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.
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.
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.
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.
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.