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Written by Paul D. Race for Family Garden Trains

For our part, we are doing everything we can to get new people into the hobby and get them out into their back yards with starter sets and shovels.

Beyond the Copycat Wars

Some readers are wondering whatever became of our attempts to get other web sites to stop copying and copying from the real Family Garden Trains(tm) site. Well, there has been progress of a sort. By way of bringing folks up to speed, here's a brief timeline:

In January, I contacted the individuals most responsible by e-mail but there was no reply. So I began publishing the incriminating information bit by bit in my blogs, naming no names, hoping that the copycats would realize I was "on to them" and back off. Instead it got worse as new, even more blatant examples of plagiarism started appearing on their web sites.

Finally, in late June, I brought up the subject in a public Internet forum, providing several examples of the plagiarism (still without mentioning names or providing URLs of the offending sites).

Rather than contacting me privately and offering to straighten things out, the most active infringer on my copyrights and trademarks publicly identified himself as the person I was accusing, told me to grow up, and falsely accused me of not bringing this to his attention privately. He also argued that he wouldn't have bothered copying from Family Garden Trains(tm) because we have an outdated user interface (a very strange argument if you think about it). Then, when he realized that people were checking things out for themselves, he set about to remove some of the most obvious plagiarism from several of his web sites before too many other people found it.

I suppose I could count it as a minor victory. On the other hand, some of the other problems remain, including remaining plagiarized bits of text on several pages and at least one site that is designed to fool beginners and search engines looking for "family," "garden," and "trains." Oh, well, at least he can't say in the future (as he has implied in the past) that he didn't think it was a problem.

I do know that the "other guy" has something like 50 times the budget of Family Garden Trains(tm), and that a host of private communications telling "his side of the story" have flooded the e-mail systems, phone lines, and private forums of the Garden Railroading community. I apologize to anyone who feels "caught in the middle," but I didn't create this problem - I only brought it to light. In the long run, I hope that people with good judgment will be able to tell the difference between people who want to grow the hobby for everyone's benefit and people who want to grow their private empires at the expense of other hobbyists and even of the hobby itself.

Again, I don't know why a person running what is supposed to be commercial enterprise would spend so much time taking underhanded and even illegal "shortcuts" that would embarrass my Freshman Composition students. This is time that would have been much better spent developing quality original content that would actually be beneficial to people who stumbled across his sites - something the copycats sites are sadly lacking.

In the meantime, we have delivered two comprehensive, free, professionally-written, beginner-oriented articles to the community in the last eight weeks, and we have at least two more in development. So I hope you'll pardon me if I drop this thread for a while at least, to pay attention to more imporant things, like the future of Garden Railroading. That doesn't mean I plan to "stick my head in the sand," though.

For our part, we are doing everything we can to get new people into the hobby and get them out into their back yards with starter sets and shovels. Have you seen our brand-new guide on Planning Your Garden Railroad for Watchability?

If you have any questions at all that are holding you back, please let us know how we can help.

Best of luck, all,

- Paul Race

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