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I have an unusual issue and not sure how to handle it or if I should just let it be. I advertise with 2 orher websites besides HomeAway and have 2 properties in the Adirondack Mountains in NY. I have noticed over the last few years that people who are new to renting in my area are copying part of my house and area descriptions and using them to advertise their house. In the past, I just changed my descritpion to make it original again and didn't think much of it.
This morning, I noticed a new house went up for rental in my area and they copied and pasted my description of my house and the area, cleaning fees, things to do, rental rates, personal quotes etc. WORD FOR WORD! The only thing they changed was the amount of bedrooms and took out "fireplace" because they don't have one. On one of the websites, we are the only 2 houses in the town and we had the exact property description! I ended up changing it but do I say something to her?
I think that I would say something to the other property's owner. I know that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, but this is ridiculous. I think that it would create a negative impression of each property with potential renters. It could also confuse potential renters and they might think that the properties belong to the same owner because the descriptions are the same.
Also, you mention that they have copied "personal quotes." Are you referring to guest reviews of your property? If they are copying those, that sounds like fraud to me. If they are making up bogus reviews of their property by copying your guest reviews, I think that you should notify VRBO/HomeAway and see if they will take some sort of action against the owner of the other listing. Good luck!
Thanks for your input. I have decided that I am going to call her and
say something. I spent a lot of time perfecting my description of my
house and area and resent the fact that I had to change mine again
because she was too lazy to come up with her own. Who copies and pastes
someones advertisement and doesn't even try to change it at least a
little? I will be nice but will make it clear that I want her to change
it so I can change mine back.
I include some quotes from reviews as part of my description like " All
the local scoop has been provided for you. Just bring some food and
clothes and enjoy a hassle free Adirondack vacation!" and "Scenic hiking
trails, fishing, water sports, etc...a true Adirondack experience." She
used my entire rental fee page and even had the same rates (I have a 2
bedroom and she has a 4 bedroom), same special mid-week rates and
descriptions. She even copy and pasted my cleaning policy and rates and
the fact that I only use non-toxic cleaning supplies. Our houses are
nothing alike (mine is MUCH nicer ;>) so it really boggles my mind.
If you've never experienced the joy of accomplishing more than you can imagine, plant a garden. ~Robert Brault
Your original words are automatically copyrighted, so she is technically violating copyright laws when she copies. Send her a note and explain that she may not be aware she is violating US copyright laws by using your text.
I was the first one in my area to advertise on VRBO in 2001 and after a few years of great success others signed on. I find my discriptions, rates and policies on almost all of the competetors sites. In this market R&D means "Rip Off and Duplicate". That's just the way it goes.
Rates and policies would not be covered under copyright protection, but descriptions should be. I would contact the other owners and protest, but try to keep it cordial. They are your competitors, but they also are your allies when it comes to standing up to local regulations.
Perhaps you could also try to complain to HA? They are violating the Terms and Conditions of HA advertising:
...Terms does not include any right of collection, aggregation, copying, scraping, duplication, display or derivative use of the Site nor any right of use of data mining, robots, spiders or similar data gathering and extraction tools without our prior written permission; ...
Thank you for your input. They obviously copied and pasted my description of my cabin off my page (the houses are NOTHING alike) and my description of the neighborhood and town, fun things to do in the area and all of my little catch phrases that I used. She just changed the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. The only reason I found it was because every few months I will look at the other rentals in my area to see what my competition is and make sure my prices are competitive. I do know her and it is a very small community so I hesitated saying anything and just ended up just changing my description. If she does it again, I will definetely say something.
It was on Adirondack by Owner not HA and I did end up calling them to ask if they had a policy. They do not but will be looking into it and possibly adding one. They did offer to e-mail or call her and tell her that they noticed on their own that her description was too similiar to mine and that she would need to change it.