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An Open Letter to Those Who Steal (Updated with Screenshots of Offenders) http://rasamalaysia.com/open-letter-to-those-who-steal/
February 16th, 2009 86 Comments

An Open Letter to Those Who Steal (Updated with Screenshots of Offenders)

This is an open letter addressed to those who steal pictures, recipes, content, business idea/concept from Rasa Malaysia–you know WHO you are (and I know WHO you are):

  1. Online e-commerce store vendors who steal my picture to pursue commercial gains
  2. Websites who copy or syndicate my RSS feeds: blog posts, pictures, recipes without proper credit or my prior permission
  3. Designers, ad agencies, entrepreneurs who steal my pictures for business signboards or restaurant menus
  4. Newspaper, magazine, circulation editors who write a food column or food-related content

Rasa Malaysia is a personal site that I invest a lot of time and effort into. This is where I document my precious family’s recipes and to express my love in food. Everything you see here is the result of my heart and soul and countless late nights and weekend hours. The success of Rasa Malaysia doesn’t come easy; it’s certainly not something that you can just copy and take easy advantage of…

I urge you to stop plagiarizing my work. If you really want to use my content, PLEASE ASK for my permission, or at the very least, please credit the source.

Please read the following Merriam-Webster definition of “plagiarize” in case you are wondering.

Pla·gia·rize

1) to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own: use (another’s production) without crediting the source

2) to commit literary theft: present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source.

Updated 1:

Mike of Mike’s Table left a very useful comment and I wish to share with all blog victims out there:

How Do You Deal with Content Thieves? (edited from Mike’s comment)

  1. Start with a polite email and request the stolen materials taken down.
  2. If you get no response within 24 hours, follow up with another email about DMCA takedown notice to the offender’s web host, domain registrar, etc.
  3. If you get no responses in the next 24-48 hours, send a DMCA takedown notice to the offenders.

Updated 2: I have decided to expose the identity of the offenders after reading my readers’ comments. Screenshots of offenders are as follows:

Rosa's Farm stole my Nobu Cod picture in their Jan 24th, 20098 email newsletter1) Rosa’s Farm in Florida – don’t ever buy from them. They stole my Nobu Cod picture. The pork chop picture on this email newsletter looks very suspicious; I wouldn’t be surprised it’s stolen, too.

2) FavourFood – the website has removed all unauthorized content and apologized to me sincerely. The site owner also cooperated fully and helped me identify a few more sites with unauthorized use of my content.

3) A “Lisa” or noono0_2 who sells on multiple Ebay sites (labeled as “a thief and a liar” by her customer). She stole my pie tee picture. My stolen picture had been taken off after I threatened to DMCA her store.

Golden Sand Bayview Food Corner in Tanjung Bungah, Penang stole over 30 pictures from me at two different locations
Golden Sand Bayview Food Corner in Tanjung Bungah, Penang stole over 30 pictures from me at two different locations
4) The coffee shop owner or the designer of the signboard or Indo Cafe (in Penang) who stole from me and Delicious Asian Food, at two different coffee shops. Over 30 pictures were stolen.

5) A Chinese newspaper in LA “Epoch Times” 大纪元时报 who offered to bribe me with their concert ticket after stealing my black pepper crab picture.

6) And the list goes on.

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86 comments... read them below or add one

  1. Bucky says:

    So sorry to hear you are having your work stolen. I’d been wondering if you were having problems when I started noticing that your pictures were suddenly prominently labeled.

    I hope that you won’t let this stop you from continuing with your blog. This is one of the best foodie blogs out there — professional or otherwise. As an Asian cuisine fan, I often rely on your recipes and insight.

    Thanks for doing this. I know how much work it takes.

    Don’t let the assholes stop you.

  2. offthemeathook says:

    That hella sucks. Shady. What goes around comes around and they’ll get theirs in the end! In the meantime keep up the great work and hopefully this will work… otherwise do you have any lawyer friends? :)

  3. SteamyKitchen says:

    Go fight for your rights girl! I’m right there with ya

  4. Salt N Turmeric says:

    Yes, no wonder you labeled your pictures nowadays. Those bad bad people who just want to take advantage and make easy money from other people’s effort. Shame on them!

    Is there a way to do something to these kind of people?

  5. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) says:

    Hear, hear — thanks for expressing so well the frustration we all feel when our work is stolen (and it’s happened to all of us). Most bloggers will happily give permission for our work to be shared in appropriate ways, so there’s no need to steal. Please. Just ask, and give us credit for the work we offer free for the enjoyment of our readers.

  6. yoko says:

    From what I read on Twitter with other food bloggers, this seems to have become a widespread problem.

    I wonder if there are better safeguards out there that prevent theft. And if you were able to consult a lawyer about taking action in some way against these thieves, that would be good, too.

    I’m sorry to hear this has happened to you, and I hope you find some resolution to this problem soon. I enjoy reading your blog very much, and I would hate to see it go because of a few unscrupulous people.

  7. mycookinghut says:

    I am sorry to hear that!
    It happens to me too! I don’t know how to avoid and how to track down.. I bet it’s difficult.

  8. mycookinghut says:

    I am sorry to hear that!
    It happened to me too. And I don’t know how this can be avoided… it’s pretty difficult I think.

  9. Mike of Mike's Table says:

    This is the kind of thing I think you can only pursue with vigilance.

    I start with a polite email, asking if the person could please take down xyz but feel free to link and thanks for following my site. Some people honestly don’t know or recognize that they did something wrong, and I don’t want to alienate those people. Usually, they’re happy to cooperate and everybody leaves on a good note.

    Then there’s the jerks. If I get no response to my polite email within 24 hours, its time to hit them with a DMCA takedown notice. Depending on how vigilant I’m feeling that day, sometimes, I’ll send them an email informing them of my intent to send a DMCA takedown to their ad network, web host, domain registrar, etc if they do not remove (links to all of the infringing content) within 24-48 hours. This usually does the trick…with the caveat that at least one of those people you’re sending a DMCA to has to be in the US (since it is a US law). Given how common things like Adsense ads are, the odds are on your side.

    If the threatening email doesn’t get the response, follow through on your promise and send a DMCA takedown notice (Google it–you’ll find lots of stock letters). You can find how/who to send these to pretty easily (e.g. lookup the domain name on whois, find administrative contact, send email. Or if they’re using Adsense, Google for Adsense DMCA, and they’ll have the procedure listed there, etc). The response will be quick. Granted, if you’re dealing with a true ass hole, they could throw it back at you and things could go to court, so read up on the law before you follow through on this. And worth mentioning, IANAL, so don’t take any of this as gospel. ;-)

    Hope this helps! We need a food blog union with a lawyer on retainer or something for how common a problem this is becoming :-/

  10. Chez Us says:

    Well said! It really irks me to know people how there are stealing content & photos, even more when it is a big company/ad agency, etc… I had Parent Magazine just send me a flickr message saying they were using a photo – I said NO and that they need to ask first. We all put a lot of hard work and time into our food sites – no freebies! Go girl & fight!

    I need to scour it out there and see if any of my stuff is lingering around the internet ..

  11. Christopher Hyde says:

    That’s awful. Your recipes are excellent and it’s a shame that people just thieve them without credit.

  12. StickyGooeyCreamyChewy says:

    Sadly, this has become a fact of life for many in the food blogging community, myself included. I wish I knew how to stop it. Unfortunately, some insist upon leaching off of the sweat of others and steal to try to make a buck. Shame on them!

  13. Rasa Malaysia says:

    Hi all – thanks for the comments and support.

    I do have lawyers who represent me. This is a reminder to those offenders, I will take legal action if I have to.

  14. Andrea Nguyen says:

    The notion that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery only goes so far…

  15. Rasa Malaysia says:

    Mike of Mike’s Table – I know about DMCA and will use it against these shameless offenders.

    There are quite a few lawyers who are food bloggers. And I agree that we need to have a food blog union with a lawyer (or a few lawyers on board).

    It’s time we fight.

  16. Nate-n-Annie says:

    Rasa,

    when you’re an A-list blogger such as yourself, with magazine-quality images, you are a very big target for content theft. Protecting your content using Copyscape is a good start.

    I wish people would stop stealing and start putting out original content, or at least acknowledging the source with a link back. What really gets me is people who steal articles and then take the time to remove all the internal links back. I mean, if you have that kind of time / creativity, why the heck don’t you just write it yourself! It’s not that much harder!

  17. QGIRL says:

    wow. I love your blog. sorry to hear about this. I agree, it is such a shame that there are people in the world that steal and think that the can get away with it.
    Good luck to you.

  18. NYMY says:

    I am shocked and appalled to see some of the links you’ve shown me. Not just your pictures and recipes, even your stories to make it their own. From reading your blogs and other original bloggers alike, there’re always a sense of pride in sharing your work with friends, family and readers. Questions to the copycats: how do you feel about sharing the work you copy from others? Won’t you find them ridiculous and an insult to your intelligence? Especially here we have the original bloggers willing to share if you will just extend basic courtesy of asking.

  19. ReBecca Foster says:

    This sucks and I am sorry to hear it is happening!
    I also and content from my site being stolen and presented as another work, so I posted a creative commons license to my site.

    I wrote about it on my blog here. They are free and might help you some.

  20. Cynthia says:

    Bee, your outrage is just! It is disgusting, dishonest and dishonourable the way people lose their sense of decency and resort to stealing! It is frustrating I know. I am very sorry to know that you are experiencing this.

    Some suggested us creating a union with a lawyer on retainer… I’m all for that.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I love your website and this is my first time commenting here. I often come here for inspiration for dishes when I miss home. Tonight, I cooked rendang (according to your recipe) for 4 of my friends from Malaysia. They all loved it, and the joy you brought us is much appreciated.

    love from Cov

  22. pablopabla says:

    This is something that I have done before after I realised someone has been plagiarising my photos and recipes without credit:-

    1) I search through the offending site for a way to contact the site owner.

    2) If there is a contact form or comment form, I will leave a notice to remove the plagiarised article immediately.

    3) If there is no contact or comment form or if the site owner failed to respond, I will then search through domaintools.com to find out the identity of the owner and the host.

    4) Following from (3) above, I will then write to the host giving them details of the plagiarised article and the original article and giving them notice that they are aiding and abetting the owner in publishing or allowing the publishing of a copyrighted material and that they are required to remove the article and / or site within 24 hours failing which legal action will be instituted against the host.

    5) The host will usually respond requesting that you sign a declaration that the contents are your copyright and after you have done so, the host will remove the site.

    6) Don’t just stop with the steps above. If the site has Google Adsense, lodge a complaint with Google as well.

  23. vkeong says:

    Bee,

    I understand your feelings exactly. I myself have had my posts being syndicated in many rubbish blogs which server no other purpose than earning cheap Adsense. If that’s not bad enough, a blogger even stole my photo and imposed his own signature on it, with the most insincere credit.

    Online thieves totally disgust me, I wish you the best in this combat.

  24. ChichaJo says:

    This is horrible Bee! So sorry to hear that this happened :( You are right to fight and I support you 100%!

  25. Craftpassion says:

    Glad that you take positive action against those robber. I understand how you feel when those idiots steal from you – your hardwork of creation, I will go as mad as you if this happened to me.
    Is there any prevention method that we can use to avoid copycat to download the photos? I saw some websites that when you point your mouse pointer there, the photo will turn in to some warning message such as copyright issue and there is no access for us to right click the mouse to copy the photo. I know that we can’t stop people from copying recipes and writing contents but at least we stop them from copying the photos.
    Hope that this letter and your further action will stop this immoral behaviour of those who copy your work without your consent.
    Wish that there is law or regulation to protect us – Blogger.

  26. Pink Parisian says:

    So sorry to hear it happened to you. It also happens to non-food blogs and I have been trying hard to prevent this. I don’t know if watermarking photos help but I do it. We all invest time and energy into our online sites and thieves have no business stealing content or photos, and not especially if they too are running businesses! That’s just sick. I hope you get it sorted out one way or another.

  27. Mr. T says:

    How crappy! Sad to hear that someone has ripped you off. This is definitely the dark side of the internet.

    Regardless, keep up the great work. You have a lot of fans out there who will always support Rasa Malaysia – the original!

  28. noobcook says:

    I’m sorry u had to experience this. It is already unforgivable to steal, and for commercial entities to do it is even worse. Hope justice will be served to those who still persists in stealing after repeated reminders.

  29. Connie says:

    I’ve gone through this crap so many times. The last one is a site called Big Oven where the stolen materials are supposedly submitted by “members.” What a convenient way to avoid responsibility. And guess what? This Big Oven site doesn’t even have a contact link.

    Bee, if the thieving site has ads, I suggest you get in touch with the ad networks it belongs to. If the site gets dropped and can’t make money, it’ll eventually die.

  30. Robyn says:

    It’s happened to most of us, Bee, so I feel your pain. But I see no point in keeping to yourself the identity of the plagiarizers. Name them on your site. If they’ve stolen your content they deserve the negative publicity.

  31. Lyrical Lemongrass says:

    It’s happened to me before and I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle. What’s worse is that they’re deriving revenue (from ads) using our content. I’m with you, RM, if you need any support.

  32. bruleeblog says:

    I find it helps to report them to their advertisers too. Especially Google ads.

    And I’m paranoid, so I slap a giant watermark on my photos even though they’re not as nice as yours.

  33. babe_kl says:

    sighhh it’s sad to hear this but at least in US, you’ll get more protection than us back home :(

    will take note of the action should i encounter thieves again on my side. thanks Bee for highlighting.

  34. Marvin says:

    I agree with what Robyn said above. You should out whoever it is that is stealing your content. Sure, it might send undeserved traffic to their sight, but your followers would leave less than positive comments for the offenders, I’m sure;). That would probably get your message across and teach them a lesson.

  35. Kristen says:

    This is really becoming a problem. I wish I knew of a quick and easy way to solve it. It seems to be happening everywhere. Blatant disregard for work that belongs to someone else.

    Funny thing is that if this happened to them (the thieves) they would scream the loudest!

    Keep up the great work and we are all with you on this.

  36. The Food Site says:

    There are no easy ways to stop people from stealing but you can always ‘benefit’ from it:

    1. You can add a copyright watermark on your photos with your blog address on it. So if they do use your photos, they also will be advertising your blog for you. Just make sure to place the watermark at an area where it is impossible for them to remove without spoiling the whole picture.

    2. Always add a link back to your homepage within your posts at the top paragraph. There are plenty of scrapers on the net (they use a program to scrape, copy and paste into their own sites) so if you add a link, the programs will also post the link there in their sites. In short, you get free links to your site.

    Hope that helps.

    p/s: I don’t do the above because my site is too inconspicuous to be marked and stolen by others…;-)

    ~Foong~

  37. Heidi / Savory Tv says:

    Unbelievable. Especially the retail establishments. Report them to Google as well, hurting their SEO will be the most painful to them. There was a twitter blogger who was stealing and was literally blocked from Google search results, due to multiple complaints.

  38. Rasa Malaysia says:

    All – thanks for your support.

    I have been keeping some of these offenders to myself for a loooong time. A couple of them are new, I just found out a few days ago. Anyway, they are exposed and deserved to be called out.

  39. syrie says:

    Here Here Bee! I can’t believe the nerve!!

  40. Passionate Eater says:

    Even though my blog content is nowhere near as good as yours, I have experienced the same problems. It is disheartening and infuriating.

    I know you use the majority of your free time to provide us amazing and unique content (original recipes and pictures), and we understand that it is stressful to find the time and resources to police the web to stop infringers. However, remember that you have a team of blog friends (us) that will help you if you need. You are the only blog worth visiting, those other blogs are cheap imitators, and will likely shrivel and die soon!

  41. Keropok Man says:

    Oh man… they even steal photos to put up on restaurant billboards!!

    We’re with you.

  42. David says:

    Try contacting their server(s). I’ve had good luck doing that and servers will shut down sites with illegally obtained content.

  43. yan says:

    Oh my…

    As a professional photographer, I can totally relate to how you feel. I urge you to watermark your work carefully. I hope you will take my suggestion by making your logo in a 10-15% screened white in the center of the phtoograph – it should not affect your beautiful photo if it is not too big and screened.

  44. ck lam says:

    I have to agree on this, we bloggers have been working hard to come up with new ideas, photographs and written material for our post. Its very frustrating to see these irresponsible people make use of our material, even without acknowledging!

    I’m in total support of your actions, and I really appreciate the steps suggested by you in an event where our work has been plagiarized.

  45. MyF says:

    Bee,
    Am so sorry to hear about what you and many other bloggers are facing: their hard work copied/stolen elsewhere.

    As I am a food blogger, I can understand how frustrating and upsetting it is when unresponsible people steal your work!

    It is totally unacceptable and it is an ABSOLUTELY GREAT idea to expose them in the public!

    My support for you as always.

  46. Tummythoz says:

    These thieves do not realise the anguish their actions cause. Hit them RM. Hit them HARD!

  47. Mike of Mike's Table says:

    Just a follow-up: I’m glad you outed these people. Why? I almost bought meat from Rosas (since they’re based ~30-45 minutes from where I live)! There’s something I’ll be certain to never do in the future.

  48. Elaine says:

    Yikes! Shun those thieves! I’m sorry to hear that your pictures are stolen by these unscrupulous people. I hope they read this post of yours and take note!

  49. Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy says:

    It sucks that all your hard work is being terribly exploited by some people. We’re in 2009…can these people still be so truly ignorant? Glad you were able to find them, and are using your power to try to resolve it or at least alert others.

  50. cybele says:

    As most of my shots are of products, I face a lot of this from webstores and especially eBay sellers. I’ve been hesitant to create a public blacklist of them.

    But I have found that eBay is extremely cooperative about removing eBay auctions that feature infringing content. I get about a dozen removed a month.

    When contacted, most photo stealers blame it on “that web guy they had in a few months ago” or “I had my daughter help me”.

    I really hope that together we can do something about these leaches.

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