A DC “Cooks Source” over at Awesome DC?

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

If you spend any time on the Internet, and I suspect that because this is a blog that most of you do, you probably heard about the Cooks Source Kerfuffle last week.  What happened? Well, a publication took, word for word, an article they found on the Internet, and they published it without talking with the author.  That means that the author didn’t get paid and more importantly, didn’t give permission for their content to be published without their knowledge.  That wasn’t the big deal. The big deal was the editor’s response when asked about the situation.  The editor said something to the effect “Oh, we do this all the time. The web is public domain! Think of all the exposure you’re getting!”

It’s not.  And the response from the Internet amounted to a pitchfork-wielding, torch-carrying mob.  Why? Because really, we all work hard at this, and having our stuff taken without our knowledge isn’t called “Exposure,” it’s called “Misappropriation without Permission.”  And it’s generally something that I get a little ticked about.

Ross Karchner, who works hard at DC Tech Events to keep a good calendar of what’s happening in DC’s amazing and burgeoning tech community, found out that another site was just stripping his stuff and republishing it as part of their content at Awesome DC.  He had a few words with one of their founders on Facebook (Update: The post has been removed), and it seems that their response is to say “Think of all the exposure you’re getting!”

More frustrating is that it seems that several other articles at Awesome DC seem to be lifted from other sources with minor rewrites.  Now, the facts aren’t under copyright, and the story rarely has a lawyer to back it up, but is taking wholesale content without the author’s permission really a good idea?  We’re hoping that Awesome DC will give some credit where credit’s due.

Update: Awesome DC has removed a few of the entries that were causing some of the issues, but that also deleted the conversation between their staff and Ross, which we’ve archived with Ross’ help below the cut.

Awesome DC has yet to respond to our request for comment.Screen shot 2010-11-11 at 2.50.42 PM.png
Screen shot 2010-11-11 at 2.51.08 PM.png

I live and work in the District of Columbia. I write at We Love DC, a blog I helped start, I work at Technolutionary, a company I helped start, and I’m happy doing both. I enjoy watching baseball, cooking, and gardening. I grow a mean pepper, keep a clean scorebook, and wash the dishes when I’m done. Read Why I Love DC.

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23 thoughts on “A DC “Cooks Source” over at Awesome DC?

  1. I have been one of your readers for past three month and this will my last. This was the most pathetic and childish article I ever read. Your winning does not fit your blog name. You might as well take out the word Love DC. If you are both serving DC, so what your events were promoted on their site. In fact, you guys should have paid them awesome dc for promoting you guys.

    I totally see you guys are like classic Politicians in DC. Consider me gone!

  2. I’m really not sure where you’re getting the idea that any of our events were “promoted” on the site. It seems like maybe you mis-read the article. Perhaps you’d like to take another crack at it.

    Not that your objection makes sense- no one is complaining that AwesomeDC was promoting events (none of which were ours, by the way; we don’t have a dog in this fight). The problem is that AwesomeDC appears to be plagiarizing other people’s work.

  3. Thanks for posting this. I very much enjoy your hyperlocal focus and respect your integrity (in this, and in the transit posts, for example).

  4. Gotta love watching the new internet try to rip itself apart. With a hefty dose of spousal sanctimony thrown in.

  5. @Steve: The Internet is, in many regards, a free-for-all with little check on behavior and actions. The only option for a lot of this stuff is self policing, and that’s what we believe is necessary here. I don’t think there’s an endemic policy of plagiarism at Awesome DC, but it’s clear that they’re not just copying content, they’re failing to provide its context, which is a shame.

  6. I give you two thumbs up for this article. Ignore the naysayers, obviously folks from the offending site trying to do damage control.

    The offender was obviously disregarding the pleas Ross made to at least credit where he was taking(stealing) the content from. I applaud a credible site intervening.

    In my opinion, for someone as highly educated as the About page on the AwesomeDC site claims, you would think they would understand how seriously wrong plagiarism is.

  7. You scared them, they seem to have taken down their Facebook page. Keep on them. This sort of thing must be stopped. Good Luck!

  8. I left a message on their Facebook page and on the contact page of their site. I encourage others to do the same.

    Copyright infringement and plagiarism must be stopped.

  9. On the lower lefthand side of their Facebook page, click “Report Page” then “Is this your intellectual property?” This will slow them down at least…

  10. Wow. What a dirtbag.

    With this level of plagiarizing I would also wonder how much of his university work was his own.

  11. I rarely use the word “douchebag” but this guy is so deserving. If you ever meet him in real life, he is the same. He also recently accused Arriana Huffington of STEALING his idea for featuring a “person of the week” on Huffington Post, making him both hypocritical and sadly misguided about who originated that. He’s a disgrace to the DC tech community and the word awesome. Thanks to Ross Karcher and TBD for getting the word out about what a SHAM Elias Shams is.

  12. Honestly, great job in calling this guy out.
    He is a scar on our local tech community in DC and always had been. He was a founder in Searchles way back in the day and his behavior at events and his blatant sexual innuendos towards females at these events was appaling.

  13. I think what’s craziest here is that the guy, at least in my email conversation with him, is denying that he’s doing anything wrong, even when he’s stealing content left right and center, and he’s saying that he’s given out his account credentials to a number of people and that he can’t be held responsible for that.

    This guy’s crazy. Fortunately, for now, he’s in Barcelona (or so he said), maybe we can convince him to stay there?

  14. Elias Shams has now been banned from all DC tech/creative/entrepreneurial events this ‘anonymous influencer’ hosts/sponsors from now on.

    We will silently shield the community from this asshole, and cut off his ability to network/progress within the community.

    Elias: Fuck you.