Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Copyrighted, Original Article on Chocolate was Plagiarized by and Locked by Squidoo

I am pissed.

Squidoo had locked Part Three of my series on chocolate and had notified me back in April. At the time, I was in the middle of a big writing project and was battling a virus (which got me second time round right at the beginning of May), and so I had little time or ability to look into it. To make it worse, the email they send is not real specific on why one's own lens has been locked and unpublished. They give four reasons, and it's up to you to figure out which applies. Needless to say, none of the reasons given fit my lens, particularly as it had been up for over two years (recorded publication date 02/17/2009). At that point, I didn't have a lot of energy to figure out why then it was locked, and since this was not the first capricious locking of one of my lenses, I decided to ignore it and as soon as I had time, convert my entire "A Nibble of Chocolate" series into an ebook. I finished that conversion today, and my new ebook A Nibble of Chocolate is now live on Smashwords.

Dear Squidoo Lensmaster:

This is a notification that the following Squidoo lenses are in violation of our Terms of Service and have been unpublished.


We run regular and periodic reviews of lenses to enforce our policies, including (but not limited to) acting against spam content, locking lenses on topics we can't support, lenses that exist solely to promote an affiliate program, and most recently we have also increased our systematic intolerance of aggressively duplicated (unoriginal) content and plagiarism.

Here are 4 resources you should read about our content policies on Squidoo. These links go into detail about several reasons that lenses get unpublished.

1. The Squidoo Originality Pact:
2. What Is Unoriginal, Duplicated Content?
3. SquidDon't topics we don't allow on Squidoo:
4. Overly promotional lenses:


The above lenses have been unpublished in order to give you a chance to review the content and save it to take elsewhere. An unpublished lens is no longer live or viewable on the web, and will be removed from search engine indexes. The lens Workshop is still available to you for 30 days so that you can login and access the content and export it to your own computer. Any unpaid royalties the lenses might have earned before today will be donated to charity.

You can read more about your unpublished lenses here:

We'd love to help you avoid the frustration of publishing a lens that gets unpublished, and hope the above guidelines help you make decisions about what kinds of lenses are worth your time in the future. Here are examples of good, original lenses that satisfy our content guidelines:å

Please note that repeated violations going forward will result in the suspension of your entire Squidoo account. We encourage you to refamiliarize yourself with the policies posted above before creating a new lens.

Thanks for reading.

The Squidoo Content Team

As I was preparing to convert another of my Squidoo series to an ebook, I logged in to my dashboard and saw a whole bunch of lenses had gone from green to pink, which I thought meant they'd been unpublished for reasons unknown to me.


This puzzled me even more, and I decided to read that email again. I thought about the reasons they gave for locking my third chocolate lens, scanned my text for a phrase or sentence in that lens that may find my work if it had been plagiarized, and Googled it. I could not believe it. Someone had plagiarized it, the whole of it minus the introduction. Well, really, why should I be surprised? I put a lot of work and  time into it back in the 1990s when I first wrote it. I interviewed both Dr. Wang and Dr. Anderson, whom I know personally, as well as doing much literature research. It's a dang good article.

However, that does not excuse, run by a nurse and a doctor, Nancy and John, from copying it without asking me and without my permission and from publishing it on their website without attribution or any links back to the original article. Copyright theft is a legal infringement of the law under both Canada and the US Copyright Acts, and as Canada and  the US are signatories to an international copyright agreement, that means as a Canadian my copyright is enforceable in the US. Furthermore, I object to having my work associated with

Being a pack rat, I probably still have my original notes, and since I was taping my telephone interviews for my first book Lifeliner, I probably taped those interviews as well. I have all my computer files. And, most importantly, it's got my writing style all over it. I do not know if Squidoo locked my lens on "A Nibble of Chocolate -- A Hint of Theobromine" (Part Three in my chocolate series) because they found this plagiarized article, but if they did, they should have informed me that someone had copied my work. When I first joined Squidoo, I read about how they knew plagiarism of our own work was an issue. Assuming their computers had found this website, it is both egregious and outrageous that they did not contact me and that they assumed I was the one who copied it. This for-all-intents-and-purposes non-negotiable locking of a lens is particularly bad given how much time one must spend in putting a decent lens together. It is not as simple as typing out the text. You must have images; you must include different kinds of modules and learn how to use those modules; you must know how to tag and organize the lens; and you must keep up-to-date with Squidoo's newest features and learn how to use those. It is not an easy website to use, requires knowledge of html, and requires maintenance of articles even if the content does not need updating or changing. Given all that, some email that forces you to guess about why your lens has been locked is unacceptable.

I Googled the original publication date on website as they do not have a publication date on my stolen article. The search results do not show the date for the web page with page id=55; however, those web pages with page ids that have dates attached to them are between 7 March 2011 and 3 May 2011. The original home page (which obviously does not have a page id) has a date of 27 July 2007. All of these dates are well after when I first wrote this series on chocolate, and the web pages with page ids are two years or more after publication on Squidoo. So, assuming that discovery of this website is the reason for locking my lens, did Squidoo look at these dates? Did they notice that the lens they locked was the third in a series and written in the same style as the previous two lenses?

This whole thing makes me wonder if my Job lens (which I researched, developed, and wrote under the guidance of my Pastor and presented to a group) that was locked almost two years after being published online, was also plagiarized.

As for why the other lenses were moved from green to pink status, I have no idea, and I no longer care. I have limited energy, and I have no intention of wasting it on Squidoo any longer, beyond what I must. The lesson for me is that from now on, all my original articles or essays will either be published on my own website or as ebooks, depending on which is more appropriate. That way if there is an issue of copyright theft, I won't have to deal with both the thief and a third-party website.

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