, of various pairs of shoes outside a door, is my own photograph and appears on my blog as © Ricky Yates. Yet, in total breach of the law of copyright, the publishers of Prásk! have decided they can use it without permission or acknowledgement.

Prásk! is published by the same media company who own TV Nova, a major commercial television channel here in the Czech Republic. Imagine that I made a video of one of their popular programmes, put it on DVD and started marketing and selling pirated copies. Their lawyers would be down on me like ton of bricks in no time at all. Please note CET 21 spol. s r.o., who claim copyright to the whole of the prask.nova.cz website, including the plagiarised version of my blog post, the law of copyright, also applies to you!

I am extremely grateful to Igor, someone who I do not know, who kindly left a comment on my blog late last Thursday evening, alerting me to the plagiarised version of of my blog post that had been published by Prásk!. He asked, ‘Did you give them permission?’ followed by a smiley. I think he already knew the answer! Thank you again Igor!

Fortunately, the publishers of Prásk!, allow people to leave comments. Within an hour of publication, one person had already left a link to my original blog post. Several others had also pointed out that I was British and not American and that I lived in Prague. Of course there were others who took no notice of this information and instead left rude comments about Americans.

Very late on last Thursday evening, I left the following comment.

‘As several commenters have already pointed out, the original article can be found here http://rickyyates.com/how-to-be-czech-in-10-easy-steps/ & I am the author. This is a shortened & plagiarised version of it. Clearly prask.nova.cz have not heard of the word ‘copyright’. In particular, the photograph of shoes before the door is my photograph which I have not given permission to be used. prask.nova.cz could also spend a few minutes doing a little research – I am British, NOT American, & have l lived in the Czech Republic for over five years. However, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’.

I am pleased to say that this comment, despite being written in English, rather than Czech, at the time of writing, has received 48 ‘likes’.

But the most amazing outcome of this act of plagiarism, has been the impact on visitor numbers to my blog. On Thursday 23rd January, the day the Prásk! article was published, this blog had 5,272 visitors. On Friday 24th January, it was 8,695 visitors, more than four times the previous highest total of 2,040. Today, as it is just approaching midnight, the total has passed 4,000. I suspect that this proves the old saying that, ‘All publicity is good publicity’.

Likewise, ‘How to be Czech in 10 easy steps’, now has over 6,400 ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ on Facebook and has been ‘tweeted’, forty-seven times. As Sybille keeps reminding me, I need to get on and finish writing my book, ‘How to be Czech’, ASAP! It seems that plenty of people will want to buy it.

In the meantime, whilst I cannot afford a copyright lawyer, via this post and in any other ways possible, I shall seek to embarrass the publishers of Prásk!, their ‘journalist’ who does not even give his name but only his initials ‘pul’, and the management of TV Nova and the media company CET 21 spol. s r.o.. As another of my commenters has remarked, ‘The behaviour of Prásk! tabloid is unacceptable and repugnant. I concur!

19 comments to I must be a good writer – my blog has been plagiarised!

  • The school librarians who taught these people about the importance of not plagiarizing will be so disappointed. These ‘journalists’ appear to not only have not listened, but to actively ignored the instruction. “Be a content creator, not a content copier!” is the phrase International Baccalaureate curriculum uses.

    • Ricky

      Thank you Karen. “Be a content creator, not a content copier!” is a great mantra. Clearly in this case, it has fallen on deaf ears.

  • Dominik

    Well, about your post “How to become Czech…” – it’s not exactly about all Czech people, you were talking mostly about Prague. Of course, some of the manners are the same in other parts of Czech Republic, but not all of them.

    • Ricky

      Hi Dominik – if you read through the comments on the original post, ‘How to be Czech in 10 easy steps’, you’ll see that a couple of other people also made a similar point to you. In response, I did acknowledge that certain things were more applicable to those who live in urban areas. But as you indicate, many of the ‘manners’ are the same for nearly all Czech people, regardless where they live.

      • Yeah, mainly the beer thing applies to almost every Czech. And about the plagiarising… In past times, TV Nova was something we could call “TV channel for intelligent people”. But now it’s just a failed attempt at journalism. I would not take them much seriously.

        • Ricky

          Yes Dominik – a Czech without beer -unimaginable 🙂

          It is sad what you say about TV Nova but it is born out by other commenters here & even in some comments that follow-on from the plagiarised article on the prask.nova.cz website.

  • How immensely annoying for you, Ricky. Sadly, blogs like yours, which seek to be informative and interesting, are increasingly subject to plagiarism of various kinds. Sometimes it’s an unskilful ‘adaptation’ for another medium, as here, and at other times it’s a matter of wholesale content scraping and republishing on a spam blog.

    So far I’ve been lucky, with the only outside approaches I’ve been aware of being requests from advertising agencies to be allowed to publish guest posts on my blog or for me to do product reviews. My answer is always the same – thanks, but no thanks. 🙂

    • Ricky

      Highly annoying Perpetua. The ‘journalist’ simply stole my content, did a far from accurate translation of it into Czech & gave it a sensationalist headline.

      I too, have had a couple of approaches, asking me to write a post about a topic, including a link to their commercial website. My response is always the same as yours – thanks, but no thanks. I do not want to compromise my own integrity despite financial inducements!

  • Daniel

    The second level of plagiarisation of your text is plagiarising your photos attached to original story with “foto:oficialní zdroj” comment (Official source. You are now officially an American newspaper 🙂

    • Ricky

      I had also noticed that too, Daniel. Official source, but with absolutely no reference as to where that ‘official source’ is to be found!

  • Radek

    Nova group is very well known for their journalistic prostitution. Source “internet” or “youtube” are very popular in use. This is not excuse, this is just reminding it happened before. They are looking for superb yet cheap way to find “great news” for the mass…
    Despite this might be sad, it points to the fact, that your article is nice, interesting and accurate 🙂 Thanks for writing in a kind and non-offensive way about our culture and country – I have already read 5 pieces instead of working 🙂

    • Ricky

      Thank you Radek, for your informative & kind comment. How sad that the Nova group think that it is perfectly OK to steal material that is online with absolutely no regard for the law of copyright or acknowledging their sources.

      I do try to write in a kind & non-offensive way about the culture and people of your country which has been my adopted home for over five years. As you may have discovered, if you have been reading other posts on my blog, I only get offensive when I fall foul of Czech bureaucracy 🙂 And my sincere apologies for distracting you from working 🙂

  • Ulrich

    I wonder if “pul” is the code for “pulled of the internet”. Who knows?

    And… *sarcasm on*
    You know, the thing about you being American… I guess it’s an honest mistake. You obviously named your blog with Gershwin’s “An American in Paris” in mind. With the amount of time the… um… journalist spent on this piece of… um… flattery, it’s no wonder he misread the header. I mean… American, Anglican… Soooo close. You probably should have gone with Sting’s take on Gershwin: “An Englishman in New York” – or “An English priest in Prague” in your case. Much easier to understand for your… um… flatterers… 😉
    *sarcasm off*

    • Ricky

      Hi Ulrich – I did wonder whether the ‘journalist’ only used initials because he was ashamed to use his real name. But I do like your alternative suggestion 🙂 And I did enjoy your sarcasm 🙂

      As for the title of the blog, the originator of it was a fellow Prague blogger ‘Girl in Czechland’. See this post when Sybille revamped the appearance of my blog in May 2012 http://rickyyates.com/all-change/

  • Jonathan

    Hi Ricky,

    While fully understanding your initial annoyance that your text has appeared on the offending website without your permission, I’d definitely look on the brighter side – more publicity for your blog, etc. The scope of this exposure should not be underestimated – one of my students had an article about her company published on the seznam portal and she hasn’t looked back since.

    To be honest, plagiarism might be too strong a word to use. Even though, in an ideal world, the site should have located the author and obtained his permission, they don’t claim it’s their own work and they acknowledge (albeit wrongly) that it’s by an American writer.

    This is the era of the Internet and the boundaries between what belongs to the private domain and what is public are increasingly blurred, much more so than when things were in more concrete, e.g. paper, format. Who knows, they may have accessed your text through a secondary source on the Internet or even a photocopy found on the metro.

    This practice would, of course, be totally unacceptable from a respectable company. I’m not sure how many of those are left in the capitalist, tax-avoiding and morally-bankrupt corporate world in which they operate. However, the guys who physically copied your text are probably as big victims as the rest of us – low-paid employees desperate to meet the deadline and fill up the space with any old stuff (not that your text is, I hasten to add).

    Anyway, you definitely have subject matter for your coming blogs. As a man of the Church, it would be interesting to see how you view the above companies, particularly at a time when the poorer in society seem to be blamed for all our troubles rather than them.

    Jonathan

    • Ricky

      Hi Jonathan,

      Thank for this long and thoughtful comment and for posting it here as well as on Facebook. That is very much appreciated.

      I do see the ‘brighter side’ of what has happened. As I say towards the end of my post, as a result of Prásk publishing a plagiarised version of ‘How to be Czech in 10 easy steps’, the number of visitors to my blog has been phenomenal, as people come to read the my original post. Even today as I write this reply, the blog has had nearly 1,400 visitors.

      However, I don’t agree that in the era of the Internet, ‘the boundaries between what belongs to the private domain and what is public are increasingly blurred’. What the Internet has done, is make it very easy to steal other people’s creativity, and use it for commercial purposes, at no cost to the person who steals it. If nothing is done to stop this happening, then creative writers, photographers, composers and musicians, are going to cease to be creative if their original work is going to be plagiarised or stolen, with no recompense.

      I fear you may be right when you suggest that ‘the guys who physically copied your text are probably as big victims as the rest of us – low-paid employees desperate to meet the deadline’. In other words, find some interesting material, dress it up with a sensationalist headline, and don’t worry about legal niceties along the way. You may notice that an earlier commenter called Radek, says that this is nothing new & that ‘the Nova group is very well known for their journalistic prostitution’. I suspect the hierarchy know that this is going on and just turn a blind eye to it. Echoes of phone hacking by UK tabloids……

      I note with interest that the whole of the prask.nova.cz website, including my plagiarised blog post and stolen photograph, is deemed © CET 21 spol. s ro and, (in translation), ‘Materials may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed’. ‘Utter hypocrisy’, is probably not a strong enough description to use!

      Certainly what has happened has given me material for this blog post & maybe more in the future. Thanks again Jonathan, for both visiting & commenting.

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  • I don’t know where you get your information on Czech media, or why you don’t, but I would like to make it clear that there is no such a thing as a “tabloid newspaper Prásk“. Prásk! (note the punctuation) is a longstanding feature of TV Nova; I am not acquainted with it except by name, but a November article on the website claims “the society magazine Prásk! is turning into a unique tabloid (is there a better translation of “bulvární” used in this boastful sense? “sensational”?) show”. It also lends its name to one of nova.cz subdomains, which seems intended for, well, gaining clicks in any way it can.

    Oh, did you confuse it with the daily newspaper Blesk (Blesk.cz)? That is indeed a leading tabloid, and the titles might look a bit similar to a foreigner (kind of like UK/US), but its publisher is unrelated to CET 21 – whose mother company Central European Media Enterprises, by the way, is now controlled by Time Warner, shame on all of them.

    Oh well, I guess it can happen even in the best of parishes.

    • Ricky

      Hi Jan – Many thanks for this comment. I have taken note of what you say and slightly edited the post to take this into account. I do now realise that there is no printed edition of Prásk! – it is best described as an online tabloid ‘newspaper’ which is the wording I’ve now adopted, along with the addition of an exclamation mark!

      Thank you too, for the information regarding the wider ownership of CET 21 spol. s r.o. which is most interesting.