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Flattery or Plagiarism? They copied my AirBnb info!

UPDATE 4/2/2018:  I had a very nice conversation with Molly and she apparently had used the description from a previous host at the location – who specifically gave her permission to copy anything on her listing.

Apparently it was the other host who had copied my work – so Molly will update her listings with what I’m sure will be wonderful descriptions of Luquillo and its fantastic beaches. 

We’re now friends as well as neighbors and I look forward to a tour of her AirBnb units next time I’m in Luquillo.

ACTION ITEM: Whether you are a major hotel or another short-term rental host – its a good exercise to test and see if other listings are taking advantage of your work – either blatantly, or innocently like this case.

Especially for large hotels – we’ve come across listings that take advantage of your advertising and marketing efforts and then apply your words and photos to their listings.

What do you do when you find that a nearby AirBnb ‘superhost’
has copied descriptions from your listing for their own units?

Should I be flattered that she thinks so highly of my work that she doesn’t think she could possibly do any better?  The person who did this is a Social Media Consultant – so if she couldn’t do better  on her own – I guess my copy is pretty darn good!

Or should I be upset that she plagiarized my work and is using it to attract business that might have gone to my listing if the description wasn’t so wonderful?

I’ve had rental units in our house in Luquillo on both AirBnb and TripAdvisor for more than 5 years.

Since at least 2013, I’ve had the following description in the listing for the beaches in Luquillo  – Puerto Rico’s ‘Capital of Sunshine” and center of east coast surfing:


Beaches: You have beaches on every side of Luquillo Town.

La Pared Beach: Just a minute from the house is Luquillo’s town beach – La Pared (the wall). This is quiet during the week, but full of local families on weekends. If you face the ocean and walk to the left – you’ll find less people. This is Luquillo’s surfing beach.

“La Selva” – Nature Reserve Beach: Facing the ocean at La Pared – you’ll see the two towers of Sandy Hills condominium to your right. Just walk over the rocks in front of the condos and you’ll come to the North East Ecological Reserve. You can walk for miles to enjoy undeveloped beach and great birdwatching. Be aware of several inlets that you may have to wade across or swim if the tide raises during your walk.

Playa Azul (Blue Beach): To the left of La Pared Beach, walk around the point and you’ll come to a quiet beach near Luquillo’s cluster of high-rise condos at Costa Azul. About a 15 minute walk from the house. This is the best beach for Snorkeling!

Luquillo Public Beach – Playa Monserrate: Continue past Costa Azul and you’ll find an undeveloped point where you can imagine you’re on a deserted island. Cross a few inlets and you’ll round the bend near the campground to arrive at the most famous public beach in Puerto Rico. This is a ‘Blue Flag’ beach, so it is well maintained and continually checked for water quality. Here you’ll find showers, rest rooms, food stands and lots of families having a great time! About a 25 minute walk from the house. Note: you can walk on the road to the public beach in about 15 minutes from the house.

Kioskos: Just past the public beach are 60 ‘Kioskos’ or food stalls. There are usually 20 or 30 stands open so just walk along until you find one that makes you want to stop and enjoy some great food and fun. You’ll find everything from fine dining to street food, tacky souvenirs to biker bars and nightclubs – so its something you will want to check out.

If you get all the way to the kioskos, you may want to consider walking back on the road that goes from the parking lot by the campground behind the Playa Azul condominiums then past the cemetery, Brass Cactus Restaurant, Le Flamboyan Restaurant, Laundromat and the new ballpark before arriving at the town plaza and home.

Beyond the town center:
There is a shopping center with large supermarket just across Route #3 from where you turned to come into town.
There are also lots of fast food outlets (McDonald’s, KFC, Taco Maker, William’s Pizza, Tiny Frog Café, Chinese, etc in front of the shopping center along with a large Walgreen’s.
If you drive about 15 minutes further on Route #3 you’ll come to Fajardo where you’ll find larger stores like Walmart, Kmart, Supermarkets, etc.
Fajardo also has the very large El Conquistador Resort with its Water Park and access to Palomino Island (private beach).
Fajardo has the ferry terminal for ferries that go to Puerto Rico’s ‘Spanish Virgin Islands’ of Culebra and Vieques.
Fajardo also has Seven Seas Beach and the nearby Bio-luminescent Bay. Note: you can only tour the bio-bay by kayak with a registered eco-tour operator unless you register for the night-tours operated by The Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico which allow you to walk through the mangroves with expert guides.
And don’t forget El Yunque Rainforest – only a 5-10 minute drive from the house

———-—————————————-

The owner of several AirBnb units just around the corner has copied and pasted all of parts of this exact wording onto her various listings:

TripAdvisor Listings are older, so seem to only be in one that has been updated:

What puzzles me more is that she is a Social Media Marketing Professional.

What should I do?

Her Facebook ‘About’ says:

ABOUT MOLLY
  • a feisty marketing/branding/Social Media chic,soul connector and mother.. ..follow the life of a fashion lover,setting new trends and making the rules as I go!

I  hope that ‘making the rules as I go’ doesn’t give her self-permission and the right to copy other’s work….

Since she is a social media consultant – I’m sure that if she found her work copied by another business without permission – she would probably sue them. But she is a neighbor (although I’ve never met her) and she seems to be doing a good job attracting people with my descriptions and sending them away happy since she has great reviews….  What is my next step?

Should I complain to AirBnb and complain that a ‘Superhost’ is copying?

AirBnb’s guidelines state:

We don’t allow: Attempts to impersonate another person, account, or entity, including a representative of 

Is she impersonating my listing in an attempt to make people think its the same superhost?

More direct instructions are included in the AirBnb User Generated Content Terms of Use:

You hereby agree and represent and warrant that (i) you are solely responsible for your User Content, (ii) you own all rights in and to your User Content and/or have obtained appropriate rights and permissions from any and all other persons and/or entities who own, manage or otherwise claim any rights with respect to such User Content, (iii) you are not a minor, (iv) the Licensed Parties’ use of your User Content as described herein will not violate the rights, including but not limited to copyright, trademark, patent, trade secret, privacy, publicity, moral, proprietary or other rights, of any third party, or any law, rule or regulation, and (v) the User Content is not libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic, abusive, indecent, threatening, harassing, hateful, or offensive or otherwise unlawful.

This seems to be a clear violation of terms since she does not have my permission.


Should I send a ‘cease and desist’ letter?

This is so cold and impersonal – its not very neighborly.

Plus, on a realistic basis – every student has ‘copied and pasted’ during the course of their education – but the smart ones at least smush the words around a bit and put in some original comment.

After graduation, most people either stop doing this – or get really good at it so it can’t be easily identified or claimed as someone else’s work.

I know that when I worked for ad agencies or public relations firms – this would have been a serious matter that may result in dismissal. Have times changed so much that it is now a ‘free-for-all’?


 Should I send her a bill for use of my copy per listing per year?

I’m sure that in her business life at www.iammollyjones.com she charges her clients for copywriting and would not like other businesses to just copy and paste her work for another commercial entity without her permission or payment.   I think a nominal charge of $50/year per listing would be appropriate for the six listings.  If I received $300/year that she is using the material it would be OK with me…  From a scan of her listings calendar – the text is effective converting ‘lookers’ to ‘bookers’ and should be easy for her marketing budget.


 Should I knock on the door and make snarky remarks unless she invites me in for tea?

Luquillo is a small town and everyone knows each other… so its surprising that we haven’t met – especially since she’s 3 houses down the block.  I don’t want to seem like its a confrontation – so I guess I  won’t knock on the door – but maybe she’ll invite me over for one of her special herbal teas… and a chat…  If we hit it off, I am usually a pushover to help out other AirBnb hosts.


Since Caribbean Consulting is doing more and more work
the ‘Sharing Economy’, this situation may come up fairly often.

I’ll send this page to the person who copied the listing
and update with any feedback I get.

UPDATE 4/2/2018:  I had a very nice conversation with Molly and she apparently had used the description from a previous host at the location – who specifically gave her permission to copy anything on her listing.

Apparently it was the other host who had copied my work – so Molly will update her listings with what I’m sure will be wonderful descriptions of Luquillo and its fantastic beaches. 

We’re now friends as well as neighbors and I look forward to a tour of her AirBnb units next time I’m in Luquillo.

ACTION ITEM: Whether you are a major hotel or another short-term rental host – its a good exercise to test and see if other listings are taking advantage of your work – either blatantly, or innocently like this case.

Especially for large hotels – we’ve come across listings that take advantage of your advertising and marketing efforts and then apply your words and photos to their listings.