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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Media Goboz.com Stealing Local Writers’ Content?

Posted by Amy J. Ruiz on Thu, Oct 11 at 2:21 PM

Ever heard of Goboz.com? I hadn’t until today, but we might be seeing more of the site—it’s a local outfit that’s trying to take on the likes of CitySearch.

The Urban Dictionary defines the word “Goboz” as “kick ass” or “da bomb”. We at Goboz.com define it as the best local site in town!

Whether searching for a new salon or a hot new restaurant to try, you’ll find it on Goboz.com. A simple voting system allows you to instantly know what business is hot and what is not, while customer comments give you more detail.

What makes Goboz.com different than the other local search sites you’ve used? Well for starters, anyone can vote for a business…no registration required! Have a favorite coffee shop? Submit it to Goboz.com and it shows up instantly on the homepage for others to vote on! Finally, listings have all the information you’ll need, like integrated maps and deals/discounts, without having to click through to other sites. But if you need more info, the business’s web site is linked right there for easy access!

What else makes Goboz different? They’re apparently lifting original content from other Portland blogs and websites, and posting it in a way that makes it look like their own writers penned the reviews.

Like this review of Zibas Pitas, posted at Goboz (warning, their site is very, very slow):


It’s a reposting of Cuisine Bonne Femme’s review at her new site devoted to Portland’s Food Carts:


Yep, that’s the same review, and Cuisine Bonne Femme’s clearly went up first. Sure, GoBoz’s version has a generic link to foodcartsportland.com at the bottom, but when it says “Posted by jemima” at the top, it gives the appearance that “jemima” wrote it.

Cuisine Bonne Femme—who also writes and moderates at Portland Food and Drink—is not happy about Goboz’s use of her copyrighted work. In a terse email this morning, she demanded that Goboz remove her content ASAP:

I noticed that GoBoz has pretty much stolen and posted several reviews and listings from my site foodcartsportland.com verbatim without my permission, without linking to my site, or without crediting me as the author. I noticed that you have also stolen material from other blogs in a similar manner.

This is unacceptable and not very nice, and I would like to remind you and GoBoz that materials on foodcartsportland are under legal copyright protection.

What gives?

Jeremiah Kastner, CEO and Founder of Goboz, replied to Cuisine Bonne Femme’s letter (and I’m waiting for a call back from him).

I wanted to start off with apologizing for our BOT grabbing your Food cart listings. We are in the process of going through Goboz and removing them right now. I do want to say that we did have a link back to your site on every business profile and that we have no ads on our site . We never intended to profit from your hard work if anything we hoped to drive even more traffic to your site. Again I apologize and in the future we will make sure that we do not link to your site.If you have any questions please feel free to email me.

CBF says that Goboz is ripping off other sites, too, so I did a little digging. Sure enough, Goboz has taken content from the Mercury’s site. This review of Escape from New York Pizza is posted by “gobot,” but neglects to link to our listing, despite lifting the review, word for word. (And despite Kastner’s assertations that “every business profile” has a link.) The review for Nutshell looks like it came from VegPortland.com, Queen of Sheba’s from ethiopanrestaurant.com’s guide (ditto Jarra’s), The Jade Lounge from the Portland Tribune, etc, etc.

So, Kastner, what’s up?

More after the jump!

As readers in the comments have pointed out, Portland Food Carts lists a "Creative Commons" license, which allows material to be shared, if it's propertly attributed and not-for-profit.

Attribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work).

CBF outlined her attribution guidelines in a further email to Jeremiah (who still hasn't responded to me).

I really do like the idea of your site (alas so much better in theory than CitySearch). However, the way you currently have it set up it comes across as pretty blatant plagairism and stealing. It might be a good idea to restructure your site and here are some suggestions: 1. At the top of each post clearly and boldly state the original author and source (Such as PROVIDED BY FOODCARTSPORTLAND.COM , Cuisine Bonne Femme, Author. You should also put a direct link to that source in a more prominent location. 2. Only post the first line or two of the original post and then have a "read more" link that takes the reader to the original source. 3. Rather than list "posted by KittyKat, Jemima, etc" at the top of the post, move it to the bottom and say "linked by" because the way it is structured right now makes it look like KittyKat, Jemima (hey that's you!) are the actual authors, and well, in most cases as I found out, you are not.

Jeremiah's response to her:

I agree we may need to reevaluate how the listings are posted . Our main goal for Portland has always been as we get bigger the sites that have reviews etc on Goboz get pulled up in more prominence . Kindof a win / win situation for all of us. I am going to sit down with our team later tonight and go over your concerns and ideas that you listed below.

And, back to CBF:

You certainly need to not only reevaluate the way you post content, but more so, you need to fix it, pronto. But explain something to that I find very troublesome in your below response. How exactly is having one's content lifted word for word and posted in full on another site without the author being credited, or by only being given a teeny-tiny link at the bottom of the post, and sometimes not linked to at all a win-win for everyone? That's only a win-win for you.You get free full free content without having to get permission or having to spend the time researching, writing, or paying for the expenses that go into it (including paying writers). It builds up content for your site, starts building search engine crawls towards your site that bring in readers, but really does nothing at all for me except steal the above away from the rightful owner.

In addition, whoops, you forgot about the whole legal thing of potential copyright infringement.


Wow, that's pretty annoying. Can someone phone Ben Waterhouse and show him a real example of plagiarism?

Interesting. But does the food cart's site have a copyright or use a creative commons license?

This is at the bottom of every page:

Copyright © 2007 All Rights Reserved

Furthermore, while putting a copyright notice gets you a better defense in court and a better chance at monetary damages, everything you write is automatically copywritten, and lack of a copyright notice does not make it legal to copy.

He snagged from me,too - word for word - a news item that I posted on Portland Food and Drink on September 15th about Little Red Bike Cafe:

I emailed Kastner,who then immediately removed it from his site. He apologized, saying: "We will make sure that in the future there are no links to your site." But he NEVER linked to PF+D on his GoBoz site. instead, he presented the Little Red Bike review as original GoBoz content. I told him this, to which he again replied:
"We had links back to all of the other sites that were listed recently and it appears that yours was not pulled from your site for that perticular post. In another post that has now been removed we gave full credit to your site with a prominent link to you."

Which, finally, is completely false.

the site does also have the creative commons license on it. so which is it?

I can see how you would be concerned, but if they are taking measures to correct the problem then why not give them the chance?

I hardly think that if someone posts an article or review that it gives the appearance that the poster is also the author. People post or submit information, such as reviews and news articles, all of the time on sites all over the web. It doesn't seem like a reasonable person would assume that the content is written by the poster.

As the poster(s) above noted, it looks like foodcartsportland.com is published under the Creative Commons license. In the example you gave the content is not changed and there is a link back to the site. So why is Cuisine Bonne Femme so upset? It seems like she is trying create publicity for herself rather than get the situation resolved amicably.

Anyway, keep up the good reporting!

PS- your link to Goboz is broken :)

Thanks, I fixed the link.

The Creative Commons license allows you to post with this guideline: "Attribution. You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor (but not in any way that suggests that they endorse you or your use of the work)."

CBF has enumerated how she'd like to be attributed, which I'll add in a jump. Jeremiah still hasn't gotten back to me, but his email response to her is essentially "we'll think about that."

Just posted about the same thing over on PDX MB - and yes, I've been emailing with Kastner/CBF as well:


The other part that skeeves me out are the reviews scraped wholesale from corporate sites, right town to the trademarks.

I looked at CBF's site, and it didn't specify any particular sort of attribution. Maybe she should have initially requested that goboz credit her work to her satisfaction, rather than writing an inflammatory email to begin with.

If I were Goboz, I would take some time to "think about that" as well. It would probably be easier to either remove all content generated by other sites or develop relationships with more the rational and agreeable authors. It would probably take longer to get nice reviews on many of Portland's unique venues, but would certainly be less of a headache than trying to satisfy those such as CBF, who look like they'd rather start a public war than get "proper" credit.

Can't we all just get along? :)

Anyway, Good luck to Goboz, foodcartsportland, and Portland Mercury! I hope you resolve your differences without too much bloodshed! It seems like all of you are beneficial to Portlanders, and can hopefully stay that way.

CBF tried to resolve the issue with Goboz first, before going public. I completely understand her anger—she worked long and hard on Portland Food Carts (without pay), and to see her work reposted elsewhere and in a manner that makes it look like someone else wrote it is infuriating.

CBF shouldn't have to outline an attribution policy—it's common internet etiquette to link to original work in an obvious manner if you're going to quote from it.

Also, I'm noticing that although Jeremiah hasn't gotten back to me yet, they've replaced most of the reviews that I've linked to.

Way to get publicity, Goboz! That's da bomb.

Hey, and Josh, I bet if you were a published writer and your content/writing was stolen, you might feel differently. See, that's the thing. Goboz didn't ask Cuisine Bonne Femme if they could use her writing (without credit) -- they just stole it. And they put her URL down as the business's URL. Creative Commons licensing doesn't mean "Property is Theft" -- it means that other can use your work *with appropriate attribution*. That's the issue here.

i keep coming back to what sounds like goboz taking care of the issue. they removed the content, and apologized...right?

i hope you aren't pointing out that the company removed the content you linked to, to bash them.

isn't that what you wanted, for them to remove the content....and apologize?

Given Goboz's whole raison d'etre, it seems you'd want more than that, Gayle (@13). You want a promise from them not to do it in the future. You can't every Portland Web site to be constantly checking Goboz for pilfered content. At least, I hope that's not their model for attracting viewers.

Anyhow, sounds like Goboz started off on the wrong foot, given the comments here and at MetBlogs. Hope they work that out.

Whoops, that should be "You can't expect every Portland Web site ..."

josh, are you kidding? "can't we all just get along?" "inflamtory email?" i'll tell you what, if i had worked long and hard on something and had someone blatantly steal it sans properly crediting i'd be pretty damn pissed off. CBF's email seems downright level-headed, all things considered.

when i looked at CBF's site it pretty clearly states:

"Scraping , blatant or excessive copying, or presenting content in a way that makes it appear to be your own work is lame, so please don’t do it." http://foodcartsportland.com/?page_id=2

and this "Published by CuisineBonneFemme " and Portland Food Carts Copyright © 2007 All Rights Reserved" makes it pretty clear who it belongs to.

is lifting material word for word from a website seem less like stealing if it's on a webpage or a blog? were goboz to reprint anything from the oregonian without permision or crediting the source i'm pretty sure the Oregonian suits would jump on goboz faster than you can say blogsphere.

just my two schekels.

I feel like this entire thing is ridiculous! They took information directly from my business website and I like to call that FREE ADVERTISING! If people assume that just because a person posts something on ANY website, they are the original publishers then maybe they need to take another look at the way the interenet works. I understand if there is no link to the original site, but that is rare on Goboz. Not to mention when they were contacted about the issues they removed the info and apologized. What more do people want?.....oh yeah, they want something to cry about. Get over it! I would also like to say, good job Portland Mercury! I think it's great how you can write an article before you even talk to the person your writing about to get their side of the story. Way to be professional.

Justin (@17), here's where you explain why "the way the interenet works" supercedes copyright law and common courtesy.

And is it me, or is it odd that all the Goboz defenders' names start with J? Josh, Justin, and (one presumes) Jemima. Just saying.

Note that this wouldn't be the first time Goboz supporters (who were affiliated with the company but -oh, forgot to mention that part until outed via same IP address) jumped in a comment thread to support the company - it happened over at Silicon Florist and the owner rightly called it out when he saw it happening. It's about transparency/disclosure, Gobozians - why are you not getting it?

In fact, Goboz *did* lift work that's appeared in print publications as well. They've corrected the one I pointed out yesterday in my MetBlogs post - one hopes that they've cleared out all the stuff that's there.

But the question remains - why was it there in the first place?

actually just because my name starts with J doesn't mean that I am in any way affiliated with Goboz. In fact I'm not. I own a totally different business, but that was a good try Todd.

I just checked, it doesn't look like anything was lifted from Mercury's Found It! It didn't take me long to look either since they only have around 100 entries and most of those have next to no information. Compared to the awesomeness of Found It! now with over 1000 up-to-date Portland area restaurant listings as well as live music and film times! well, really, there's no comparison, we rule.

They did have at least one that Alison wrote, but yanked it after I requested comment. And still haven't called me.

So why is Cuisine Bonne Femme so upset? It seems like she is trying create publicity for herself rather than get the situation resolved amicably.

Josh: Why would Cuisine Bonne Femme need to create publicity? Her Food Cart web site is so freaking awesome it needs none. Since its launch, I have used it many times to great success, and told many of my friends to check out the URL.

This Boboz site, on the other hand, has started off very poorly in this town.

As if it wasn't bad enough that their business model consisted of ripping off content from other sites, when they were caught, rather than apologizing for it, they acted as if the problem was that they were linking to the site at all! Talk about immature and unethical.

no michael, he did apologize...it is right there in the article.

apologized and removed the posts. what more do you want? gonna lynch him?

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