Last night I got an email from a friend with a link to a Huffington Post piece he thought I would be interested in. I clicked on it and to my immediate alarm, I realized it was a piece that had been published several hours earlier on Women and Hollywood by our Oscar columnist.
The Huffington Post stole the entire piece, word for word. They did not even change the title (though they did change the picture), and most egregiously, they did not mention that the post had been written for and published by another site. It was just posted like they owned it. They credited the writer Susan Wloszczyna and used a bio and picture that they took from her writing on RogerEbert.com.
Let me make this clear. Whoever it was that did this, they did not ask either the writer or myself — the founder and editor of the site — for permission to post a piece written and paid for by Women and Hollywood. How ironic is it that a site that does not pay for posts actually stole an article that had been paid for?
This morning, after a complaint from me, the post was removed. I appreciate that they dealt with it quickly, but I am still spitting mad and very concerned. The explanation I received was, “It appears as though the piece was submitted on her behalf in violation of our terms. We’ve cut that party off from the platform and will be looking into further so no need to worry about a repeat.” I have no idea what that means, and honestly, it doesn’t ease my worry.
I have been working my ass off to build Women and Hollywood over the last six years. I don’t have millionaire investors. I don’t have multiple editors and staff. We are a small operation — a part-time news editor (who edited the stolen post, by the way), a couple of columnists, fantastic guest posters, and me. That’s it.
There should be a place on the web for all different kinds of sites to thrive. Women and Hollywood is very lucky to live on Indiewire, but we still have to get traffic for each and every piece. And by the way, Women and Hollywood does not pay anyone’s rent. We all do this because we believe this is important work.
It is very hard to compete against well-funded operations. Most days I don’t think that it is a competition. We do our thing in our corner and we are perfectly happy with our work. But a day like this reminds me that the blogosphere is full of big beasts and that small folks like Women and Hollywood can easily get trounced on.
I have some helpful contacts and was able to find someone at Huff Po to pay attention to my grievance very quickly. But what about the other folks who do not? A writer or editor should not have to be worried that the fruits of their labor will be stolen without permission, explanation, or notice.
This is all about respect. And I’m still waiting for an apology.