Since launching last year, Arlington’s two Patch sites have raised some unanswered questions.
Who gets this excited about The Melting Pot?
Is there a better way to describe Ballston Common Mall’s Christmas tree than “enormous” and “erect?”
On a more serious note, the aforementioned cooking column begs another question: How doesn’t anybody over at the Ballston site realize that it’s wrong to copy and paste copyrighted material without proper credit?
We’ve found four instances (see below) of recipes being copied more or less verbatim from various web sites and used in Ballston Patch articles. In one case (see #1), no credit was given to the source of the recipe. In the other three cases, some credit was given but no link was provided.
At the very least, the latter breaks a common internet courtesy. At worst, the former could be considered copyright infringement. All four of the filched recipes contained copyright notices at the bottom of the original page.
We contacted Allrecipes.com, one of the sites whose recipes were used. Spokeswoman Stephanie Robinett said that the company expects anyone copying their recipes to first request permission, then provide a link and credit to the recipe’s author. Otherwise?
“That would be a copyright violation,” she said.
Patch, a rapidly-growing network of local web sites owned by AOL, has come under fire several times in the past year for reported incidents of plagiarism. Patch HQ in New York takes plagiarism very seriously (we know first-hand, after raising one such concern), yet instances of content misappropriation by Patch writers seem to make waves in media circles every couple of months.
This trickle of plagiarism charges may not be unexpected for an organization with an extensive portfolio of nearly 1,000 web sites in 18 states and the District — an organization that often hires young editors and amateur freelance contributors. Nonetheless, it does not reflect well on a company that has high aspirations of being a top source of original content on the web.
We trust Ballston Patch will be more vigilant in the future about giving credit where it’s due and making sure the appropriation of original works falls under fair use guidelines.
Here’s the list: