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With the Republican debate schedule (987 to date), Cristian Fernandez, Michele Bachmann dropping out and the mundane tasks of real life, I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to SOPA. Until last night.
I was honored to co-host a radio program on Blog Talk Radio last night with two of the wisest and funniest women I know, Julie Driscoll and Kimberley Irvin. We were on from 6-8 CST (and will be every Sunday!), and for our first show, I think we did pretty well. We remembered our FCC rules, didn’t scream at a caller who insisted that gay people needed to be “classified” and were honored when Steve and Josh Snyder Hill called in and spoke about their own fight for equality. After the show, we had a conference call and reviewed the program, chatting about this and that and BAM, Julie revealed that a few articles over at the site she runs were posted under my name but written by someone else.
Julie had found this out a few days prior to the Mad Women show, and was waiting to tell me about the articles, simply because as my friend, she had no idea how to approach this. The person who had stolen my name was a mutual friend and former administrator for her site, Jueseppi Baker. I know this because in most of the 150+ articles, he posted my name in the header, and his name elsewhere in the article. What this means is that MY name was linked to the article as the author online. There are at least six articles written under my name with no mention of him at all, but I would swear under oath that I did not write them. People who have read them agree-they are not mine.
I emailed my boss here at MMA, my anger and sense of betrayal pouring through the screen. I had no clue what to do now. My husband and I were taking screen shot after screen shot of admin pages, individual articles, everything we could find. Julie locked down the site, and told us to change our passwords immediately, which we did. Mr. Baker no longer has administrative access to the site, and hasn’t for a few weeks, but in case he could still get in under the radar, we had to make sure everything was secure.
The publisher of MMA had good news and bad news. The bad news was that since the Internet was a little less structured than the Wild West, Jueseppi Baker could not be made to answer criminal charges. Civil charges, maybe, but since we don’t have the money for an attorney, we have no chance of pursuing that. The good news was that we could fight back, using techniques again from the Wild West-we could run him out of town. As of this afternoon (1/9), approximately 50 people have posted to websites, Facebook pages, sent email warnings to friends, and are up in arms over Jueseppi Baker’s fraudulent activity. And my boss here at MMA suggested I write an article about this experience, especially given the controversy surrounding SOPA.
Did Jueseppi Baker break the law? Maybe, according to the attorney I just spoke to. There is something called the Right of Publication, which protects artists, especially writers from having their name used in any way that they do not approve. I think a GREAT example of this is for someone to post substandard articles under another writer’s name, and think they’re going to get away with it. The attorney I just spoke to had some great suggestions, as did the publisher here at MMA, some of which I am keeping to myself for now.
If you write, be careful. There are some very shady characters out there on the Internet, and they can do just about anything they want. Think of it this way: the bad guys are armed with six shooters and we are wielding sporks. BUT, there is hope for the spork wielders! Truth is on our side, so if this happens to you, take screen shots; do not rely on pasted links, because links can disappear. Print the screen shots, label them, mark things you’re written versus things you have not. Have witnesses who are familiar with your work ready to say “No, Erin did not write this.” Be prepared.
If it’s a friend who does this, as Jueseppi Baker was to me, there is one thing for which you can not prepare; the sinking feeling of betrayal. There is no legal remedy for heartbreak.