I Guess What [some] Consultants do is Steal

I do not know much about business. But I guess I have a lot to learn from the Gilfus Education Group:

The Gilfus Education Group offers independent consulting, technical implementation and industry research services to educational institutions, industry investors and the educational companies that serve them. We partner to help organizations become better positioned to achieve strategic goals, compete for scarce resources, and plan for the future.

What does buzzword mashup that really mean? I do not know, but would you trust research consultant that whole sale republishes content from educator’s blogs, does not provide attribution, and then slaps a copyright on the page?

I have a word for this- stealing like a sewer rat.

I got a pingback today on a blog post I wrote last summer, leading me here:

click to see the fill size copy of theft

This is a total lifting of my original blog post, Courses as Commodities, published in its entirety.

The permalink on the gilfus site leads… to itself.

At the bottom, they even included my Creative Commons licesne, right above a place where they have a copyright:

Just in case they wake up, I have a PDF copy of their theft

Courses As Commodities my blog post ripped of by the Gilfus Education Group

Apparently I am not the only victim, Brian Lamb’s blog is ripped off in the very next post:

It’s funny, I met “Mr. Gilfus” (you have to like the personal touch of a bio that lacks a first name) in the late 1990s when a young Blackboard.com team came to Maricopa to pitch an RFP. Dude, thanks a lot.

I am not all that bothered, but someone has to call companies on this shit. It’s not okay to lift content published elsewhere and to not give credit. It is not okay to posture as an educational consultant and engage in this behavior. I expect the stuff to be yanked and some web developer to be blamed.

The ironic thing is that the technology that does this is pretty much similar to what we use for the ds106 site, Feed WordPress, which syndicates and republishes other people’s content- except that we always link back to the original. And people elect to have their stuff syndicated.

Attention Gilfus and associates- I revoke any rights you have abused in republishing my content. I await contact from your lawyers about a reasonable settlement (a six pack of Flying Dog IPA is suitable).

Do better, will ya? You give the business a dirty appeal by this practive.

UPDATE Sept 6, 2012: Because I value the sage advice of Brian Lamb, I have changed the CC License on my blog to Attribution Share-ALike, modified to it is at the foot of all posts, and even wrote it a simple language that Gilfus should be able to understand in the footer:

This pile of blog poop is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License and may be patrolled by a friendly small dog (with a wagging tail)
This means you are free to use any original content published here (begs the question why) as long as you provide linktribution and you share in the same way. Some consultants apparently need schooling in what this means- you can use my stuff if you clearly cite cogdogblog.com as the source (bonus points for linking to the source). Ok?

Creative Commons License
I Guess What [some] Consultants do is Steal by CogDogBlog, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

22 Responses to “I Guess What [some] Consultants do is Steal”

  1. Please note that the sites intent is not to be malicious in anyway nor to steal other peoples information.

    Its trying to be informative to the education community. The organization just began using Feedwordpress to assemble industry news and is still working the bugs out on correct configuration.

    I hope to have them up and running effectively over the next few days working the bugs out of proper attribution to the authors.

    My apologies for some of the errors the last few weeks.

    • Thanks Brian. I am quite experienced in Feed WordPress, this takes about 5 minutes to fix. I am willing to assist if needed. My rates are quite reasonable

    • Judy Unrein says:

      You know what I would do if some new technology that I installed on my website were accidentally making it look like I’m a huge jackass with no respect for other people’s stuff and no knowledge of creative commons and copyright law?

      I would uninstall that technology, get it working properly on a test site, and then get it working properly on my site.

    • Tim Owens says:

      “Its trying to be informative to the education community.”

      Oh please, at least own what you’re doing. This is a search engine optimization technique aimed at filling your site full of content that will raise your rank as a source of education material (material you have absolutely no part in the creation of). Whether it’s right, wrong, legal or not, at least own what you’re doing instead of posting a lame “mea culpa” here that you just can’t figure out the system.

  2. Crystal says:

    Wow. No wonder you’re so angry. How appropriate for something like this to be happening right as we’re learning about CC in ds106. I hope you get your 6-pack.

  3. Brian says:

    So I read SIX great blog posts by you today, so I feel bad my only comment (for now) is a nit-picker…

    But my understanding of the CC-BY is that the only requirement of the license is Attribution. If the creator of the content does not specify how attribution is supposed to happen, the re-user can be very flexible in how to do it. In your case, you specify “linktribution”, which at first blush means a simple link-back. Which did happen, in a way…

    And since you embedded your name in the RSS (which I didn’t do), at least your name appears in the reproduction as an author. (Mine doesn’t.)

    But if you object to him copyrighting the overall page, you need to add more to the license. One of the objections to the simple “By” license is that it allows this type of appropriation. There is no obligation to share CC downstream (which is why some add Share-Alike), or try to make money off of it (NC).

    I don’t disagree that this process reflects poorly on Gilfus Education. And it’s a shame that if anything were to happen it would be some developer taking the blame (shouldn’t the high-priced consultants at the top be accountable for their website?)… But based on my reading of the BY license, they can argue they respected the terms in the narrowest sense.

    • Thanks for the clarification. I always went BY (hee hee) to be the simplest of form, but may rethink it to go Share Alike.

      Actually I do not care a whole lot; I am aware this goes on quite frequently, and since I am not a brand or a venture, it does not keep me up. I just felt like this was a case worth shining some light.

  4. [...] then, perusing Twitter, I stumbled upon this little gem from cogdogblog.  Maybe I’m too idealistic at times, but I like to keep my world [...]

  5. [...] A L&D consultancy network (who shall remain @Gilfuseducation) has an extensive “industry news” section. There’s just one problem with it: much of the content has been scraped from other sources. Here’s one example from Alan Levine’s cogdogblog. [...]

  6. Brian D (RSS TECH) says:

    Alan – Thank You – I make take you up on that offer.

    For now i have been asked by the firm to remove the syndication feed until I can get a handle on attributions. They group has asked me to post a notice to their site and respond to the inquiries with the following:

    “We have asked the company that manages our website to remove the (Feed WordPress) syndication technology that was updating the news channel. The feed has been turned off as it pertains to several blog sites due to technological errors in attribution when the plugin was recently updated.

    We apologize for the error and appreciate your patience as we resolve the issue.
    [email protected]

    I hope to have it up and running again shortly and apologize for any issues that it may have caused.

  7. Not sure if Gifus is a ‘real’ business, but I wish institutions could realize how much they could build themselves if they were willing to invest in their own people.

    They should expect them to build, share, and collaborate – then they’d never imagine looking to a company that doesn’t offer anything they couldn’t figure out for themselves.

  8. It isn’t only a matter of correct attribution.

    The Gilfus blog was also re-posting pieces protected by plain old copyright, including some of mine written for MindShift.

    These pieces didn’t have Creative Commons licenses or require only attribution for re-use. From what I can tell, Gilfus may not have checked to see if the re-posting was permitted. It just re-posted.

    The way they were presented made it appear they were written either by Gilfus staff or by me, for Gilfus. (Yes. I have screen shots, too.)

    I asked Gilfus both by webform and email (to the only email address I could find on the blog) on 28 August to remove the posts. Though I never received a response, they were taken down, apparently earlier this week.

    As an industry consultant myself who also happens to be an analyst who writes, I can tell you it was a surprise to find my work showing up on another consultant’s website without my permission or knowledge. But those particular posts, at least, are now down, and I’m grateful for that.

  9. Doug Belshaw says:

    A byline would sort this, surely?

  10. Hi Alan,

    About 3 years ago I gathered together a heap of publicly available LMS evaluations from around the world and put the results into a blog post as a useful resource for others to use under a CC BY license.
    Gilfus took the post and reproduced it verbatim with no attribution. I wrote to them thanking them for their interest in the content and asking them to add an attribution. They said they would but they never did. Presumably they wanted it to appear as if it was their own ‘research’.
    Maybe Brian D would care to respond given that the insinuation is that the problem has only existed for a few weeks.
    It’s actually clear that Gilfus are a serial offender and they need to be called out.
    Cheers

    Mark

  11. I never heard of Gilfus before, though they’re apparently based within 25 miles of me.

    I have seen this kind of content-hoovering before, though. The disclaimers by such folk are generally unthinking, misinformed, or (at best) disingenuous.

    Gilfus’s “terms of use” runs to almost 3,000 words, which is about the length of the U.S. Constitution minus the amendments.

    I suspect if someone scraped, I mean, repurposed a slab of the invaluable content there without attribution, they’d move a lot faster and with a great deal more specificity.

  12. Martha says:

    I asked my students (emerging creators at Emily Carr University) what is the most important value for them? Their answer: that people who like their work communicate with them. In other words, attribution. Many artists are sceptical of adopting Creative Commons licenses because they do not actually want it to be easy for you to avoid the direct contact with them they want. This series of posts proves the point. Thanks made my day.

  13. You’d think that someone motivated by profit would have more scruples.

  14. [...] been a few days since I fanned the flames of how a big time edu consultant was republishing from other bloggers as their o…. Its so easy to sweep your shit crap poop Numero 2 under the rug. It just smells a bit, but most [...]

  15. [...] was nowhere near as upset, though I do not diminish how others felt… and the comments to both Alan’s post and Clark’s post unearthed some other details and allegations that are more [...]

  16. [...] A L&D consultancy network (who shall remain @Gilfuseducation) has an extensive “industry news” section. There’s just one problem with it: much of the content has been scraped from other sources. Here’s one example from Alan Levine’s cogdogblog. [...]

  17. [...] allows a lot of flexibility in automaticall adding attribution links to content brought in (yo, Gilfus, this would have solved your own aggregation faux pas in 5 [...]

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