Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ethical Concerns, Or, Being Plagiarized

Ethics are important in every job. In our field, our customers rely on us to be the experts, especially as they may not have the knowledge to check over our work. It is up to us to make sure we translate the words correctly, edit the text multiple times, and so on. Doing something incorrectly or sloppily can cause a lot of damage for our clients.

So I can’t help but wonder what it means for their clients when a translation company plagiarizes and doesn’t seem to be overly concerned about ethical and legal behavior. It could very well imply that said company doesn’t have good oversight and that they don’t care about doing things the right way. That’s bad news for the company’s clients.

A few weeks ago, I was made aware that a British translation company called Merlin Translations (I won’t link to them, so as not to give them additional traffic) was plagiarizing me. They post this blog on their website so that it looks like they themselves do all the work of researching and crafting these posts.

I emailed them. A manager claimed not to have been paying attention to what an employee was doing. That suggests a clear and worrisome lack of supervision that shouldn’t exist in any company, including a translation company. I said that either they could credit me for each post they used or else they must remove all my content from their site. Not only have they made no improvements to the situation, but they also have continued to post the content from Brave New Words.

I’m a person who works hard at what I do. I take my work as a translator, writer, and editor very seriously. I also enjoy making knowledge about translation more widely available via this blog. So it is disappointing and upsetting to me personally when I am being plagiarized in this way. But on a bigger scale, the fact that a company that provides services to clients would use unethical means to try to make themselves look better (that is, increasing the material on their website by plagiarizing others) is disturbing indeed.


Bertie said...

Hi BJ. Such things are really vexing. I had a look on their site and they use all sorts of news items from other websites and blogs, saying they want to become a translation news portal. The texts they took from your blog are categorized as Brave new words - but no credits or links to your blog at all - as if it is their own idea to call it so. I found their address in an online directory: Merlin Translations
10 Wyvern Av
cr8 2np
If I were you, I would send them an invoice for the lot they plagiarized. Also, make clear they will have to pay for every item they continue to publish without your consent.
All the best, Bertie

Sarah M Dillon said...

Oh wow - that kind of behaviour is really not on. Margaret Marks commented about these guys stealing her feed too, and someone posted a link to instructions on how to block people stealing your feed... maybe it'll help:

B.J. Epstein said...

Thanks for your comments, Bertie and Sarah, and for the information, which I will follow up.
I did tell them in my third email that they seemed to be used material from other sources as well, but they didn't respond to that, and they didn't make any changes. I notice, however, they haven't posted today's post on their site!
I know I shouldn't be so naïve, but sometimes I am just stunned by people's lack of ethics (and their general bad behavior).

Best wishes,

Sarah Alys said...

Ugh, I am so sorry this has happened to you! I have had to battle plagiarism within the profession before, but never plagiarism of myself. I can imagine it must be a terrible feeling.

I hope you will follow up the situation, and possibly also consider posting this company's information to translation mailing lists, etc. Sometimes people with no ethics do at least respond to good old-fashioned public shame.

B.J. Epstein said...

Ah, yes, the name-and-shame routine. I have thought about it. I have emailed them once more and if I don't hear back within a few days, I will take this one step further.
One thing I find amusing about this (if there is indeed anything amusing to be found in this situation) is that they have now posted this post to their website. In other words, my post on ethics and being plagiarized by them is up on their site and it looks like they themselves have written it. Oh what a tangled web they weave!

Best wishes,