An interesting thing happened to me yesterday: a very kind reader of the blog informed me that roughly 190 pages of a 254 page-length book that he recently purchased was taken from my writings on this free site. Not sentences, not paragraphs, but practically everything I’ve ever written on AbdesSalaam Attar was presented in its entirety. And the thief —Leonard Payne— actually confessed to all of it in his introduction!
Let me clarify a few things at the outset:
At no time was I ever informed about this book, approached about it, or asked for my consent prior or post publishing by the author.
At no time was I ever told, then or now, that a book compilation of my writings could or would result in any financial compensation for me.
I did not give any consent for this book that I never knew about but was published back in August 2020.
Once the book was published, I was never approached by the author or informed of what he had done.
Unlike this person, if I use an artist or seller’s photo, I will add in an embedded link to their site, store, or whatever else is listed for them. If I use someone’s words on this site, as in a Fragrantica review, I will link directly to that site, reference them by name, and give them direct, immediate credit.
US and international law permits sites like mine to use photos or words of others under the “Fair Use” exception whereby non-commercial sites that do not make money are allowed to use other people’s words, photos, or work, in a reasonable fair limited way, for educational, illustrative, and other purposes.
I have never made a penny from my writings as Kafkaesque or on KafkaesqueBlog.com
I actually lose money on this site. It’s not a trivial amount. In addition to sometimes spending $60-$80 a sample order each time, I also pay: DreamHost DSL server fees, server capacity something or another mumbo jumbo, some hosting fees, an annual domain fee, a transfer fee from my old site, some SEO Yost and/or Jetpack stuff, and more that I’m probably forgetting now. (I’ve also probably screwed up the terminology or website issues in a few of those things, maybe even comingled a few, so I apologize for my general ignorance. The whole thing is gibberish to me. Basically: they charge me, I pay. And I’ve paid a lot to keep this site active even during the almost 2 years that I wasn’t writing a word on the site.)
Let’s move onto the actual book. It’s called “Perfumes: The World of AbdesSalaam.” Its author is Leonard Payne or, as he styled himself in the introduction, the Reverend Leonard Payne. Mr. Payne’s entire back page copy is text taken verbatim from me.
But, hey, why should any of that matter when Payne flat-out says in the introduction that Orwell, 1984, Einstein, Jews, and the temporal natural of the internet justify his taking my work. In fact, according to him, he’s practically doing a social service and civic duty in selling my writing for $60, and he thanks me for it, apologizes for it, and also says he’s happy to share proceeds with me.
You might be surprised to learn that it’s rather difficult to ask someone to share their profits with you when they’ve never mentioned that they stole your work to begin with, you know nothing about it, and, oh, by the way, the book has been on sale for EIGHT MONTHS NOW and the alleged philanthropist never once even offered to share 80% of his profits for 80% of our work.
But I’ll let you read Payne’s words for yourself:
I was delighted to come across these articles by AbdesSalaam Attar and the anonymous “Kafkaesque”. Originally published in digital form they are now at least 7 years or older. There is however, a major problems with digital life.
Firstly, pages have a habit of disappearing and when tracing a particular article through varied pages, one often comes up with the dreaded “404 error”—can’t find the page.
Secondly, politics seems to take centre stage and you wake up one morning to find that the author/artist you have been looking at, is suddenly defined as an “unperson”. (see George Orwell’s ‘1984’).
Albert Einstein famously said “If I am right, they will call me a German. If I am wrong, they will call me a Jew”. Historically we have seen people ‘airbrushed’ out of history (See history of Marxism). In my own time, the author Garrison Keillor who for many years created a radio show called “The Prairie Home Companion” had the entire corpus of his show, removed from the radio station site, owing to some alleged sexual misdemeanor. I make no judgement on that but simply point out that all that art, and it was art, disappeared.
Closer to home, the author J.K.Rowling, author of the Harry Potter franchise, finds herself in hot water as she speaks out on sex and gender issues, Her views are classical in terms of what constitutes ‘woman’. Sadly her views are not considered ‘politically correct’ and she is well on her way to becoming an ‘unperson’.
The point to be made is that important work has a tendency to disappear for all kinds of reasons often political. It seems that the only way to preserve is to get it into print. In that respect, I make this private printing and apologize to the original authors. The proceeds are likely to be small but I’m happy to share them with you.
Thank you for your incredible work
Yes, Mr. Payne apparently included his email right there in the introduction for people to get in touch with him. If you spend $60, you can see the whole thing, too, but my hope in writing this post is more about public shaming so that Mr. Payne does not do this again.
Because I suspect it may not be the first time. Another Payne book is a 2019 compilation of perfume accords and I have a terrible fear that it could be something taken from Mandy Aftel’s books.
More than one person I know of personally has purchased Payne’s AbdesSalaam book, retailing for $60 on Amazon or, now, suddenly, as $104 as an “unavailable book” on the website version of Amazon. (For some reason, the book is still available if I use my Amazon App. on my phone, but it’s suddenly “currently unavailable” if I go to the Amazon website on my laptop. However, even if “currently unavailable” (for what I assume is the original $60 retail price), there is somehow an option to buy the book for around $104, give or take a few dimes.)
I filed a DMCA takedown notice with Amazon this afternoon.
I shall file one with Barnes & Nobles tomorrow, because Payne is also selling his book there.
After that, we shall go to a Cease & Desist to the good Reverend, and then we shall see about lawyers going further. To be honest, I do not expect anyone who hid so much of his actions in subterfuge as Mr. Payne to ever VOLUNTARILY and freely give me the 75%-80% of his proceeds that would be my proper share but, you know what? Money is not my driving concern in any way.
There are two things I want. First, I do not want this asshole to get misappropriated credit for my work from anyone who has been misled by his totally deceptive practices and I want his book taken down forever from every site.
I did not engage in blood, sweat, tears, and more both in writing my many pieces on AbdesSalaam and in undergoing his perfume course in like 108 degree heat for some schmuck to hide his apology and thanks in a surreptitious introduction.
Second, I do not want any of you who may be AbdesSalaam fans to waste your money. You can just click on the tag AbdesSalaamAttar or La Via Del Profumo to pull up thousands of words, all for FREE. Do not waste your money. The 60-odd pages out of the 254 that are not my words are from the New York Times articles that I reference or from AbdesSalaam himself on his website.
Payne knew what he was doing. He self-published and never announced ANYWHERE on his back book cover text, its photo on Amazon, the Amazon text, or anywhere else that a customer could see in advance of purchase that he was regurgitating stale text available for free on the internet. $60 isn’t pennies. He was bilking people on the promise of original information that they could only get in this book and, presumably, written by him. Instead, he wrote some bizarre justification citing Orwell and quoting Einstein in a larger/smaller metaphor on being seen as a historically abused, brutalized minority if people didn’t see him for the other things that he was, all as some avatar of success, recognition, and achievement.
I don’t even have the words to deal with that. I am simply gobsmacked.
As for the claim that some of my AbdesSalaam writings were 7 years old as of 2020 (factually untrue, since 2020 would make it 5 years since my pieces on the 2015 perfume course), I almost laughed at the justification that things die out on the internet such that Payne was being the perfume world’s savior in keeping things for posterity.
My god, man, do you not live in the modern world? Have you never heard the truism that “the internet never dies” or “things on the internet live forever?”
Logical fallacies regarding internet appropriation aside, the greatest problem in Mr. Payne’s arguments in his Introduction is that, in fact, he never contacted me to tell me that he’d made proceeds off of my work and wanted to give me my justified share. If, as the good “Reverend” claims, he would be happy to share any small dividends from his theft with the original owners to whom he’s so grateful and thanks, how come I don’t have a check in my hands?
Look, my anger and disbelief at this situation are one thing, and something for me to deal with, but one of the main reasons why I’m writing this post is to spread the word to people who are La Via Del Profumo/AbdesSalaam Attar fans and may want to buy the book. Nothing on Amazon’s website is going to give you advance notice that your $60 is going to go for my free articles. Spread the word. Don’t let others fall for this man’s scam.
And, to anyone out there who may have bought his Perfume Accords book, please compare the text to that of Mandy Aftel or other natural perfumers because I’m telling you, there is something shady about this chap.
My words are my own— and no-one is entitled to them but me.
If I put in the hard blood, sweat, and tears for something, I’m just as entitled to post it as I am to take it away. I’ve received much grief in the blogosphere because I removed a number of my reviews of a certain brand. People were outraged. They thought “less of me” and so on, without every knowing the other side of the story, which legally it’s inadvisable for me to discuss.
But you know what? So what!
I’m not charging a single one of you anything.
I don’t OWE you anything— and that includes my work, my reviews.
You are NOT entitled to my words or reviews simply because you feel like you’re owed it and that you’re owed it in its entirety. My words are my words and my decision in how they will be presented, if at all, lies with me, not with some totally narcissistic, user perfumer or with his crazed fans who leave me hate mail/comments.
As for Mr. Payne: should I wish to remove my writings from the internet, I will do so with or without your input or approval. And should I wish to put my words into a book to save them for posterity lest the internet suddenly, bizarrely, inexplicably die, I won’t need you. You, a total stranger, are completely irrelevant to how I decide to manage my creative output.
Actually, you are less than relevant. You are a parasite and liar who is trying to pretend he is the great religious savior in case the internet suddenly collapses in order to con ignorant people out of $60 for work that is otherwise totally free.
You are making money off the works of others and you have the audacity to profess gratitude to them for the payday?!! (A payday that you never tell them about, btw.) And that theft includes both the New York Times‘ author and AbdesSalaam whose works you also stole for the remaining 25% of your book.
Even if you’ve only sold 10 books, or $600-worth, the principle remains the same, Mr. Payne. If this is about saving my special writing for posterity against the potential collapse of the internet, why have you never contacted the authors? And where is my check, Mr. Payne? Where is the email on or before August 2020 advising me of this book that used 190 pages of my writing, out of 254, and telling me that you’d be paying me 80% of the proceeds? Ditto for AbdesSalaam. As far as I know, he hasn’t received a check from you, either.
More importantly, where is your notice on both Amazon and Barnes & Nobles informing potential buyers that they were buying compiled, regurgitated, FREE online work for $60 and that you didn’t have anything to do with it, right down to all my words that you put on the book’s back cover? Even if you’re saving my words for posterity, why not fully advise readers of the situation?
While the “Reverend” better hopes he never meets me or my German Shepherd in person, I’d like to take the time to thank Peter Stoller for his kindness in alerting me to the situation. He purchased the book, he wrote to me with details, provided the full text of the introduction, and also posted on Basenotes and alerted AbdesSalaam. AbdesSalaam initially didn’t mind the publicity, bought the book, and didn’t have a problem until he found out what exactly was involved or what had happened. That changed his mind quickly, because AbdesSalaam, unlike the chap who pretended to be his biographer, has actual ethics.
To Mr. Stoller: You are a gentleman in the fullest and truest sense of the word. I can’t thank you enough for alerting me to the situation. One day, when all this Covid situation is over and if you’re ever in my city, I hope you’ll let me take you out for a coffee, scotch, pastry, sushi, or whatever takes your fancy.
To the “Reverend” or “leonardpayne” on Basenotes: I suspect you’ve done this before, with your Accords book and Mandy Aftel. I hope I’m wrong and you’ve only stolen from me, AbdesSalaam, and the NYT. I also hope none of my readers fall for your scam and waste $60.
In the meantime, while I mull over my legal options, my response to you basically consists of this:
It seems there is a lot more to the Reverend’s past actions than one might have first suspected. It also appears that I’m hardly the only one whom he’s ripped off. I’m in the illustrious company of Jean-Claude Ellena, indie perfumers, and book publishers. The not-so-good Reverend also apparently likes to “curate” other people’s works on a variety of topics, including the controversial Mens’ Rights Activist, Jordan Petersen. As his bio states, his “work” enables him to enjoy “fine wine” and “chjeese” (sic.)
All of that, as well as a discussion of the litigation issues at play here, are discussed in my update post: