Internet Plagiarism: A Real Threat
Recently, I read a hub that was published by one of the many Hubbers that I follow here on Hub Pages. After reading the article, I left a comment for the author and then waited a few days to return to the hub to see if the author had replied. While I was reading over the new comments, I was dismayed to learn that someone had copied his entire hub, photographs and all, and re-published it on another web site. How horrible is that? When I think about the time and energy that the hubber put into his article-- just to have someone else steal all of his hard work-- I feel a combination of anger and sadness.
I've been sitting at my desk chewing over this problem for the past hour. The following are a few of my thoughts on the issue.
Unfortunately, in today's high tech world, plagiarism is easier than ever. It's so easy for someone to simply point and click at your text or photographs and then copy them to their own computer. The worst part is that the internet is huge. Someone could easily steal the work of any one of us without us even knowing about it. Think about it, how would we find out? All the thief would have to do is alter the title and we would have difficulty locating the plagiarized work.
On the flip side, we could try to be paranoid about the articles we publish online. We could add watermarks to all of our images, copyright our text, and run frequent searches for articles similar to our own-- just in case someone tried to re-post the information and claim it as their own. But, would it be worth it? Even with copyrights, people still steal.
Another approach, we could all throw our hands up in the air and cry out "I quit!" We could swear off publishing on the internet from now on. However, I've found that places like Hub pages help to generate a little bit of extra income for freelance writers (such as myself) between major projects. Besides, trying to get published through traditional publishers is difficult and time consuming. Not to mention the fact that there are still no guarantees that someone won't read your published book and try to steal your ideas.
The truth is I've always been a little bit wary of publishing on the internet. For that reason, I usually only publish my warm-up writing exercises and practice pieces here on Hub Pages. The way I see it, if the piece is really, really good I'll hold onto it and attempt to get it published through a traditional publisher-- a magazine, newspaper, or book (depending on the length of the piece). However, I'm willing to risk publishing the ones that I don't think I could sell online. Besides, places like Hub Pages allow me to get some immediate feedback on the articles and allow me to interact directly with my audience.
So, basically, I've chosen the middle ground and I would suggest that you do the same. Unfortunately, there are never any guarantees that someone won't try to steal your work. However, hiding your writing away in a desk drawer or computer file isn't the answer either. Being plagiarized is one of the risks we take whenever we choose to share our work with the world. I recommend taking some precautions, but in the end there are no guarantees.
Just my two cents worth...