You Know You’ve Made It When Someone Steals Your Stuff
It was to my supreme amusement this week that I discovered my blog posts were being stolen by a dupe fragrance oil company and passed off as their own.
I’m not going to name the dupe company here because I don’t have any relationship with them (unless you count “complainant and respondent” as a relationship) and am not interested in giving them any free promo.
I have lots of thoughts about the ethics of the dupe fragrance industry which I won’t get into here. All I’m going to say is, if you’re in the market for fake fragrances, take a good hard look at the website you’re considering buying from, because there’s a solid chance you’re dealing with a fake company as well, complete with a fake blog, fake reviews, and a product that isn’t just fake — which is to be expected — but doesn’t exist at all.
Early on Monday morning, I awoke to a curious series of emails. They were pingbacks: emails to let me know that someone had linked to my blog, would I like to put a link back to their blog at the bottom of my post?
I usually don’t give pingbacks much attention. Most of the time I get them from myself. Because I interlink my posts like hell.
But Monday morning was different. Each email directed me back to a mysterious dupe fragrance oil site.
I was up early for a job interview, so I actually got to watch these emails hit me in real time. Every few minutes, there was a new ping about this dupe perfume site linking to my blog.
“That’s … nice?” I thought. “Maybe they’re linking to my blog as a recommended resource?”
But things were not so.
When I followed each link, it brought me to a page with my exact blog post almost word-for-word.
I say “almost,” because our lovely dupe fragrance site decided they’d try to avoid plagiarism checkers by running my posts back and forth through a translator.
A very suave move which made for some hilarious copy.
My stolen posts have since been taken down (I filed a DMCA), but take a look at the before and after of what I can only assume is someone else’s stolen post title:
Brilliant copywriting all around, everyone.
Here’s the full list of blog posts that were copied, butchered, and reposted:
- Olene Eau de Toilette by Diptyque Review
- Deep Red Eau de Parfum by Hugo Boss Review
- 7 Reasons Not to Give Perfume or Cologne as a Gift
- By the Fireplace Eau de Toilette by Maison Martin Margiela Review
- R.E.M. Eau de Parfum by Ariana Grande Review
- Journey Woman Eau de Parfum by Amouage
They’d also temporarily stolen my review of the book The Bees by Laline Paull, but they immediately took this one down just a few minutes after posting.
I guess that one just wasn’t up to their editorial standards. Or maybe they decided it just wasn’t the sort of content that made their company look good.
Which is befuddling to me, because this company that sells (fake) perfume and cologne literally stole and reposted my article about why you shouldn’t gift perfume and cologne.
Now that’s good for business.
But the best part of all this for me? Seeing that my blog posts were the very first ones our lovely dupe fragrance company had thought to steal.
I was so touched to see that they had just spun up the totally legitimate website less than two weeks prior, and that I was already the first perfume blogger they had thought of when asking each other, “Whose blog posts should we blatantly rip off and reupload?”
It’s really quite flattering. I was supremely touched. (Of course, there’s the possibility that they’d taken someone else’s work before mine and that work had since been taken down, but shhhh.)
And you know what was even better than that? Seeing that the second blogger whose posts they started butchering and reuploading immediately after mine was the endlessly talented Elena Vosnaki from The Perfume Shrine.
The only higher praise than getting your work stolen is getting your work stolen alongside the greatest of the greats.
So there I was. About to go into a Zoom interview with some tech startup for a job that turned out to be for a paltry ten hours a month (not a week, dear reader — ten hours a month), nerding out about the fact that Elena Vosnaki and I now have something in common. This is basically the same thing as being listed side-by-side on a list of the best perfume blogs.
Needless to say, I had a good laugh and promptly filed a DMCA with Google.
I was very willing to reach out to the site and work things out before taking this step, but their Contact Us page was, it seems, intentionally left blank, their Whois Domain Lookup information was private, and I couldn’t find any other way to contact them on their site short of buying a fake perfume and leaving a one-star review that simply says “Take down my blog posts, you slimy, pilfering, counterfeiting, good-for-nothing thieves.”
And I wasn’t about to spend my good hard-earned money on that.
Especially not when I’ve made a grand total of $5.31 thus far running this blog, from a single affiliate link purchase that may or may not have been made by me in a desperate attempt to justify a Black Friday sample haul as something that is actually making me money, not a miserable waste of cash I really don’t need right now when I have dozens of other samples evaporating in their vials that I haven’t yet tried.
(Once again, shhhhh.)
$5.31 isn’t nearly enough to buy even one of their fake perfumes. Especially not when I have to spend $60 to get free shipping.
So now my stolen blog posts are down, as are those belonging to the inimitable and preeminent Elena Vosnaki. They’ve been replaced by what I can only assume are someone else’s stolen blog posts. It’s a little hard to tell, since the thieves have wisened up and stopped including a link at the bottom redirecting the reader to the original post, which, in turn, had sent the original posters emails alerting them about the stolen posts.
That might just be the funniest part of all this, actually. That they went through all the trouble of copying people’s articles and blog posts, running them back and forth through a translator to change the words a little so they wouldn’t be flagged as plagiarism, removing all the internal links and references to the original posters’ sites, and posting them as their own, but were still so thoughtful as to include a link to the original post at the bottom of each.
It’s kind of like going through all the trouble of robbing a bank and then being considerate enough to leave behind a business card just in case they’d like to reach you.
I almost wish I hadn’t filed a complaint about my rehashed work, because the absolute cherry on top of all this would have been seeing them steal this very blog post in which I complain about them stealing my blog posts. I’d love to see it run back and forth through translation until it’s called something like “You Are Aware You Have Built It When A Scoundrel Takes Your Belongings.”
But alas. By the time I complained, it looked like they’d had enough of my blog anyway and had moved on to the incomparably better Perfume Shrine. Which makes sense.
That’s all I’ve got for today. What I’ve learned is that my work is worth stealing, which definitely means it’s excellent, or at least passable filler for a scammer’s corporate blog.
Always try to see the bright side, right?
Have you ever had your work scraped and reposted without your permission? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments!