Sunday, January 4, 2015

Curating versus Stealing

One of the biggest compliments we can give to someone is to share their work.  When someone writes a great post I share it on Twitter, post it on my Facebook wall, or share it out on Google+. Sometimes I even go old school and email it. I even have a dedicated page on my blog which called "Stolen Goods" where I share blogs that I think are valuable. I provide a very short description of the post then I link to the original post. I curate these resources so others can benefit from them. I am very clear that they are not my posts and that they are the intellectual property of others.

On New Year's Eve I noticed an exchange on Twitter between popular edublogger Richard Byrne and a couple of people about a blog that was recreating post that were stolen from him and other bloggers. The same conversation surfaced again last night and this morning on Twitter. While Richard is far from the only blogger impacted by this fraud I will use his blog as an example.

A few days ago Richard shared a post about how to create Jeopardy-type games using Google Spreadsheets. Educational Technology and Mobile learning soon published a very similar post the very next day. This is just one example out of dozens. There are other bloggers who have had their posts and ideas stolen from this "blogger."

The disclaimer on Educational Technology and Mobile learning says that "Some of the materials that are published in this blog are not our own property like for example some guides, posters and infographics. Again, all of these resources are properly referenced so that our readers can trace back their original creators." They also claim that, "If you are the owner of a resource featured in this blog and you decide, for a reason or another, that you do not want it to be featured here anymore or you want us to change the link to the credited source" they will remove it within 24 hours. NONE of that is true. Some of the bloggers who have called them out have been blocked. I can't find one example where attribution has been given to a blogger for their post. NOT ONE! To make matters even worse he has included a Creative Commons license at the bottom of his blog giving everyone the right to reuse and reshare all of the content on the blog that he does not own in the first place! He is a fraud and a phony.

There is a right way to share blogs and a wrong way. Sometimes we make honest mistakes because we don't know better. But other times there are people who think nothing of passing off work and ideas that do not belong to them. @medkh9 knows there are bloggers out there who do not want their work shared on his site yet he is still stealing their posts and providing absolutely no attribution or link to the original work.

What kind of example does this set for our students? What does this say about this person as a professional? They are stealing intellectual property from brilliant educators from around the globe while making it appear it is their own work. Their disclaimer is meaningless. You should not take entire posts even if you provide credit the author unless you have permission to do so.

Please let the world know you do not think this is OK! Melissa Techman is using the hashtag #whackamole to call him out.

Twitter: @medkh9 
Facebook is…/Educational-Tech…/202077286473233.

Please feel free to share any or all of this post---permission granted in advance.


  1. I hate to give this person anymore publicity. Everyone needs to also "Unfollow" them on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, etc.

  2. Great article to share, but the site ( ET)needs to tighten up on their practices rather than being outcasts from the social media tech world.

  3. Thanks for sharing the idea for your Stolen Goods page! I am going to create something similar. Thanks for the idea! Not only does it provide a way for others to see what I may have tweeted, posted on Google+, etc. but it will give me a place to "store" for future reference!

  4. Richard`s website is great but as you may know he gets profit via ads on his website. On the other hand, @medkh9 shares the news and tools as all people share on Twitter, Facebook, G+ etc. without any profit. If this is stealing, then everyone on social networks is stealing. Everyone has right to share on the internet. That`s why I support @medkh9.

    1. Not entirely true. Education Technology and Mobile Learning run ads on their site too, so it's not the altruistic venture you seem to suggest. Everyone has to make money, but that is not really the issue here.

  5. Richard does profit from the ads on his website. When I share resources that Richard and other edubloggers have shared I link back to their original post whether they are blogging for profit or not because it is the RIGHT THING TO DO. I do not rewrite it, steal their images and videos and pass them off as my own! That is STEALING not sharing! Bloggers appreciate when others take the time to share their posts, but they do not approve of their posts being reshared nearly verbatim then having their name stripped from it. Not cool.

  6. I don't see Richard Byrne as being any better than the other site. And this article misrepresents the situation.

    The first ETM link came out January 1. Here's the link: It credits an original post on Weebly, here:

    It's not back-dated. This post was shared widely on Twitter on the 2nd. Here's proof:

    Byrne's shhort post (with video that appears to have been lifted - it is currently blacked out on Google) came out January 2. Here's the link: As per usual, Byrne credits nobody as the source for the link.

    The ETM post above came out January 3 and is a follow-up on the January 1 post. Here's the link:

    I've watched Richard at work for many years. He is running a citation blog - that is, he culls links from Twitter and other sources and reposts them rapidly with little to no commentary or attribution. He is basically the same as Educational Technology and Mobile learning. Maybe a little worse.

  7. Stephen,
    Bad example. I MADE THE VIDEO you say that I "lifted." Also take a look at the links and citations I put into it.

    Little or no attribution? Have actually read any of the posts?

    As for making a profit. I live in the U.S. where we believe in getting paid for our work.

  8. The video Mr. Downes accuses me of lifting is one I made and published in November.

  9. I tried twice yesterday and I'll try again today to post on this site the retraction of any suggestion that the video was lifted (I was able to make the comment on the Facebook post where my comment originally appeared but it was not loading here).

    The rest stands. ETM posts January 1, it's widely tweeted, and appears on Byrne January 2. Yes I know he referred to the same site Nov 24. But the Nov 24 posting wasn't the cause of the January 1 posting (he credits a weekly site). We don't know what prompted the January 2 posting, because as noted, Byrne frequently doesn't credit his sources.

    Here, hor example, is a video embedded with no attribution whatsoever:

    Here he tells us about a new Open.ed app without telling us where he heard about it.

    Same thing not identifying the source for this post:

    I remember when OpenStax ebooks, listed here, came out. They were first covered by San Colman's Open Culture. We aren't told where Byrne heard about it.

    I also remember when Creative Commons released this video, embedded without attribution or link source.

    These aren't exceptions, they've been the rule for the last 7 years. That's by Byrne shouldn't be complaining about someone else covering something he's covered.

  10. Mr. Downes,

    I don't know what your problem is with me. You've been critical of me online for years and when I met you in person in 2012 at Alberta Ed's Destination Innovation in Banff you were nothing but rude and dismissive to me. Now on to the videos.

    In the case of of the first, it was a fun holiday posting of Alice's Restaurant which is widely available on YouTube. I never claimed that was original nor made any insinuation that it was anything other than just a fun video for celebrating the holiday. Should I have written, "I copied an idea that radio stations in the U.S have used for years?"

    Conceptua Math and frequently send me press releases. Want me to write, I received a press release? You don't see TechCrunch, Mashable, or any other tech blog writing "I received a press release."

    The last video is another that I MADE and posted. Now that you've accused me of stealing another video that I MADE your arguments are appearing more and more to be about you attacking me personally than you actually making an academic argument.

  11. Here's another one, to replace the Creative Commons example, on Duolingo.
    Embedded video, no attribution.

    You write,

    > I don't know what your problem is with me.

    I don't have a problem with the site, but I don't particularly value it either. It's basically a linkblog, following the same model as Mashable or Gizmodo, etc. Your main currency is readers and you run our a lot of content mostly uncritically. I get the same press relases and promotions, so nothing in the site surprises me.

    The reason I remarked at all is that you seem to be criticizing someone else for doing the same thing (and full disclosure - I do not have the inclination to go back through your twitter feed - I'm relying on what was written above in this post). The idea of ETM or some other site 'stealing' your links is absurd.

    I don't have any problem, particularly. I'm sorry I was rude. I am generally not rude, so I don't know what was up that day. I do know that I walked up to the teahouse in Lake Louise that week and really did a number on my achilles tendon, so I might simply have been in pain. Don't read too much into it. I'm not really a people person, though I try.

    That said: you would be more credible if you highlighted your source. If you got it from a press release, say so. If you got it from someone's Twitter post, give them credit. When you embed a YouTube video, post the name of the author or source. It's a small thing. But it's up to you; you are the one who manages your credibility, not me.

  12. (crap the comment form deleted my first paragraph, here it is again)

    You're right, the Creative Commons video was created by you. I thought I recognized it as the version of the video produced by Creative Commons. It would be easier for me if you clearly indicated the source of your embedded videos.

  13. I'll end the conversation with this:

    If you don't like my blog, that's fine. I'm not here to convince you to like it. I am going to defend myself against inaccurate accusations.

    YouTube's embed codes by their nature provide links to the source. I think you'll find millions of blog posts around the edublogs community that have videos embedded without writing "this video was made by..." That is because you can click the video and get the source. Nothing there that I'm doing differently than anyone else. On the same topic, I have no problem when other people embed my videos in other places without specifically saying "Richard Byrne made this" because I know that when you watch and click the video I am given attribution.

    As for ETM. I didn't accuse of stealing links. What I maintain and will continue to maintain is that Med will immediately post the exact same thing after seeing it on other's blogs without providing an attribution. Latest case in point, I published a series of charts comparing popular tools. Less than 12 hours later he seems to have "inspiration" to do the exact same thing on the exact same topic. Stealing? Perhaps not. Poor form? Definitely. Lack of originality? Definitely.

    As for your concerns that I don't cite people on Twitter. I am now convinced that you don't actually read my posts. If you did you'll find attributions.

  14. This is bullying and much of this post is outright lies. I hope all the tweeting this are not actually in a classroom as role models for educators. I'd be worried about libel issues if I were you. Also, being some educelebrity doesn't entitle you to tell me what I should do, imho.

  15. *All those tweeting to unfollow Med should not be role models for students.

    Sorry about that. I was just upset about so many colleagues acting like high schoolers that I failed to check for grammatical errors. Yes, they both do the same thing and it's true that this may have happened in the past, but this is unnecessary. Unfollow everywhere you like, but be careful what you say to others, particularly in a public space. We're not in high school anymore!

  16. This is hard post for so many reasons. The topic is a tough one -- copying work. The conversations and comments below are also hard to read and upsetting, (particularly because the conversation is between two of my favorite bloggers).
    That said, you can't quote something you don't know. There have been times people have said "you copied this, Vicki and I'm unfollowing you" when it was truly something that came to me another way. I think the issue here is the trend of copying and yes, many of us who write have known about this for years upon years. It does seem that Richard in particular has been targeted and when his work is quoted, he deserves to be linked to. It is ethical and the right thing to do whether or not you think he deserves to “make money” on his blog. (And I do think blogging is a legitimate profession as long as you disclose all relationships.)
    I've found that over time those who are unethical do show their true colors but I also believe that people can change. We all need to do better and work hard to give H/T and credit where it is do. It is just the right thing to do and something we should model as educators.
    As for the other issues here.
    First of all, I love Richard Byrne's blog because he not only writes about technology but he vets it. I don't waste time when I try stuff on his blog because he's already tried it. As a teacher who has NO TIME AT ALL - that is wildly valuable to me. I get lots of press releases too but I've never seen Richard copy and paste a press release - he adds information on his own and I think it is awesome. Richard is so helpful and thorough.
    I also find Stephen Downes' blog awesome. I don't have a lot of time to read the research and Stephen does a great job of looking at multiple sides of issues. I find the fact that he says what he thinks refreshing and I know that I can trust him to give his pure opinion on things. It is fine with me if sometimes I disagree with him but then again I'm quite sure that he disagrees with me all the time too. ;-) I've always found Stephen respectful towards me and I hope we'll meet one day.
    I just say this to say that each of you are a valuable part of my own PLN and the PLN of many educators. We all have different styles and all of those styles are an important part of the bigger picture.
    It is my hope that we will all know that good people disagree every day. It isn't necessary to take sides for or against except against two things in this case:
    1) it is unethical to steal the work of another if it is not licensed in a way to allow for copying and
    2) each of us deserves to have our side heard and treated with respect.
    It is a shame but often when we point out that people are stealing our work people just get mad at the person who is offended which makes no sense. It is kind of like blaming a girl for looking too cute as to why she was raped. Richard doesn’t deserve to have his work stolen. Period. No one does. If you license it in such a way and don’t care, then fine that is your choice but it is his choice to license his work the way he does and it shouldn’t be stolen. Nothing anyone says can defend a person’s choice to steal.
    I hope that readers will take this in the spirit it is intended - with respect, gratitude and immense hopes for reconciliation. I have a few burned bridges in my own life and they cause great pain. Life is so short - we can do far more together than we can separated and we have lots of big time work to do to help educators do an awesome job teaching today's kids. That is enough for most of us to handle and we need each of you to help us find our way.
    Wherever we’ve gone in the comments here – let’s finish well. Let’s also be open minded if the original author decides to be vigilant to move on and forgive. I do believe people can change and wait hopefully to see that happen in this case. Cheers to the greatest PLN ever and with faith that we can work this out in a way that teaches with our lives what we believe and talk about every day.

  17. Wish I could correct my typo 'due" - ;-)