May 19, 2011

Two things that make me sick

One, is being sick... I've been home with the stomach flu since Tuesday afternoon. It's not pleasant! Couldn't even hold down a cup of water for a stretch.

The other is companies exploiting individuals for profit. If you follow me on Twitter, you've probably seen a few of my tweets referencing Koofers, which purports to be a "social learning" company, yet straight up offers a test bank and past exams. Living up to this claim, they took a paper I wrote for a course in the School of Information Resources and Library Science Program at the University of Arizona -- just took it right off my website without permission -- and posted it on their site, and then also added their copyright.

Despite their front-and-center displayed support from The NYT, Facebook, TechCrunch, and Entrepreneur, something still seems slimy to me. I'm all for improved access to information, I mean I am a librarian. If a LIS student went to my site and read my paper as a source for their bibliography, have at it! What I don't like is when a for-profit company takes intellectual property without permission, and am also not a big fan of encouraging cheating, either.

I contacted them immediately and had to work at it to get the paper taken down. On a positive note, I got to try out Storify in documenting this situation (see below). But some tips I'd offer if this happens to you:
  1. Do periodic searches for your name in Google (or whichever search engine you prefer) -- this is how I found my paper on their website
  2. Take screenshots of your work posted on their site with their copyright symbol
  3. If you have website analytics, see if you can find them scrounging through your work (I did find a Reston, VA IP address -- where the company is located -- in my stats and saved that information)
  4. Contact your former instructor and/or your university program to alert them; my professor contacted the company telling them to take my paper down and reminded them that I own the copyright
  5. Make it public: I posted on Twitter and got some very helpful RTs from other librarians that put some extra pressure on the company
  6. An interesting point someone brought up on Twitter was to see if the company profited off my paper at all -- this would be a good thing to find out
Here is the story (and as a sidenote, Storify was easy to use and had a very nice interface!):

Update: Koofers is now rifling through all my information online. Hopefully they won't swipe something else!