GREENSBORO, N.C. (BRAIN) — Following a social media furor sparked by the unauthorized use of content on Bikerumor.com last week, the cycling tech blog announced it has updated its editorial policy and — in the instance of any future “copyright errors” — pledged to make a $1,000 charitable donation to the cycling charity of the aggrieved party’s choice.
“I’m starting today with a donation to PeopleForBikes on behalf of Patrick Brady at (cycling website) Red Kite Prayer since it was the inappropriate use of his material that spurred this action. Patrick also has my humble apology for the error that was made,” Bikerumor founder Tyler Benedict stated in a release.
Last Thursday, Brady notified Benedict that a post credited to a Bikerumor freelance contributor reprinted an image from Red Kite Prayer and used content from a story he wrote about the roots of New England framebuilding for Peloton magazine in 2011 without seeking permission. The post was removed from Bikerumor shortly thereafter.
In an interview with BRAIN, Brady took issue with Bikerumor’s characterization of the incident as a simple “error,” saying instead that it reflects a historical pattern of misuse of other creators’ content by the website.
“(Benedict’s) response to me was that it was just a mistake, that he’s only human, that plagiarism happens to Bikerumor,” Brady said. “My response was, I’m human. I make at least one good mistake every single day, but never plagiarism. That’s not an error; that’s a theft.”
Brady also said Benedict did not notify him about the PeopleForBikes donation, and that while he is a stalwart supporter of the advocacy group, he would have preferred an offer of compensation for use of his content.
“Having a thousand dollars given to PeopleForBikes is killer, but it doesn’t make me whole,” he said.
“My first reaction was to just take the picture down because that’s what he requested us to do,” Benedict told BRAIN. “I spent the next 20 minutes trying to fix the article because I didn’t write it and I didn’t know what needed to be fixed. But within that 20 minutes we started to be criticized on social media, so I figured at that point the best thing was to pull the whole article down.
“It happened so fast, I was just trying to put out fires. And that particular type of fire suppression (compensation) never came up because we pulled it all down,” he added.
Bikerumor has a full-time editorial staff of three, including Benedict. It also uses a number of freelance contributors, “most with no prior journalism experience,” according to the Bikerumor release. All contributors are provided with a writer’s guide that, among other things, “outlines industry best practices regarding information attribution.”
As of this week, Bikerumor has also made its updated editorial policy available to the public on its website.
“It was a mistake, it shouldn’t have happened, and we’ve put new policies in place to ensure that it doesn’t happen again,” Benedict said. “It’s become crystal clear that we need to let everyone know how seriously we take these errors. Further, it’s even more important that I do everything I can to ensure that we learn from them in order to avoid them in the future.”