Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Trouble with Plagiarism

A fellow freelance writer, Lori Widmer, has been dealing with a blatant content thief. This thief probably doesn’t think he’s doing anything wrong. He’s pulling the content straight from her blog and uploading it onto his site. But he’s giving her credit for the posts (posting her name and the name of her blog) so that makes it okay. Right? Um, yeah, not so much.

This content thief is financially benefiting from her words and ideas. Sure he’s giving credit where it’s due recognizing her as the author of the posts, but he’s using those posts to drive traffic to his site in hopes that once visitors show up searching for information about freelance writing, they will click on the ads so he can get paid. So he gets paid, but what about Lori and the other bloggers he’s stealing from? Think he’s paying them for the use of their content? Yeah, that’s what makes him a thief.

Plagiarism is a major problem on the Internet. The web is such a vast space that it can be difficult to monitor and control the problem. Within the past two weeks I’ve heard of at least four other bloggers besides Lori dealing with content theft. It’s no secret that there are some clients who hire writers to “re-write” content so that it comes across as unique content when run through plagiarism detection services or software. Please be clear: rewording someone’s words and ideas IS plagiarism. Some writers are completely unaware of what actually constitutes plagiarism.

I recommend visiting for more clarification. This site specifically covers the problem as it relates to the theft of online content. The site also provides tips to help you avoid web content theft.


Lori said...

Kim, very timely post. I heard back from him. It was what I expected - the you-need-to-adjust-your-attitude self-righteousness from someone who is, quite literally, earning off my work without my permission. And he told me any legal action I took "would fail" because HE knows fair use. Apparently not. Fair use rules state twice to ask permission of the author when there's a question. Not just that, there's the issue of his getting paid ad revenue. I don't think any court would disagree that he owes me a portion of that revenue.

He was beligerent and resorted to calling me "rude." What made me rude? This: "FYI - you are republishing copyrighted material without the written permission of the author of that material (me). You are also earning money as a result of posting this material, and the material of others. Please remove all links and references to my site immediately to avoid litigation."

Yep. That was rude. :) He's lucky I didn't send the message via my attorney.

Kimberly Ben said...

Wow, Lori, I'd say he was quite lucky indeed. I have to admit, my knowledge of fair use is minimal. Your situation has really been a wake up call - I need to get up to speed with my understanding of the laws surrounding Internet content/publishing. This is a HUGE problem and anyone can become victim to these content theives.

Ray said...

At the very least he should remove the blog post to stop infringing on your copyright going forward.

Fair use would be if he wrote his own content and referenced a few quotes from your post.

The sad thing is that litigation may get him to remove the post and get you the few bucks he may have made on the ad-clicks, but the only real winner will be your lawyer.

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