You Are Nicked: The Dangers Of Plagiarism

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Have you ever been tempted to use words which aren’t your own, for a blog article?

Admit it, sometimes we come across articles that are so inspiring, we wish we’d written them ourselves.

Some people seem to have an ability to produce writing that is engaging, informative and simply irresistible – the ‘born bloggers’ who manage to nail the right mix of style, content and humour to produce a fantastic article that we would have killed to pass off as our own.

Just as when we see a fantastic painting and wish we had produced it, so we can get envious when we come across a great blog article or piece of writing.

The thing is, writing of any sort, just like art or music, is subject to a great deal of legislation, and over the past few years documents such as e-mails and blog articles have come to be regarded as legal documents in courts all over the world.

When we were at school, plagiarism was frowned upon because it showed a certain lack of creativity, hard work or effort.

Why bother writing a story, when you could pinch one from somewhere else and modify it a bit?

The most we could expect was a rap on the knuckles with a ruler.

Since the launch of the web, however, things have changed. Plagiarism is easy to spot with sites such as CopyScape where we can check the originality of documents, and it isn’t just lazy to steal words and publish them under our own name – it’s downright rude.

Think about it this way – if you has spent an evening crafting a pithy, engaging and informative blog post, and then found out later that someone had popped in to your site and stolen it, publishing it under their own name, how would you feel?

It’s the equivalent of being burgled – you’ve invited someone in to your own space online, only to discover that they liked your work so much they wanted it for themselves.

Decent people don’t do that with cars, or houses, so why do so many people think it’s acceptable to do it with words?

It happened to me, last year, that an unknown person or company took an entire site of mine, full of articles and resources, and simply picked it up, copied it all, and published it again somewhere else. Apart from feeling as if I had been paid some form of warped compliment, I was also furious. A resource which I had spent months of my life building up, for my own benefit and to help my customers, had been appropriated in the same way as someone would nick a television. It made me feel frustrated, helpless and very annoyed.

The site was eventually taken down, but it took me a lot of work and effort.

You can read about it here: I Hate Content Thieves

This is when it came to me – when we plagiarise other people’s work online, we aren’t just being lazy or reproducing work we admire. We’re actually stealing property – admittedly, intellectual property isn’t the same as waking up one morning to discover your house has been ransacked, but the principle is the same.

By all means, contact people you admire online and ask their permission to reference blog articles, link to them, or quote them. Most people will be delighted that you like their work enough to reference it. The web is a very large place, but it’s also easy to track down owners of content and open up a dialogue with them – you could ask them to guest blog for you, if they aren’t keen for you to reproduce their work, or even, as a worst case, spin content until it is completely unrecognizable from the original if you really feel passionate that you need to publish something similar on your blog.

So, if you’re ever tempted to grab some copy from a site and pass it off as your own.

Don’t.

Laws are getting stricter, online morals are getting formalized, and above all, there will be someone somewhere feeling a bit like you’ve burgled them when they see their words passed off as someone else’s!

Has your content ever been copied and use elsewhere? Please share your experiences in the comments below.

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23 Responses to You Are Nicked: The Dangers Of Plagiarism

  1. Paul Salmon September 15, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    I have had my posts copied word for word and published on another blog. This was done using a RSS scraper. The site eventually took down my content after I threatened to to to AdSense – which was the main reason for the copied content.

    I don’t understand why people think that taking the easy route to adding content to a site is going to work. Search engines have become so aware of this technique that they can easily find and devalue a site based on copied content.

  2. sanjay
    Twitter:
    September 15, 2011 at 3:18 pm #

    I hate it when people do this, but I think some of them are really stubborn and think that we won’t know it. As a developer, some clients ask me to do the same. What would you do if you’re in my shoes?
    sanjay recently posted..How to display list of authors in WordPress without a PluginMy Profile

  3. Ivin September 15, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    ‘We are actually stealing property’… Couldn’t have said it better myself. It actually, like yourself, make me angry. I had one article stole once, And I was furious. But I didn’t have the persistence to prosecute ’em, sadly.
    Ivin recently posted..Blogging like Oprah?My Profile

  4. Nitin Agrawal September 17, 2011 at 7:50 am #

    Andrew,, your article is related to me,,
    I really hate it when people do this…
    May be they think they will grab more attention by doing this…..
    Nitin Agrawal recently posted..How to Customize the Notification Area in Windows 7My Profile

  5. Satrap
    Twitter:
    September 18, 2011 at 6:39 am #

    Its just unethical and just not right to do this. I mean, its no different than you breaking into someone’s house and stealing a physical thing.

    Unfortunately though, more and more people are doing this these days, specially since there are a few plugins that even automate the process for you.

    I found one of my articles on someone else’s site claimed it as their own recently by accident.

    I posted the article on ezine.com (I use all my past posts for my artcile marketing)and a few days latter they disabled my account saying this content belongs someone else. They gave me the link and when I checked it, I realized what had happened.

    So, I contacted ezine and gave them evidence( I had published the post on my own site long before that guy) that he was the one that stole my content. So, the restored my account.
    Satrap recently posted..Ways To Make MoneyMy Profile

  6. Mark Viola September 18, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    I always check CopyScape before I submit anything to make sure that it passes plagiarism. If I find any relevant results I have to do an entire rewrite to make sure that I never have any duplicates.

    -Mark

    • Andrew
      Twitter:
      September 21, 2011 at 10:01 am #

      Mark,

      I use CopyScape as well – great resource.

      Only problem is…it is a ‘snapshot’ at any one time.

      If someone copies your articles after you have checked with CopyScape, then you may not find out.

      I do know CopyScape offer a service where your articles are checked 24/7 but it is quite expensive.

      Andrew
      Andrew recently posted..How To Make Sure Your Presentation Is A Winning OneMy Profile

  7. Debbie
    Twitter:
    September 19, 2011 at 3:30 pm #

    When I have found a great article I always ask them if it would be ok to link to it and talk about how great it is. I have never had anything taken, but I do know what it is like to have your house broken into, so no I would not do this.
    Guess I’ll have to go to Copyscape and check that out. didn’t know there was a place you could check this out. Thanks Andrew for letting me know. Appreciate it
    Debbie
    Debbie recently posted..5 Easy Steps to Develop Lasting RelationshipsMy Profile

  8. Felicia September 22, 2011 at 1:15 am #

    Hi Andrew,
    I once wrote an article for someone and somehow it was copied by another site (but they put the original link at the bottom of the duplicate article). Is that still called plagiarism?
    Felicia recently posted..Poker lookalikes – enjoy!My Profile

  9. Ana September 23, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    I haven’t had anything stolen from me until now. And I would never do that. Stealing somebody’s words ranks very high on my list of “sins”. Especially because the damage you make with it is so difficult to repair.

    However, with so many authors and so many things published online from one minute to another, I sometimes wonder is somebody, somewhere writes something remarkably similar to the thing I am currently writing.

  10. fred
    Twitter:
    September 29, 2011 at 8:33 am #

    This kind of gets to the heart of the problem with how search engines are set up currently, which basically encourages people to run their articles through “spinning” software and run multiple blogs which are saying the same thing with rearranged sentences. This is a temporary issue that arose because of the nature of search engines, and as technology rapidly evolves and shifts this idea will become outmoded and there will be new paradigms for increasing publicity on the internet.

  11. Ross October 2, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    Don’t forget the content thieves can come after your images and video content as well, it’s happened to me a couple of times. I find that most of the time it’s an innocent mistake and they comply with either taking the content down, or giving credit with a link (which is more valuable, IMO!) but there are those rare cases where stubborn webmasters just wont comply and you have to fight back.

  12. Cheolsu October 5, 2011 at 7:27 am #

    I have had similar issues with in the past. Not exactly with any of my blog content, but it was with Article writing. I used to write articles for free with leave a link back to my blog and publish it on websites that accept articles. There were instances were the article was re-used and the link back (hyperlink removed) was removed on other websites.
    Cheolsu recently posted..Facebook Restricted listMy Profile

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