Guest Post: At Plagiarism Today, Jonathan Bailey Empowers Those Who Feel Powerless

Patrick Okeefe HeadshotToday, well technically yesterday, is the 10-year anniversary of Plagiarism Today. I’m working on a full anniversary post now (weekend plans got in the way) but, in the meantime, I wanted to share a post from my long-time friend and former Copyright 2.0 Show co-host Patrick O’Keefe.

He submitted this to me back in April and, though I had help from others here to get it ready to post, I am reading it in full for the first time today.

So thank you very much Patrick for all of the kind words below. It means so much to me, especially on this special day!

I first spoke with Jonathan on January 4, 2007. I had been a reader of Plagiarism Today for a while. At that time, I was hosting The Community Admin Show, a podcast for those who manage online communities. I emailed him with an invitation to be a guest on the show; to discuss copyright and how it impacts online communities. He responded the next day and appeared on my podcast shortly thereafter.

On January 9, just 5 days after I had first contacted him, I emailed him with something else. I discovered that a search engine named Omgili was scraping content from my forums and placing ads around it. I told Jonathan about it, but didn’t expect him to necessarily do anything with it.

When he responded, the next day, he had already contacted the owner of Omgili, who wanted to talk with me. He’d also hit the owner with some hard questions and, a day later, he wrote a great article about it on Plagiarism Today. This has happened so many times over the years. I’ll point something out to him and then he’ll write this great analysis of it, that helps people and, when necessary, takes someone to task.

Jonathan’s Approach

What has always impressed me about Jonathan’s writing is his professional approach to it. He has a clear position on copyright, but his journalism background comes through in his coverage of all issues. He’s not afraid to be critical of someone, but he also gives all sides the opportunity to be heard. He doesn’t use personal attacks; he uses facts and research.

He hasn’t fallen into the trap of being snarky or piling on for the sake of pageviews. He’s consistent, day in and day out.

My Friend

When I sent that email, I didn’t know that a wonderful friendship would follow. We’ve spent so much time talking over video chat, instant messaging and email. We’ve hung out in person a few times. When my first book was in development, I asked for his input on the areas related to copyright. I’ve quoted him in articles; he’s quoted me. I’ve become professional that is well versed in copyright, and he’s had a big hand in that. I’m sure I’ve benefited him in some way. Heh.

We first met in person at ConvergeSouth in Greensboro, North Carolina, in October 2008. I went to a dinner (at Table 16) that he hosted for the conference and attended a talk he gave. We spent time together at South by Southwest twice (where I met Jonathan’s significant other, Crystal), and appeared on the same panel in 2012. There has been a lot of collaboration, and I’m sure there is more to come.

Copyright 2.0 Show

Shortly after that conference, I sent him a story idea. In response, he asked me if I was interested in co-hosting the Copyright 2.0 Show, as Chris Matthieu was on the way out. I agreed. And then we did 259 episodes over 5 years, 10 months and 2 days.

It’s tough to pick out highlights from those 259 shows. Episode 149 stands out to me the most. It was about Global Grind, another story I put in front of Jonathan, that he covered. I think Jonathan would agree that we had the most packed, engaged and interesting chat room in the history of the program. Episode 200 was fun because we had a series of great guests – the biggest for me was Dave Tognotti, general counsel for Monster Inc., who has since been promoted to COO.

The greatest thing that the podcast gave me was my friendship with Jonathan. When you talk to someone for that many hours, you get to know them pretty well. Before we started the podcast, we were friends in a loose, general sense. By the end, we were close friends.

What I miss about hosting the podcast isn’t the copyright stories (Jammie Thomas-Rasset, Joel Tennebaum and Shepard Fairey eventually all begin to look alike), but sitting down every week with my friend and having a laugh about them.

This Milestone

When I look at this milestone – 10 years online – what I think is most important is the number of people Jonathan has helped. It’s a ridiculous number of people. And it’s not just the people that read Jonathan’s articles. It’s the people you’ll never know about. The people that contact him privately and ask for his help. I know, from personal experience, that Jonathan is tremendously generous with his time and expertise. This is his work, this is how he survives. But I’ve never known him to turn a single person away.

To steal a line from Dumbledore, help is always given to those who ask for it.

Poets who are upset because their work was taken and attributed to someone else. Writers who spend weeks on a piece only to see it re-posted online, with no idea what to do about it. Revenge porn victims who feel powerless. He helps all of these people, without asking for a dime. He lends his power to perfect strangers who feel they have none. He performs selfless acts on a daily basis, and you’ll never know about them.

As I look back on that first email, the first time I ever spoke to Jonathan, there is something special, and it is true of Jonathan to this day: you never feel like he’s blowing you off, like he doesn’t care.

I’m proud to be your friend, Jonathan. Thank you for everything that you do to help others, and congratulations on 10 years of Plagiarism Today.

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