[UPDATE] JapanCinema stole from respected Korean cinema critics, bloggers, Soompi and IMDB
There’s been a lot of buzz today in Asian film internet circles about a certain website stealing a massive amount of content from various sources. Japan Cinema, a website which has been operating for over five years now with a seemingly loyal readership, has been plagiarising many if not most of its film reviews from all over the web – from well-renowned critics to your average Joe IMDB reviewer.
Understandably many writers are angry about the revelations and have been contacting the website directly. Former writers for the website who were unaware of plagiarism have also spoken out against the behaviour of the website’s owner.
Pierce Conran, a well-respected critic who writes for Twitch and the Korean film council’s KoBiz website as well as his own, has been sharing proof throughout the day of the many articles that have been plagiarised by this website.
— Pierce Conran (@pierceconran) May 4, 2015
Chase Whale, another well-respected film critic has also been tweeting screenshots of plagiarised articles, including some from outlets as big as the Village Voice and the Hollywood Reporter.
— Chase Whale (@ChaseWhale) May 4, 2015
Blogger Asian Film Strike pointed out some of the irony of the whole situation.
Many great writers of Korean film criticism such as Pierce Conran and Paul Quinn (of Hangul Celluloid) have had work stolen from as well as bigger Korean entertainment websites like Soompi and a huge number of other writers, IMDB users as well as writers and websites which cover a wide range of cinema from all over East Asia.
With all the evidence it would be hard to argue that this was anything other than sustained, intentional scraping of the content of other websites in order to grow their own. In fact, one former writer for the website who had been previously unaware of these goings on uploaded a vlog revealing messages from the site’s owner showing that not only did he not care but that he had contempt for all the ‘nerds’ who were calling out his bad behaviour. All he wanted was free DVDs.
In response to the situation Japan Cinema has been put into maintenance mode, effectively blocking access to its content, as it’s deals with it ‘internally’. Given that most of the stolen content has been posted under the name Marcello (the founder of the site according to his Linkedin), ‘internally’ in this case may mean inside his own head. He has also recently protected his tweets but luckily for you all I have a screenshot.
Blogging frequently about popular topics like entertainment, it’s not unusual to come across websites that seem to use robots and RSS feeds to automatically scrape and repost content. But these blogs are so obvious that they’re picked up by search engines immediately and languish off the front page of search results never to be read by anyone.
This is different. This is a website that has built up a not insubstantial readership over a long period of time by systematically stealing the hard work of other people and repackaging it as their own.
It might not seem like a big deal but, for many of the people who have been plagiarised, film criticism is a hobby which they are passionate about and for which the main reward is the satisfaction of the work itself. For others who are professionals, their livelihood and reputation has been built on the back of this work.
It’s pretty clear that the owner of this website does not care about much about film or film bloggers at all. But for those of us who do, we should let them know. If you like Japan Cinema on Facebook on follow them on Twitter, remove them and tell them why.
These writers deserve an apology but, unfortunately, it’s starting to look like they won’t get one. A lot of people who write about film, do it for the enjoyment of it. They don’t get any monetary reward. For those that do, their integrity is key to continuing their careers. The least these people deserve is some respect. And stealing their work is deeply disrespectful.
(Oh and if any of those legitimate bloggers who wrote for Japan Cinema want to write about Korean cinema on another website – we promise to value your creativity and integrity. Might as well put it out there.)
UPDATE: The JapanCinema twitter account appears to have been deleted and the website is now completely offline. The Facebook page remains and as of yet their has been no word from the owner of the website.
I’ve also done some digging and found out that this behaviour violates the website’s hosting provider bluehost’s terms of service. I contacted their support team and they seemed to be willing to help so if you are affected by this situation, emailing or tweeting them may help ensure the website does not go back online. This is most likely to work if you personally were plagiarised and have evidence.
@LizzieParker We want to address this issue immediately, please reach out to our Terms of Service Dept. regarding this issue.
— help.bluehost.com (@bluehostsupport) May 5, 2015