A little rant about pilgrimage plagiarism
I’ve been sending this newsletter out to thousands of you for over a decade.
I always provide travel tips, share stories, or promote an upcoming pilgrimage. Always positive. Always hopeful. Maybe sometimes creepy if relics are involved.
Today, though, I have an angry rant.
Today I am going to talk about plagiarism and theft.
But first, here are two trips you can join…
I posted a pilgrimage for Oberammergau to Rome three days ago, it filled up immediately. So here’s one for Rome to Oberammergau — the same trip in reverse — and one of the last chances you’ll be able to see the Passion Play until 2030.
Announced a few weeks ago, the Holy Land and Jordan at Thanksgiving. This trip is just about full. Who knew so many people wanted to be in Jerusalem for Thanksgiving?
Now for that angry rant.
You know that I organize and lead pilgrimages. I’ve been doing this for 17 years and have taken thousands of people around Europe and the Holy Land with me.
But one of my biggest joys is writing.
I put a lot into my writing. Everything I share gets obsessively edited by me over and over and over. My words have appeared in magazines like National Geographic and Smithsonian, plenty of newspapers, blogs, travel guides, and my own site. I love to write!
I also use my writing to sell my products — my pilgrimages and my tours. I’ve spent years crafting how to promote the places I take my groups. I started The Catholic Traveler to bring people with me to the places I love and I share the passion I have for each destination through my words. My entire sales pitch includes my sense of humor and my sense of wonder.
Many recognize my style when they read it, which brings us to last week.
I was enjoying a fine Saturday here in Rome. I’d just returned from a week-long retreat in Assisi and was getting ready to watch our neighborhood band headline a concert in Circus Maximus with 70,000 other fans when my phone alerted me to a text from a good friend, it read “this person’s description of visiting Petra reminds me of someone else’s description… weird.”
Then he sent a screenshot:
And below is a screenshot from my website of the text I’ve been using for years to advertise Petra:
In all, someone had stolen 640 words — yes, I counted — to promote and sell their own pilgrimage. It was word for word. They did make one sentence their own by adding a comma. 👍
Now, this isn’t just some rando “accidentally” using my text for “inspiration” to advertise their first ever pilgrimage — I happily and freely help people just getting started in this business all the time, I am mentoring two travel start-ups right now.
No, this is a big Christian travel corporation.
A travel corporation that’s been in the business longer than me.
A travel corporation with plenty of employees.
And, with just the slightest hint of irony, a travel corporation that actively courts Catholic WRITERS — award-winning authors, full-time bloggers, and even a professional copywriter. 🤯
Some may think it was an honest mistake. But someone from this company went to my website, highlighted my text, and stole 640 of my words.
For context, everything you’ve read above this sentence is less than 600 words. That’s how much they copied word for word and then used as their own to make money.
Some may think it’s not a big deal. But this is my copyrighted creative content. My words that I use to sell my pilgrimages. This is how I make a living.
I’m curious how many times they’ve done this and it’s gone unnoticed.
But mostly I’m curious what the writers who travel with this company think about them stealing my work and how they would feel if it were their own.
I think it’s gross.
I’m off to Spain, France, Portugal, and Germany for a pilgrimage – and I did not steal any of the words I used to advertise the trip. 😉
Have a beautiful week!