Online Plagiarism - 5 Tips and Useful Advice to Help Victims
Victim of Plagiarism?
Are you a victim of plagiarism? Someone stealing your original work? Read on to discover how to effectively stop the thieves, find out the source of their site, file a DMCA and ultimately take down the stolen pages.
Plagiarism online is unfortunately quite common. When I found out that some of my articles were being copied and re-published by a content thief I was shocked and saddened. What kind of person could do such a thing? Why would someone spend time and effort just blindly scraping my site to churn out my work and dress it up as theirs?
Cheats never prosper I heard as a child but I know that maxim to be wrong. Thieves only steal if there's something in it for them, that's why content is being stolen on a massive scale.
And it's not just me who is affected.
Loads of other writers online are victims. I don't know the exact number but it must run into hundreds, thousands, millions? Judging by the number of comments on forums and blogs and other places I'd say the number is substantial. Plus, this has been going on for years, it's not a recent phenomenon.
My anger drove me to join in with discussions on various forums, ask a question in the Hubpages Answers section and do some research online in an effort to get some feedback on this very perplexing issue.
I hope this article will be of help. I look forward to comments on and experiences of stolen content.
How to Succeed Using Whois
* Go to Whois.com
* enter the url of the offending site
* work your way through the information - history, DNS, domain and so on.
* find the nameserver - usually in the form plag.iarism.com
* click on this nameserver - more info will appear
* find the Raw Registrar Data - you'll see abuse@..........
* email them and threaten legal action.
Email the site owner if possible and ask for the content to be removed. Go to whoisdomain if you get no reply. Follow the steps in the above callout box.
When you know your content has been stolen and re-published get help immediately. Go to the forums and let others know of your experiences.
It's vital to share your pain and your thoughts with others. Fellow writer's responses can really help put things into perspective.
Learn from those who have gained the knowledge, thank them then try to move on and give advice to others who have gone through similar experiences.
If your emails get you nowhere go further. The sooner the better.
If you're a regular online writer read up on DMCA filing, complaints and other related issues.
Acting positively will help you overcome feelings of frustration and anger. Go as far as you're able and try to get a result. Some individuals do manage to have sites closed down for content theft but the process can take a long time.
Visit other websites that deal with plagiarism and participate in forums, do research and try to act in a positive fashion. By that I mean try to help others who may not be aware of such issues.
I found this website to be of particular help:
Use Fetch As Google on Google Webmaster Tools to quickly get your page indexed before they are copied by scrapers.
OK, so you've written a great article on How to Shampoo Your Pet Pooch but your site is crawled only once a day. Then along comes the scraper site, scrapes your article, uses Fetch As Google instantly and gets your article indexed under their name.
In Google's eyes who wrote the original article? Yep, the scraper. Bad news. The best advice is to join Webmasters and use the Fetch As Google tool. You'll find it under Crawl Errors on he Webmaster site.
There are a number of steps you can take to help prevent your content being stolen but please remember that at the moment anyone can copy your content and re-publish it as yours, plain and simple.
But at least you can try and deter the thief by:
- displaying copyright banners - both copyscape.com and dmca.com have banners for you to display.
- have authorship information from Google Search Authorship - content you create has verification in search results.
- get a screen shot of stolen content site for evidence if you need to follow up with an official complaint.
- Wordpress have a plug in available that is supposed to prevent copy and paste of articles - you would need to look into the usefulness of this.
When I asked the question - Thieves are stealing our content. What can we do? - I got a wide variety of answers, some surprising, others very informative. They seemed to fall into three categories.
- Don't get angry or worry about the theft. These thieves never make much money anyway.
- Be happy and flattered that your work is seen as quality material by the thief.
- Follow the online guidelines to copyright content, file a DMCA, write to commercial companies for help.
It seems to me that a thief would not steal content if there was no reward to be made. Why are so many plagiarising if it's a dead end activity? No. Thieves steal for profit, bottom line. I would love to see an estimate of the money made from stealing content.
Am I flattered when I learn that my articles have been copied and re-distributed by this kind and thoughtful criminal? I am not flattered at all. I am disgusted. Flattery has nothing to do with it!! It's theft, blatant robbery. If someone stole my car would I praise the thief for choosing such a model and feel good that they appreciated my taste and values?
Reading through the many comments in forums and online, I came to the conclusion that, no matter how many DMCAs you file, no matter how many emails you send, no matter the number of copyrights you have, the thief will return under a different name (domain) and take your precious content again. It's heart breaking to read these tales of woe but inspiring to learn that so many perservere with their complaints and gain minor, temporary victories.
What Can Be Done?
Will there always be online theft of intellectual property? Can the internet survive in its current state - it's like the Wild West out here as many have noted. There are thieves, freeloaders, copyists, plagiarists everywhere you look.
But there are also millions of well meaning contributors. Thankfully these are in the majority and help keep trust alive. This is vital.
I'm no techno-brain but how come I can visit bank websites and use my pin numbers and passwords safely? No thieves around there. So why can't I write an original article, press a button, click on an icon, submit my unique password, send my article to a central deposit and then publish it knowing it is unique. One day later if Tom, Cindy or Anyone wants to cheat and copy it'll be blocked.
Can a techno-wizard software designer expert please explain why this cannot be done?
Plagiarism - Last Word
Online writing is a hazardous business, it's not only highly competitive but also attracts thieves and weak willed plagiarists who are able to steal content at will. I have only admiration for those highly skilled writers who ply their trade each day and bring enjoyment to millions of readers, in the knowledge that they risk having their hard work plagiarised.
I dedicate this article to all those who write because they love to create and explore language and thought. The day will come when content is guaranteed safe from the moment it is 'released' into the ether - I hope that day will come sooner rather than later.
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© 2013 Andrew Spacey