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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 moderators@chowhound.com), you can use this link http://www.yelp.com/contact 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.

                2. This is one situation where the DMCA is actually a good thing. See http://www.hooverwebdesign.com/articl... for how to file a complaint.

                  1. Yeah ... lots. Lovely to see my posts elsewhere with someone taking credit.

                    The only one that killed me ... really, really slayed me ... was my mother's Crischicki (sp) recipe (sorry, I always spell that wrong and am pressed for time).

                    This is Polish fried dough. My mother;s recipe was a family secret and family members would have killed to get it.

                    I have no children and I wanted the recipe to live on. So I posted it on Chowhound. I only asked that people credit my mom if reposting it ... "Felecia's recipe"

                    At the time I posted this, there was not ONE recipe on the web similar to it.

                    One woman not only stole .. and that is the only word for it ... the recipe ... but also STOLE .. my family history that I posted along with the recipe. I mean, how craven is that? Of course, she gave my mom NO credit.

                    Now that recipe is all over the web with different people claiming ownership ... and NO credit to my mom.

                    I really don't mind in once sense because it is a terrific recipe and the fact that it will live on is what I wanted,.

                    But seriously ... I just don't understand why a simple request to note the origin isn't respected ... and for that woman who claimed my family's history as her own ... a Polish curse on her.

                    I add a lot of records to the restaurant database on Chow. When I add a record I find out as much as possible about the restaurant so I can put some relavant info in the "Good to know" section.

                    It is really disheartnening too see how much info is cut and pasted with people claiming it as their own.

                    When you see the EXACT same words over and over all over the place it is difficult to determine the original author. Some people are really ... special.

                    Am I going to do anything about it?


                    First, I believe in karma, or whatever.

                    Second, while I know these type of people don't care, they are thieves. That's a crummy thing to be.

                    Third, if I have a restaurant report about a place I love lifted, who cares who gets the credit as long as the joint gets more business and more people get to enjoy it.

                    I am really curious to see what will happen with my Guatemalan restaurant reports. There was NOTHING on the web about a lot of the joints. I will be thouroughly amused to see the scoundrels abscounding with my reports.

                    Then again, great if it gets people to try restaurants other than the same old, same old. Others will eat better for it. The Zagut and tour book recs just suck big time.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: rworange

                      That happened to my sister, too. She posted a recipe with our family's holiday tradition and then saw it reposted -- including the family stuff -- on another web site. If you wanted to you could contact the hosts for the websites they are posted on and ask that your copyrighted material be removed, as in the example ratbuddy linked above. Recipes are difficult to copyright, but your family story is clearly copyrighted.

                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                        Copyright infringement really burns me!! And what really gets me is how ignorant people are about how serious it is. On another site I frequent, I was actually laughed at & criticized for insisting a poster who had obviously "cut & pasted" several items from another source give the source & the credit. I've never seen so many neanderthals in one place in my life. Heaven help any of them if they're ever in a position to actually be published - then I'd like to see their attitude about it.

                        1. re: Breezychow

                          You were daring to tell off a mob that has been raised on Napster and now feeds at the trough of BitTorrent. That's a brave (or foolish perhaps) thing to do...

                      2. re: rworange

                        rwo: is it still findable? the searches on google just lead back to this thread or to other people's recipes. (and I would use it with all due respect to your mother and family in general)

                        1. re: hill food

                          Probably because I spelled chrusciki wrong in the above post.

                          Here it is in the recipe database

                          Here was my OP from Dec 21st 2005

                          What was unique about it is the method of assembling them. Most chrusciki is bow tie shaped, while these are roses.

                          In 2005 when I searched the web for similar recipes, there was only one brief mention that the rose-shaped version were called farwaki (again, spelling) and were made around Ash Wednesday in Poland ... in the past ... like over 100 years ago.

                          I also have quite a collection of Polish cookbooks and none of them have a similar recipe.

                          Here's a few similar photos on the web but they are niot as nice as my mom's. The problem seems to be instead of using a square shape, they used round. The square gives a more rose shape for some reason. Also, they obviousl didn't get the oil at the right temperature because they are too flat. Someday if I ever get the inspiration, I'll make them and snap a photo. But seriously, they are gruelling work. My mom LIKED to cook and it took her some energy to make them. The one time I did it I thought I'd die. The pain of tht experience needs to fade more before I give it another shot.

                          The only one who seems to have achieved a similar, light texture is Martha Stewart. Hers however are shaped like leaves. Reading this blog,discussing Martha's recipe, it seems like the ingredients in the recipe as well as the shape might have something to do with how good they were. It seems all those egg yolks ... and most poeople don't uses as many ...keep the oil from getting soaked up when they fry ... and of course, temperature, temperature, temperature

                          Martha is good in terms of Polish cooking. I wish she would do a Polish cookbook. The Polish recipes I've seen her make on the show are the closest I've seen to my own family's.

                          I'm not saying that other families don't share similar histories. I'm not saying that maybe other people make them this way .... though in all my decades on earth I have never met another Polish person who made this shape ... BUT ... a lot of similar recipes appeared over the years on the web after I posted that.

                      3. appears that the review is gone from Yelp, Pius

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: cgarner


                          After careful consideration I filled out a Yelp form pointing out that I hold copyright on the post in question. 3 days later I received an email from someone at Yelp indicating that the post had been removed as it appeared to violate their guidelines.

                          I sympathize with rworange's sentiment that any positive buzz for a place turning out hound-worthy food is a good thing but for me it came down to a question of the quality of said positive buzz- I'd been plagiarized by an individual whose other posts were incoherent and insulting, a phenomenon I've noted repeatedly when coming across yelp postings via google.

                          My initial review here is still the 3rd hit on google so I don't feel I've done any harm in asserting my rights.

                          My next step will be to tell the owner of the cafe what happened when I go there for that delicious adobo sandwich next week.

                          Thank you all for your comments, they were helpful in my consideration of this matter.

                        2. Sure, I did. It was this unlikely post seven years ago ... http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2926...

                          An eGullet regular "repurposed" it there with no credit. I spotted it some time later and e-mailed eGullet, which took it down immediately.

                          1. I can add some photos to the list.

                            My August 19, 2010 CH review of Henan Fengwei with attached photo slideshow:


                            Robert Sietsema’s Nov. 10, 2010 Village Voice review with my photos:


                            The two copyright infringed photos are below. Look for them to disappear from the VV website soon!

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: scoopG

                              Wow. That's just so ballsy. I don't know why this sort of thing surprises me every time I come across it, but it does.

                              1. re: Chris VR

                                Wow. That's really amazing that a review by a well-known professional reviewer in a well-known professionally run publication (not some fly-by-night website or amateur "magazine") actually included stolen pictures. What you should ask for is photo credit and payment!

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  In the hands now of my legal beagles. Photos just removed though from the VV website. I wonder why? Will keep you informed. Copyright law calls for up for $150K fine per infringement and both corporate and individuals may be liable. VV site looks naked without them:


                                2. re: Chris VR

                                  Didn't you get the memo from Judith Griggs, Chris? Everything on the the Internet is up for grabs, its Web 2.0 journalistic ethics.

                                  1. re: ChinoWayne

                                    Not so. So glad I copyright my photos!

                                3. re: scoopG

                                  If that Village Voice place has any morals, look for Rob to disappear from their site soon as well.