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A tale of plagiarism one too many for Nigeria’s Linda Ikeji

Every social media savvy Nigerian knows Linda Ikeji, or should know her, and it is almost impossible to have a conversation centred on online media in Nigeria without her name popping up, one way or another

Every social media savvy Nigerian knows Linda Ikeji, or should know her, and it is almost impossible to have a conversation centred on online media in Nigeria without her name popping up, one way or another.

By embodying that famed Nigerian can-do attitude, ex-model Linda succeeded in making her name a reference point whenever people in Nigeria think about a successful news site. For this lady from humble beginnings, starting a blog when her modelling career began to wind down was something to do, for the love of it, never for money. This was some 6+ years ago. Now, with most of the better-known corporate organisations in Nigeria vying for advert space on her blog, Linda’s passion has turned her into Nigeria’s premier blogger, and richest, by far.

Over the years, Linda has set trends, affected government policy and gave Nigerians tons of things to talk about. Fearing what a negative exposé on her blog would do their image or careers, stars of all kinds gravitated to her, and Linda, whose modelling career would never be said to be that high flying, became a celebrity, and got to rub shoulders with those who claim ownership of the glitzy world of glamour.

Maintaining a humble mien, Linda, initially, didn’t seem to care much about all the glamour, but she did remember how far she had come and never failed to tell the world how she moved from not having a thousand Naira in her bank account a few years ago to getting to where she is today: all from having and consistently posting on her simple design blogspot site, from the comfort of her bedroom.

As part of an interview panel a few weeks ago, I heard interviewees gush about how much they admire Linda’s work ethics and her ability to capture and own a segment. ‘She’s so good, she makes her blogging seem like chatting with your friends,’ one remarkable aspiring writer gushed when asked what she thinks is the Linda Ikeji magic. I agreed with her. I think Linda Ikeji is phenomenal, in her consistency. As someone who aspires to the writer tag, I know firsthand how difficult staying on track is.

Some weeks ago, Linda posted that she had acquired a brand new Range Rover 4X4 and social media went abuzz. Many people wondered if spending 24 million on one car makes sense, especially if you already have two very good cars in a country where (as the IMF can’t stop telling the world) the average person subsists on less than a dollar a day. However, there were those who felt it was a good move: a grand announcement that the blogger had joined the world of the super rich.

Linda Ikeji shows off her wheels. Photo: Linda Ikeji's Blog
Linda Ikeji shows off her wheels. Photo: Linda Ikeji’s Blog

Perhaps it was the interest generated by the purchase, but Nigerian social media remains abuzz. Not with the news of the super car, but around something that has dodged the lady’s heels for years: the question of what many see as her rampant plagiarism.

Now, you’d need to visit Linda’s blog to better understand her style, but the fact is that, usually, beyond the two liners she adds, she can’t claim ownership to most of the content. In the new age of super fast breaking news and millions of personal blogs, copying and pasting is becoming more rampant and, in places such as Nigeria, is erroneously being perceived as the norm.

As soon as the twitter furore over Linda’s recent use of someone’s material without attribution or permission started on October 4 2014, a lot of people quickly got on her case.

But, Linda is not without her supporters:

When all is said and done, the truth will remain as glaring as it is simple: The internet is seriously challenging the existing copyright laws and the sheer number of infringements makes most attempts at persecution a very tall order. However, the truth also speaks of rights and wrongs: Stealing someone’s intellectual property is wrong and making a profit out of it is even worse.

As I’ve said before, most content owners are OK with others using part of their work (with attribution and a link back to the original source) but are unhappy with the copy and paste journalists who think it is fair play to populate their sites with contents that are the fruit of someone’s intense labour.

I won’t claim to be saintish. No one is.  And I am sure there are several ways to excuse Linda’s alleged transgressions, but those excuses pale in the light of the oft-repeated assertion that she ignores people who try to contact her when she infringes on their copyright.

That’s too bad. For someone who is an inspiration to many young people here, she needs to know that there is marked difference between a press release and an IP. For a press release, most content owners will be happy that it is being reposted across the internet. As a motivator and role model, Linda needs to begin teaching those who look up to her that a piece like the one you’re reading, as unappealing as it may appear, is someone’s baby and like most babies, you need to ask the parent for permission before you take them on a trip away from home. And after, let me know where my baby is and how far she’s travelled by sending a message back home, with a track back.

She needs to show that beyond the hype, she can up her game and set the right kind of standards. As someone great said,”with great fame comes great responsibility”.

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