Sunday, December 30, 2012
UPDATE: Redbook has since responded, and you can read the e-mail their executive editor sent me here. (In short, they stepped up.) They have apologized, sent $500 to Give Kids The World at my request, and promised to add a correction notice in the next print issue. However, the damage is done: my feature in Good Housekeeping has been pulled as a result of Redbook's initial theft, so I won't be getting my first Epbot print credit after all. (Well, unless you count Redbook's correction.)
You guys know that one of my most popular creations here on Epbot are my flip-flop hangers. They've been re-pinned on Pinterest thousands of times, so naturally I've seen my share of websites re-posting my pics without credit - but that's kind of par for the course with the internet, and usually easily remedied with a polite e-mail.
However, today reader Beth pointed me to a whole new low in my experience: Redbook magazine not only took my idea and printed it without credit, they also hired an artist to draw a picture from my photos to get around the copyright issue. The artist made a few differences - perhaps enough to hold up in court, I suppose - but it's blatantly obvious that my photos were used as a direct reference.
Here are the photos from Epbot that I believe Redbook used, originally posted back in April of 2011 on my flip-flop hanger tutorial:
And this is on page 102 of Redbook's January 2013 issue, on shelves now:
Those are pretty clearly my flip-flops, complete with the little side buckles, and it's even the same hanger shape and silver bar from my photo. Though the flats pictured are different, that idea was also mine, as you can see in another photo from my original post:
Here's a side-by-side comparison of the flip-flops:
As bad as this is, it gets worse: Just last week I agreed to have my flip-flop hangers featured in Good Housekeeping for their Spring issue. (I was hoping to save it as a surprise, too. *sigh*) Now that they've been "scooped," as it were, it's possible that Good Housekeeping may pull the feature, depriving Epbot and myself of both proper credit and Epbot's first mention in print, which I've been ridiculously excited about. The added exposure would be huge for this blog. HUGE.
Oh, and remember how I mentioned how popular my hangers are on Pinterest? Well, when you look at the rest of page 102, it's pretty obvious that's where Redbook got all of their ideas:
Any regular pinner will recognize these as being some of the site's most popular pins - and I see no credit for any of them, either. To be fair, the pillow case storage and bracelet rack are easily copied, so there are lots of versions out there, but I'd be curious to know if those reference photos are also copied from bloggers' photos. (Please let me know in the comments if you recognize them, so I can link sources.) And just to be clear, I've yet to see anyone do a different variation on my flip-flop hangers, so there should be no question that I am the original source. (And an easily found source, I might add.)
So my question is this: Does Redbook just assume all of these ideas came from lowly bloggers who don't have the audience or clout to protest when their ideas are stolen? They can't think this content simply appeared out of thin air, so that's the only conclusion I can come to: that the Redbook staff think they're free to use our ideas and images just because they're bigger than us.
(This is also a good time to mention again how critically important it is to properly source your pins, although I doubt Redbook bothered looking for sources, anyway.)
And finally, this may seem petty, but dangit, I'm going to mention it anyway: Redbook was the only print source to ever publish a negative review of my book Cake Wrecks. It happened during the book release, and we all expected something positive, but instead they slammed me with a two sentence review, saying "You know the blog-to-book trend has gone too far when you find this title on shelves."
So, yeah, I'm starting to think someone over at Redbook doesn't like me.
I don't expect anything much to come of this, guys, although I do hope my bit in Good Housekeeping isn't jeopardized. However, if any of you would like to contact Redbook to remind them that properly crediting sources is just good manners, you can do so via their Facebook page, Twitter, and/or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Obviously nothing can be done about this current issue, but a correction in the next one, along with a source credit and link on their website now, would be a lovely amendment on their part. And in case anyone from Redbook ever reads this, let me just say that while drawing slightly different versions of popular images on Pinterest may get you around the law, it certainly won't win you any respect from your readers. It's far better to credit - and credit freely - so that others can see you as the good guy, instead of just another content thief.
Step up, Redbook. Make this right.
[Note: I accidentally and incorrectly called Good Housekeeping "Better Homes & Gardens" in my original post. I feel like a complete idiot as a result, and I'm terribly sorry for the confusion. On the plus side: BH&G just got a whole bunch of nice messages from you guys that they will no doubt be utterly confused by.]
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