On Plagiarism & Copyright

This is a blog post that I never wanted to write. Even as I sit here at my keyboard, I’m SO frustrated that I have to sit here and defend myself against some pretty nasty accusations. Unfortunately, there is a post that was written about me over a year ago that has been making its rounds within the community and I believe that it’s time to address it.

Let me set the stage for you a little bit…

Back in May of last year, I published one of my monthly Traffic & Income reports. Within the comments, a woman named Natalie and I had a bit of a discussion regarding the ethics of whether or not I should be paying my guest bloggers. Here are some screenshots from that discussion:


Just a few short days later, Natalie decided to write a pretty scathing article about me on her blog. I’m going to post screenshots here as I do not want to drive any traffic back to her site (which is what she wants). If you DO want to read the entire post, you’re welcome to do a google search and I’m sure it will come up.

You can probably imagine my horror when I saw what she had written about me. At the time, I tried to take the high road and not engage with her. After all, writing a post like this, accusing me of plagiarism, with no basis in the truth was a cry for attention, and I really did not want to give that attention and exposure to her.

For over a year, I let her post sit on her blog without a reply. I didn’t want to dignify it with one.

Unfortunately, this post is now spreading like wildfire and the time has come for me to publicly defend myself. Please bear with me while I reply to her accusations one by one…


ACCUSATION #1: COPYING GTD

(The following are screenshots from Natalie’s blog post)

MY RESPONSE:

This post was meant to educate people on the GTD method and to show how I was incorporating the system into my Bullet Journal. Not once did I claim it as my idea, or not give credit to the creator of the system, David Allen.

Natalie was very selective of the screenshots that she took, so I’m going to share what she left out:

(The following are screenshots from my blog post. You can read the full post yourself right here)

As you can see, I extensively linked to my sources at the very beginning of the post.

The ONLY thing that I would change is saying “the guide that I created for myself”. I can see now how that wording could be misleading. Because yes, I copied everything straight from the book. The whole point is that I wanted that reference material in my Bullet Journal. What I should have said instead is “This is where I wrote down a brief GTD guide from the book in my Bullet Journal”.

Natalie goes on to say…

“Benz goes on to copy Allen’s content two more times in this post. She does credit him with developing the flowchart in the print copy of the book but does not cite a page number (page 32 in the 2001 edition).

However, the fact that the flowchart is also available on Allen’s website is never mentioned. If his method is worth writing about, then visibly pointing people at his site should also be worthwhile.”

What she fails to mention (maybe she didn’t read that part?) is the paragraph in between those pictures (shown below) where I expressly state that the 5 steps and workflow were “copied directly from the book into my Bullet Journal for future reference.”

In addition to the links and references that I made to David Allen and Getting Things Done all throughout the post, I also cited him as the source in each one of my journal pages. Yes, even the ones that she screenshotted.

Moving on…


ACCUSATION #2: PLAGIARIZING TRELLO

(The following is a screenshot from Natalie’s blog)

Yes, my template is a Trello template. I never claimed to have invented the system. Again, my intent for this post was to show people how I was using Trello as an editorial calendar.

I’m not going to indulge this one any further for one reason…

Trello loved my post! They even sent me some sweet swag (a t-shirt and stickers)

Oh, and they’ve been sharing my blog post:

Case closed.


LET’S TALK COPYRIGHT

Copyright is one last issue that I’d like to address before finally getting some sleep tonight. The following image is another that has been circulating and I’d like to address it:

First, I want to say that these stickers are no longer available in my shop. They were removed (and I’ve kept them removed) following a copyright claim.

And this one I take full credit for… except it wasn’t malicious and I wasn’t trying to steal someone’s work… it was an honest mistake. For that, I’m terribly sorry!

Back when I first started doodling, I did what SO many of us do… I turned to Pinterest. I wanted to learn how to doodle, so I pinned cute things and I would practice drawing them. I had stacks and stacks of pages FULL of doodles. Some that I had practiced over and over again until they became muscle memory.

My mistake came when I opened my shop, and I thought it would be fun to do a doodle icon page. Instead of sitting down and doodling some fresh icons out of my head, I scanned my pages of doodles into my computer and digitized them.

In hindsight, I don’t know what I was thinking. I guess I just figured that I already had them drawn out, I could just skip that step. In any case, it was wrong. I wasn’t thinking about WHO or WHERE I learned those doodles from, I just knew that I had drawn them.

When I saw the copyright claim, I was 100% taken aback. In my mind, I had never straight up copied someone’s design to put in my shop. It wasn’t until I messaged the claimant to inquire what was going on and we had time to chat back and forth that I realized my error.

I decided then and there to always sketch my shop doodles from scratch, from my head, each and every time I create a new product.

EDITING TO ADD…

After sleeping on this, I want to further clarify the latter part of this post.

That is, my unintentional yet still hurtful use of Tiny Stamps, Big Plans and Sweet Stamp Shop designs in my Etsy shop.

It’s never easy to admit one’s mistakes, but I think it’s important for me to be even more clear than I was when I wrote this post last night.

Although it was never my intention to copy or steal designs from ANYONE, I’m willing to own up to the major flaw in my design process for my “Planner Icons” sheets that were available when I first opened my shop.

To quote myself:

“Back when I first started doodling, I did what SO many of us do… I turned to Pinterest. I wanted to learn how to doodle, so I pinned cute things and I would practice drawing them. I had stacks and stacks of pages FULL of doodles. Some that I had practiced over and over again until they became muscle memory.

My mistake came when I opened my shop, and I thought it would be fun to do a doodle icon page. Instead of sitting down and doodling some fresh icons out of my head, I scanned my pages of doodles into my computer and digitized them.

In hindsight, I don’t know what I was thinking. I guess I just figured that I already had them drawn out, I could just skip that step. In any case, it was wrong. I wasn’t thinking about WHO or WHERE I learned those doodles from, I just knew that I had drawn them.”

In the photos below, you can see how similar and sometimes almost exactly the same some of these designs ended up being.

Also, you can see one of my first IG posts on my shop account where I was talking about scanning and digitizing… here you can see my doodles and practice pages that I was getting ready to put in my shop.

 

I want to apologize again to Tiny Stamps, Big Plans and Sweet Stamp Shop, and to encourage you all to check out their shops for their lovely designs.

I admire and respect small business owners, being one myself, and I want to be clear that it was NEVER my intention to profit from someone else’s work. It was an innocent mistake, and I intend to do everything in my power to make it right.

I removed these stickers in both physical and digital form from my shop when this was brought to my attention in January.

  • I will now be working on a re-vamped sticker sheet and printable to send to everyone who purchased the originals while they were available.
  • By this Friday, I will email everyone who purchased the printable an updated copy along with an explanation and asking them to destroy the original.
  • Within 30 days, I will be mailing out replacement sheets to those who purchased the physical copy and asking them to destroy the originals if they still have them as well. (longer timeline on this because it’s going to be a LOT of work)

I acknowledge that I should have taken these additional steps months ago, but I hope that taking them now will be of some comfort to these shop owners.

Thank you all for your support, it truly means the world to me!


IN CONCLUSION

I take plagiarism and copyright infringement very seriously. I don’t like being accused of either, but I will defend myself when it’s false, and I will absolutely apologize and try to make it right when it’s true!

I want to say a HUGE thank you to all of you who have been showing your support and love since all of this exploded this afternoon. Your kind words are making this all easier to bear and for that, I’m SO grateful!

I know that there are a lot of discussions happening online right now in a lot of groups that I don’t belong to, so I would REALLY appreciate it if you could share this post in those discussions when you see them. I’d really like for everyone to hear the whole story, not just one side of it.

Thank you!

PS – I apologize in advance for any typos or grammatical errors… it’s past midnight here and although I’m exhausted, I wanted to get this post out as quickly as possible. I’ll do my best to get back in here and edit in the morning if necessary.

Kara Benz
Kara Benz is the artist and author behind Boho Berry, where she inspires her readers to lead a more centered, fulfilled, and inspired life. Kara also runs a successful sticker shop on Etsy – Boho Berry Paperie.
  • Tracy Elliott

    Very well said Kara. Hang in there, let the haters hate if they need to. You know the truth, and we do as well. Thank you for everything you do for us. Your generosity is much appreciated. xo

  • Elizabeth Brinnehl

    You took someone else’s work. And used a screen shot of her shop above for comparison. But what you need to do now is make it right. That means publicizing her shop, sharing links on all your sites, and reaching out to Rowena directly to make amends. She’s an amazing person who has been really hurt by this.

    • Elizabeth Brinnehl

      That would be Rowena of Tiny Stamps, Big Plans.

    • Danielle Lee

      The only reason she may be hurt is because a fellow blogger started some drama. Kara’s info is public knowledge. If she’s hurt, she can find Kara. Kara isn’t hiding and have knowledge the mistake along with sending an apology. Y’all is trippin’!!!

      • Elizabeth Brinnehl

        Danielle, when this first came to light months ago, that isn’t what happened. Kara denied even knowing the shop.

        • Hilary Parsons

          Jealousy is a nasty bed-fellow. Boho Berry’s success is wider than this incident. I get that you are supporting your friend, but asking for free (albeit negative) publicity feels very tacky and i hope it not be given. Boho Berry has gone far enough in this post. I will continue enjoying Boho Berry’s future blogs and video.

        • Danielle Lee

          Again, it’s just not that serious. She apologized and removed the product. SHE MADE A DAMN MISTAKE. Geez!!!

    • Chris Gray

      Kara made a mistake as she stated in her blog above. She also stated that she copied loads of images from Pinterest when she was first starting, so she clearly couldn’t have known at the time exactly what specific shop it came from. And read the post again…the comparison screen shot came from Natalie’s blog post, not from Kara. If the original artist is your friend and your goal is to support her, then by all means encourage her to contact Kara directly. Like someone else said, Kara isn’t hiding nor is she denying her mistake. If she was trying to hide or deny it she never even would have addressed it on this blog. Don’t make this more of an issue when Kara already admitted her mistake, apologized and is trying to move on. I’m so sick of mob mentalities…what more do you need, her head on a stick? I do agree that your friend may be entitled to some compensation since Kara did make money off of the stickers, but free advertising? That’s just being greedy.

  • Quinn Alaska Smogg

    You could at least have the decency to link and credit the people you stole designs from.

    • Danielle Lee

      Girl, calm down. She apologized and took down the work. There was no need to cite the person by name when there is a clear pic of the original stickers. You must have never made a mistake. #glasshouse

      • Quinn Alaska Smogg

        Au contraire, she did need to credit her, as she quite literally took her work and earned money for it. Also, me making a mistake has NO WEIGHT on this discussion so, try again ;)

    • Elizabeth Rash

      Oh Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! (Excuse me…I was calling for help from Higher Powers…because I don’t understand the nature of your comment.) Decency could be defined as “this is not your affair…you are on a ‘need to know basis’, and it’s not your business how she handled the honest mistake. Did it occur to you that the two of them might have already worked it out? Please don’t be so quick to jump on the Drama Wagon. I hear it’s got a sway bar loose. Once more suggestion…the “at least” wording…would it be derogatory of me to say that you could ‘at least’ get some manners before speaking publicly? Back to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph…I pray that you find love in your heart, forgiveness in your soul, and learn that we, as a society of human beings, are not perfect.

      • Quinn Alaska Smogg

        No need to pray for me- you should pray for those who steal content, though ;)

    • Karen Landreth

      She didn’t “steal” anything. Once she discovered her mistake, she rectified it by taking down the design.

      • Quinn Alaska Smogg

        She corrected it, true. But that doesn’t magically remove the fact that she stole, and it took her A YEAR to make a dignified response to the shop owner. SHE DID NOT TAKE IT DOWN WILLINGLY. THE ORIGINAL SHOP OWNER REPORTED HER STICKERS.

    • Kimberly McKinney

      Um, hello? You can clearly see the name of the shop on the stickers. Plus, typically if there’s ongoing litigation the parties involved cannot speak much about it, if at all.

  • It is sad that you even had to do this post at all. It’s some sad people out there! *hugs*

  • Danielle Lee

    Kara, I have been following you for almost a year. I cannot believe you’re having to go thru this. Some people thrive on drama. Of this whole post, I was disappointed to find you “copied” someone else’s work. However as you stated, it’s what we all do. I copy your work. You apologized and took down the product. That’s what you were supposed to do. Obviously you made a mistake and took the corrective actions to rectify it. I cannot imagine how you felt when that happened. What more does this person want you to do? Actually it’s not even her coming after you. It’s some troll. Anyhoo, I hope this storm passes soon. Your true tribe members believe in you and know you meant no ill-intent. I’m sorry you had to write this but I’m glad you did. Setting the record straight that you DO NOT plagerize other people’s work. Now I hope the trolls go back under their bridge. Lots of love <3

  • Jenn Walden

    Kara- beautifully written post. You’ve answered the claims against you with truth and dignity. Well done. Please know that all your hard work speaks for itself. You have a tribe of friends behind you, not because you’re perfect, but because your human and you’ve always shared so openly with us. Keep your head up and stand strong dear friend. This too shall pass.

  • Lorin Maureen

    Love you!

  • Jan

    You did a great job laying out what happened and I personally thank you for your honesty. I love all your art and I have learned so much from you, Thank you Kara!

  • Rowena Grall

    Thank you for this post. I do wish that we had actually had some proper back and forth exchange in January rather than what really did happen, but I am very glad that you have decided to bring this to light now. I do look forward to the apology and when you make it right by acknowledging me and my art, by sharing this information with every one of your customers who received the download or physical sticker sheet, by giving them an updated design with all original art and asking them to destroy the copy they have. Cheers.

    • Danielle Lee

      Gurl!!!! It was 6 icons. Get over it. I’m not sure how she apologized to you but if you feel you need a more personal apology then you can contact her. Her contact info is public. She removed the product and she can’t help if people already bought and used them. Her subscribers will see this post and either throw the product in the trash or simply case continue using it. It was mistake. Yes, she should have done her research but she didn’t. I get this is your work and you’re upset. You should be. But she has apologize and removed the product. She is not required to do any more. You are now moving into the area of being a crybaby. Go troll somewhere else for attention.

  • Eszter Franta

    I think when these kind of attacks comes along, that means, that You made something extraordinary!!! If You would be average, nobody would attacking You…. So, well done Kara! <3

  • You did a good job of cleaning this up for me. Unfortunately all this goes along with being “famous” I wouldn’t waste one more single moment on those who are trashing you! There are far more people who love you And that’s what they’re jealous off. Just keep being you!

  • Anastasia Thibodeau

    I love that you wrote this in a calm and dignified manner. Your work has been an inspiration fro thousands and in fact I wrote and gave a speech on Bullet Journaling and I included work from you, Jessica, Kim, and of course Ryder. With the proper citations and references. I also wrote a blog post including the same amount of citations including links for anyone who might want to do more research.

    When I was reading the negative post I was confused as I had seen the videos and posts that you had made and knew that you had cited properly.

    I just wanted to say that you did a wonderful job and I don’t think anyone could have done any better dealing with such a trying situation. Keep working hard its paying off!

  • Karen Landreth

    My Goodness! A YEAR has gone by and some people STILL have their panties in a wad. Must be really painful. Perhaps that’s why this is still an issue with them. Not long after I discovered Kara’s World, I found her video on G-T-D. As a novice follower of the methodology, I was excited to see both topics (GTD & Bullet Journaling) working together. If you watch the video or read her blog on the subject, you would have to be a complete moron to think the ideas were anything other than Kara’s explanation of how the system worked. David Allen’s name and the subject matter are all over both the video and the blog. In the video around the 5:30 mark, the page Kara drew lists David Allen’s name at the top and the bottom. Somebody please explain how this is plagiarism; I must be really dumb because I don’t get it. As for the copyright infringement, Kara apologized and ceased selling the product in her shop. Accept it and move on. I am constantly amazed at how up front Kara is (and has been) with all of the products she discusses in her blogs and videos. She tells where the idea came from and provides the links to the products. ONE time, in the EARLY days, she makes a mistake. HUMAN error. BohoBerry Tribe is one of the few sites where there isn’t much, if any, drama. That’s what makes it such a great site. People coming together to share ideas, and provide inspiration and support. Mean-spirited, vindictive people need to take their frustrations and go home. Thank you Kara for everything you do for us.

  • Elizabeth Rash

    Kara,
    Comments, questions and unsolicited advice follows:
    1. I’m sorry this happened to everyone involved. Plain and simple…it sucks. Every person involved was hurt. I could tell from your post that you are hurt. I could tell from Rowena’s post that she is hurt. Natalie? I’m not sure I can address that one. I’m impressed that you could. I fail to understand her reasoning for the attack rather than contacting those parties that she felt you plagiarized and bring it to their attention to deal with rather than causing drama. So, I guess she is hurting too…Something deeper would be my guess.
    2. If there is any other damage control to be done, hop to it, just as you have done here. Take care of it and move on. We are human. We make mistakes. We do our best to set them right. Then we learn from it and move on. Life is too short to dwell on our mistakes. To err is human. (Note: someone famous said that. Not me originally. I’m too tired to look it up as it is 2:39 AM and I can’t sleep for this is weighing heavy on my heart.)
    3. Number three stems from number 2. I looked up the definition of plagiarism to be sure I fully understood what it was. I’m still not sure that I do. I have never Bullet Journaled (Ryder Carroll’s credit) before. I learned by watching YOU. I watched you for several months before I ‘bit the bullet’ (pun not originally stated by me). As I watched you, I noticed many things we have in common. The color teal being the first and obvious commonality. If you were to take a peak into my journal, you would see so much of you (minus your incredible creativity, flair, and penmanship). I would not enjoy Bullet Journaling if it were not for your teachings and a handful of others. My point is, do I need to credit you for each idea I get from you? The time log, the mandala, your daily and weekly spread…those are not my original ideas. If that is the case, I might as well stop now. As you can see from my points throughout number three, I would spend more time crediting than I would writing down what I need to accomplish and my thoughts.
    4. My fourth and final thought…as you are all too aware, there are haters in this world. They have been done wrong in some area of their life and rather than facing it head on and seeking help, they get bitter and hateful and have a desire to inflict pain on others. I don’t see that trait in you at all. Nowhere in your personality do I see malicious intent. You can respectfully argue with haters, but you aren’t going to get anywhere. They have one agenda and one agenda only. You have respectfully responded to the allegations, you have proven the allegations false, and you are righting the wrong. This, my friend, is the best possible outcome for an honest mistake.

    I pray that you get restful sleep tonight, you wake up refreshed tomorrow…ready to start a new day, and when the package arrives, your smile is as bright as your personality. The words never rang truer…Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe. I didn’t say that first either. ;-)

    Welcome home my friend.

  • Ana Brito

    Kara,
    I found the blog post quite easily and was surprised that it was from 2016. As I was reading I was baffled by the fact that even in her screen shots everything was credited and what wasn’t I could easily surmise was taken directly from the text because it was titled as such. Regardless, the post was horrible and easily dismissable and left me feeling no differently about you. I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this crap and defend yourself when you shouldn’t have to. You are of good character and respected and this will pass. Jealousy is a horrible trait as is causing drama. You’ve inspired this 45 year old mom to be more organized and discover my love for fountain pens and I am so grateful for that. Keep being the wonderful person that you are! Much love to you!
    Ana

  • Christina Grandrath

    I read your blog post about GTD and watched your YT video when they came out. Never ever would I have thought you were claiming to be more than a enthuastic user of GTD. I’m not a native English speaker but the phrase “the guide that I created for myself” imho does not indicate ownership of any phrases written down. This is some serious case of nitpicking on Natalie’s side.

    • Sarah M

      I agree completely. There was never any question as to ownership of the ideas presented in this post or the corresponding video.

    • Nancy Joyce

      My thoughts exactly! I actually read the book years ago and have used the GTD system in the past. Kara -your YT video on the subject helped me to incorporate it in with my bujo. I actually watched your video 3-4 times and it was always clear that you were applying David Allen’s GTD method to your life and were just helping others to learn about it. You did nothing wrong!

  • All I can say is that I’m pretty sorry you’ve been going through that, Kara.
    I “discovered” you thanks to Social Media Examiner sharing your Trello post and I felt in love with your content.
    I remember back in the day when you mentioned you were going to start reading GTD, I left you a comment (here or on Facebook, I’m not sure anymore) about how you’d love the book and you even took the time to reply, which I found very kind of you.
    You always give credit and I sincerely admire you for that and that’s why I’ve been following you all this time.
    I don’t know this lady and I imagine she has her reasons for doing what she did. I hope she finds peace of heart in her quest for the “truth”.
    Have a beautiful day, Kara! You deserve nothing less.

  • Janet Schofield

    Very well written, Kara! I have not and will not read her post. It isn’t because I do not want to see the whole picture, but after reading your blog post I can see clearly the intent of her post and would not send one single hit to her blog post on purpose. It does not deserve that. You have never once trashed someone else to promote yourself and if you are making a living (which, by the way, is astounding she would even think that is her business) doing what you love it is only because you have put your blood, sweat and tears into your work. You were my first introduction to Bujo Journaling. I do not belong to any other group and have never even wanted to. I love your group and I keep plenty busy with all you generously share. You have my upmost respect and I can see clearly that is the same with all your other Tribe members/fans and peers. You keep being you and I hope you have a super sparkly day ~ no matter what!! <3

  • Laurie Elliott

    This makes me upset. I am just starting out in the blogging world. Of course I do research for each blog. I share links to any ideas I find on other bogs. But I had no idea that people could be so vicious about the content of someone else’s blog. I think Kara did a great job of giving credit for the information she was explaining. This is very disheartening and I’m rethinking this whole blogging idea.

    • sidecar

      Most people aren’t this vicious. Most people are supportive. Don’t let one person slow you down :)

      • Laurie Elliott

        Thanks, sidecar, for your encouragement. I don’t think I could have handled this attack as gracefully as Kara did.

  • JulieAnnR

    Great response! When I started researching bullet journaling several months ago I came across both your site and the negative post. I cross-checked the accusations of plagiarism from GTD and Trello, and it took MAYBE five minutes for me to see for myself that her points were invalid. I’ve been a fan and reader of yours ever since!

    As to the guest blogging, you’re exactly right: It is common practice to guest post for free as a way to drive traffic to one’s own site. What the accuser doesn’t say is some bloggers who have big bases actually charge guest writers for the privilege. Thank you, Kara, for helping newer writers build their voices!

  • Sharon T

    Kara, I’m so sorry you had to stay up late and put this post up…but I completely understand why you did. I, for one, started learning about GTD after I read your blog post. I never for once thought you were claiming those Bujo pages as your own original work and in fact I went out and BOUGHT his book because of you!!! People will twist things to suit their own agendas and clearly Natalie just wants attention so she’s twisting your post to get it…it’s a damn shame. Stay strong my friend, there is a HUGE community that loves and supports what you do!!

  • Selinablogt

    Beautiful post, I think that it’s absolutely horrible that you had to make this blogpost. And I hope for you and all the other bloggers out here, that it isn’t necessary to make one of these blogposts ever again.

  • Deborah Boyd

    Kara- I’ve been lurky and following you for years but this actually brought me out of the shadows! I’m so sorry you’ve been dealing with this crap. While I’m never going to visit that woman’s site, it’s obvious to me from the screenshots alone that her intention is to bring herself up by tearing someone else down. Problem is, she did a pretty bad job of it!

    Anyway, you’ve written a beautiful defense. Cream rises to the top by its very nature, so you just keep doing wonderful you.

    The original posts about GSD and Trello were never for one second confusing to me about their origin and inspiration, btw. ;)

    Hugs

  • Nikki Smith

    Meh. She’s a troll, trying to make a profit by driving people to her blog to tell her she’s a troll. Smart readers will know this. I’m sorry you had to be her victim and are dealing with this. Karma will step in.

  • Chastity Holmquist-Eads

    I am so sorry you have had to deal with this. I have been reading your blog almost a year now and enjoy every bit of it. I was encouraged to do my own bullet journal based on information you shared on your blog. Always informative. I read back on her original opinion regarding guest bloggers and in stating her opinion it was judgemental and negative. You answered her then with dignity and continued to do so in this post. I will never understand individuals who use their time and effort to tear people down rather than build people up.

  • Marcela

    Kara, you’re awesome! Anyone who can spend 5 minutes within your channel or even reading your posts can see that you wouldn’t do any of this things or at least not on purpose. Keep up the good work and the good vibes! Hugs from Brazil :)

  • Oh my goodness me, Kara – I found your blog a few months ago and have followed it ever since (as well as your delightful Tribe on Facebook) – you are incredibly talented and inspirational and, up until today, I have never seen or heard a bad word against you. With the millions of pages and images out there on the Web it can be a minefield and incredibly easy to accidentally reproduce something but, as you quite rightly point out, an immediate withdrawal and apology is all that is required in most cases and most decent people would understand that. Now as to the lady in question (and I use the term lady as a courtesy but not as a fact) – all I can say is that those who cannot make a mark on life, mark others – as others have said, keep your head up my dear and carry on your wonderful work.

  • Breanna Smith

    So sorry about your troubles! People can be so ridiculous online sometimes! We still loove you girl! xoxo BrebearMckae

  • It takes a brave and humble person to acknowledge and publicize their mistakes. Good on you for “coming clean” about the inadvertent copyright violation. I hope that Natalie (and every other blogger with a business strategy that can only be defined as “cruelty”) will also have the same courage, self-reflection, and honesty that you just exhibited.

  • Ashley Dos Santos Poreda

    Great post! It is hard to take ownership of mistakes made with regard to copyright. I am a permissioning/licensing professional in textbook publishing. I think there is always a learning curve when you start to realize that all of your content could be scrutinized to this degree. I would suggest reviewing your citation practices and take a hard look at all of your posts to make sure that none would have required permission. I noticed you talked a lot just about citation, but make sure that you also assess your permissioning practices. Sometimes citation isn’t enough.

  • Ash

    Hi Kara,

    So, you have been my role model for everything BuJo since I started last year. I found myself with so much free time, easily forgetting things that I needed to do and trying to feel like I was accomplishing something in my day to day. So the Bullet Journal seemed perfect for me. Whether I needed to keep track of Appointments, or make a plan of the day or have something to check off or even practice my lettering and drawing because my skills were really bad and my handwriting had gotten worse.

    Anytime you posted about someone to follow I followed. It’s so easy to see something online and try and adapt it to your needs and want to share with other people only to realise that it’s not changed enough and you have stolen something from someone. That’s always my fear whenever I post something; that I’ve stolen something from someone in a non-malicious way but has been hurtful to them. It’s happened once, I got called up on it and I rectified my mistake. But it made me so worried for days on end. This happened like last year and it still preys on my mind. Even if I make a gif of my own, I’m always thinking, what if someone made one similar and I get called up for stealing, because, more fool me, I don’t watermark my work. :/ My point is that is the beauty of community and one of the reasons I fell in love with the BuJo Community. We share, and if someone gets feels like they’ve been wronged, we can talk about it, rectify mistakes, give credit where credit is due. I know myself as a blogger, if I use a picture on my site from a third party I will source it in the caption but if I’m quoting someone or something I’ll tend to do an all-encompassing citation and link a few times, maybe two or three but, personally, I feel if a post is inundated with links it can be so distracting and off-putting. (namely because my old computer will crash with too many tabs and frustration and me do not get on. :) )

    Another thing that I love about the bullet journal and blogging community is the COMMUNITY. I’ve used to contribute to an pop culture site that was a pretty decent operation and there was no pay, only recognition. And I was fine with that. I loved it in fact. If I see something to contribute to for recognition not monetary, I genuinely don’t give a f*** because it’s a community. There have been plenty of times when I’ve read something you’ve posted about and linked to and I followed the links and taken an interest in other people’s work. Ryder Carroll, Tiny Ray of Sunshine.

    I hate to admit it but I was curious about her post so I goggled her article and read it. It left me confused as the screenshots she used clearly pointed to the fact that you were using an established technique. Had I seen this post when it was originally posted I would have goggled GTD and learned more.

    Not only did it leave me confused it left me a little sad. It would have been something completely different if you had guest contributors whose work you established as your own, obviously, but there is something is beautiful about contributing something not for monetary gain.

    Anyway, I just wanted to let you know I am hugely indebted to you for introducing me to this world and I love you and I hope you are having a beautiful day, despite all the agro. x

  • Robin Batsel Sherman

    Good Lord – Too much time on her hands? What a shame when there are so many volunteer opportunities out there just waiting for someone with a lot of time and energy.

  • J. Macall Arnold

    I am 100% behind you. This was beautifully written. You inspired me to jump into the BuJo world and I am now on my second journal. I want to add, it is your original post on the GTD method that introduced me to his book! You absolutely credited when necessary, and guided me to purchase his audiobook and research more about GTD! I wouldn’t have known about the author if it weren’t for your post and the credit you gave to him. In no way did you claim it as yours. Also, it is clear that you made an honest mistake while scanning doodles you had previously copied. I appreciate your honesty and integrity and will continue to follow you and the tribe!!

  • sidecar

    What infuriates me is how this whole thing apparently started. I absolutely believe in paying bloggers for their time, but only IF the guest blogger feels that’s the type of compensation they want. It’s not as if these guest bloggers believed they’d be paid and then you stiffed ’em. How you compensate your guest bloggers is PRIVATE. It’s between you and that writer and there is NO ONE ELSE who deserves to be part of that conversation.

    I was a regular blogger for a long time on a very, VERY popular website when it started out. Once that company started making a heavy profit and their writers, who provided free content to help them start out, weren’t offered compensation, I left. That was my choice, that was their choice, and there are no ill feelings. I did get my name out there and that was worth the dozens of free articles I wrote because that was my priority at the time. No worries.

    You do you, Kara. You owned the mistake you made but the other ridiculous accusations are pathetic and attention-seeking. Keep on keeping on.

    • unimpressive

      Amen! This is how the blog world works – you write a guest post, and you work out the details with the owner of the post. This isn’t like sponsorship, where you write a post for Home Depot – this is people exchanging with people. Regardless, I think it just highlights that Natalie was just out for views and found a way to stir up a little drama and direct people to her site.

    • Katelyn Sweigart

      Guest blogging is advertising on a highly trafficked website. Being a FREELANCE WRITER is something completely different though, and that is where compensation comes in.

      • sidecar

        Perfectly explained, you added what I failed to mention! Thanks :)

      • Shannon

        This.

  • Elizabeth Carlson

    I hope you don’t let this dull your sparkle. Your positive energy has influenced many. Keep up the good work. I know it must be gut wrenching to be going through this right now, but at some point it will just be a blip in your journey of success. I’m just sorry sometimes internet trolls actually get traction.

  • Jane Tierney

    Envy and jealousy are such evil sins and so petty. Kara, I love your work. I have no desire to spend a lot of time doing the work you do, but I enjoy looking at it. Poor Natalie. Sounds like a potty training time went badly.

  • Мария Кузнецова

    Great post Kara! This accosations are made just out of spite. She probably wants some attention to her blog and I think you did a great job writing about this situation from your point of view!

  • Kasey

    I can only imagine your stress over this. I so appreciate your honest discussion of all this mess without resorting to negativity. I have benefitted SOOOO much from your content and I hope you will continue to create amazing posts for years to come! As for copyright, that is a scary thing as a creative blogger. We all get ideas, we all copy other’s ideas, and we all forget over time which was which. I love your response, open admission of fault, and desire to make it right. I hope the others involved (sticker shops – not scary troll lady!) receive a huge bump in traffic and sales as a result of you sharing this story.

  • ~I’m so sorry this happened, Kara. I’ve seen several bloggers and shop owners go through stuff like this and I have to say, you have handled this wonderfully and gracefully. I’ve seen people in your exact position respond with anger and hate and make the whole thing into a bigger mess. I stand by your side and as always, you are an inspiration to me. Keep being awesome. (For the record, it was that exact post you made about GTD that made me decide I wanted to check it out. A while later I found a copy of the book and though I haven’t read it yet, I was completely inspired by your post.) Don’t let this beat you down, girl. There will always be doubters, but there will always be more believers.

    • sidecar

      “There will always be doubters, but there will always be more believers.”

      Can I tattoo this on myself? I love it. That made my heart so happy.

      • I give you full permission to use it however you will. (You don’t even need to credit me XD)

  • Rachel

    I am so sorry this crazy woman is someone you have had to put up with Kara!! I’ve been following you long enough (quietly in the background) to have been around when you made the GTD post — and I later saw the Trello post — and never thought you plagiarized. And I am a college student, so watching out for plagiarism is practically a second job of mine!!!
    As for accidentally copying another sticker design, I am so impressed by how you owned up to that! It was an honest mistake, and those of us in the Boho Berry Tribe know that you are nothing if not ethical.
    Keep up the awesome work!

  • BrendaLynn Fisher

    I watch your channel and read your posts regularly. You always give credit where credit is due. I love this about you & your posts. Thank you! I admire your willingness to address this issue with kindness and a positive heart. That is hard to do. Keep being amazing! Sending hugs!

  • Melissa Austin

    This is so ridiculous. Melania Trump reciting Michelle Obama’s speech almost word for word is plagiarism. What Kara did was share information from other sources and made it her own. I am sorry to break it to you but even The GTD System isn’t entirely original. Parts of the system are ideas taken from other systems and ideas Allen accumulated over time to make it one cohesive system. What Kara did was take this system and made it her own by putting her own ideas, knowledge and twist on it. As far as the stickers go I can find icons like this on my iPhone, in sticker packs at craft stores, etc. There is nothing original about these doodles.
    The Natalie Troll person needs to get a life. And the sticker girl needs to get over it.

    Kara – set your boundaries girl. Don’t let the insane world creep into your home. People are unhealthy and there’s no need to get sucked into their unhealth.

  • Ally Copper

    Kara, you rock and I continue to be a huge fan of your blog, Instagram, and YouTube channel. Chin up, creative genius. PLEASE keep doing what you’re doing and don’t let this get you down. To quote Michelle Obama, “When they go low, we go high.”

  • Beautifully written post, Kara. It seems like the blogger you mentioned just has it out for you. I never took any of those posts as you claiming to have created the systems – I don’t know how any of them could have. Keep your chin up <3

  • Cheri Whitney

    Your integrity is a breath of fresh air and your heart felt apology is genuine. Your are generous with your time and attention to the multitudes. Mistakes happen to us all — you are a good human being! Keep doing your best — I love your work! Be strong your tribe is with you!

  • Angela Steinkamp

    Since I don’t really follow many bloggers and even fewer in your realm, I only heard about this from your FB post. It sounds a bit like someone might have been jealous of your style of work, success, decisions, whatever and felt compelled to bring you down. I appreciate your admission of mistakes and your thorough defense of yourself. It is a great example of how more tough situations could and should be addressed on the internet. Chin up, buttercup! You’re doing a great job!

  • Nicole Rixon

    Nicole here, owner of Sweet Stamp Shop. I want to first say that I had no idea about any of this until someone brought it to my attention.

    A few disclaimers first:
    1. I don’t know you
    2. I’ve never visited your blog or shop

    But,

    **I wish that you would have contacted me first, and before you wrote this.**

    Because, I would have loved the opportunity to put your mind at ease. I appreciate your lovely words and links to my shop, but – it’s completely unnecessary. I want everyone to know that our industry is vast, and there is plenty of room for ALL of us. And, equally the secret to success is to be *yourself* — and I think you’ve really expressed learning that through this blog post.

    Please feel free to reach out to me – personally. It’s a rough ol’ world out there – and sometimes, when you have the desire to do something but, not a single helping hand telling you which way to turn – you find yourself, alone. And, you are not alone. :)

    **this is not to say that I approve of using other people’s work in products for personal gain – and I understand that other people might feel differently. This is just my way of saying, mistakes get made – life happens – and as easily as we make mistakes, we should be able to forgive.

    • Emily Okaty Wilson

      Nicole! You just won my business for your amazing heart and generosity to reach out.

    • What a generous and intelligent lady you are Nicole – you have my respect.

    • Class Act Nicole!

    • I’m bookmarking your shop now. What a classy response! Thanks for showing who you are and being such a gracious person.

    • Shannon

      Mad respect for you. You’re the kind of person I wanna buy from!

    • Karen Landreth

      How interesting that as one of “slighted”, you had no idea it was happening. Speaks volumes about the people who started this ugly mess. Just getting into stamping, so I may have to stop by your shop.

    • Jennifer Gripp Kerstetter

      Yes Nicole you are very class act!!! Exactly mistakes do get made. And the drawings or symbols were everyday things that look the same no matter who doodled them. I just wish there were more people in the world like you.

  • PrpleStardust

    This is b.s. you claim this is the truth, this is your side of the drama. No need to discredit the people that called you out. There are 3 sides to every story. This is just your angle. You don’t pay guest bloggers and now you want your “Fans” to troll other sites for you? no…
    What is sad is your cockiness, your “fans” undying loyalty that blinds them from the truth.
    are you refunding the people who bought you stickers? Sending any money to the person who you stole from?

    • Mandy Fish

      How is this post discrediting the people that called her out?
      How her guest bloggers are compensated is between her and them, no one else.

      Kara has not encouraged anyone to “troll” the other sites. To quote Kara:
      “Just a few short days later, Natalie decided to write a pretty scathing article about me on her blog. I’m going to post screenshots here as I do not want to drive any traffic back to her site (which is what she wants). If you DO want to read the entire post, you’re welcome to do a google search and I’m sure it will come up.”
      If Kara wanted to encourage trolling she would have supplied a link to the blog post, she did not.

      In relation to the sticker sheets, in the “Editing to Add” section Kara has mentioned what she is doing about them. Also the owner of one of the sticker shops involved commented here about 10 minutes before you wrote your comment, her name is Nicole Rixon. Please read it to find out how she feels about the situation.

    • Chris Gray

      Natalie discredited herself by saying Kara didn’t cite her sources when she clearly did. Any idiot who knows how to read a blog would see that. You don’t think she has a right to clear up a blatant lie told about her blog? In a post ON HER OWN BLOG?! You sound really salty…oh yeah cuz Natalie’s plan didn’t actually work, did it? Nothing more for you to see here. Go crawling back to Natalie and tell her plan A didn’t work. Go back to the drawing board and help her figure out who to bash next to try and get hits to her site. Her true “fans” saw through all that BS before Kara even had to say a word about it to defend herself. Oh and btw, like someone said before, guest blogging means your compensation is free advertising. If you want to get paid, that’s being a free-lance writer. Get educated first before you post dumb crap. Gurl bye.

  • ConnectTheDots

    Kara, this is a great post. I don’t read many blogs, no time these days! I use to blog personally for my family and very close friends on my personal farm website. Being so far away from everyone due to the military and having small children, it was loved by all family/friends! About a year or so in to my blog, I found that other jealous military wives had started using my personal blog against me! I was mortified! To add insult to injury, I had a negative experience with my OBGYN while 7 months pregnant and voiced my concern about how they handled a situation, in my personal blog. I didn’t even name them by name, just “a local OBGYN clinic!” Someone printed my blog, took it in to them and I got a NASTY call from their office manager telling me that if I did not remove my blog in 24 hours that the office would sue me. They also refused to see/treat me anymore. Umm… I was 7 months pregnant and already scheduled for a c-section. No new office wanted/would take me that far along and being higher risk. I was torn and in tears for weeks not having a doctor to oversee my care and knowing that this clinic was THAT malicious! My brief mention of my health scare and how I felt they didn’t handle it appropriately was VERY minimal and embedded in a huge post. It was essentially like leaving a review anywhere on the web or even at their clinic when they ask about your experience. I decided to make waves with how poorly they chose to handle the situation and got the BBB involved and left terrible reviews all over the Internet and their FB, which they could not remove. I just can’t believe how horrible and miserable some people are!? That Natalie reminded me of all my incidents I went through and on a personal blog with not one cent of income. She must be so miserable, she LOOKS miserable! I mean, I understand plagiarism is a real issue but you did NOT do that, clearly!

    You are such an inspiration and I am very new to this tribe. You handled this situation I knew nothing about with grace, humility and utmost respect. It’s so terrible when we finally have to defend ourselves because of how nasty people become. Like someone else said, “They wouldn’t be doing this if you weren’t so successful and amazing!” I ended up removing my blog because I couldn’t take the stress of it anymore. I couldn’t continue to try and deal with how many people were simply jealous of my situation and had it out for me. Not out to make ANY money whatsoever, there was no point to fighting these hateful people who were using it as a tool to spy on me. Even my neighbors were using it to spy on me! I also deleted my FB account for the same reason, so many attacks and from individuals I didn’t know at all. Situations like this are why my life motto has become, “Do no harm but take NO shit!” You do you Kara and know this has happened all because of how successful you have become. You’re amazing girl! Keep it up!

  • grayeyedgirl

    Where can I heart this?

    I’m sure you know this but there is always someone out there waiting to take someone else down. Whether Natalie knows it or not, she’s one of these folks. There is a threat from successful people. You’re doing something I’m not, I’m self-conscious about what I am/am not doing, so instead of figuring out how I can do what I do better (for instance, send an email to you to ask for some tips and tricks, pitch an idea for your blog) I look for a way to tear you down.

    It’s a real shame. She could have tried to cultivate a relationship with you but instead she has alienated you, and thus all the people that follow you (and your contacts that could have become contacts for her too!). So now she’s driving away even more people.

    Be strong. Keep going. Do whatever you can to ignore people like this. She won’t be the first. Sadly, the more successful you become the more people like this will come out of the woodwork.

  • Melissa

    Awesome post! I am very aware of copywrite infringement (Im a photographer and jeez people steal our photos left and right!), and I have NEVER seen any evidence of copyright infringement on your blog or youtube channel. You are all about sharing information and telling others where you got it. This woman obviously has nothing better to do than troll you and try to steal your thunder. You have 100% support from me!

  • Meghan

    Thank you for writing this post even though I think it is wholly unnecessary. As an academic librarian, I teach a lot of citation – how to cite, when to cite, why you cite, etc.. Your original blog posts are not scholarly papers. They’re blogs posts and all your credit-where-credit-is-do references and links were perfectly fine. I believe that Natalie is straight up trolling. I applaud you for standing up for yourself but I find it disappointing that it was even necessary. You always give credit and share where your ideas came from. It’s one of the reasons I love to follow you.

    As for the stickers, I am simply flabbergasted that any of those icons could have a copyright claim. Unless they were specifically trademarked, you were well within the copyright law. You drew them. That is art and you are free to do with it what you will. That said, you have definitely gone above and beyond to rectify what you see as a problem. If I were these shop owners, I would be hugging you and reassuring you that everything was fine.

    Kara – you are one of my favorite people to follow online. You do great work and are a wonderful roll model. Thank you for everything that you do!

  • Amanda Keller

    My friend, don’t let this drag you down! You’ve addressed it. Don’t give it any more of your time and energy. Go on with your beautiful videos and blog, and let these poor, spiteful souls work out their own issues. And just for the record, I searched out David Allen’s book because of you! Life’s too short! Carry on! ❤

  • Pamela Meyers

    Nicely handled, Kara. I am dumbfounded why someone would think it their business to police your blog and to question your policies toward compensating guest bloggers. Especially when they’d had no prior experience or relationship with you. Makes me wonder about motives here. Regarding copy right infringement, the first thing I must include is that I can easily see how the mistake was made. Pinterest has become the go-to place for examples of bullet journaling. As much work as you have done, as many doodles as you have drawn, and as many products as you have made, I can see how it would be hard to remember the source of every inspiration. I appreciate and am impressed by your public apology. You could have handled this directly with the companies involved, instead you chose to bring it out into the light. That’s one of the things we like so much about you, your transparency and humanity. So, stay human. And I can’t wait to meet you at PlannerCon in October!!!

  • Tricia Murdock (Chocolate Musi

    Kara, good for you. It’s hard to own up to anything like this – and especially when you are accused of something that isn’t true. I heard Clark Kegley on one of his youtube videos cite that there are two ways to build the tallest building. 1) put in the hard work and build the tallest building. 2) don’t do that, just knock everyone else’s down. Sounds like she was trying to knock yours down so she didn’t have to build the tallest building. Karma… sometimes it takes a while to see the results, but know that you put out good Karma vibes….

  • Shannon

    I’ve been a quiet follower of yours since you started, and I have always found your honesty and transparency admirable. I respect you so much more for laying things out like this and owning up to the mistakes you feel you made. I also never thought the inspiration you took from different productivity systems could be portrayed as plagiarism; you always give credit where credit is due, and if anything you’re actually drumming up business for places like Trello and people like David Allen.

    Also cannot understand why anyone would use their space on the Internet, their website, to tear someone down. Blogs are for expressions of creativity and labors of love, I don’t understand starting up this kind of ruckus. I’m so sorry this is happening to you.

    Reading your blog’s been such an inspiration to me over the years, I think reading your blog has definitely played a factor in me starting my own. Please keep doing you, because there are people (like me) who admire you for it.

    – Shannon

  • Paola Danello

    I have a question. If I want to sell stickers with happy faces, water drops or hearts I’m stealing that from another person? even if i draw it myself? Because I don’t know how much creativity you can put in water drops. For me doodles are simple designs that anybody can do. It isn’t like you created happy faces or the shape of a heart and you can’t change a lot about it.

  • alice

    I’m so sad you felt you had to respond to this malice. I remember seeing the GTD video and post when you first made them and I NEVER got the impression you were attributing his ideas to yourself! It was extremely obvious that your pages were from the book and your explanation was so helpful for understanding his system. Reading through all the supportive and kind comments in response to this post has restored my sense of positivity in the world – clearly there are many more people generating good vibes than this one lonely troll. I love the content you provide and I know how much hard work goes into it so thank you!!!

  • Florence Lefebvre

    Kara, with this post, you just have created a stone in your heart. It will be the basement of your spirit for the rest of your life. This stone has a name that a lot of people ignore. It is called : dignity.

  • Liora Hess

    I admit I didn’t read all of this long post, but I did read the part about how you should be paying your guest bloggers. I’m a writer who has blogged both for pay and as a guest. One of the strategies to getting your name out there and your writing ability noticed is to blog, whether for pay or as a guest. I was very selective in choosing which sites to guest blog for, and guest blogging helped me get traffic to my blog as well as show my writing abilities. Guest blogging helped me land some paid blogging opportunities. Do I wish it had all been paid blogging? Well, of course, but that’s not realistic for every site, particularly ones who have had explosive growth as you have. There are so many expenses for relatively new sites like yours, and it’s just not realistic to expect you’ll pay all of your bloggers at this time. There is nothing unethical about having guest bloggers.

  • Hope

    I want to yell at Natalie but decided it was a bad idea. People, please DON’T do so, or the enemy will get what she wants.

  • Hope

    After reading what Natalie did, I got the impulse to go on there and yell at her, as I would typically do with other people who act this way. I took into consideration the factors of her getting what she wanted, the heated fight between her and I, as well as Kara’s potential reaction, coming to the conclusion that it was not the right thing to do. Whoever else thinks that they should do this, please don’t. It is a bad idea that gives the enemy what she wants (page views) and doesn’t make us win. The way this blog post was written sums it up for all of us.
    *DISCLAIMER: I am not saying she is right, I mean to say she is wrong but we should leave it at Kara’s statement unless needed otherwise.

  • Cortney Hall

    I look to your website for all ideas, suggestions, best practices for bullet journaling. This whole concept changed my organizational skills as well as those around me! I share your website with everyone that is interested in getting started. Thank you for the time you put into your work it is much appreciated and valued.

  • Nature Humphries

    I saw Natalie’s blog when I Googled “GTD and Boho Berry,” because I was trying to quickly find your blog post about GTD. (I just started reading GTD and LOVE it, thanks to Kara.) I was disappointed reading the headline but then quickly realized that Natalie was not only way off base, but also very obviously dealing with an ugly case of the greenies (jealousy). The first thought that came to my mind was “Immature poets borrow; mature poets steal . . .” – T.S. Eliot

    Not to say you were stealing, but c’mon people. There’s nothing new under the sun.

    I love what you do, Kara, and I like that you incorporate ideas into your bullet journal by copying them down. I have always done that, too. The act of writing something out helps it stick in your brain. Because you are sharing it with this huge internet community, you have the responsibility to give credit where it is due. I believe you have done that. Proof: I have you to thank for discovering GTD, Ezzie Spencer’s Lunar Abundance, and Goulet Pens, among others! Keep it up, and don’t let ’em get you down!

  • Hi, everyone! In an effort to move forward now that I’ve addressed the issues at hand, I will be closing comments on this post. I want to say THANK YOU to all of you who have been so supportive and understanding these past few days. I also want to thank all of those who have disagreed but kept those disagreements civil and respectful to others. And I ESPECIALLY want to thank Nicole (Sweet Stamp Shop) and Rowena (Tiny Stamps, Big Plans) for your graciousness and understanding as I attempt to right my mistakes. Much love to you all!