Reviews Swiped for Use on Ebay

From the “Now See Here, Motherfucker, We Work Hard On Those Reviews” department comes word of an eBay store swiping the reviews written by other users on Amazon and review blogs, and posting them on their own book listings under their own name.

The EDson Financial Group has posted over 220 reviews on eBay, and according to a few online sources, including Joyfully Reviewed, those beefy reviews were swiped from other sources, usually from among Amazon featured reviews.

Kathleen Gilligan has posted about it and has started notifying reviewers on Amazon via the comment feature that their writing has been thieved for eBay without attribution.

For example: a review for “Charm!” “by” Kendall Hart posted on 23 February 2008 matches identically a review by Carol “Avid 20-something reader” on Amazon.com, posted 18 February 2008.

Edson Financial Group has a website and a search of the whois reveals a potential individual to contact for Administrative and Technical reasons:

Corey Malison, from Montreal, Canada, is listed as the Admin/Tech contact for edsonfg.com. In addition, Malison has a Facebook but it’s visible by friends only.

A search of Edson Financial Groups reviews doesn’t seem to reveal any Smart Bitch reviews (Too many cursewords?) or Dear Author reviews (Letter-to-author format not worth swiping?) but there are plenty that seem very, very familiar. If you find a review you wrote, let me know.

I’m contacting Malison to see if I can get a response, but in the meantime, reviewers beware. Thanks to Katie for the heads up.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Laura says:

    I review at two sites- JERR and Two Lips Reviews.  The owner at JERR looked to see if any of ours were purloined, and thank goodness none were.  I looked at the cache for Two Lips, and none of ours were stolen.  Hope no one else’s reviews are stolen from this cyber community.

  2. 2
    AgTigress says:

    This does not surprise me.  eBay is an organisation that is apparently unfamiliar with many matters of law, ethics and morality, and it is certainly blithely unconcerned about such things.  Even when gross errors (such as attributing books to the wrong authors) and seriously illegal activities (such as selling illicitly exported antiquities) are formally brought to their attention, they are unwilling to take any action.
    They are unlikely to be concerned about stealing words, intellectual property, when they are so cavalier about dealing in stolen objects.

  3. 3
    Mireya says:

    Every once in a while I hear about some

    that thinks nothing about plagiarizing reviews.  I often wonder what are these people on.  Do they really believe they are not going to get caught?

  4. 4
    KimberlyD says:

    Why go to the trouble of asking permission to borrow reviews, or better yet, reading the book YOURSELVES when you can just copy and paste? Easy peasy.

  5. 5
    SonomaLass says:

    I hate plagiarism.  HATE IT.

    Sort of a tangent, but I can’t resist sharing my outrage over a recent incident.  My son brought home a list his teacher had given him of summer reading choices for 10th grade AP World History; imagine my surprise when the descriptions of more than half the books were taken word for word from amazon.com, with no attribution (not even quotation marks). 

    I still haven’t decided how to handle this.

  6. 6
    Annmarie says:

    I was given a heads up about this from my pal, Jennifer, owner of Wild On Books ( http://www.wildonbooks.com/ ).  Some of her reviews were stolen.  She is FIRED UP.  I don’t blame her.

  7. 7

    I currently review for Wild on Books and for Amazon Vine Voices.  Until this year, I reviewed for CK2S Kwips & Kritiques.

    Three of my reviews were stolen by EDson Financial Group, and I’ve already contacted eBay concerning this theft.  I contacted them last night, and have not heard from them yet.  I did manage to get an eBay employee through Live Chat, but they told me they could not help me and directed me via a link to a Contact Us page that was different from the one I’d previously submitted my complaint to them via.

    The ironic thing is that I am honored for anyone to quote my reviews, repost them, or link to them as long as they properly credit their source.  For EDson Financial Group to claim them as their own work is absolutely reprehensible. 

    I feel strongly that eBay needs to take serious action against EDson Financial Group.  Over 200 counts of plagiarism on their site by one of their members seems to warrant it.

    Thank you, Smart Bitches, for reposting this information.  I hope that every person affected by it sees it.  The issue will likely continue to grow until eBay puts a stop to it.  Last night, I posted about this situation on all of my blogs, MySpace, Bebo, and numerous chat groups and message boards I am a member of.  At the very least, we can certainly spread the word about this thief, but if enough of EDson’s victims report the issue to eBay, I imagine they will take notice.

  8. 8
    Keri Ford says:

    My son brought home a list his teacher had given him of summer reading choices for 10th grade AP World History; imagine my surprise when the descriptions of more than half the books were taken word for word from amazon.com, with no attribution (not even quotation marks). 

    I still haven’t decided how to handle this.

    If I’m not mistaken, students can be suspended for such behavior, college, your kicked out. tsk, tsk. Might check with other parents and see if they get as irritated over it. A mass of complaining parents will do more than just one with her feathers ruffled, so to speak.

  9. 9
    karmelrio says:

    Seems like an opportunity for a real-world lesson to me. 

    I teach a college class where students reference scientific theories published by others to support their own theories.  The biggest learning objective here is referencing others’ work in a way that protects the previous researcher’s intellectual effort and/or property.

  10. 10
    Kathleen says:

    THANK YOU for spreading the word!  I knew my fellow reviewers would be as pissed off as I am.

  11. 11
    Jane O says:

    My son brought home a list his teacher had given him of summer reading choices for 10th grade AP World History; imagine my surprise when the descriptions of more than half the books were taken word for word from amazon.com, with no attribution (not even quotation marks).

    I still haven’t decided how to handle this.

    Were these the publishers’ descriptions? In which case the teacher may have thought no attribution was necessary.
    But do bring it up. There are far too many ignorant teachers out there, and no opportunity to enlighten them should be ignored.
    I still have fond memories of listening to a couple of mothers explaining the use of the subjunctive to an elementary school principal who had clearly never known such a thing existed.

  12. 12
    AgTigress says:

    I feel strongly that eBay needs to take serious action against EDson Financial Group.

    But will they?  Experience suggests not. 

    An author friend of mine (a name you would all know) was recently shocked to find that all her book titles that appear on eBay are attributed to another, male author, who writes books of a completely different kind.  Her agent has tried to get this sorted out, and so has her husband;  so far, no progress.  eBay just say that, oh dear, oops, frightfully sorry, they just don’t know how to change it, the software is tricky, and after all, they are just middlemen, and it is not their problem.

    On a completely different front, repeated approaches to eBay in the UK about permitting the advertisment of antiquities illegally exported from various countries in contravention of international statutes, as well as the advertisement of British antiquities without making clear that they require a government EXPORT LICENCE before leaving the UK, meet with general inept waffling. 

    A recent case in the press here dealt with an expensive bicycle that was stolen;  its owner found it offered on eBay within 24 hours, and had to buy it back from the thief.  It was all reported to the police at every stage.  Did eBay take any action or offer any compensation, or help the police?  NO.

    Another case reported in the press here:  a thief lifted the whole spring stock of a high-end knitwear designer earlier this year.  She reported the burglary, of course. The clothing appeared on eBay.  No attempt to help the police trace and nail the thief. They skulk behind ‘nothing to do with us, sunshine – we are just auctioneers.  Caveat emptor, and all that’.

    I think my opinion of eBay is clear.  Do not support this organisation, tempting though it may be.

  13. 13
    DS says:

    The eBay book errors are due to the company they purchase the data base from.  There used to be similar problems on Amazon but Amazon had a mechanism for correcting their cataglogue.  Then for a while it was almost too easy to make changes but things have gotten better because Amazon requests urls for outside referrence before making changes now..

    EBay is up to their ears in alligators with some current feedback changes but if you want to see if some of their volnteers will help click on community->discussion board->Trust and Safety.  Sometimes the trick is knowing where to report and the people who post there tend to be savvy about that.  They also tend to be a bit abrasive, but its ok if you don’t let yourself get drawn into an argument not germane to the issue.  Also my guess is they would welcome a new problem that has nothing to do with feedback or Paypal.

  14. 14
    AgTigress says:

    EBay is up to their ears in alligators

    Good. :-D
    Seriously, thank you for the tip about contacts.  I will pass it onto my friend – though I think that her agent and publishers have tried most approaches already, and her husband is pretty skilled and experienced in such matters too.  There appears to be a systemic failure of moral consciousness and responsibility within the organisation.

  15. 15
    DS says:

    Well, it would make you real happy then to know that Hermes was given a big award against eBay because they had not been diligent enough in keeping fakes off.  This was followed by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA who have been awarded $61 million.

    Until now eBay had no reason to want to keep fakes off their site because they still collected listing and final fees.  They were profiting from the sale of the fakes as much as originals.

    story here:  http://www.postchronicle.com/news/business/article_212155974.shtml

  16. 16
    AgTigress says:

    :-)  Hah.  I had forgotten about that particular issue.

    The sad thing is that the service offered by eBay –  to enable people to auction goods direct to the public over the internet – is fine in principle, and I can understand why so many people are attracted to it as both vendors and purchasers.  But at every turn, this company reveals itself to be morally lax, to say the least.  It simply is not good enough for them to say caveat emptor, and that they cannot police all the traffic that takes place on their site, let alone for them to use as a defence the outrageous claim that retailers are simply peeved because they are ‘cutting out the middleman’.  Good god, they are not the first and only auctioneers in the world! 

    I, for one, am prepared to pay a reasonable profit margin to a middleman in the conventional retailing sense if I know that in so doing, I am assured that I am not buying illicit, stolen or fake goods, that I am not benefiting theft or other criminal activities such as money-laundering, and that if irregularities show up after the sale, I have some legal and financial redress against the seller.

    If eBay can’t control the activities that take place on their site, they are simply failing in their self-imposed duty.  The buying and selling is facilitated by them and operated through them:  they should be subject to all the normal rules of legal ownership and honest trading.  I don’t see a traditional auctioneer getting away scot-free with promoting the sale of stolen or forged goods by saying that he didn’t know, and so it was not his fault, and the buyer should be more careful.  When the fine-art auction houses like Christies and Sothebys occasionally (unbeknownst to them) find they have listed for sale items to which the vendors had no legal title, or items which were not as described (e.g. fakes or forgeries), they withdraw those objects from sale immediately if informed beforehand, and compensate the buyer if they learn about it after the sale.  The fine-art houses are not the epitome of virtue, but compared with eBay, they are lily-white.  Why should eBay be treated any differently? 

    It really angers me, as you may have noticed.  Adding the sleazy crime of theft of intellectual property – book reviews – to their portfolio of shame just puts the tin lid on it.

  17. 17

    AgTigress:  ” I don’t see a traditional auctioneer getting away scot-free with promoting the sale of stolen or forged goods by saying that he didn’t know, and so it was not his fault, and the buyer should be more careful. “

    Your comment brings the term ‘fence’ to mind when considering eBay’s unwillingness to take responsibility for their site.

  18. 18
    Fuse #8 says:

    Oh yes.  Yes, they seem to like my reviews very much. I’m surprised Amazon hasn’t cracked down yet. I mean, they say that they technically “own” all of their own reviews.  I can’t imagine they’d be happy with thievery.  I think I’ll link to you in a post of my own about this.

  19. 19
    Anonym2857 says:

    Well someone has taken notice, I’m guessing—I looked on the Edson Financial Group link Sarah posted earlier today on my lunch hour.  They have a website, but nothing for sale.  Looks like it’s been pulled.

    By whom, and for how long, I dunno.

    Diane
    who had to wait to get home before posting

    spamblocker hour67—yes I did wat 6 or 7 hours before posting, if not longer

  20. 20
  21. 21
    Popin says:

    I was looking over the Edson Financial Group link and found they are also stealing reviews posted on Ebay.

  22. 22
    Chrissy says:

    You know, when I was running a review site I had one of my writers pull quotes from amazon reviews and use them as her own.  I had to explain this was plagiarism.

    Yes… even though it was a “nickname” in stead of a “real name” at the bottom.  They were not your words… they were someone else’s.

    I just don’t understand where, how, or when that line got so damned blurry.  It still seems pretty freaking simple to me.

  23. 23
    Melissa says:

    At first I couldn’t get eBay to respond to me at all. I sent emails, no response and although JR was lucky enough to only have ONE review stolen, they still hadn’t removed it. And talking to their representative in live chat was no use. She actually looked at the review on our website and said…look at the bottom, he copied your copyright.

    I said…uhhh…“that’s our webpage and our statement” DUH!

    Talk about inept!!

    So after getting no where, I went ahead and faxed them over a VeRO form informing them of our intellectual property rights. I faxed and then printed out a fax report stating fax date and how many pages sent to their number.

    Then I got an email telling me they couldn’t find the review, could I link them to the correct review….*sigh* FINALLY after I did that I received a response about 30 minutes ago from them that the review has been removed.

    It was worse than pulling teeth! But I wanted to post this so that anyone else who is trying to get their reviews removed and hasn’t received a response will know what worked for me.

    Melissa
    Joyfully Reviewed

  24. 24
    Kathleen says:

    Huh, it does appear that their previous 224 books reviewed, now reads 223 books. Well good for you.  I’m still surprised they didn’t get rid of edson’s account…..

    Now we only need them to do that another 223 times.

    And I need to find somebody with a fax machine.

  25. 25
    Melissa says:

    Kathleen, I told eBay repeatedly that there JR only had one review illegally used but that Edson’s reviews seem to be mainly taken from other sites and I knew for a fact that other reviewers had emailed them about this. The person I was dealing with in live chat couldn’t seem to grasp the concept. I’m dead serious, I told her at least 4 times that it wasn’t just our review but she just didn’t seem to understand and said they had not received any emails from me. I even had the times I sent them. I’m afraid that your going to have to do the VeRo form to get anywhere. But to me it’s just plain stupid and frankly the help desk agents aren’t very helpful. I hope you are able to get it fixed for you soon, especially since I know they took at least 5 of your reviews.

  26. 26
    Melissa says:

    Hit send too soon LOL

    I meant to say since they took at least 5 of yours and Jennifer’s reviews.

    It’s the holiday. I’m exhusted.

    But I hope it all works our for you.

  27. 27
    Kathleen says:

    Lol yeah just one of mine, although I’ve made it my personal duty to contact everyone on Amazon about this idiot! I’ll def look into the VERO form and spread the word about it. Thanks.

  28. 28
    Melissa says:

    To everyone else:

    Please excuse my grammer errors. It seems like I’ve been running since 6 this morning and I’m getting punchy with the keyboard LOLOLOL

    And Kathleen, I think it’s awesome that your contacting the other reviewers on Amazon because to me it’s STEALING plain and simple. And others deserve to know about it.

  29. 29
    AgTigress says:

    Melissa, I admire your tenacity.  Well, done, for getting one of the stolen reviews removed.
    Your description of the runaround you got when trying to explain the problem is very similar to that which my writer friend (or rather, her husband) has experienced in trying to get them to do something about the wholesale misattribution of her books. 
    It amounts to a combination of indifference and total incompetence, and as a defence, it is horribly effective – most people do not have the time and sheer dogged determination to keep on and on and on till they get things put right.
    The organisation is a large, international one, and has a good deal of power, so it is not going to care about its standards unless concern about them becomes sufficiently widespread to have a serious financial impact on them, through large claims for compensation.  It is simply not realistic to hope that any kind of international user boycott could be arranged, though that would be the most effective weapon of all.  Too many people find the service too useful;  many clients have no idea of eBay’s casual attitude towards ownership and legality, while some others will actually share their unconcern about ripping off other people.

  30. 30
    Alyssa says:

    This is so not cool.  eBay needs to grow a backbone and do something. 

    And what does the person get from stealing the reviews?  How does it profit them in any way?

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