Plagiarism is the Sincerest Form of Flattery: Thanks, Daily News!

Dear Daily News,

Several alert readers have pointed out that today’s newspaper has an article entitled “Tree grows through office at Cove Auto Towing in Queens” by Barry Paddock – just days after I published my own piece about a tree growing through an office at Cove Auto Towing in Queens! No mention of Scouting NY or anything, but I’m sure you guys came up with it all on your own anyway.

I am reminded of another Daily News article earlier this year by Katie Nelson, “Old-school (legal) graffiti makes appearance as a 7-train painted on a delivery tractor-trailer,” which appeared literally two days after I wrote about how old school legal graffiti made an appearance on a 7-train painted on a delivery tractor-trailer. And again, no mention of Scouting NY.

I’m really glad I’m able to keep providing you with original content for your publication free of charge.  In fact, if you go to the archives, you can find over 400 articles detailing the unknown minutiae of New York City to crib from.

Just please, do not ever credit me.

hate when people do that.


PS – Reader Scott suggests I point out that I’m being sarcastic and that I actually don’t want you to take my stuff. I feel that is obvious, but you never know with some people.

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  1. You realize you just did give them actual permission to repurpose all of your content for free without crediting you, right? There is no “I gave permission, but I was clearly doing it sarcastically” clause in copywrite law that I am aware of.

  2. Nick, Scott’s right. Add a disclaimer at the bottom.
    I hope you tweeted out to both the ‘copycat’ parties as well – let their followers also be aware, not just us who support you.

  3. Hey, Scout–I saw this today on NY1’s “In the Papers”:
    and wondered if the article had bothered to credit you.

    You’ll note that Hudson (the anchor), at least, notes that the Daily News was not the first to cover this, and mentions other papers AND blogs.

  4. Bravo, well done! And oh yeah: welcome to the club! 🙂

  5. Scott, Sandhya: Law is, in the end, interpreted by human judges and arbitrators. There’s no specific “clause” covering sarcasm, but it would be very difficult in an actual court case to argue that this was intended unironically, especially given Scout’s previous posts wherein he clearly disapproves of other organizations stealing his stuff.

  6. It’s so easy to give credit–just a line and a link. In this day and age, Paddock must have known that he’d be found out and pilloried for pilfering. My guess is that some nameless editor up the chain yanked any mention of Scouting NY, basing the decision on some lame ass-covering rule about when credit is due in print.

  7. For what it is worth, one reporter from the New York Post actually had the chutzpah to thank me for my research. Via a comment on the post he plagiarized:

    How’s that for balls?

    • Wow, I can’t believe you got that “do not credit” thing in writing. I was actually going to mention that when the Times has done an article on something I’ve recently written about on my blog, they always manage to get it in there.

  8. Yeah, welcome to the club. Why is it so impossible for some MSM venues or reporters to acknowledge “as first reported by,” especially if it’s a blog? Are they afraid their readers will realize to what extent their “reporters” are depending on hyperlocal blogs for story ideas and reporting?

    I’ve found that the only way to get that credit in similar situations has been through wrangling privately via email or publicly via twitter etc. And a reminder about the AP guidelines for credit and attribution, which are (or used to be) the industry standard:

    The policy addresses two kinds of situations:

    — Attributing to other organizations information that we haven’t independently reported.
    — Giving credit to another organization that broke a story first, even when we match it — or advance it — through our own reporting.

    Attributing facts we haven’t gathered or confirmed on our own:

    We should provide attribution whether the other organization is a newspaper, website, broadcaster or blog; whether or not it’s U.S. based; and whether or not it’s an AP member or subscriber.

    This policy applies to all reports in all media, from short pieces, such as NewsNows and initial broadcast reports, to longer pieces aimed at print publication.

  9. Can’t say that I blame you. I wouldn’t want to be associated with a rag like the News either.

  10. @Scout: This kind of thing has been happening (and continues to happen) to me for a some time. In my case, Murdoch’s “journalists” seem to be the worst offenders. Cases in point:

    The Balcony to Nowhere at 14 Bayard Street:

    A photo taken in Greenpoint by yours truly mysteriously manifesting as a “news item” in Los Angeles:

    “Nazi graffiti” as deciphered by site’s comm enters = news for the New York Post:

    And of course, the incredibly urgent matter of ice cream trucks disturbing the sanctity of McCarren Park residents:

    The list goes on and on. Hence why I have a “plagiarism” category on my web site.

    Do give my cheerfully malicious interrogation of WPIX reporter a view. It’s friggin’ hilarious!

    I humbly suggest you follow suit, ScoutNY. The only thing these “professional journalists” (and their employers) understand is public shaming.

  11. Just saw a story on the tree at Cove Auto Towing on the CBS2 morning news. It ran at about 6:50 am. Why go out and find the news when you can rip it off from someone else.

  12. CBS New York has picked up on stealing this piece.

  13. If people are actually lifting and publishing your photos without your consent and you have copyright on those photos, my understanding from reading about this in other places is that judges consider it theft – like knocking over an old lady type theft. They have to pay you. I’m not a lawyer, but from what I’ve read I think its pretty simple to pursue.

    Imagine the law working for the rest of us…what a thought.

    Hope you guys (and the thieves) get what they deserve.


  14. Time to call Arnold Diaz, “Shame on you”. I saw your piece yesterday morning and specifically looked for a mention after the grafitti incident. Shame.

  15. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a story on NPR and several days later it appears in print in the NYTimes. Another “open” source for lazy journalists is National Geographic; the news flow may be longer but you can always count on somebody stealing their environmental stories.

  16. While I agree it would have been a nice gesture on the part of Barry Paddock to link scoutingny in the article, I think your use of the word plagiarism is extreme in this case. The dailynews article has its own original photos, words, and even features an interview with the building’s owner. Your idea may have been plagiarized but not your content.

    If you report on something here first, does that mean no other journalist should be allowed to write an article about it? I’d hope not, because the dailynews article is even more informative than the original post.

    • I completely disagree. Barry and The Daily News (along with 99.99% of New York) had no idea about this place until I wrote about it. It was my idea to write about a place NO ONE HAD WRITTEN ABOUT IN THE 30 YEARS OF ITS EXISTENCE. And then the Daily News has a piece. Seriously, come on. As any grade school teacher will tell you, just because an essay is an original work doesn’t mean the idea wasn’t plagiarized.

      • I think it’s pretty clear that your ego has gotten the best of you. Yes, you have some good stuff here-don’t get me wrong. But nadnerb is exactly right. If they took their own photos and used their own words and even had more to offer than your post, then you have zero basis for playing the plagiarism card. Furthermore, it’s entirely possible they noticed it around the same time as you. You could very well be slandering them for no reason.

        I’ve had similar experiences with my own blog. I just found out about a location through scouring google maps satellite view, went and photographed it and wrote it all up. Come to find out, someone else beat me to it about a month earlier. It was a coincidence and wasn’t the first time I’ve seen it happen first-hand. Did I plagiarize them? According to your logic, then yes I did. To blatantly accuse them of plagiarism is a pretty clear sign that your ego is hurt and you’re lashing out. The biggest egos I’ve seen are in this industry and they are also the most sensitive. Even if they saw your post and decided to run a story of their own, that’s perfectly well within their right. You don’t own the subject matter and have no monopoly on reporting a location.

        As a photographer, I’ve seen a place I photographed get hit up immediately afterwards by others who most definitely found out about it through my work. But do I cry about it and tell them to stop plagiarizing me? No. I make it my goal to offer content that keeps people coming back to my blog through superior photography and documenting/storytelling.

        I think this post is entirely quite silly and unprofessional.

  17. Most of the “writers” for the late-night comedy shows spend their days scouring the comments section of the major news websites looking for current events material for that night’s show. It beats workin’.

  18. that writer should be fired