Blatant Stealing

Blatant Stealing

I was simply looking for Sketchnoting supplies on Amazon yesterday, when the algorithm suggested the following book: A Simple Guide to Sketchnoting by Dorothy Bell. Immediately, I was taken aback, since as I was looking at the cover of the book, I looked at one of MY own sketchnotes.

It was an odd feeling, when the realization set in, that this self-publishing author, had simply lifted the image, which I had shared in 2014 on a blog post, titled Sketchnoting for Learning.

The image was a blended sketchnote I had created from a Stock image (the nutshell) I purchased from 123RF.

I then created the sketchnote in my Paper Fiftythree app on the iPad.

I have to admit, I was pretty upset, with that blatant way this author, just lifted the image and used it for her own work. I receive many request from people around the world, who are interested in using my images on presentations, in their libraries, with their students, in course work, etc… And I am always happy to allow these with proper attribution and for NON-COMMERCIAL purposes. This Amazon book was just too much and left a very bad taste in my mouth!!

I tried to locate the author, Dorothy Bell, on Amazon, looking for an author page, but could not find one. A google search did not allow me to find a website, a twitter or facebook presence. Since there was no evidence of an “author”‘s online presence , it fueled my suspicion further.


  • author with no (or not easily find-able) Internet presence
  • very similar title to another from another author (the words in the title are just switched around a little)
  • a google search showed that the book in question has been uploaded to all different Amazon country sites
  • there is a feeling of an automated copying bot (I share that feeling with another message I received via Twitter)
  • in a google image search (see screenshot below) of another book title from the author, I received three VERY SIMILAR book covers with the same name , but attributed to different authors (Dorothy Bell, Olivia Russel & Amanda Smith)

My first impulse was to write a “review” on the product page, but I decided to go to Twitter and ask for further help or ideas in locating the author. I wanted to see, if I could directly get in touch with her. My network agreed, that this author was rather suspicious.

Becky’s tweet, made me think to document this incident and to publish on this blog in the hope to continue to raise awareness of copyright, digital citizenship, and share what to do with you are confronted with copyright infringement. I am also wondering how to turn the incident into an example, lesson or project for students. Could they become copyright infringement detectives? How could their radar for detecting copyright infringement online be honed and set to alert when they see something suspicious?

At the same time, I reported copyright infringement directly on Amazon. I am happy to report that Amazon responded within 12 hours and within 24 hours the page to the book by Dorothy Bell was removed (I checked the .com/.uk/.it site and they were removed, while the book was still available on the German .de and France .fr site of Amazon). While some Amazon sites have taken the product down, this does not mean, the “Stolen image” has no already spread to other sites (Pinterest, Goodread) with little or no hope that the spread will be contained.

If you are thinking of a way to use this incident to model good citizenship, literacy, etc. for and with your students, please share in the comment section below.

cross posted at

Silvia Tolisano is a Curriculum21 faculty member, author of the book Digital Storytelling Tools for Educators and founder of the Around the World with 80 Schools project. Read more at