A special follow-up to our Jan. 6, 2009 exclusive, “OutGayLife website network allegedly stealing news content from gay pubs, blogs, mainstream press”
Update: See important update at bottom of post.
After coming under fire for republishing more than 300 Associated Press articles and dozens more from LGBT-focused blogs, news organizations, publications and other media, the OutGayLife.com network is again raising suspicions of more instances of copyright infringement and intellectual property theft.
In January, an InterstateQ.com report exposed certainly unethical and possibly illegal practices by OutGayLife.com and Moonviper Web Services owner Eric Wood, who had been reposting and republishing news stories, features, blog posts and articles from LGBT publications, blogs and mainstream press and news organizations. At the time, InterstateQ.com found at least 17 separate cases of possible infringement on the copyrights of LGBT publications, blogs and mainstream publications, including the Asheville, N.C.-based Stereotypd, The Advocate, former Washington Blade editor Chris Crain’s blog, The Atlantic, New America Media, BoxTurtleBulletin.com and others.
A credible blogger?
It doesn’t require much common sense or knowledge to know that taking another person’s content and republishing it as your own is wrong. Do it in school, as a novelist or a writer at a newspaper and it is called plagiarism. In fact, U.S. law protects against intellectual property theft.
For most bloggers, a large part of their content comes from other websites or news organizations. And most, if not all, bloggers — and many news organizations — encourage cross-linking and appreciate it when others quote their content. InterstateQ.com has done the same in the past. Nationally respected bloggers like Pam Spaulding, Andy Towle, JoeMyGod and others do so on a daily basis. These writers and more encourage others to cross-link and quote their content. It helps to build awareness of their blogs and websites, and create an online community of active bloggers and citizen journalists.
But how can you distinguish a credible blogger, like Spaulding or Towle, from a person who might be engaging in intellectual property theft? For one, credible bloggers and writers will almost always quote only portions of another person’s or other publication’s content. Secondly, and most important, a credible blogger will always cite the original author and source, and link back to the original post or article.
In addition, Wood had republished almost 300 different AP articles, despite telling InterstateQ.com that he had no professional or working relationship with the worldwide news organization. Wood later removed the AP content saying that “it’s not worth the battle.”
Contacted in January, Wood said “copyright law is difficult. That’s why there are court cases.”
Addressing possible copyright infringement of AP material, Wood asked why InterstateQ.com was contacting him when thousands of other sites were similarly republishing copyrighted content.
“I would assume that there’s thousands of other sites, literally thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of very similar sites as mine,” Wood said. “All you would need to do is go and look at WordPress.org or Blogger.com or Typepad or any of these user submitted sites. You would find ten thousand times what is on my website.”
Now it seems Wood’s apparent ambivalence toward copyright law and his alleged infringing behavior earlier this year have foreshadowed his continued practice of republishing whole news and blog content without attribution to its original sources or authors.
A quick survey of OutGayLife.com’s current articles revealed several instances of republished content from LGBT-focused blogs, mainstream news outlets and the Associated Press. An amazing number of articles seem to have come from just one, single source: Change.org’s Gay Rights portal.
Michael Jones, the lead Gay Rights writer for Change.org, told InterstateQ.com several of his site’s articles had been republished. Jones said Wood did not have permission to republish the stories. Wood also failed to cite the original author or source and failed to link back to the original material.
Jones said OutGayLife.com also republished Change.org’s Scholastic Books action (screenshot), which generated thousands of signatures protesting the removal of an LGBT-friendly book from Scholastic’s book fairs. Change.org’s action and petition had been credited as helping Scholastic reverse their decision.
Jones told InterstateQ.com there were “dozens upon dozens more” of republished articles and posts. He believes OutGayLife.com has republished most Change.org Gay Rights content from at least August 2009 to the present. InterstateQ.com found Change.org content on OutGayLife.com dating as far back as July 3, 2009. (OutGaylife link, screenshot and original Change.org article)
“There’s not only no attribution, but he’s literally stealing most every word we write on gayrights.change.org,” Jones said, also concerned about Wood’s Twitter activity. With 11,000-some followers, OutGayLife.com Twitter followers are directed to the allegedly stolen content instead of the original sites from which the content was taken.
In the morning of Nov. 11, InterstateQ.com spoke to Wood regarding the recent examples of republished content. Requesting to speak at a later time, Wood was informed of our 12:30 p.m. EST deadline and that this article would be published at 1 p.m. Wood never returned our phone call. InterstateQ.com attempted calling a second time shortly before publishing this article. We were sent to voicemail.
Screenshots and links of allegedly stolen material from Change.org
Some of the republished Change.org material is compared to OutGayLife.com repostings below. As of 1:30 p.m. EST or so, Wood began pulling down some Change.org content. If OutGayLife.com links no longer work, you can reference the screenshot image for each.
Original Change.org post: http://gayrights.change.org/blog/view/rhode_island_governor_doesnt_want_you_attending_your_partners_funeral
OutGayLife’s repost (screenshot): http://outgaylife.com/community-life/gay-rights/rhode-island-governor-doesnt-want-you-attending-your-partners-funeral
Original Change.org post: http://gayrights.change.org/blog/view/archbishop_desmond_tutu_on_the_diabolical_use_of_religion_to_encourage_homophobia
OutGayLife’s repost (screenshot): http://outgaylife.com/gay-health/hiv-aids/archbishop-desmond-tutu-on-the-diabolical-use-of-religion-to-encourage-homophobia
Original Change.org post: http://gayrights.change.org/blog/view/muslim_and_pro-gay_marriage
OutGayLife’s repost (screenshot): http://outgaylife.com/community-life/gay-rights/muslim-progay-marriage
Original Change.org post: http://gayrights.change.org/blog/view/sarah_palin_and_barney_frank_walk_into_a_dinner_gala
OutGayLife’s repost (screenshot): http://outgaylife.com/community-life/gay-rights/sarah-palin-and-barney-frank-walk-into-a-dinner-gala
Original Change.org post: http://gayrights.change.org/blog/view/new_jerseys_window_of_opportunity_for_marriage_equality
OutGayLife’s repost (screenshot): http://outgaylife.com/community-life/gay-rights/new-jerseys-window-of-opportunity-for-marriage-equality
Original Change.org post: http://gayrights.change.org/blog/view/pastor_joel_osteens_sugar-coated_homophobia
OutGayLife’s repost (screenshot): http://outgaylife.com/community-life/gay-rights/pastor-joel-osteens-sugar-coated-homophobia
Original Change.org post: http://gayrights.change.org/blog/view/should_south_park_get_away_with_using_the_f-word
OutGayLife’s repost (screenshot): http://outgaylife.com/community-life/gay-rights/should-south-park-get-away-with-using-the-f-word
Original Change.org post: http://gayrights.change.org/blog/view/and_the_award_for_the_most_homophobic_sport_goes_to
OutGayLife’s repost (screenshot): http://outgaylife.com/community-life/gay-rights/and-the-award-for-the-most-homophobic-sport-goes-to
Original Change.org post: http://gayrights.change.org/blog/view/why_the_us_houses_health_reform_bill_is_good_news_for_gay_rights
OutGayLife’s repost (screenshot): http://outgaylife.com/community-life/gay-rights/why-the-u-s-houses-health-reform-bill-is-good-news-for-gay-rights
Original Change.org post: http://gayrights.change.org/blog/view/david_patersons_gay_marriage_gamble
OutGayLife’s repost (screenshot): http://outgaylife.com/community-life/gay-rights/david-patersons-gay-marriage-gamble
Original Change.org post: http://gayrights.change.org/blog/view/what_marriage_means_to_ellen_degeneres
OutGayLife’s repost (screenshot): http://outgaylife.com/community-life/gay-rights/what-marriage-means-to-ellen-degeneres
Original Change.org post: http://gayrights.change.org/blog/view/the_worlds_first_lesbian_bishop
OutGayLife’s repost (screenshot): http://outgaylife.com/community-life/gay-rights/the-worlds-first-lesbian-bishop
All OutGayLife.com posts linked above were publicly accessible as of 1 p.m. EST, Nov. 11, 2009.
Screenshots and links of other material
OutGayLife’s alleged copyright infringement and intellectual theft isn’t limited to Change.org’s Gay Rights portal. Several other sites’ posts and articles also appear on the network, including content from mainstream news outlets, The Associated Press, other LGBT blogs and the Viacom/MTV/Logo-owned 365gay.com.
Original post: http://www.palmcenter.org/node/1345
OutGayLife repost (screenshot): http://outgaylife.com/community-life/gay-rights/gates-says-he-wants-to-soften-gay-expulsion-rules
Original post: http://articles.latimes.com/2009/may/27/local/me-prop8-campaign27
OutGayLife repost (screenshot): http://outgaylife.com/family-life/gay-marriage/california%E2%80%99s-gay-marriage-ruling-signals-next-step-for-both-sides
Original post: http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2009/02/03/obamas_pledge_to_gay_soldiers/
OutGayLife repost (screenshot): http://outgaylife.com/community-life/gay-rights/obama%E2%80%99s-pledge-to-gay-soldiers
Original post: http://www.365gay.com/news/dept-of-justice-testimony-on-enda-pass-it-now/
OutGayLife repost (screenshot): http://outgaylife.com/in-the-news/politics/barack-obama-politics-in-the-news/dept-of-justice-testimony-on-enda-pass-it-now
Original post: http://www.gaypatriot.net/2009/11/10/thank-you-maam/
OutGayLife repost (screenshot): http://lagaylife.com/gay-ca-politics/thank-you-ma%E2%80%99am
FH Out Front
Original post: http://www.fhoutfront.com/2009/11/media-mentions-mishaps.html
OutGayLife repost (screenshot): http://outgaylife.com/community-life/gay-rights/media-mentions-mishaps
GayPolitics.com / G&L Victory Fund / Leadership Institute
Original post: http://www.gaypolitics.com/2009/08/19/court-upholds-out-senators-adoption-in-north-carolina/
OutGayLife repost (screenshot): http://outgaylife.com/family-life/adoption/court-upholds-out-senator%E2%80%99s-adoption-in-north-carolina
All OutGayLife.com posts linked above were publicly accessible as of 1 p.m. EST, Nov. 11, 2009.
OutGayLife.com is owned and oeprated by Eric Wood, who also owns Moonviper Web Services.
According to Moonviper, OutGayLife.com is the company’s first webmagazine:
OutGayLife.com is designed for the gay community, and is out first “Web Magazine”. It’s our flagship site for this “niche”
Built using WordPress MU and BuddyPress, we’ve designed it with innovative features, including the many self promotional features.
These features include such things as automatic integration with social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, a community section where people are able to set up their own profile, and communicate with other members, and customized notification to the search engines every time the site is updated.
OutGayLife.com’s “community of members” includes over 230 profiles.
The site’s network includes localized versions of the site, with currently live and soon-to-come websites: TucsonGayPride.com, My Gay Phoenix.com, LAGayLife.com, MyGaySacramento.com, MyGaySanDiego.com, SFGayLife.com, MyGayDenver.com, GayDCToday.com, GayGuideMiami.com, GayPalmBeachOnline.com, GayLifeAtlanta.com, MyGayChicago.com, GayBaltimoreToday.com (coming soon), GayBostonToday.com, MyGayMinneapolis.com, GayVegas.net, NYGayPride.com, GayRaleighToday.com (coming soon), MyGayPortland.com (coming soon), MyGayPhiladelphia.com (coming soon), GayDallasToday.com, GayHoustonToday.com (coming soon) and MyGaySeattle.com.
Moonviper Web Services bills itself as a professional web design and internet marketing services company. It is based in San Francisco, Calif.
Update (Nov. 11, 2009, 8 p.m. EST)
After the publication of this article on Nov. 11, 2009, many of the pieces Wood republished without permission had been removed from OutGayLife.com. Others remained. On some pieces, Wood began publishing links for the original source and author at the bottom of the pieces; however, the whole pieces were still being republished without a notation that permission had been granted to do so.
Are you the victim of copyright infringement?
If you believe your content has been republished on OutGayLife.com’s network, possibly violating copyright infringement laws, contact Eric Wood with Moonviper and OutGayLife. You can tell him to remove your copyrighted content or place links back to the original source:
MoonViper Business Services
580 California, San Francisco, CA 94104