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David Richards, Technology Journalism's Biggest Plagiarist

You may have never heard of David Richards, but if you’re writing anything in the technology sector, he’s probably familiar with your work.

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Richards, seen here on the right (via)

You see, Richards is the biggest plagiarist in technology journalism today, consistently stealing content from Web sites and re-publishing under his own byline.

Richards is in management at SmartHouseNews, an Australian Web site owned by publishing house 4SquareMedia. Oddly, 4SquareMedia has no Web site, as its official domain is a parked hosting page, and its .net equivalent reveals that “this is a test.”

Phil Sim at Squash has an excellent background on Richards, who wrote a questionable story on 60% of Windows Vista needing to be re-written.

Without a doubt, Richards is the most notorious and controversial technology journalist in Australia and it won’t surprise anyone down under in the tech media or IT industries that he’s managed to get himself embroiled in this kind of saga.

First things, first. Richards is a real, bona fide journalist. He’s not an amateur blogger. He’s not a techie, who took up a writing. He’s got a Fleet Street background and was responsible for one of the most, important investigative journalism works ever published in Australia when his expose on the Painters and Dockers union uncovered extensive corruption and sparked a historical Royal Commission.

Richards is also a successful entrepreneur. He started a PR company, Weston Communications, which he built up and sold and following that he founded a publishing company DWR Media, which he flogged to US publisher Penton Media for up to $US8 million (Penton would about 2 years later offload the division for a pittance).

Along the way, though, he’s ticked a lot of people off. He’s brash, pushy and thrives on controversy. He always seems to be suing someone, or else being sued. In the past few months, he’s been accused on plagiarism, attacked for conflicts of interest and laid a big, steelcapped boot into one of the world’s biggest PR companies.

I was first tipped off to Richards’ plagiarism by Lee Distad, a contributor to CE Pro, who saw that a story he wrote (“How the Format War Affects Custom Shops“) appeared on SmartHouseNews.com.au.

The article, given a new title of “Are You Making Money Out of the Format War?”, has Richards as the lead writer in the byline, with Lee given second billing. The two stories are nearly identical.

We gave him no permission to publish the story, and given that Lee wrote the story, Richards’ byline is completely unwarranted.

It’s straight-up plagiarism.

Richards has plagiarized other stories from CE Pro, including at least one that I wrote. At least two of the stories (originals here and here) have his sole byline (copies here and here).

When I contacted Richards to remove Lee’s story from his site, he ignored my email, even though I said I wanted to keep it civil. One week later, I re-sent the email, CC’ing the contacts of SmartHouseNews’s Web site, including sales, marketing and editorial.

Richards replied, saying, “This was removed a week ago.”

But it wasn’t. And, as of this writing, it’s still there.

It isn’t just CE Pro that Richards plagiarizes.

He’s plagiarized TWICE (his version here), Big Picture Big Sound, BusinessWeek (original and copy) and The Hollywood Reporter (original and copy).

He’s republished stories from Residential Systems (original and copy) and Stereophile (original and copy).

He’s even republished feature stories from CE Pro as from a “US Wire Service” (original and copy).

I could keep on going on about stories he’s copied, his continued acts of plagiarism and his general disregard for other’s work, but I would be here all night.

Richards is a disgrace to journalism and should be shunned by the technology industry — journalists, manufacturers and marketing folks alike. I agree with Robert Scoble, who called for Richards to be fired after his Vista-rewrite story. Can him.

On SmartHouseNews’s site right now, there are advertisements from Pioneer and Mitsubishi. You are decent companies, but you shouldn’t support publications based in plagiarism. Please consider dropping your advertising.

13 Comments

  1. Update: it looks like SmartHouse has removed Lee’s article, but others are still there.

    And I have them all saved as PDFs, anyway.

  2. Anonymous

    As someone who has worked closely with David Richards I could tell you many stories about his unethical behaviour and his disgraceful treatment of both staff and other people in the industry.

    Unfortunately, he can’t be fired from the company as he is the sole proprietor and publisher. The best outcome we can hope for is for advertisers to stop supporting him and for people to stop visiting his sites.

  3. Just Desserts

    You’ll enjoy this then… *smiles* on the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s “Media Watch” program last night

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdtvJAKEHeU

  4. HTJourno

    Even a “proprietor/publisher” needs a place to host his web site. In 2006, due to excessive complaints of copyright violations, WebCentral PTY (their previous web host) dropped 4SquareMedia web sites like a hot potato.

    This can happen again. The SmartHouse and other sites are now hosted by NetRegistry in Australia, and their hosting abuse e-mail address is: dedicated-abuse@netregistry.com.au.

    Copyright infringement is a clear terms of service violation. Let the host know specific documented examples of copyright violation and the house of cards that David built will fall.

  5. Anonymous

    Plagiarism is the tip of the iceberg where David Richards’ unethical behavior is concerned. I worked for David as well on the sales side.

    Unfortunately it would seem that nobody wants to be the first to confront the self-proclaimed supreme arbitor of the CE industry and cut him off from their ad spend (see LG, Microsoft, Sony and Sharp ads on his website for details)…

  6. Heyj

    Good to see Sony has dropped all of their advertising, support and blacklisted Mr Richards from all Sony events. As a result, Mr Richards is on a personal mission to destroy Sony via bad press on his Smarthouse website. Amazing that such an intelligent guy is such a sore loser.

    I think Harvey Norman have done the same and word is he tried to sneak into a HN Conference recently and was approached and asked to leave immediately.

    Fact is, if you don’t support either him or his website, he bags you for life!

  7. NickB

    The guy is also making false and inaccurate statements;

    http://www.smarthouse.com.au/Home_Cinema/Set_Top_Boxes/A5D3G2C5

    “The Sony PlayTV system is the first games console in Australia that allows users to stream catch-up TV shows from the ABC’s iView online TV player direct to TV sets.”

    BS – iView access has been available for ages on PS3, and a shortcut came down in firmware updates before Australian release of PlayTV. Being IPTV, does NOT require DVB-T tuners.

  8. Old Fart

    I hereby retract and apologise for stating that David Richards does not write good reviews about Sony just because they do not advertise with him. I also recognise that he is a Pullitzer prize wining journalist of the highest order.
    Please do not sue me David.

  9. Anon

    He’s also notorious for neglecting to pay his staff their compulsory superannuation – despite being reported for it numerous times to the tax department.

    He is truly the scum of the earth.

  10. The Phanton

    You are all jealous of David and wake up every morning wishing you were him.

    Despite this, he loves each and everyone of you.

    =]

  11. J

    He called a young lady in our office a “c’nt” on multiple occasions. She was 20.

  12. 1st time reader

    ive just read an article he wrote it was all taken from other sites aswell as the infomation he stole was still used inacurately terrible attempt at “journalism”

  13. DUFFBAG

    Never heard of the pussy but I spotted one of his totally bullshit pieces today on google news about NBN. It stunk so bad that I am going to hunt this bitch down. I’m comming for you turd..(PHANTOM) . Best you update your trojan software. HE IS A VIRUS WITH SHOES.

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