John Dunleavy, owner of SQLTech Consulting in Philadelphia, PA, has been engaging in an interesting conversation with me and a few other authors on Twitter. Denny Cherry also recapped the conversation.
I first spoke with John a few months ago when I caught him plagiarizing my work – not using it for inspiration, but simply copying it. He posted my full articles on his blog without quoting them or showing that they were from me. I pointed him to my FAQ on blog plagiarism, and after some strong discussions, he agreed to remove my work from his blog. Evidence of the plagiarism still lives on in Google’s cache, unfortunately:
Over the last couple of days, we’ve revisited his site, and we’ve found that John has continued to copy the work of others without proper attribution. Here’s an example:
The post has no quotes around it, and it says things like “we have achieved 99.99 percent uptime.” The article says “by John” at the top, and the reader would assume that the “we” means John.
But every single word is copy/pasted from this Microsoft TechNet whitepaper by David Smith of ServiceU Corporation. That whitepaper is covered by Microsoft’s copyright at the bottom, which explicitly states that:
“You may not modify, copy, distribute, transmit, display, perform, reproduce, publish, license, create derivative works from, transfer, or sell any information, software, products or services obtained from the Services.”
John chose to ignore that copyright, and he defended his actions on Twitter by saying:
He’d rather ask forgiveness than permission. Unfortunately, that’s not fair to the authors. It’s not fair to make hard working guys like me chase down people who are stealing our work, then ask them to stop. The answer is for them to stop stealing work to begin with, but it’s tough to argue that when the other person believes they’re helping people:
Me, I’m not good at building operating systems, but that doesn’t give me the right to pirate Windows. And it certainly doesn’t give me the right to share that pirated software with others, even if I’m not making money doing that sharing. John tries to hide behind the community flag:
The problem with John’s noble goals, though, is that he is indeed running ads and making money. The entire site is an advertisement for John’s consulting company, SQLTech Consulting. If you click Services at the top of the page, he offers database administration:
It isn’t as if he’s running a personal web site – he’s running a business. That’s especially ironic given that he asks:
I’d be happy to answer that question. I help others by working my tail off to write original posts & articles, then I give them away to the community personally. I build original presentations, rehearse them over and over, and then deliver them free over the web in high definition.
I work so hard because I want people to associate me and my employer, Quest Software, with SQL Server expertise, community building, and trust. I get paid to build a trustworthy bridge between you and Quest. If you have a SQL Server issue, I want you to know that you can come to me personally and get an absolutely honest and correct answer. If the answer is a script you can just download for free off SQLServerPedia, I’ll point you to that. If the answer is somebody else’s product, I’ll tell you that.
But I line my pockets because sometimes the best answer is a Quest product, and I’ll point you to it, but I won’t sell it to you. If you ever feel like I’m shoving a product down your throat, I want you to call me out on it, because Quest wouldn’t allow that. Billy Bosworth, the head of our database software group, talks about why that’s so important in his post How SQLServerPedia Is Different.
I would give anybody in the SQL Server community the shirt off my back. I’ve helped my competitors, I’ve pointed people to competitors’ products, and I’ve gone out of my way to consistently do the right thing. But that’s not enough for John Dunleavy, who wants to reuse the work of others without so much as quoting or attributing it, and he says:
This is the heartbreaking part about helping the community. The vast, vast majority of the SQL Server community is made up of phenomenal people who feel the same way I do. They drop everything to give #SQLHelp, they volunteer to share their knowledge at local user groups, and they give their work away for free on their blogs.
It’s only a tiny minority who abuse the rest of us.
Update 3/23/2010 – It Gets Worse
Upon further investigation, Denny Cherry discovered that John Dunleavy had plagiarized more material. John stole Denny’s work for a T-SQL Tuesday blog post, changed some words, and passed it off as his own. Now John really can’t argue that he was just publishing pointers to other peoples’ work – he was doctoring their work and publishing it without any attribution whatsoever.
If you’re a small business looking for a database consultant,
you should know how that person treats data that belongs to others.
Update 3/29/2010 – John Removed the Material
John saw the light, and he’s removed the offending material. He’s asked me to remove this post as well, saying he never stole anyone’s work – merely used it without attribution. I declined, but I’ve offered him the chance to write a paragraph to explain his stance here.