Plagiarism on the internet…

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    Paul Corsetti

    Okay so…I think I have reached the proverbial point of “the straw that broke the camel’s back”!  Over the past couple years I have been finding websites from other landscape designers and contractors that have somehow…one way or another used my colored landscape plans to pretty up their own sites.  When confronted I usually get a dance display where they blame the web master or the web master blames the site owner…

    Regardless of who did it, the question is why would you even do it?  True…you want to make your site appealing…but the result is this….

    I have personally created the drawing with my own design style and color rendering style…when a potential client calls me expecting “me” to produce something similar to the drawings they see displayed on my site….I can do so!  When I come to their home with a finished product, they get a full color drawing looking like something they saw online only tailored to their property!  Now…having explained all that, how does another company that claims to be a design company….display my work and expect to give the client the same result?

    Do you lie to your customers?  Say that was a designer that no longer works for us…but we still keep his drawings up on our site so you will call us????

    Where does professional ethics come into play?  How about professional courtesy?  I strive to maintain a high degree of professionalism when I display my work…and that means I display my work as my own and not showcase another person’s work!

    Well…I have actually blogged about it this time as I am fed up with chasing after people…

    I posted the link to my blog here…not meant to be for self promoting but just to display the measure I have gone to to call out the the people in question.

    True…I could watermark the heck out of the drawings so people won’t take them as their own… but my question is how do you live with yourself knowing you are in the business of landscape design and you post another designer’s work on your site…saying I can do this for you!!? lol

    It really makes me laugh…


    Jason T. Radice

    I can see why people want to use your work to sell theirs, its great. One of the big questions to ask is how are they getting the images? If its from the web, thats pretty easy, just right click and choose ‘save as’. You may want to chat with your web people to set your gallery up as a flash slideshow/gallery, as to avoid the easiest way to steal images. There are other ways to prohibit download and printing from a website, but I’m an LA, not a webmaster.


    Your stuff looks great! No wonder people want to steal it. But wrong is wrong.

    Chris Whitted

    This is something I see not infrequently in the photography realm. Unfortunately the only way to completely protect your work is to not post it. There are a couple of ways to combat it. You’ve already dealt with contacting offenders directly and mentioned you were tired of doing that. You might consider a more legal approach, including cease and desist orders and lawsuits. Assuming you’re merely taking your time to contact them, the legal approaches can get you compensation for that time. Clearly unlicensed image use frequently results in settlements, which cover damages and any legal/lawyer fees. Your blog is a nice approach as well, particularly given the links and use of names which will show up in search engines. As Lee Martin suggested, depending on the offender an ethics complaint may do some good as well.

    As this seems to happen to you rather regularly, I might also suggest as a way to search for other unlicensed use of your work.

    Also, it does seem odd that it happens to you so much; the work in question is great of course, but I still have to ask why you – 12 times is a lot for one person to be plagiarized like that without a great deal of exposure. I would begin to suspect that a common webmaster/site development company is involved or that your images have been used/posted somewhere that people looking for ‘generic’ graphics might be readily finding them. That or maybe you’re just positioned right in the search results.

    Paul Corsetti

    Thanks for the complements…

    Flash is not so Google friendly…although it looks great, it is harder to capture Google’s attention with your content. But I do agree, there are many ways to prevent people from stealing the work…it just bothers me that people are out there representing our industry and advertising themselves falsely. To me it is sort of like breaking that unwritten code of honor amongst fellow designers… just certain things you don’t do…kinda like striking up a conversation with a total stranger beside you in the men’s room while standing at the urinal!

    I also have no idea what sort of laws and practice govern each state as well… I’m up in Ontario, Canada… I suppose I could look into the individual practice and see what is what…but i would rather them figure it out once they find their contact info linked to my post.

    Those particular sites and the 10 or so before them that I found…were not smart enough to change the text linked with the picture image…so I could easily find them in a Google search. I am guessing there must be a few dozen more out there with webmasters that were smart enough to change the picture text and name the image something different. Once in a while you get some real intelligent ones out there that hot-link your image direct from your website…

    Jason T. Radice

    With regards to Google, you might be able to thumbnail the images (since thats what comes up with an image search anyway) and link to a flash image at full web res. Of course, text based search also works. Perhaps that is why your images are getting lifted, they may be TOO Google freindly.


    I agree, I think its because your site google’s very well. I noticed that the drawings that were knicked shows up at the very beginning when doing an image search using “Toronto” and “landscape”.

    Google is getting better at picking up flash by the way. They introduced a new system in late 2008 I believe.

    Tanya Olson

    Repeating information is not plagiarism. Saying you wrote it (or designed it) is. I agree with some of the other replys – a web development company must have gotten a hold of your images.

    Walter Norris Bone

    As Bill Clinton said many times…..”I feel your pain”. I too have been “borrowed” from. It is a very common practice in Asia. Companies actually change their names to be very similar to others who are successful, just to gain an edge and play off others reputation. It is pathetic.

    Paul Corsetti

    I don’t know that it was as much a web development company as it was Google itself that has made my stuff easy to find… but that is the trade off! As my good friend and internet mentor once told me years ago before I started to put stuff “online”…in order for people to know what you can do for them….they have to see your work! So making your stuff Google friendly was the big goal! There is a reason why my stuff shows up on page one for a Google search…I don’t pay Google to do that…it is the way the website is built and the genius/internet mentor that works behind it!

    He also did warn me that it could mean people will take the very things you create and try to make it their own…which is what is happening. Now the goal over the next few days is to work with him and watermark everything!!!…it will be done but it will take time as he is a very busy man!…. but that is not what worries me…

    What worries me most is the select few out there that will take other people’s work and fake it as their own…it brings down the reputations of those of us that work hard and put every sense of passion that we have, into the work we do! I often get emails from other design build companies asking me what computer drawing program I am using because they are looking for something that provides the extreme detail and eye popping color that my drawings display…

    I usually reply with something to the effect of…it is program called hard work, understanding of color theory, design theory, passion and the application of drawing skills that have been sharpened with over a decade of drawing up landscape design plans! To me there are a few too many in our profession that are looking for the easy way out… I may be asking for too much, but I expect far more honor from those of us working in this industry! We work with Nature and we learn from it as it is our greatest teacher….Nature does not copy nor plagiarize itself…everything it does is original. If we want to be respected for the work we do…we should be original as well!

    Paul Corsetti

    Here’s the other interesting thing about websites done in flash media… not so safe as you may think….

    Open a site in Flash…find a picture on that site you want… right click and you can’t grab it…but hit that little print screen button on your keyboard and you take the screen capture of what you are looking at… then open your paint program (if you are using windows) and hit paste! You have that picture on your hard drive ready to edit and reuse to your liking…

    I can watermark my pictures all I want… but there are still those that will take cropped sections of my design images and use them as a collage on a home page…putting anything on the internet just ain’t safe!… but my phone rings for new business because clients see what I do…so I must be there in full display!

    Jason T. Radice

    Depending on the state, and at my last count 2, had the title of Professsional or Registered Planner. Those with planning registration or licenses would prevent your employer from advertising “planner” if no principle in charge is present. But in every other state in the union, they can, as planning is not a registered profession in 48 states.

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