Thanks very much to readers of this blog who have recently informed me about thinly-veiled rewrites of my blog posts appearing on the blog of One Hour Translation. This dates back to the summer of 2017, when OHT’s CEO responded to me about this issue, blaming outsourced writers hired by OHT and assuring me that it wouldn’t happen again (which it did). In at least two cases, OHT’s blog featured posts presented as their own work, which were substantially similar to posts that had appeared on my blog several years earlier. They’ve since taken these posts down (don’t worry, I have screen shots) but will not respond to my inquiries about how this happened, other than to say “We have forwarded your request to the Relevant department for the investigation” [sic].
Let’s be clear, One Hour Translation. When you publish thinly-veiled rewrites of an independent author’s work, you are not taking advantage of “the man” or some other anonymous entity. You are taking advantage of that person’s hard work, reputation, and expertise. You may blame outsourced writers hired on an online platform, but ultimately you published these posts; you took credit for them, and therefore you’re responsible for them.
Let’s be clear about something else, and this “something” makes me sad and angry for a variety of reasons. I talked this over with my lawyers. Yes, One Hour Translation, when I told you (in perhaps the fifth or sixth e-mail to which you didn’t respond, other than to remove the posts in question from your website, so I was sure you were reading my messages) that I was discussing this with my legal team, I was being honest, not bluffing. And in talking this over with my legal people, I found that in these types of copyright infringement cases, “playing dead,” as OHT is doing, is actually a pretty effective defense, because nothing other than a court complaint can compel them to respond. If OHT wanted to operate in an ethical manner, they could do something like:
- a) respond, and apologize to me directly
- b) negotiate a financial settlement with me that would reflect the fact that they claimed credit for my work
- c) publicly apologize for claiming credit for my work
That would be a responsible way to acknowledge that they made a mistake and that they’re doing what they can to make it better. However in the absence of that, my only potential recourse is to file a legal complaint and threaten to sue them. Were I to do that, they would be legally compelled to respond. But in the end, I don’t want to do that. It’s expensive, and time-consuming, and I’d rather put my energy into constructive projects rather than into suing people who claim my blog posts as their own. But I also realize that’s part of the reason these things keep happening: big companies that stuff their blogs with lifted content think that small-time authors will make a big fuss and then ultimately go away, because…well…the vast majority of the time, that’s what happens. So I’ll just say this: One Hour Translation, despite your assurances that my request has been forwarded to the relevant department, it most assuredly has not been, and I would venture a guess that this is not an isolated incident. Note that One Hour Translation is suspended from the American Translators Association until 2021 due to violations of ATA’s code of ethics and professional practice.