Five Practical Reasons for Fighting Plagiarism

For most, being plagiarized is an inherently emotional experience. Finding out that someone else copied and claimed something that took hours to produce is bound to produce some negative feelings.

This has lead some to wonder if fighting plagiarism is more about revenge than practicality. To some, it is better to simply forget about the plagiarists, ignore the emotional response and go about one’s business.

But as tempting as ignoring the problem is, it doesn’t look at the consequences of inaction. Though we might like the idea of covering our eyes and looking the other way, doing absolutely nothing can be detrimental to one’s success online.

Practical Implications

Though it is tempting to look at fighting plagiarism as nothing but an irrational knee-jerk reaction, considering the following issues that might arise from not taking action.

  • Search Engine Penalties: Though disagreements remain about the duplicate content penalty (possible nsfw) as it pertains to scraping, one penalty is certain, increased competition. Even if there is no algorithmic “penalty” placed on your site, the plagiarists will still show up for in your keyword results. For example, if you had a keyword unique to your site, you’d be number one for certain. If you were plagiarized six times, you’d be just one of seven, possibly not even first.
  • Business Concerns: If you run a business, plagiarism hits much harder. You spent a great deal of time and/or money coming up with your site’s content, if someone steals it, they avoid those expenses. This means they can offer their products cheaper and enjoy higher profits. That translates to money out of your pocket.
  • Reputation Issues: If you’re a new artist and you leave plagiarism unchecked, some will believe that you are the one stealing the content, not the others. This can make it hard to grow a following and establish a reputation on the Web.
  • Destroys Market Value: If a work is widely plagiarized, its market value is destroyed and any attempts to sell it will be thwarted. Many artists have to create new works specifically for interested buyers just to counter the damage that plagiarism has done to the original.
  • Missed Promotional Opportunities: In some cases, distributing free, attributed copies of your work to other sites, such as through a Creative Commons License, can be a great promotional tool. However, if plagiarized copies spread out first, the promotional opportunity is destroyed.

These are just some of the bigger, more important, reasons that fighting plagiarism is not purely an emotional exercise, but rather, a necessary step to protect and grow your Web site in today’s Internet climate.

Excuses… Excuses…

Even with that evidence, many still claim that fighting plagiarism is not practical. They feel that it takes too long, costs too much money or is too distracting. To them, they would be better of spending their resources on other aspects of their site.

However, as I’ve shown before, the best tools for fighting plagiarism are completely free and no case of plagiarism should take longer than twenty minutes.

If you can’t spare twenty minutes from time to time to protect your content, you might want to seriously rethink posting it on the Web.

Of course, the number one honest reason I hear from people about why they do not protect their content more is that they do not know how. If that’s the case, then that is why this site is here and why I am here. If you have a plagiarism question, feel free to email me or post your question to the Performancing forums.

I will gladly help any way that I can.

Conclusions

Being plagiarized is a very emotional experience, ask anyone who has been through. But because something invokes a great deal of intense feeling does not mean there is no logic behind stopping it. Logic and emotion do not always agree, but they are not mutually exclusive either.

Your content is valuable. If it is worth enough for you to create and then post on the Web, then it is almost certainly valuable enough to warrant spending the few minutes needed to protect it.

If you need help, there are resources, including this site, available to you.

Regardless, we have long passed the point where covering our eyes and hoping the problem will go away is an effective solution. Denial is overrated, the time for action is now.

16 Responses to Five Practical Reasons for Fighting Plagiarism

  1. Joseph says:

    20 minutes if they back down when told too. Otherwise it'll be a lot longer than 20 minutes.

  2. cybele says:

    I let a lot of stuff go when it's just some tweener reposting things to share with her friends on myspace. It's when I feel an "intent" behind the plagiarism that irritates me to the point of acting. I see no reason to let someone steal from me for their own profit … I can see the argument that it may not "hurt" me, but it's the principal that they're benefiting from my work without contributing at all. (There's a lot of innane stuff on the internet, how am I supposed to find it if it's clogged up with respostings of other innane stuff?)It really doesn't take that much time to fight most of it, most hosts will shut them down without complaint and if they're not compliant, going after revenue streams is also helpful. (Now that I've done it a few times, it's about 10 minutes.) Plagiarists are lazy and when you make their lives too complex, they move on to better marks.

  3. JB says:

    Joseph,If you read my original guide and my article about how long it should take, you'll see that it uses a technique that goes through the host. Those cases are resolved about 99% of the time without problem and never take more than 20 minutes. Cybele,I can see your point about not letting the "tweeners" and the Myspace crowd get to you, but I recall once that I was accused of plagiarism and, very briefly, subjected to an attack by a teen forum who thought I had stolen the works of one of their members.He came clean pretty quick, the evidence was overwhelming, but the rush to judgment still took place and nearly caused me a lot of grief.I am glad that you've found that it doesn't take that long to fight it. I don't see why it ever should as long as one has a plan.You seem to have a very good one!

  4. Joseph says:

    20 minutes if they back down when told too. Otherwise it’ll be a lot longer than 20 minutes.

  5. cybele says:

    I let a lot of stuff go when it’s just some tweener reposting things to share with her friends on myspace. It’s when I feel an “intent” behind the plagiarism that irritates me to the point of acting. I see no reason to let someone steal from me for their own profit … I can see the argument that it may not “hurt” me, but it’s the principal that they’re benefiting from my work without contributing at all. (There’s a lot of innane stuff on the internet, how am I supposed to find it if it’s clogged up with respostings of other innane stuff?)

    It really doesn’t take that much time to fight most of it, most hosts will shut them down without complaint and if they’re not compliant, going after revenue streams is also helpful. (Now that I’ve done it a few times, it’s about 10 minutes.) Plagiarists are lazy and when you make their lives too complex, they move on to better marks.

  6. JB says:

    Joseph,

    If you read my original guide and my article about how long it should take, you’ll see that it uses a technique that goes through the host. Those cases are resolved about 99% of the time without problem and never take more than 20 minutes.

    Cybele,

    I can see your point about not letting the “tweeners” and the Myspace crowd get to you, but I recall once that I was accused of plagiarism and, very briefly, subjected to an attack by a teen forum who thought I had stolen the works of one of their members.

    He came clean pretty quick, the evidence was overwhelming, but the rush to judgment still took place and nearly caused me a lot of grief.

    I am glad that you’ve found that it doesn’t take that long to fight it. I don’t see why it ever should as long as one has a plan.

    You seem to have a very good one!

  7. cybele says:

    It's funny that you point out the grief from the casual stuff because I just had that experience a little while ago. A blogger whom I read reposted a photo of mine… no biggie, I just asked in the comment that mentioned other things about the post that they please attribute it. Then someone in the next comment then pulled out some other blog post that had ALSO used my photo saying that it might be ME who is the thief. I don't know why, but it really upset me. Not the original lack of attribution but being called and ass and a thief.

  8. JB says:

    It happens and I'm afraid it's not uncommon. It seems that, when money is involved, the plagiarism is more expected. When there is no cash reward, people can't fathom the theft.Fortunately, most of the time, these things have a way of being sorted out…

  9. cybele says:

    It’s funny that you point out the grief from the casual stuff because I just had that experience a little while ago. A blogger whom I read reposted a photo of mine… no biggie, I just asked in the comment that mentioned other things about the post that they please attribute it. Then someone in the next comment then pulled out some other blog post that had ALSO used my photo saying that it might be ME who is the thief.

    I don’t know why, but it really upset me. Not the original lack of attribution but being called and ass and a thief.

  10. JB says:

    It happens and I’m afraid it’s not uncommon. It seems that, when money is involved, the plagiarism is more expected. When there is no cash reward, people can’t fathom the theft.

    Fortunately, most of the time, these things have a way of being sorted out…

  11. John Bennett says:

    I've noticed several instances of sites just copying my rss feed and putting it on their site. And my blog is relatively new – anything we can do to prevent this from occuring?

  12. John Bennett says:

    I’ve noticed several instances of sites just copying my rss feed and putting it on their site. And my blog is relatively new – anything we can do to prevent this from occuring?

  13. JB says:

    John,

    Take a look at these posts, I think they might have some information you could use:

    http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2006/10/09/five-
    http://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2007/05/04/wordp

    Hope that helps!

  14. [...] on Blog Herald. Jonathan also writes a blog called Plagiarism Today, including a good post titled 5 Practical Reasons For Fighting Plagiarism. Search ‘plagiarism on the internet’ on any search engine, and you’ll find more [...]

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