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Blog Plagiarism - How would you respond?

2 September, 2004 4:36 PM

You're cruising the internet - searching Google on some of your pet topics of interest to see if you can find anything new and interesting. One search result catches your eye - there is something about the title that triggers something in your mind - it looks like something you'd be interested in - could be that perfect site that will answer all your questions on the topic at hand.

You click the link and wait for the site to load. It is a pretty simple web page - uncluttered - just an article and some ads. The first sentence or two of the article are intriguing - they resonate with your experience - the person who has written this article is really coming from a similar perspective to you. In fact as you read you discover that they really really have had a similar experience to you - its like they are reading your mind even.

But then you come to a puzzling sentence - the author of this article makes reference to a couple of blogs that THEY run - blogs which REALLY resonate with your own experience - because they are your blogs!

It suddenly dawns upon you as to why title of the article grabbed you so quickly on Google - it was because you'd written that title a few months before. In fact you'd spent a whole morning writing this article (posted in its entirety) - researching, thinking, planning and writing it out.

Someone has lifted it straight off your site - including the title, personal comments and even internal links to other articles on your own blog. There is no attribution to your work, no crediting link to your blog and no acknowledgment that this is not original content. You've never seen or heard of this site before - no permission has been sought or given and what's more the site is commercial in nature and making money from your work.

So how does one respond in such a situation? An email to the site concerned asking for an explanation and removal of content raises no response initially.

Update: I'm happy to report that the threat of shame seemed to work. I appreciate the advice and encouragement set out below. The site in question emailed to say that they'd made a mistake in publishing my article - it was a 'test page' they say (despite them having it linked from their footer on every other page in their site). Anyway - dilemma over - until next time - this about the 10th time this has happened to me in 18 months (just the instances I've found).



Hunt them down and shame them. Shame works.

You really should post the link to the site that stole your work, so others can spread the word about it.

You don't have to hostile, but you can sure as hell be indignant and make noise about it.

pixelkitty » 2 September, 2004 5:05 PM

I've given them another 12 hours and then we'll probably take it in that direction Pixelkitty - thanks for the comment.

Darren Rowse » 2 September, 2004 5:08 PM

public shaming and ridicule is always good!

hamo » 2 September, 2004 6:18 PM

Yeah, link to them, trackback and get others to do the same.

Failing them, curse them with blindness or call Grizzly bears to come and rip their heads off.

graham » 2 September, 2004 6:43 PM

It's tough in this situation. You have to spend money a lot of times to protect what is yours. Even though it's not fair, you could still be the loser in a situation like this just over the legal fees.

People want to make a living without working, and there will always be a percentage of them trying to cheat the system to scrape together two pennies.

If you give them attention that is either page rank or publicity. Either way they will win in the short term.

Those son-of-biscuit-eaters!


Jon Sterling » 2 September, 2004 7:17 PM

Kaz at the Spin Starts Here Darl recently had a similar situation. And if you know Kaz (also a professional writer) the invective flew. I'm not sure if it helped any - her plagiariser was a rather sad young Aussie 'nannie' in the U.S. who probably needs to be sent home for psychiatric help and criminal investigation.

I think it depends on what you know of your plagiarizer. Someone who does that sounds off balance to start with - not someone you can reason with. If there is no response, I would say public exposure would be a reasonable option - and perhaps reporting them to their blog host/ISP and anywhere else where they are listed.

saint » 2 September, 2004 9:42 PM

I found some blog plagiarism once... it wasn't plagiarizing my site but someone else's that I often read. I pointed out to the plagiarizer that they should probably attribute the site they had copied from, and they did.

Sometimes it's so easy to copy on the internet and forget to attribute.

michelle » 3 September, 2004 12:10 AM

To give a small benefit of the doubt, I was caught up in a similar situation. I had posted a humourous article on my blog. It was one of those things that circulates on dozens of e-mail joke lists. There was no author noted, so no attribution was given. Some months later, I was contacted by the author who pointed me to the source material with its copyright. She indicated that she would take the necessary legal steps to protect her material, should I not remove it. I removed it and replaced it with and apology and a link to a legitimate source and that was that.

That's not to excuse plagiarism, but just to observe that the www and e-mail and on-line groups, etc. end up propogating material without acknowledging the source. Personally, I don't want to be plagiarising. If I have inadvertantly posted something without the source, I would appreciate a gentle notice from the author.

Ian McKenzie » 3 September, 2004 2:06 AM

Good news Darren. Is now I good time to point out that it's 'plagiarism'? ;-)

saint » 3 September, 2004 2:11 AM

Now I feel all sad. :(

No one has ever bothered to plagiarise anything on my blog. (Or at least not that I know about)

Rodney Olsen » 3 September, 2004 8:12 AM

Of course there is the flattering aspect to this as well. They obviously thought the article was good.

If the site is commercial why not approach them to write for them on a commercial basis. That could turn a negative into a very big positive for you.

Greenman » 3 September, 2004 8:36 AM

hmmm...i thought I'd changed that spelling a few minutes after I originally posted it ....let me try again.

Darren Rowse » 3 September, 2004 8:51 AM

I recently found an academic paper on the web that contained 3 of my sentences verbatim. I was so proud (fit to bust!!) that I let it go.
But there is a serious issue here for all those involved in education. "Cutting and pasteing" is becoming such an accepted part of the way we do things that plagiarism is not just becoming acceptable it is practically compulsory.

Richard Hall » 3 September, 2004 8:30 PM

I had excerpts from my blog appear in a local newspaper in a film gossip column. They quoted me word for word and didn't even give me or my site as a source.

Eliah Holiday » 13 September, 2004 5:05 AM

Here's another example of blog plagiarism:


CanIpostAnonymously? » 12 November, 2004 5:23 AM

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