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Buyer stole my work (writing), is actively using it, and admitted it in chat - what can I do?

So this buyer started out troublesome, I got “the vibe” that told me they were going to be a PITA. They ordered one description, I completed it, they were happy. Then, rather than reusing the gig I told them to order additional pieces through, they tapped an older / unused gig that I hadn’t adjusted my prices on when I made level 2, as I had for my main gig. That’s on me, honestly, but it left a bad taste in my mouth because I feel like they should have asked about the disparity -before- ordering. I corrected the price after I realized so they couldn’t pull that again in the future and agreed to honor the price I had up on that gig.

So I do their five descriptions, right? They ask for the descriptions to be shorter than my usual length - hey, fine by me - and I deliver. They come back with all sorts of notes, kind of ridiculous stuff considering we’re talking 2 or 3 sentences for each item. A lot of the notes don’t really make sense and seem to be referencing existing content that I didn’t write…part of my market offering is that everything I write is always 100% original, to avoid duplicate conflicts with SEO, etc. So, this is a mess I need to sort out and the level of effort is going to be practically more than it took to write the things in the first place. I have a TON of orders flood in.

Now, I was a few days behind, but I did my best to stay in contact. On the day I was going to turn in the re-dos, I get a notice first thing in the morning - buyer cancelled. Well, that sucks, but whatever.

Exploring around a little bit, I realize that their “notes” on my work were posted on a live site, not a test site…along with my work. They straight-up stole it and cancelled the order. I’ve been dealing with some family issues since this happened about two weeks ago and haven’t had a chance to “come up for air” to deal with it. Then I get a message today:

“Hey! I love your work and I have been using it on my site. I feel bad that you didn’t get paid anything, so if you want to send me an order for half of the original cost, I will accept it so you get something.”

She’s using my original draft that I provided to her with no adjustments…guess it wasn’t so bad after all, huh? I want to tell her where she can shove her $25 pittance for what was actually $75 of work, but I realize I might have traction with customer service on this one, because she’s admitted through the messaging system that she stole and is using my work.

Can anyone clarify what my options are here, if any? I’m tempted to bypass Fiverr altogether and rat her out to DMCA and her ISP for intellectual property theft.

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I know some of the buyers on fiverr think they are too smart but since she agreed on the message that she stole your work. You can contact the fiverr intellectual right team and also you can file a case against her if fiverr support you and help you to provide her original name and identity. Also, you can track her from the IP address from which she is maintaining her site, this can be done by the cybersecurity team once you lodge an FIR.

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Do you know where I’d find the means to contact them? I hunted around in the “contact us” area, but it seems largely geared towards buyers, not sellers.

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https://www.fiverr.com/support_tickets/new/

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Many thanks, friend!

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No problem. Hope you solve the issue. Keep in mind that customer support can take a week or up to 10 days to reply to your inquiry.

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Thats a big problem my friend in such an emergency they should prioritise the seller and not the buyer and this is when you are on level 2

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You can blame people that just contact customer support because they don’t see a feature, don’t know how the website works and so on. Also, keep in mind that the pandemic has doubled or even tripled the number of sellers here. So, there’s at least double the issues and support inquiries. I had an issue myself with a scammer that did a paypal refund, but I had patience and it all worked out in the end.

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They honestly need dedicated seller support at each level - agents specifically for beginners, level 1, and level 2 in addition to top-rated sellers. It all feels very “ivory tower” - I absolutely loathe website forms, I feel like they’re a cheap cop-out, particularly for companies that make a lot of money. I’d love to see laws enacted that required companies that made over $X in income annually to have a phone number staffed by human being(s).

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Well, the customer support is fine. Unfortunately a lot of sellers go to CS with stupid questions and issues that they can solve themselves. This eats up a lot of their time, and more pressing issues like yours or mine are pushed. It’s sad, but that’s the way things are and there’s nothing we can really do other than wait. I am sure they will help you, as I said, someone did a chargeback and after waiting for quite a while, I still got paid…

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If you already opened ticket with CS you can also contact her website hosting.
(I never did it so I’m not sure how that works but I know others did it to remove stolen content)

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Yes - file a DCMA claim with the buyer’s hosting. You’ll probably have to provide proof.

CS will take a while so direct to host is probably quicker to get the page taken down.

What cyaxrex does is, as soon as the DCMA claim is filed, he packages it up and sells it himself on Amazon. Worth thinking about.

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The moment you take the content down, I just see her start running around and complaining about how she wanted to do right by you and how ungrateful you were in return. It just warms my heart. I second everyone in this post: if you have the proof delivered to you on a silver platter, take it down.

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If you get complaints from the buyer, remind them of the part of the TOS that says if they haven’t paid for it, they don’t own it and can’t use it.

You might point that out to the host while filing the DCMA complaint …

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I honestly haven’t even responded to her - I just filed the ticket with Fiverr HD. I’m confrontation-averse, and I figure I’m paying Fiverr 20% of what I make to offer guidance and help in times like these, specifically. I also don’t 100% trust myself not to get snippy, because I’m seriously ticked. I’m more ticked than I would have been if they’d simply stolen it outright, as illogical as it may sound.

Like, if you’re going to rip me off, rip me off. Don’t come back with some half-a$$ed outbreak of ethics and devalue my work as a non-apology “apology” to - let’s face it here - make yourself feel better. I know damn well it has little to nothing to do with me and my work, that’s a rusty semblance of a conscience wheezing to life, and it’s not doing well at all.

I’m trying to wrap my head around how someone can shoplift a bag of chips, then wander back in later, try to pay half the amount it would have been, and then act like they’re doing you a favor in the process.

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It was a mutual cancellation? or through CS?

I will accept it so you get something
Really??

This buyer needs a lesson and probably a tag from the CS if in case Fiverr build something for the buyers that have high cancellation rate so as sellers should be careful while dealing with such buyers!!

For eg: Fiverr is tagging buyers as V.I.D (Very Important Doers) according to their exclusive program.
They should do something for other buyers that have high cancellation rate.

https://buyers.fiverr.com/en/article/vid-buyers

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Even 500+ orders in, I’m still fuzzy on how some of the internal workings go - I know this wasn’t a cancellation I agreed to though, so it must have been through CS / because it was already late.

Fiverr will, unfortunately, never take visibly punitive measures like that against buyers because it simply isn’t profitable. Workers are always seen as disposable - it’s always the buyers that get courted. Look at eBay, doing away with the ability for sellers to leave feedback for buyers a few years ago - it’s all about the almighty dollar, sadly. I enter into this contract with eyes wide open, don’t get me wrong, but it’s still disheartening to see just how little consideration platforms seem to have, in the long view, for the workers that literally keep them operating.

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I’m livid. I just got my response from CS, and it’s essentially -

You were late on this project. Here’s how to avoid being late on projects in the future (cut and paste from CS index). We suggest that you take her offer to pay you half.

So, just so you’re all aware, apparently if a client decides to cancel a project and uses your work anyway, and admits it IN CHAT ON FIVERR, the site won’t lift a finger to help you.

The entire foundation of selling creative work, the cornerstone of freelance, is the idea that until money is exchanged or you explicitly give it away, no one owns your work except you. If Fiverr wants to “just be a platform,” fine, but charge us a flat access fee to the site and stop skimming off the top as if you’re an agent. When you’re not acting in my best interests and protecting my rights, why the hell do you get a cut of everything I make?

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Sorry this happened to you. I know how frustrating CS is. They always side with the buyer. If I were in your shoes, I’d take the payment since CS just hang me out to dry but then block this client. For how long do you figure the content she stole from you will benefit her? If it won’t benefit her for long just take it and run. Unpleasant but at least let’s not lose everything, right?

I’ve been a freelancer for fifteen years now, I write so much I need to change out keyboards about every 5 months or so because the letters wear off or the keys start getting reluctant. It would be really easy at this point to just keep my head down and focus solely on what benefits me most.

I didn’t join the Freelancer’s Union a decade ago for personal protection alone, I joined it because I wanted to be part of building a better life and experience for Freelancers. I want to create a legal world where clients would no more consider stealing work than they would a toaster at a department store. If we created pottery, or furniture, or anything else tangible, there would be absolutely no argument about who owned what until money changed hands. If someone came to my physical store, picked up a pitcher that I made, and walked out with it, I would call the police - and the person would be arrested for shoplifting.

The fact that our intangible creations - digital artwork and photoshopping, writing, musical work - are so often blatantly stolen, and the path to remedy is so convoluted and unfriendly to the creator, tells me we have a long way to go. If I let her get away with this, she’s going to pull the same stunt on the next creator, whether it’s a writer, a photoshop editor, or a site designer. She knows she can get away with it, so what incentive does she have to suddenly grow an entire conscience, rather than half of one?

Nope. I’ll take the $25 hit and report her to her ISP if it means I can protect the next freelancer. Maybe that makes me a sucker, but I care about my peers.

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