Cruise Law, Social Media and Honest Attribution

On Saturday, we published an article about a Princess Cruises captain molesting a girl during a cruise. The source of the story was a newspaper article published in the U.K. called the Spalding Guardian. We of course attributed the story to the Spalding Guardian and provided a link to the original article. We also credited the photographers who took the photographs we used in the article. A website called Cruise Bruise also published a story about the same incident, and copied and paraphrased large parts of the Spalding Guardian newspaper. But instead of giving credit to the original article, Cruise Bruise gave no attribution whatsoever to the journalists who researched the information or the newspaper which broke the story or the photographers who took the photos in her story. Instead, it wrote an article which made it appear that all of the information it published was the result of its own investigative journalism. It then published the article with great fanfare, claiming that "we are the first to cover the case." In truth, the Cruise Bruise article was regurgitation of the U.K. article. In grade school, most children learn that copying an article from an encyclopedia and calling it your own work is plagiarism. It's deceitful. In the world of publishing, whether it's a newspaper or blog, the same rules apply. You can't write an article and then publish it without giving attribution to the original source of the information. Attribution is required whether the published material is text or a photograph. Attribution requires that credit be given where credit is due, in order to prevent others from fraudulently claiming to have produced the work. The publisher at Cruise Bruise, Jan Huggard, has published many articles about the cruise industry over the years. She relies on the same Google e-mails alerts and Google reader applications as everyone else to find relevant content for her stories. But unlike credible journalists, she gives no attribution to others as the source of her information. She also plucks photographs from the internet and publishes them without credit to anyone. Today I awoke to see Ms. Huggard writing an article criticizing the article we wrote on Saturday about the perverted cruise ship captain. She appears to think that the story is her's alone. She claims to be upset that we wrote about the age of the victim, claiming that it could somehow lead to the disclosure of the name of the minor. A victim's age is not protected in the press or the legal arena and there is no possibility that the name of a victim can be revealed by mentioning an age. As a practical matter, this child's age was previously published in the U.K article which was the source of her article in the first place and which she still has not acknowledged. Indeed, the first sentence of the Spalding Guardian article states: "a 'world class' cruise ship captain from Donington has been jailed for nine months for sex offences against a 14-year-old girl while she slept in her cabin." Ms. Huggard also complains that we asked Princess Cruises for a comment about its captain, and then published the information the cruise line provided. Asking cruise lines for their side of a story is not something Cruise Bruise does. While we ask for the cruise line's view of an incident like this, we have learned that you have to take what cruise lines say with a grain of salt. In the end, it is the public who decides who to believe. The problem is that Ms. Huggard omitted the fact that the victim was part of the captain's extended family, which the cruise line stated in its comment. This of course does not justify the criminal conduct of the Princess captain. In fact, this makes his conduct even more sinister. But the information is a basic part of the story which Cruise Bruise decided to omit, undoubtedly to support Ms. Huggard's one-sided portrayal of the facts of this terrible incident. What is behind this bickering between Cruise Law News and Cruise Bruise you may ask? What Ms. Huggard knows but does not admit is that my firm used to advertise on Cruise Bruise. But a few things happened. First, Cruise Bruise's popularity nearly fell off of the charts (it is now ranked around 800,000 per Alexa). As Cruise Bruise slipped into obscurity, it was forced to try to generate money with annoying pop-ups, spam, and Google ads including selling cruise line ads on its RSS feed. Meanwhile, Cruise Law News became a top 10 law blog in the U.S. Secondly, Cruise Bruise is, in a word, odd. You will find no telephone or facsimile numbers and no street address for its site which is published somewhere in the backwoods of Arkansas. It hides in anonymity. Thirdly, and most, importantly, when it became apparent that Cruise Bruise was routinely plagiarizing newspaper articles, I ended my firm's relationship with this type of outfit. Ms. Huggard was upset that I abandoned her ship. There are few websites willing to take on the cruise industry. Cruise Bruise is one of the few. But it suffers from the same lack of transparency as the cruise industry. Writing in a grandiose style about "exclusive" stories which, in truth, are based on information gathered and written by reputable journalists, is delusional. More importantly, its dishonest. March 28 Update: Our article is picked as one of the "Best in Law Blogs: The LexBlog Network" Credits: Logo courtesy of Cruise Bruise

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