Monday, February 6, 2017

A few thoughts about theft and plagiarism...

I've been doing a lot of thinking over the last few days about all this plagiarism stuff, and I ask you to bear with me as I process some of my thoughts...

My dad was one of the most generous people I've ever met. He gave of himself, his possessions, his money, his knowledge. He never sold things or held garage sales; our family donated what we didn't need or want to those who might or to a local agency, like the Salvation Army.

The thing that angered him the most was theft. If you wanted something, all you had to do was ask. You didn't need to steal from someone who gave so joyously and so copiously...but people did. They took advantage of his good nature time and time again, but still he gave. When we moved to Chilliwack, we met a lovely family down the road who accepted so graciously what my mom and dad had to offer, and they gave so much to us in return. In the years since, the members of this family have shared what they learned with so many others, keeping my parents' spirits alive. In the end, he found people who would appreciate what he gave, and it made all of us so happy.

My dad wasn't all hearts and flowers, though. He also used to say that all it takes is one bugger to spoil it for the rest of us, and last week I found myself a bugger (or three). When I saw how many people were enriching themselves through my hard work, my first thought was to shut all this down, to hide everything I've ever shared so no one could steal from me again.

I'm not an idiot: I know when I release something on-line, it takes on a life of its own. Horrible and unscrupulous people will abuse it, but so many more good, kind, and wonderful people could do amazing things with it, and it makes my heart so happy to hear your stories about what you've made or learned. Maybe you were inspired to learn a bit of chemistry or share something you made with someone you love. Maybe you discovered a shampoo that didn't make your hair feel awful or a lotion that made your skin feel nice. Maybe I gave you a laugh. Maybe you made some money. In the end, it's why I do what I do, and I'm still here, sharing what I know.

If you know so little about a topic that you have to steal recipes, writing, and research from someone else, you will be found out soon enough. It'll be obvious to your students pretty darn soon as they ask you questions and you can't answer them. Perhaps they'll notice that your writing voice changes every few paragraphs or pages. I've read that it takes about three years for someone's incompetence to catch up with them, so maybe your time is almost up?

My dad used to say that we don't need to get back at people who hurt us because karma will bite them in the end, and he was (almost always) right. If you can steal from other people, enrich yourself unjustly in a field about which you know nothing, and aren't terrified of being found out as a fraud every minute of the day, I say kudos to you, my friend. You are made of stronger stuff than I am.


CC Mirabella said...

Susan I just wanted to say to you as one of the very lucky people who have had an opportunity to learn what you have so generously shared out of your generosity & kindness of heart, I can not thank you enough in fact thank you seems inadequate. The first time I stumbled across your blog I'll tell you I was so overwhelmed & intimidated, I got out fast lol...but I came back pretty fast too... I knew if I wanted to learn this it had to be the right way & yes their is some other sites to learn on this was by far for me the best most down to earth & I was addicted. I think I read & took notes for an entire year before making one thing ..I had never in my life LOVED doing & learning something ever ... to think in your 40s you'd developed a love of chemistry & start sleep eating & breathing it !? It's been 4-5 years now and ANYTHING I make even something that may seem unrelated to anything on your blog you deserve the credit for...for if I had not learned the proper way I wouldn't have progressed nearly as far. I have the most amazing hobby thanks to you & all you've shared. I'm still obsessed after years ...and I'm just as grateful now as when I made my very first lotion.

Stephanie Cloud Seery said...

Susan, I want to be honest here and admit that I've used your words in my blog more than once. I've typed "As Susan Barclay-Nichols over at Point of Interest writes; "insert quote here" . And I often directly link to whatever page these words are written on, if I can and they aren't on a .pdf. But I make NO money from my blog. It's strictly there for information and amusement. If I'm going to take a large chunk of information from another website, like a recipe, I probably state at least three times that it's not mine, where to find the original, and I put into italics any changes I made and why I chose to make them (lack of ingredients, etc). I can't imagine teaching a class based on information gathered from other sources-never citing those sources-and taking in profit off of it. I mean , we all learn from someone, but by plagiarizing she's showing she never really learned to do anything but parrot your words.

I'm sorry this happened to you, and you can bet I will continue to cite you as my source for inspiration, to give you credit for all direct quotes, and to link back to your awesome and well designed blog rather than ever claiming it's my own work. You have my promise.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Stephanie, you're quoting and citing, which is what we all do! I'm honoured that you would think my work to be quotable! The person who plagiarized my work cut and pasted entire e-books, and sold them for large amounts of money, never quoting me once. Thank you for your kind words about my work!

Heather Behan said...

Hi Susan,
I'm really sorry for what you've had to go through recently with the plagiarism of your hard work. I can understand why you'd be tempted to 'grab the ball and run' but I'm so glad you didn't. You know how much your work is valued by so many of your students (of all ages)and I want to tell you how important this hobby is to me, which started with a 3-hour workshop with Plush Folly in the UK and then continued after I found your blog. I'd been depressed and couldn't think of anything I wanted to get up in the morning for, but as my interest in cosmetic chemistry began to take hold I started to perk up again, and started to get back some much needed self-esteem. I could actually make products my family and friends loved - and I made a perfect shampoo for myself after suffering years and years of a really itchy scalp which drove me nuts! I added a conditioner and what I call a 'hair tamer' and my hair (hi-lighted, grey and frizzy) is now finally under control! My skin - and that of my family's and friends - has never looked healthier and glowing (except perhaps as babies!), so I am making products of value which gives me a huge amount of pleasure and that all-important self-esteem. I give my heartfelt thanks to you Susan because without your blog, written with such friendly honesty and crammed full of wonderful, practical information, I wouldn't be in the place I'm in now.

Thomas Parker said...

Hi Susan,
You have always had me in awe of your knowledge and the fact that you are willing to share with us all. If people are so "moralackity" then they should be held accountable. They are not just stealing from you, but from your kids too, and that makes my heart sore.
Many thanks for your hard work and passion that you invest.
As 1 of a gazillion people rooting for you, You go get 'em!

Thank you!

PamBirtolo said...

Your heartache over this theft of your work saddens me greatly mostly because it will change you. That is life. Just please don't let it harden the spirit that is you. I literally stumbled onto your blog about a year ago and you have changed/are changing my life. Every day, I devour some more of your learning. But, it's more than that. About two months ago, my very well paying job disappeared so I am in the process of opening my own business. You are a huge part of the reason that I think I can actually do this self-employed deal and make it. You inspire me and based on the outpouring I've read, I'm not alone. You should know that your true work can never be copied. It's my hope that, at some point in your grieving process, in due time, you will be able to see that no one can steal what you have really done.

Relax the Bath said...


The universe does indeed catch up with people. Things and people get exposed for who and what they are. Stand tall, and please don't allow this to change YOU.

When people have ripped me off, I could allow it to make me bitter or move forward. I keep choosing to move forward because people never know what I am doing or where I am going. Two former friends did this to me. One in this field, and one in another field. I just keep moving on and allow the Universe to handle it. Success comes from hard work - not theft, lies or deception. People eventually see these crooks for who they are.

Your Dad was a wise man... just as my Grandmother who raised me was.

You inspire and bring joy to so many - including me. I hope your plan of action allows you to move forward and keeps you the same sweet and loving person you are. Keeping you and your husband in my prayers.


Yukii Ravencrest said...


I have posted before regarding how influential your blog has been for me but I would like to add more personal details. I have incredibly sensitive skin that either itches so bad I scratch in my sleep until I bleed or I get annoying tiny hives over large areas of my body. I’ve seen doctors regarding my skin condition but nothing really helped aside from slathering hydrocortisone cream all over my body. And as you know, using that much hydrocortisone is not great for you or your skin (it thins your skin) so I searched for a better alternative. Commercial body lotions, even expensive ones, never helped at all.

Although you do not make any medical claims on your blog I did find the resources I needed to formulate a lotion specifically for my skin. Since I make the lotion myself I took the opportunity to test every major ingredient individually on my skin, during which I discovered I am extremely sensitive to shea butter (surprise!).

I now make huge batches of an oatmeal wheat protein lotion that I apply every single night. I still get an occasional itch but I sleep SO MUCH better now with my homemade soothing lotion. And my skin has never looked more healthy.

Your blog has also inspired me to try new ingredients and make gels (incredibly cool process!). The best part is that I can trust your recipes – I always customize them a bit but I know they will work since the base recipe is yours. I have only had 2 failures in the last 3 years because of your fantastic blog.

Thank you for taking the time to write such an inspirational blog.

KMY said...

Susan - I don't think I can express my thoughts better than those above, but I certainly agree with everything said/written here. I started my cosmetic chemistry learning journey 2 years ago for 2 reasons: My skin & hair had changed so much during menopause onset that OTC & high-end products no longer worked for me; and more importantly I needed a topical lotion to help ease my neuropathic/fibromyalgia/muscular pain when my med insurance would no longer cover it. Your website has been invaluable in my quest and I can never thank you enough. I was happy to purchase your publications and to contribute to your Patreon fund, even though I am on a fixed disability income, because it is the very least I can do. Please don't be disheartened or give up your hobby -- it helps so many of us. Best of luck on trying to stop "the one" who caused this firestorm. And may God Bless you and yours.

Mary said...

Thank you for speaking out on this subject. For some reason, people think that basic courtesy, rules and even laws should be interpreted differently for things on the internet. Even people who should know the concepts (like judges and churches) are taken in by this mind set. The internet becomes less useful when you search for a topic and find multiple sites saying the same thing and you can’t tell which one is an actual source of knowledge and which are merely copycats.
Our society has taken the approach that it is your own fault if you left your door unlocked and someone stole from you. Is posting something on the internet the equivalent of leaving your door unlocked? At what point did we stop saying that theft is theft? We learned as children in elementary school that that was not acceptable; maybe we need an updated version of “Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten”!
I was at a presentation to a community group by a company called Park Bench that takes content (events, etc.) from other sites and puts it on theirs. They then promote themselves as having more content than any other so you should use them, recommend them to others as the place to go for anything in the community, and so on. Even the church representatives in the audience could not understand that taking the content from other sites without the consent of that site (or the knowledge of the original poster) was wrong.
There is a need for people to share openly so that others can build on it and society can advance. And sharing should be valued and respected – and credited.
Thanks again for speaking out on this subject. And for trying to educate people on it. Maybe if enough of people start talking about it, we can turn the tide.

Pepper7 said...

Susan, You already know my feelings on this subject from our FB group, so I will not reiterate my disgust over what has happened to you. I always tell my people, just because you can do something, doesn't always mean you should. In other words, just because it is easy to copy and paste another's hard work, doesn't mean it should be done. Anyways, you and your blog have completely turned my thinking around on synthetic ingredients. I was one of those "chemicals" are bad people until I started looking for answers to my questions and came across your blog. This may sound crazy but I can still remember what I was searching for that brought me here: it was a google search for illippe butter. You had the most comprehensive post on exotic butters that I had ever seen ! The rest is history. Thank you 💜

pat bortolin said...

Dear Susan
Lying and stealing is an easy way for many people in this world we live in, your father and my father and for all the people who raise us with morals and integrity also instilled in us that you need to find some rectification with these people that pass through our lives and interrupt, you are a very generous person and I am glad to have met your acquaintance. Time will heal and karma will prevail as your dad has mentioned, your work is wonderful and I admire your courage. Thank again :)

4Y-Richard said...

Hey Susan - I only recently discovered your blog and frankly I am blown away by the amount of great information you are sharing here.

I have only scratched the surface and you have already inspired me to look at other products that I would not have given much thought about otherwise. Keep up the great work!

That said, there are rotten people out there who will steal everything that's not nailed down, physically and virtually. They suck, without a doubt. I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. However, it might be worth at least speaking to an attorney to see what your options are to protect your intellectual property from outright and blatant theft.

Thanks again, there are many of us out here who deeply appreciate your efforts.

Rosa Phillips said...

In my opinion, you have taken the high road in this situation. I do believe that everyone gets what they deserve in the end. Sometimes we are aware and sometimes we are not.

I have enjoyed each and every e-book that I have purchased from you. I honestly enjoy reading, researching and trying new skincare formulations. I have an extensive chemistry background, so I appreciate your work!!

You are a positive light here on the web, sharing you knowledge and doing good in your community.

May God continue to bless you, your husband, and your new puppy!

Kelli Spears said...

Hi Susan,
I agree with so many of the comments made above. Like CC Mirabella, I stumbled across your blog a very long time ago when I was just in the reading and learning phase. When I first came across formulating and the fact that you could make this stuff at home, I was immediately hooked and wanted to learn how to do it. That was in 2009 and I read for almost a year before I finally worked up the courage to just do it!! I learned so much from you and STILL do today. The information and recipes you provided gave me the knowledge of what I could use to substitute if I didn't have the exact same ingredients as what you used. What would work and what wouldn't and one of the best pieces of advice you always try to give people, and that is, "make something"!! Experiment and find out what we like best for ourselves. That inspired me to just do it. I came up with my own formulas and tweaked them until I loved them but I know it would have taken me so much longer if I hadn't come across your blog.
I frequently refer people to your blog for information or post a link to one of your articles if I think that it could help someone else or offer true formulating information that comes from a trustworthy source. Even after 7 years of formulating experience I still refer to your site when I'm trying to find out information on ingredients or the chemistry of some type of formulation.
It really makes me sad and even mad that someone would take what you offered for free and sell it to make money for themselves. A lot of people who commented above said that eventually they will be found out and there will be a price they have to pay for what they did. I agree. It will come back to bite them soon enough. They've already been found out, so it's just a matter of time before they have to "pay the piper", so to speak.
I am glad you told all of your followers about this. We are behind you 100%.
The knowledge you share is invaluable to me and I just don't know that I would have ever become the formulator I am today without all that I learned from you in the past, present and hopefully the future for many many years to come.

Laura said...

Your blog only has enriched my knowledge and educated me. Thank you for the confidence to formulate! I'm sorry if you feel some people are using it not as intrended. Laura

Rebecca said...

Best of Luck! I know you write because you love writing, researching and sharing. Those of us who enjoy this don't do it for profit or sell our recipes.. BUT please don't take another's hard work and call it one's own. You have stood up for all of us. Thanks.

ORE Estudio said...

Susan, I would only add that karma WILL eventually bite those people. The concept of karma trascend this life and this body we currently have, and says we will see the fruits in this life OR IN THE NEXT. Everything and anything that happens to us is the fruit of a seed that we planted in the past, which under the right conditios, ripens to be the circumstances and the things that happens to us now. Of course many people will differ from this concept of karma in the judeo-christian tradition and that´s all right, but in many other asian traditions, this is what karma means. Thank you for being so generous to us.

Tracy Toby said...

The story you told about your dad brought tears to my eyes. There are very few people that generous, especially these days. I consider myself fairly generous and am taken advantage of often. It stings but I have to remind myself that I did the right thing and the other person's actions shouldn't change how I feel about what I did.
I found you site just over a year ago and have learned so much. My hair has never been happier and I have you to thank.
I don't have a solution to your problem, unfortunately, but I do think you should look into how to report and/or pursue legal action.
Best of luck to you and huge hugs for all you are going through.

Tracy Toby said...

The story you told about your dad brought tears to my eyes. There are very few people that generous, especially these days. I consider myself fairly generous and am taken advantage of often. It stings but I have to remind myself that I did the right thing and the other person's actions shouldn't change how I feel about what I did.
I found you site just over a year ago and have learned so much. My hair has never been happier and I have you to thank.
I don't have a solution to your problem, unfortunately, but I do think you should look into how to report and/or pursue legal action.
Best of luck to you and huge hugs for all you are going through.

j9 said...

Thank you for sharing! You've made me laugh, cry and learn xo

j9 said...

Thank you for sharing! You've made me laugh, cry and learn xo

Vintage Blue said...

Susan. I found one of your pictures being used on an Etsy sellers site selling recipes. How can I share this with you so you can report it. Do you have an email I can send the link and screen shot to?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Vintage Blue! You can reach me me at
I take terrible pictures! Why would anyone want to use them! :-)

SGold said...

Susan I think it is alwful your work was plagiarized. I disagree with leaving it to karma. It sends a message to other potential plaziarizers that you will not enforce your intellectual property rights.