Flattery My Tuchus: It’s Stealing.

August 20, 2011

Charles Caleb Colton, an eccentric English writer once said that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”  Well let me tell you, I have seen a ton of flattery going on in the last few weeks. I may have mentioned this in previous posts, but when my friend, Andrew Rose, presents, he always ends with good karma and bad karma. He has been the victim of intellectual capital theft and takes it very seriously. He often takes legal action against those who “borrow” copy from him and warns people not to do it and  if you are going to use someone else’s work, to give proper attribution.  In fact, he borrowed the good karma, bad karma thing from another speaker and always credits this person.

Listen up people, Andrew is right!

Coincidentally, on the same day that I read Jessica Northey‘s post on Stealing Other People’s Work, I received a call from another friend with the exact same issue. He had an hour long conversation with an industry colleague about a new, hot topic that was fairly technical.  A few weeks later he read an article that received huge publicity for the author and it was basically his interview with no mention of his name. It was ironic that he called me to discuss it because I had read the same article and was impressed and frankly, surprised that the author had so much knowledge in the area that the article focused on. After speaking to him it made sense that she learned it all from him.

Now don’t get me wrong. There are many things that I have absorbed from multiple sources that I can’t remember where I learned it. We all experience information overload, however, whenever possible, I give credit where credit is due.

This morning I was doing some reading and read something that pretty much mimicked my  company tag line. Now my tag line is not trademarked, service marked, copyrighted, or written on a stone tablet, but it is clearly mine. When I read it  and it appeared to be the words of someone that I know, it turned my stomach and made my blood boil. Perhaps I am so sensitive because this is the second time this week that an idea of mine has been “borrowed.” I say this week because it’s not the first time that this has happened. A few months ago I was interviewed by a blogger and discovered that a post using my ideas had been written without any credit to me.

Do you see a pattern developing? It’s happened to me. It’s happened to Jessica Northey. It happened to Andrew Rose. It happened to my other friend whose named is left out to protect the innocent. It has probably happened to you.

So words of advice for a sunny Saturday: Flatter Away. Just make sure your give credit where credit is due.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this and any stories that you have to share.