Will the Blogger, one of the members of Team Wilco, recently posted about a LiveJournal user that was caught plagiarizing material from the popular news and commentary site. The blogger, who closed his blog after the plagiarism was discovered, has not publicly commented on the incident and has not been reachable since then.
The incident is interesting in that it continued unabated since July of this year and was only recently noticed. Team Wilco was tipped off to the plagiarism by one of their readers, Liss, who informed them of the problem via email.
The fact that such a popular site could be plagiarized for such a long period of time points to one of the biggest problems with tracking plagiarism on the Web, the size of the Internet. If one isn’t actively searching for and dealing with plagiarism, it can continue for a very long time and, in the blogging world especially, can involve a great deal of unique content.
Also, it shows that no site is completely safe from plagiarism. Team Wilco obviously felt some security from their popularity and must not have been actively searching for their content. However, in my experience, recognizable and popular sites are among the most common to be pilfered. People take what they feel is good and what they think others will respect. They don’t necessarily think about what other people will or will not recognize.
In the end, this highlights the importance for content-driven sites to think about plagiarism, create a plan for seeking it out and setting up a policy for dealing with it. If you’re going to keep your content safe, you have to be proactive.
But in the meantime though, I’m going to be following the Team Wilco blog very closely this next week. They’ve dedicated a full seven days of posts to bashing the offending plagiarist. They hope that providing such a strong reaction will deter others from stealing their hard work later. Though it’s not necessarily the advice I offer, I’ll be very interested to see if it works.
Speaking of which, the first and second posts on the subject is already up and the first one contains some interesting rebuttals to people who think that they’re being too hard on the plagiarist. I think Will speaks for a lot of authors when he talks about the reasons for protecting his works and it’s definitely a good start to a week of plagiarist-bashing. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.[tags]Plagiarism, Content Theft, LiveJournal, Blogger, Team Wilco[/tags]