When I was 6 and my sister was 3, she copied everything I did.
I’m being specific about our ages because when I was 15 and Marian was 12, she was way cooler than I was, and had no desire to copy. She had make-out parties on the loft in my room with her enviously co-ed gang of friends while I, 10th grader with only girl-school friends, listened in on the horny 7th graders and pretended to read Faulkner on my bed. One choice bite (from one of her guy friends, not Faulkner): “Who wants to kiss it?”
After all the girls took turns kissing it, and squealing that there was a big vein, they’d leave me to my reading and go smoke pot on the roof.
But back to when she worshipped and copied me.
I loathed it.
At Friendly’s, I’d tell the waitress I wanted a cone of chocolate chip, and Marian would say, “me too, chocolate chip.”
I’d change it to mint chip, and she’d say “mint chip.”
Me: “Actually, vanilla.” Marian: “Actually, vanilla.”
I’d end up whispering my order so Marian couldn’t copy, and she’d cry.
I also had my parents establish a rule that Marian could only “play Laura” while I was off at school, because otherwise she’d drive me crazy making a ridiculous “big girl” face — eyebrows raised, lower lip jutting forward — and announcing, “I’m Laura. And I go to school.”
My parents, of course, told me that imitation was the highest form of flattery, blah blah blah. Who cares? It’s annoying!
Now, I find it both annoying and flattering.
The other day, finding my Facebook a bore and having already googled myself, I found a new way to procrastinate: I used the site copyscape.com to see if anyone was plagiarizing my blog. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed when I found no results.
But that was just for the homepage. Copyscape asked if I wanted to check any of the other pages. Yes, I did. I ran it on each one until, bingo — a hit.
Another site had plagiarized my rates and services page word for word.
I won’t publicly shame this site by linking to them. I feel bad for them. Why?
Reason 1: They’re an ad agency. How good can an ad agency be if they can’t come up with their own rates and services page?
Reason 2: Again, I won’t give the real name, but it rhymes with “Creative Smedge Advertising.” So, ditto above. How creative and edgy, I mean smedgy, can you be if you name your company “Creative [Sm]edge”?
Makes me think of those nail salons with names like “Pretty Colors Nails.” C’mon, you can do better than that. Except that’s almost acceptable, because you’re not hiring a nail salon for their brilliant branding ideas. You’re hiring them for precision with a nail polish brush, how well they *seem* to sanitize the equipment, because who can really tell, and condition of their massage chairs. No one cares if they’re good at naming.
Reason 3: Since they’re clearly amateurs, they don’t realize that every part of your site counts. Every little corner. Your legal disclaimers. Your cancelation or refund policies. Even rates and services.
Those are all opportunities to be creative. And smedgy.
You may think “Whatever, I’ll just slap something standard here, or copy this site, seems good enough” — but you’ve got a chance to show some personality there. And if you’re copying any little part of my site, you betta believe you’re copying my personality.
Nice try. Why don’t you copy my ice cream order while you’re at it? Too late, I already changed it.
Anyone ever copy you?
Anyone copy your business?
Have you been tempted to copy someone? Or actually done it? (This is a safe space.)
How’d you feel about it?
TELL ME IN THE COMMENTS.
ps – Don’t have a business but thinking of starting one? Have one and want to market it better online? Marie Forleo’s B-School is coming. Click here and get on this list to hear about it from me when she opens the curtains this week, and find out about my bonus: 1-on-1 copy coaching from Talking Shrimp!
Ameena Gorton says
I hate copy cats and it’s a huge issue for so many of the talented people I work with! It stinks and no amount of tweaking makes it ok! Urgh!
Yes, I’ve had my copy stolen, my site copied and even made into a WordPress Theme for sale using MY name without my permission – it wasn’t even that good!
The worst had to be a big conference in Australia stealing one of my illustrations and using it as part of their advertising, including posters, eBook covers etc without attribution or asking me – ironically the said conference was about Creativity and Innovation. Pff.
It always feels like a dilemma when it comes to copying. When I was little I copied the older kids, but at the same time, the younger kids would always try to copy me. And I feel like a hypocrite to say that it was really annoying, and at the same time doing it to others lol
But where do ideas come from? I’m still on the defense that everything that’s made today is somehow “brand new”.. it’s all been done before…
Isn’t everyone using Helvetica Neue? And what if a black and white site is exactly my style too?
But I feel you, I think it’s morally wrong to copy paste something word for word with the same design. It can’t be exactly the same, and it sure isn’t enough to just move a box an inch or two.
I’m currently in the process of redesigning my website, and I’m guilty for copying some stuff (not yours though, Laura!). In this case I see it as flattery. But I will admit, this person I’m copying isn’t all “me”, she does webdesign for a living, so I’m mostly taking bits and pieces from her work and adding it to my site with my own little twist. If I see that there could be improvements with a feature, I’ll do it. And as we all know, there’s always room for improvements 😉 – My defense speech.
Laura, would it be even worse to find out that there’s someone out there copying you, but not just that, they made it even better?
Ash Ambirge says
This is the worst confession ever. Copying is plagiarism, and that’s illegal. Your twists don’t count.
David C Belgray says
Laura, you’re not the only one who hates copying. So does AOL. Today, I copied a paragraph, to send to a friend. When I went to paste it into an e-mail, poof!!, it was
gone. Nobody has seen it since.
It’s a little like Calvin Trillin who said his family ate leftovers every night. Nobody has
ever seen the original meal.
And you teach copy??!!
Yes, it’s better to be clear and authentic than to just copy someone else. That’s why I shop at Low Low Price Market. They aren’t fancy, but damn it, you know what you’re gonna be paying.
Speaking of names, I would LOVE to know the story behind “Talking Shrimp” …
Check out my About page, Jenny! It’s in there.
Ah ha! Very interesting!! My best guess was that it was a sneaky way of saying “talking sh*t” lol… plus an awesome mascot.
You’re fucking hilarious.
I’m literally laughing out loud reading this at the airport.
I’m a total copier like Marian-except I’m 29 and copy my husbands food orders. It drives him bonkers.
He’s stopped telling me what he’s going to order beforehand because then I’ll order it first and HE’ll look like the copier.
I have serious food order envy what can I say?!☺️
Thanks for another brilliant read!
I couldn’t get past “the big vein”……
Sounds like a headline of sorts
Rebecca Tracey says
I recently had someone copy my paid programs and SELL THEM (making over $6k off them). I find it both annoying and funny (not to mention BALLSY!) – she’s in my private business FB group that I run, she works with MY clients and my colleagues, and she’s even asked me for help on how I record my videos, which I kindly gave her answers to. Didn’t know she’s rip them all off! lol
I actually wrote a post about it (http://www.theuncagedlife.com/reese-ben-yaacov/) so that her name shows up in the Google forever and ever as a copycat. Because that shit is not ok and even though her clients may move on and forget about it, Google never will.
It was also important to me to instill the fear of god into people who contemplate doing this, to know that it will not just be swept under the rug and ignored.
We work too damn hard for this and I think as an industry it’s so important to keep talking about these issues publicly. So thanks for the post!
Laura, meet Becca, Becca, meet Laura. I love you both and you should know each other.
Great post! Was it the Meative Smedge Cadvertising agency? It happens in music all the time. I write a song and people are like, “you just wrote ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds'” and I’m like, “screw you,” because A) either I didn’t think they’d realize it or B) I didn’t realize it.
Marian Belgray says
Elena usually copies Samson, but when it comes to ice cream flavors, she mostly just orders “pink.”
I miss that loft. Good times.
Suzanne Swint says
Yes, of course. There is nothing new under the sun, Ecclesiastes 1:9.
This happened to me yesterday for the first time like evaaaa!!.
and even though I act all pissed and offended, I am secretly pleased (I know I am weird, you may reserve your judgment missy)
Okay, you have to read this book by my favourite children’s author. It sums up what you’ve said here (…did you copy him?) http://www.amazon.com/Stephanies-Ponytail-Annikins-Robert-Munsch/dp/1554511143
Michele Bergh says
Word for word and rate for rate is pretty bold and gross. And annoying for sure.
Val Geisler says
My favorite nail salon is called Gorgeous Nail. Every time I pull up I think “But which one is going to be gorgeous?!?!?!” (Note: they all end up gorgeous. They’re my fav because they know how to wield a brush and properly measure dry times.)
Your point the third has me noting places to get a bit more personal on my own site. Gen.ius.
WHAT THE HELL!?!? What a tease and I can’t find that damn site!!! I wanted to take a look and it seems like they pulled it. (Email me if they didn’t.)
My sister never copied me because she was more Sixteen Candles Molly Ringwald and I was more Pretty in Pink. So…obviously I was the cooler one.
Here’s a fun thing to do: Get an awesome pixie wig. Wear it out with your friends a few times. Wait for one to cut their hair. And then next time go out without wig. Haha! “What? You thought I actually cut my hair? No…” I know. That wouldn’t actually work because women are so attached to their hair and its length. But it sounds good in theory.
Back to you…I’m shocked that is was an ADVERTISING agency! How pathetic that a business thats success rides on their creativity feels the need to plagiarize you.
It seems that your wit in your writing is enough to drive some to the life of crime.
Linda Melone says
Ugh! Hate that. I write a ton of fitness and health articles for many different websites and find my work copied all over the place. Usually they leave the byline, but still.
I used to send them a “either take it down or pay me for it, otherwise I’ll send my cousin Rocko to break your knees” email, but found it took too much time. So I stopped.
I figure if they can’t be original how long can they last, really?
Funny, it’s somehow less effective when I threaten to send my cousins Shmuel and Ira.
Wow, this was seriously funny. And I had the exact same experience with my sister and the ice cream cone ordering debacle. Except my mom always said “One day she won’t be copying you anymore and you’ll wish she did.” Needless to say, I’m still waiting. But I don’t mind it anymore, she’s very cool and I can see it as a compliment now.
ANYWAY. I am in that fear of copying sometimes with my art and not even realizing I’m copying–there are fads of styles and it’s hard not to explore other artists works without subliminally loving and digesting it into my own, but I don’t want to do that! So it’s a balance of staying true to my process, injecting my unique style into everything + understanding sometimes, things will look similar to other artists, just because of the waves of fads that come and go. I guess it’s just part of the whole scene.
Art is the toughest! That whole fine line between “influenced by” and “derivative of.” I’d go crazy if I were a fine artist. Writing is tough enough. Watching genius ads on TV makes me feel bad that I didn’t think of them, but if I were made of different stuff, I’d just copy them.
Stephanie, that’s just part of any creative business. You can’t live in a bubble and create work without any influence from past things created. It’s not possible. You have to feel comfortable with yourself and your process enough to not let those influences become more than inspiration and influence. In the process of creating with an idea in mind that you got from someone else, you can make it your own. And unless you’re actually TRYING to copy them, it’s almost impossible not to make it your own. Unless you’re trying to steal the composition, subject matter, colors, materials, and EVERYTHING, you’re going to take one or two aspects of someone else’s work and you’re going to transform them into YOURS, your own special thing. Because you have your own viewpoints and experiences and skills… and, well, your own hands. Get me?