Open Letter to The Suburban: Please Stop

N.B If you are one of our readers who supports SSN and you love what we do, we want to take a moment to thank you. We appreciate you, and your engagement with us helps us grow. This piece is meant for the writers and editors of the Suburban, a print publication by Zimpapers that has been filling some of its pages with our content without permission, and violating our copyright in the process.

Dear Ashraf Tikiwa and Goodwill Zunidza and the Suburban Editors:

A few weeks ago I was alerted by a colleague at Chisipite Senior School that our coverage of the Melbury Cup Tennis Tournament they hosted had been picked up and reprinted by your publication, The Suburban. We were not pleased, but assumed it was a one time error in judgement. However, that seemed to be only the start.  In your next issue, we noted that you picked up our Water Polo coverage. Since then I have had alerts from a number of schools we cover and have followed up to find that you are plagiarizing content from SSN.

You have a way of joining content from a few of our stories and making them into one huge article, as you did in your most recent issue with our exclusive interview held with swimmer Robyn Lee. You cut and pasted masterfully, before adding your byline,  so that to the unknowing reader it looks like it’s your original article.

Our work bylined Ashraf Tikiwa in The Surbaburn
Our work bylined Ashraf Tikiwa in the Suburban

It is Robyn Lee’s interview that you reprinted without permission in your paper that triggered me to write this letter to you.  It’s getting out of hand.  I tried reaching you by phone after you picked up our water polo coverage of the Crusader Shield, and I was brushed off. I doubt you even got my message. However, I do know that you will get this one as you are obviously avid readers of our content.

Although your publication, The Suburban, is a free print publication just as we are free to our readers online, it is filled with adverts which makes it a commercial venture.  Being a commercial publication disqualifies you from picking up our stories for use in your paper. Our content is licensed under the Creative Commons-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives International License. In case you missed the license on our website, it’s within the footer right at the bottom of every page on the site.

We started School Sports Network to promote and publicize school sports and student athletes in Zimbabwe, and that is why our work is licensed the way it is. Schools can copy our content and put it on their websites;  parents and students can copy and paste our content onto their social networks. All of that is okay by us as it’s not for profit; with such reposting and sharing, our content is not tampered with as you do when you combine several of our stories into one and add a staff writer’s byline. Your putting your source as Facebook posts or School Sports Network on an article, with your byline claiming work that is not your original work, doesn’t help us.

There is a lot of exciting school sport happening within Zimbabwe, and we at SSN cannot cover it all due to financial restrictions. With the number of adverts in your paper, we can only assume you are well-funded. Why not put that money to work and go out to watch school sport and cover it yourselves and not plagiarise our work?

Plagiarism2
Our work bylined Goodwill Zunidza in the Suburban

If it’s fixtures you want to know about, we are happy to share that information with you. Simply email us on info@ssn.co.zw. If you would like to continue using our content, you can contact us to make an arrangement to pay for it. Otherwise, we are asking you to stop plagiarizing our work.  Your readers expect much more from you, and so do we.

Yours in sport,

Team SSN

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