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Internet Plagiarism: A Real Threat

Updated on February 4, 2015

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.

You could try copyrighting your work, but there are no guarantees that will stop people from trying to copy your writing.
You could try copyrighting your work, but there are no guarantees that will stop people from trying to copy your writing. | Source
The threat of plagiarism can be really frustrating...
The threat of plagiarism can be really frustrating... | Source
You could decide to hide your work away in your home office, but then you'll never have the satisfaction of seeing your writing in print.
You could decide to hide your work away in your home office, but then you'll never have the satisfaction of seeing your writing in print. | Source
Day #29 of my "30 Hubs in 30 Days Challenge"!
Day #29 of my "30 Hubs in 30 Days Challenge"! | Source

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...

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    • Suzie ONeill profile image

      Suzie ONeill 2 years ago from Lost in La La Land

      I agree 100%!

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Such a frustrating thing. It is one thing with incidental plagiarism, which I can live with. But the blatant and heinous plagiarism that goes on and people's inability to even own up to having done something wrong, that's what annoys me the most.

    • StephenCowry profile image

      StephenCowry 5 years ago

      Oh speaking of duplicate checker, can you name one that's really effective for checking on duplicate content?

    • Suzie ONeill profile image

      Suzie ONeill 5 years ago from Lost in La La Land

      Yes, there are a lot of programs out there that can be used to check for plagiarism. But, at the same time, the internet is pretty big. It's easy for people to copy other people's work and try to pass it off on their own.

    • StephenCowry profile image

      StephenCowry 5 years ago

      There's no room for duplicating content these days. Why can everybody write a unique write-up to express ideas and concepts. I believe those copied content can be detected so quickly nowadays.

    • buckleupdorothy profile image

      buckleupdorothy 5 years ago from Istanbul, Turkey

      @ Daughter of Maat: could you say a bit more about How does it work?

    • Suzie ONeill profile image

      Suzie ONeill 5 years ago from Lost in La La Land

      Thank you all for your comments. I agree completely! I just wish that there was an easy fix for this problem and a way for all of us to protect all of our hard work!

    • CR Rookwood profile image

      Pamela Hutson 5 years ago from Moonlight Maine

      And the more traffic an article gets, the more it will be plagiarized--giving even the most successful articles a 'shelf life' beyond which your traffic starts to fall. I don't know what the answer is, since it gets to where it's just not very doable to file formal complaints day in day out when you'd rather be writing. I try to at least embed links to my personal blogs and other online revenue sharing sites, but it really is aggravating. Writers have never been a rich lot or a well-paid one, but I've been doing this since 2007 and the $$$ seem to have plummeted all the way around. Hang in there and thank you for the hub.

    • kittythedreamer profile image

      Nicole Canfield 5 years ago from the Ether

      I'm in this club too! And I'm writing a hub about it.

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image

      Melissa Flagg COA OSC 5 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      This is not only my first experience writing online (I just started four months ago), it's also my first experience with my work being stolen. I feel intellectually raped and violated. It's disgusting that these ingrates have to steal other people's work just to make a quick buck. I will continue to publish online, but I will run all my works through prior to publishing them so that I'm guaranteeed to be the one receiving copyright benefits. But like you said, there are no guarantees our work won't be stolen no matter what we do. To stop writing altogether would be to let the thieves run our lives.

      Great hub, voted up and awesome and SHARED of course.

    • Hyphenbird profile image

      Brenda Barnes 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

      It is indeed a very real problem. I also am being more careful not to publish material I want for a book or something like that. And I will be more careful about putting great photographs online. It makes me so mad. But I will not stop publishing just because there are thieves out there. Together we stand strong.