This is an update on how we've handled the video copying situation involving a now-banned forum member named jealpaul.
jealpaul was discovered (thank Tuomas for this!) to have copied other people's tool building videos and claimed them as his own. Copying ideas is perfectly legitimate; ideas can't be owned, and the ideas were often copied from somewhere else anyway. However, copying other people's videos and uploading them as your own is a form of intellectual property theft called freebooting. The type of freebooting that jealpaul practiced, where excerpts of videos are copied, rather than entire videos, is exceptionally hard to catch. The good news is that YouTube has recently implemented a feature where this type of copying is addressed, and this should have some positive effect on reducing the frequency of this practice.
Here's what we've done to address this situation:
- Banned jealpaul.
- Deleted jealpaul's tool threads.
- Deleted jealpaul's tool entries.
- Deleted jealpaul's tool entry from an ebook that had featured it.
- Removed jealpaul's awards and re-awarded them to the rightful winners.
Here's what we can learn from this situation:
jealpaul was in part exploiting a language/culture barrier, by taking non-English language videos (looks like mostly from Russian builders), and presenting them on our English language forum. jealpaul aside, there's an important lesson here: those tool builds were great! In fact, the legitimate tool builders from that part of the world, who post on this forum in good faith, have posted many other great tools. Had the original authors of those tools posted their work here (as we originally thought they did), it would've been a huge bonus for our community. Recruiting more legitimate builders from that region of the world is something we should be thinking about.
Here's this situation in perspective:
We've held 238 Homemade Tool of the Week contests, and, thus far, jealpaul's 3 wins were the only ones found to be fraudulent. This gives us a 98.7% rate for good clean contests, which is unusually high for an offline environment, and extremely high for an internet contest environment. So, while this situation helps us savvy up to future such occurrences, it's nothing to go crazy about. We should certainly continue the practice of "See something, say something", but the truth is that we're doing great with our contests, and we should continue them just as we have been.