It’s almost like my post “Infighting amongst therapists” was begging for a sequel! Yes, although we therapists should be looking out for one another and united against managed care, we instead all too often work against each other. I am referring to an incident that happened recently where another therapist stole the copy off my private practice website, counselingwithmarina.com. Keep reading if a similar thing has happened to you and your wondering how to fix the problem.
At the suggestion of another therapist, I went to the website copyscape.com and put in my URL. I’ve used the same copy in my linkedin profile and other sources, so of course all of that came up. It wasn’t a surprise. As I scrolled down I saw that another therapist had copy and pasted my narrative on to her website. She only changed one word! I was actually more upset about it than I would have thought I was. Honestly, I felt violated. I had crafted that narrative over the course of years and found it highly personal to me and who I am as a therapist. How could another therapist just copy it and only change one word?
As I explored the rest of her website I saw that she very clearly used my website as a guide. She copied the FAQ, my Office policies, and the stuff that wasn’t just lazily copied and pasted was re-written in her own words, but still essentially mine. I was shocked by this. I was also admittedly curious. She must have really liked my website to have copied it so thoroughly. I knew I had to contact her. On her website she only had a phone number that went straight to voicemail. so I left her a voicemail that said “Hi, this is Marina Williams of counselingwithmarina.com. I noticed that you took a lot of the copy from my website and put it on yours. I’d like for us to talk about this. Please call me back at your earliest convenience. Thank you.”
I tried to sound pleasant on the phone because for all I know she could have paid someone to write the copy on her website and they were the ones who stole it. A week went by with no call back. When someone doesn’t call you back, it does look like they stole your content intentionally. I was able to find track down her email address and sent her this very nice email:
This is Marina Williams of the website counselingwithmarina.com. I called and left you a voicemail a week ago but never received a response. I really wish that you would have called me back so that we could have talked about this matter and gained a mutual understanding about it. I don’t think that email is the best medium.
Basically, I am writing to you because I have noticed that there is a lot of information on your website that has been copy and pasted off of mine. Ordinarily I wouldn’t have cared about it except that I put a lot of time and effort into developing my copy and feel that it is very personal to me and who I am as a therapist. Because of that, it bothers me that someone else would just take it and use for themselves.
I don’t think that you are a bad person. For all I know, you paid someone to write your copy and they are the ones who stole what I wrote. Or perhaps when you were creating your webpage you were just using what I wrote as a sort of “place holder” that you would delete later once you had a chance to write your own copy but later forgot about it. And since I expect that one of these is the case, I also expect that you will do the right thing and remove all the duplicated copy from your website. If you are unsure which parts are duplicated, I can let you know.
Moving forward, I don’t want there to be any ill will between the two of us. That would be the last thing I would ever want. If you need help developing your own copy, I’d love to be of service. I think I’m a good writer and also feel that when another therapist is successful that it’s something that helps all of us.
I hope to hear back from you soon,
Marina Williams, LMHC
She got back to me right away, wanting to know which parts I wanted deleted off her website. I let her keep the stuff she wrote in her own words and some of the other copied things that were more generic. She then removed the copied content from her website. There was no explanation other than “I never intended to copy your website”. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy that. It does bother me that she wasn’t more apologetic about it. So what if she had never responded to my email? The penalties for copyright infringement are pretty steep. I could have gotten her banned from google and yahoo, as well as had her site removed completely. I don’t think it’s good to go that far though unless you really have to.