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Andy Leonard

Andy Leonard is an author and engineer who enjoys building and automating data integration solutions. Andy is co-host of the Data Driven podcast. Andy is no longer updating this blog. His current blog is

Bloggers Behaving Badly


The other morning I awoke and said to myself, "Self, you need a million bucks." After breakfast, I waltzed down to the local bank. I slipped into the vault and managed to grab a million bucks while no one was paying attention. Quietly, I slipped out of the vault and made it home with the money.

My logic?

  1. The money was there for the taking, as evidenced by my ability to go and take it.
  2. I plan to donate some of the money to charity.
  3. Worst-case: If the bank wants the money back, they'll send me an email or call and I will return it.


Your objections could be as follows:

  1. "It wasn't your money."
  2. "Doing good with something you stole doesn't mitigate the crime of stealing."
  3. "You stole from others, returning the money after you're caught doesn't mitigate theft."

You would be correct on all counts.

Analogy Explained

And yet, this is precisely what bloggers who copy content do and how they (apparently) think. They copy the ideas and material of others, using copy and paste or by typing (or in worst cases, scraping), transcribing the ideas and thoughts of others in whole or in part, onto their websites - for which they receive cred (or in worst cases, for which they charge access). It's happened to Brent Ozar (Blog | @BrentO), me, and others.

If you didn't think it up, it's not your content. How hard is that? If you copy, paste, or scrape words written by others, you are stealing.

"No, I'm helping." No, you're stealing. If you truly want to help, stop stealing. It's annoying. I (and others) have to spend time we would otherwise spend blogging - which truly helps others - running down your stolen posts, writing you emails about taking them down, and filing DMCA requests (or, after you've made enough money, filing a class-action copyright-infringement suit).

I recently read a disclaimer on a website that copied material from Brent and others (Brent did a cool series on combating plagarism in November 2010...). The disclaimer, paraphrased, read something like:

If you want me to remove material I copied from your site, notify me and I will take it down immediately.

No. Wrong. If I stole a million bucks from the bank, I committed a crime at that instant. If the police show up, sirens blaring and guns drawn, I no longer have the option of saying "Oopsie, my bad. Here's the money back." Likewise, when you copy my thoughts and paste them onto your website, you have stolen from me. Insisting that I take action in the wake of your crime is offensive.

As a consumer of online information, it's important to distinguish the credibility and capability of the source. If you can't figure out it's wrong to plagarize, what else have you not figured out? I honestly don't need your "help".


Plagarism is wrong. It will come to no good end. Post your own thoughts because:

  1. It's legal;
  2. It's moral;
  3. It's the right thing to do.

Stop stealing my stuff 


Published Wednesday, December 1, 2010 8:00 AM by andyleonard

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Todd Heflin said:

Excellent analogy!

December 1, 2010 7:35 AM

Stuart Ainsworth said:

When I read the title, I wanted pictures.  But then I thought about it, and decided I really didn't want to see any of them.  :P

December 1, 2010 9:06 AM

andyleonard said:

LOL Stuart! :{>

December 1, 2010 9:44 AM

Matt Velic said:

Well, you could say, "Oopsie, my bad," but it probably wouldn't help much... :)

December 1, 2010 10:30 AM

Robert Miller said:

I am saddened to read this is *still* going on.  

When a site has a disclaimer such as the referenced site does, then we all now it is a plagiarizing site and really needs to be taken completely down.  

This is like you recording a song, hosting it, and someone else re-hosting it as their song.

December 1, 2010 10:38 AM

Tim W said:

Now the question is... Can I steal THIS article for republication?

(Disclaimer: I don't *steal* from other programmers unless its already in an assembly -- in which case I download it, try it, and god willing my company purchases it).

Noteworthy: Google is attempting to make making copy violations it a bit more legit. Read: <a href="">Credit Where Credit Is Due.<a>

December 1, 2010 4:52 PM

Denny Cherry said:

Well said!

December 1, 2010 6:28 PM

John Paul Cook said:

What about self-plagiarism? Your tax dollars went to create this document condemning the practice of an author using his/her own previous work in a new work without attribution.

As a college student, I've found that many college professors condemn self-plagiarism as unethical. Suppose a student writes a paper. The following semester in a different course the student realizes that the previous semester's paper meets the requirements for a paper in the current semester. The paper is resubmitted. This is self-plagiarism.

Suppose a blogger decides to edit and compile several of his blog posts into a free whitepaper he offers on his new company website. In the whitepaper, he doesn't credit himself for having provided his own work to himself. By omission, the whitepaper appears as new work. Our government watchdogs say this is unethical.

Oh, I should point out that I previously wrote some of the content in this comment and am reusing it here even though I have not obtained permission from myself to do so.

December 2, 2010 9:22 AM

Robert LeVan said:

On the other hand, there is a legitimate way to accomplish the same thing.  The ultimate goal is to educate the user community without stealing from other people.  All you have to do is properly attribute the work and point your readers to the appropriate blog.  I've done this before and have never had a complaint from the original blogger, even when I created derivative works using parts of their sample code.

For example, this is approximately the wording of a very old post of mine:

A client asked me the other day to set up a job with alerts so that he could manage table and file growth in his system and take appropriate action when certain thresholds were reached.  I created a 'canned' package for this type of thing years ago, but recently I came across a piece of elegant code written by SammySQL Codewright.  Sammy's code only did part of what I needed, but his way of thinking was elegant, and that was what caused me to rethink and rewrite my own code.  Please read his original blog post <here>.  See if you agree with me that this kind of thinking is elegant and is something we should strive for instead of the 'just get it done' approach that many clients push us towards. My solution which applies some of his principles is below......

Andy, I've been following your blog for some time and have noticed that you use the same approach.  If all bloggers were to use that approach, we'd all be happy (and honest).

December 3, 2010 1:03 PM

andyleonard said:

Hi Robert,

  Excellent comment and thoughts!

  Attribution works for me and I wish more people would practice this - one of my SSIS ideas showed up in a pre-con recently - with zero attribution, for example.

  I didn't figure out everything I know all by myself, and I'm sure I forget to attribute everything to its original author. But I definitely try to do this. We're all standing on the shoulders of the giants that went before us - there's no shame (or fear - at least not on my part) in saying "I learned this from ____."

  How hard is this?

:{> Andy

December 3, 2010 1:21 PM

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