I hesitated in posting this, but then thought about it and decided I will. It’s my blog – these are just my thoughts and my opinions here, I’m not doing investigative journalism. I’m hoping to get the opinions of other reviewers on this topic.
Over the weekend I was poking around the Lelo site because a number of reviewers received one of their brand new vibes from the Insignia line and none of us could figure out how to charge it (the directions were confusing). Then I kept browsing their site and noticed that when viewing a toy there’s a tab for Reviews of that toy. Lelo has a tiny banner for the site, and a tiny blurb, but no link to click on to verify that blurb or read more. Then I clicked on the small “Reviews” tab up at the top of the site, did some looking and was unpleasantly surprised.
I truly do not recall them using our full text (and our photos, and our videos) on their site. And I certainly don’t remember being asked if this was ok with me. I don’t know about all of you, but I have copyright notices on my site. I specifically state that if you want to use something, you need my permission. I DO recall in the past seeing hits from the Lelo site to my blog, and back then I did view that section of the site. What they have at first glance is a screenshot of the blog/site’s review post, and the name (usually accurate) of the site. From what I remember, you clicked on that and it led you to that site’s review. When I looked this weekend I see that Lelo has lifted the entire content of the review (and usually photos if they were included) and for over 70 reviews, there is no link. They are not trying to claim the content as their own, to be clear. But they are using our content on their site without permission or even at the least a link in some cases.
I mentioned it on Twitter, and the Lelo response was to ask which review it was, saying it was probably an oversight (that no link was included, they ignored me saying that full content was used w/o my permission). I don’t think that 70-some constitutes an oversight. I sent an email to the PR address given on the Lelo site but have not heard back yet. I told them that they could use an excerpt but not my photos and my full text and that links must be provided.
So, what do you think? In a number of cases for the older 70-some reviews they now cannot provide a link because the site is gone. I don’t have a problem with someone giving an excerpt of my post and a link to it, but to lift the whole post?? Is this not a copyright violation? Am I the only one who is bothered? In the cases where Lelo provided the toy we reviewed, does this give them the right to use our review text/photos/videos? This isn’t just bloggers, it’s all types of sites. Fleshbot, Handbag.com, Examiner, there’s even a review that’s actually on the EF site, and the linkback is someone’s EF affiliate code. Take a look and see if your own content is there.
ETA: Polly noted below that sometimes it’s NOT full content and that made me think about why, and she mentioned how many of our reviews are done for other retailers. So I went back to look at my Gigi review (the review on my site is here) and I saw that Lelo edited my content – they removed all mention of VibeReview who sponsored my review AND they removed all of my affiliate links. From what I can tell on the instances where there’s a photo or two in the review, if it’s a photo owned by the retailer, Lelo didn’t include it so they know that that was copyright infringement (I am assuming this, judging by what I see, I cannot confirm that their intent is factual) – but yet they don’t care about MY copyright infringement of my photos and my text. Screenshot below of their altered review of mine: