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Nov 1, 2010 11:17 AM

Ever had a CH post lifted verbatim and re-posted elsewhere?

I discovered I had the other day; a creativity-challenged individual named Jon E. lifted most of my review of Café Gabriela in Oakland verbatim and claimed my words as his own on Yelp.

What’s galling, aside from the fact that this fellow was thanked warmly by the café’s owner, is the stark difference in tone between my purloined post and his other Yelp postings, littered as they are with expletives, insults and multiple denunciations of “dirty homeless people.” If I'm going to have my words stolen I think I'd prefer the stealer be more than semi-literate...

What on earth could possibly possess someone to post a positive review of a restaurant online but to do so via plagiarism? I am thinking my CH post led him to try the restaurant and that afterward he cut and pasted it into Yelp, because I can’t imagine anyone would be so lazy as to enjoy a meal and then google around looking for posts to plagiarize, but who knows?

Has anyone else had this happen?

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  1. Not surprised, did you report it to Yelp? This highlights, at least in my mind, the difference in ethical cultures between Chowhound and other food discussion sites.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ChinoWayne

      No, I haven't- I'm still debating with myself over what the proper response would be, though I've ruled out getting a Yelp account (I have no interest at all in having one) simply to respond. I'm disinclined to help Yelp police their users as well, though I may if it seems likely to have the post removed.

      What I do intend to do is tell the cafe owner, particularly since she valued the feedback and may be unaware of the positive comments here on Chowhound.

    2. wow. And I see what you mean about the complete difference in tone. Pretty obvious. Maybe his intention was more meant to add "+1" to your post ! But way not cool.

      1. Is it possible that the restaurant owner is the culprit?

        1. I would definitely contact Yelp about the situation. While it can sometimes take a couple of days, they will definitely take care of the offending post, & you can always delete your membership afterwards if you wish. I've found their "customer service" folks to be very helpful & prompt re: problem-solving.

          1. Since you own the copyright to your Chowhound posts, we wouldn't be able to help you out in protecting your copyright, but we'd recommend you pursue this with Yelp if you're concerned about other people plagiarizing your work. We'd certainly remove the post if the opposite scenario transpired and we felt the claim of copyright ownership was legitimate.

            Just as you don't need a Chowhound account to report something like this on our site (you'd just send an email to, you can use this link to report to Yelp without registering as a member.

            6 Replies
            1. re: The Chowhound Team

              Do you really think that posts on a forum such as this are protected ted copyright? Seems doubtful to me. Perhaps a lawyer will comment (alan barnes, where are you?).

              1. re: pikawicca

                We don't just make this stuff up as we go along -- I've consulted with our Legal Counsel on these issues in the past, and the Chowhound Team post above reflects their advice. Posters retain their copyright in their posts, but grant us an irrevocable license to use them in perpetuity. That gives us the ability to use your posts, but it doesn't give us the ability to defend your copyrights elsewhere.

                1. re: Jacquilynne

                  Thanks for expanding on that -- interesting!

                  1. re: Jacquilynne

                    that's cool and a position some sites wouldn't feel compelled to honor.

                  2. re: pikawicca

                    Any original work of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression is protected by copyright as soon as it is created and fixed in a form that is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. The copyright exists whether or not the author registers the text with the Federal government. However, no lawsuit for infringement of a US work will lie unless the work has been registered.

                    So yes, your Chowhound posts are protected by copyright law. How far you actually want to go to protect your copyright is a whole different question, but hopefully Yelp and other major players would choose to avoid the issue by taking down plagiarized material.

                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      "How far you actually want to go to protect your copyright is a whole different question"

                      Truthfully, I would hope this doesn't start to happen with any internet forum really, re: taking things really far. I should think that *certain* types of forum postings are "creations" and others are not.