Plagiarism: Desi Food Bloggers Take On Yahoo! India And Win

March 10, 2007

March 5 was a big day in the desi blogosphere; on that day, a horde of desi bloggers took on that giant named Yahoo! (India) and toppled it. Three cheers for these strong women!

What had happened was this: these enterprising yummy ladies have set up some fantastic food blogs, complete with great pictures of some mouth-watering creations. One of them, Mahanandi even won the IndiBloggers award for the Best Food Blog! If you see her blog, you'd know why - fantastic pictures, simplistic instructions the most inept cook can follow and some great recipes are what this food blog comprises of. The blogger, Indira, obviously takes great pains with her content and its authenticity.

But one of the foodie bloggers, Surya Gayathri, got a rude shock one day when she discovered that Yahoo! had pilfered images and content from her blog and posted it on the Yahoo! website - with no permission and certainly no acknowledgment. This tale of woe was narrated by fellow foodie bloggers Indira and Inji Pennu.

What this plucky bunch did next is super: they got round all their friends and used the power of the blogosphere to gun down the mighty Yahoo! They started a 'Remove Plagiarism' campaign, which quickly gathered momentum and on March 5th, staged an online protest.

One has to just click the links above to see how many people joined them in this protest. The blogs also put up some nifty cartoons to drive the message home. It is no wonder that Yahoo! quickly capitulated and ended with egg on their faces. They retracted their filched recipes and sent an apology to Surya Gayathri.

Of course, they used the time-tested defense of pointing the finger at some other partner website.

The reproduction of the recipes, which were taken from a blog in Malayalam run by a housewife in Kerala, in Southern India, sparked an online protest among bloggers.

A Yahoo spokeswoman said the reproduction of the content was inadvertent and blamed the incident on a company it hired to develop content for its Web site, (India) Pvt. Ltd.

Yahoo! is not the only site to go down the filching route to beef up its content. According to these bloggers, sites like Sify, Bawarchi and other food websites are not above lifting the images and using the content to suit their purposes.

This win hasn't come easy for these bloggers. When first notified of this content theft, Yahoo! reacted by deleting the offending content and hoping that no one would notice. When that didn't work, the bloggers say the tactics took a turn for the worse:

they [sent] their trolls, insulting many bloggers out there who supported us, very well knowing, we are 'Indian girls', we cannot stomach insults and we would cow down! I haven't read so much filth which were put as 'comments' in my entire life. It caused me a lot of pain and anger and tears, especially when I saw the same type of filthy comments on couple of my friends blogs too! I [at] one time even thought of just disappearing from it all. It was that bad.

When that failed and news of the March 5th protest reached Yahoo!, apparently they tried to have a mini discussion with a select few. Bloggers like Inji Pennu stayed away from this and went on with their mega protest - and won!

This is definitely a big win for these spunky ladies and for us bloggers as well, who have been victims of plagiarism before. The precedent has been set and I can safely say, with due apologies to Neil Armstrong, that 'this is one small step for a woman but a giant leap for bloggers'.

But the reality is, these bloggers may have won the battle but the war is far from over. Combing through Yahoo! content, many more instances of such pilfered content can apparently be found, dotted across the website. It seems that we have barely scratched the surface of this copyright issue.

How are we bloggers to protect our content? Can anyone tell?

Edited to add: According to the latest blurb from Mahanandi, Indira's blog, Surya Gayathri hasn't received a personal apology from Yahoo! Furthermore, there are more instances of content and image theft by several Yahoo portals. So, these bloggers have decided to up the ante. Visit their discussion board at Dining Hall to join them in their protest.

Writing is my passion and music is my soulmate. When I have a book in my hand and my music blasting in my ears, I am on top of the world. I would love to be a published author someday. But till then, I shall enthrall you all with my creative genius. :)
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Plagiarism: Desi Food Bloggers Take On Yahoo! India And Win


Author: DesiGirl


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March 10, 2007
08:48 AM

Those are some great links DG, thanks :)

March 10, 2007
09:14 AM

Just a written apology? They're being very kind, they should demand monatary compensation, they should sue Yahoo!

Saakshi O. Juneja
March 10, 2007
09:15 AM

Yippppiieee. :)

March 10, 2007
10:17 AM

Thanks :)

Well, they have got a generic apology, nothing that specifies their name. Yahoo! has nicked 7 recipes from Surya gayathri. The others are trawling the website and are coming across loads more instances.


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