Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Plagiarism on the Internet

In recent weeks I've again been hearing about blog posts being illegally copied. Whether any of mine have been I don't know. Some of you may remember the angst I went through last year when a significant number of my posts had been used on someone else's blog and passed off as her own. She changed a few words here and there to make it look authentic, but my regular readers knew instinctively that the posts were mine. I expressed my disgust, made a considerable amount of fuss on various social networking sites and eventually the offending blog was deleted. Whether the fact that it was deleted by the blog author is a good thing I don't know, but it just goes to show that Blogger did absolutely nothing to defuse the situation. They answered my report of abuse by asking for further evidence but when I sent it, they never got back to me. Extremely poor in my opinion, and if Blogger can't even be bothered to do anything about it, then it isn't going to stop the thieves is it. But the fact still remains that plagiarism is a crime. When someone has worked hard on writing a blog post or an article only to find it passed off as someone else's work, it can be particularly demoralising. And for me as a writer, it was.

But now I've heard about several posts that have been copied, branded about the Internet, and used illegally by people who obviously don't give a shit about copyright. Something that has really irritated me about these latest findings is that none of the plagiarisers have apologised for their actions, even though some have admitted they copied the work. It sickens me to think this is happening more and more. Images and words are being taken and it's pure and simple theft. Why don't people realise that when they publish a post on their blog that is someone else's work, that they should either a) ask permission to use it, b) ask permission and link to the original post, or c) have some decency and not use it at all. It isn't funny, it isn't big, and it certainly isn't something to be proud of. People involved with plagiarism should be removed from social media with immediate effect. They don't deserve the joy of having a blog.

60 comments:

  1. The problem with this issue is that the internet is so vast and there are so many blogs out there that people could be ripping off other people's blog posts and, barring coincidences, they would never know about it.

    I'm sorry to hear that Blogger failed to respond when you sent them evidence, unless it was them who removed the offending blog.

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    1. That is a problem isn't it. The blogger who was copying my posts was based in Pakistan so when you think about it, the world on the Internet is quite small. I assume it was the blogger who deleted her blog and not blogger.

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  2. Like school essays, there is some sort of internet test you can do to see if your work turns up elsewhere, I believe. (Although, arguably, anyone stealing my work has probably suffered enough!).

    Seriously, though...

    I can only conclude that some people are just 'wired differently'. Since to sit down and knowingly pass off someone else's work as your own is stealing. I can think of no 'spin' they could say to themselves to get away from that fact.

    Sorry to hear about your troubles in this wise, but glad they are now sorted. HMSx

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    1. It does beggar belief to think people just do this for the sake of doing it. They do know it's stealing yet they assume they'll get away with it. They have no conscience, clearly.

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  3. They just don't Care anymore...No one does a darn thing about it!
    Awful!!
    hughugs
    PS- Hope you're feeling better today sweet friend!

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    1. Hi Donna. The problem is that when the big boys such as Blogger don't do anything about it, it leaves the concept of stealing very easy for the potential thief.

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  4. I was also plagiarised by the blogger last summer and she deleted her blog herself long enough to avoid detection, then restarted it again. I am now an anonymous follower of her blog so that I can check her content is not copied in the future. Plagiarism is a crime and we must fight back agains those who steal our work even if Blogger don't!

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    1. Yes you were, and I am still in your debt (and Yellow Gal's) for flagging this problem up. I didn't realise she had started following again. I'm assuming you haven't noticed anymore copied posts, but that doesn't mean to say she isn't copying from someone else's blog.

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  5. I just can't understand why someone would do that - crazy. I agree with you. Blogger should take action!

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    1. It's pretty worrying isn't it, Talli, especially when you write for a living as well. I used to publish a few extracts on my blog but soon stopped doing that.

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  6. I saw one of my photos on someone els's blog but there was an unlinked Maggie May name under it. I was a bit dismayed as I think that anyone should ask before doing this, first.
    It is bad mannered and I think that they must be lacking in imagination to have to do this in the first place. Surely there wouldn't be any satisfaction in using someone else's work?
    I get very annoyed too & think that Blogger should take it more seriously.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

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    1. They should most definitely ask, it's just manners if nothing else. Manners don't seem to come easy to people these days though.

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  7. I was not aware that this was going on. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

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    1. It's been going on for a long time but I was affected last year. It's a very serious issue and people need to be made aware in order to protect their work.

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  8. the issue def is that the internet is wide open and we are laying it out in pain site...and there are predators everywhere...on the other side...if you use pictures from google or any other online source, make sure you are checking permission or sourcing them as i had a friend recently that got hit with a hefty fine because the person contqacted a lawyer...

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    1. Yes, I'm always a bit dubious about using Google images, Brian. Think I might have used one once and put that it was from Google. I think we do forget that our blog posts are there for the whole world to see!

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  9. I think it happens a lot. My daughter runs a Face Painting business and uses a popular Face Painting Forum, recently someone began using photos of other Forum users Face Paintings and passing them off as her own. The Forum ignored complaints and did nothing whereas the Face Painters took a stand and continuously commented on the offending User's posts saying who the pictures belonged to. In the end she removed the pics.
    Sometimes I think people do it with photos so it increases traffic to their own blog site, particularly with the face painting, an amazing photo on Google images could then take them to the offender's page rather the the original photographer.
    It's rude and bad manners, but does go on.
    I don't think sites such as Twitter, Facebook. Blogger etc do much to control it, because it doesn't really affect them directly.
    We had a problem a few years ago with abuse via Facebook, but they did nothing. You're left to your own devices...and hopefully your followers, friends etc will help pressurize the offender!

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    1. Gosh, that's terrible. I'd never have thought of people doing that in order to drive more traffic to their site - in fact, I find it quite sad and pathetic.

      My followers certainly did help me last year, I'm grateful to them all.

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  10. I just don't understand why people would do this. You trust people by putting it up on the net and some people abuse that trust. Just awful. x

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    1. There are some very odd folk out there, Susan! I find it difficult to trust people these days and I think that in itself is pretty sad.

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  11. As you know my OH is an artist. We recently found one of his paintings had been used by a newspaper in India for an article on post boxes. They hadn't asked persmission or even attempted to contact us. We struggle all the time financially and every sale is greeted with a celebratory dance. To have Francis' work just lifted was sickening, it was also theft. Most artists work hard to make a living. They paint/write/compose because they love it. To plagarise is wrong. Simple.

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    1. That's a terrible thing to do. I don't want to judge but as the person who stole my blog posts seemed to claim innocence and thought she had done nothing wrong, as was also from Asia (Pakistan), I do wonder if their laws are very different to ours. Would be interested to find that out.

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  12. Replies
    1. Roy, I'd rather you didn't. But thanks for reading :)

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  13. It beggars belief but people do it all the time. I actually feel uncomfortable about Pinterest for the same reason. Someone pinned a picture from my blog, along with their own caption and I was annoyed because they completely missed the point of why I'd use that photo to illustrate a post; felt hijacked by the use of it.
    Thievery like this is rife and I really don't know what to do about it. Posting This blog is copyrighted on your sidebar makes zero difference.
    Viv

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    1. I haven't used Pinterest yet. I've registered but apart from not knowing what to do, I've heard quite a lot of uncomfortable feelings about it and I don't think I want to use it now anyway.

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  14. I was involved in a discussion where the practice of nicking other people’s work was half heartedly defended by saying it’s not criminal, it’s tort. Big deal. It’s theft, plain and simple.

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    1. It certainly is criminal. Theft is a crime. End of.

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  15. The simple fact is that most people don't give a shit about copyright, you're right. Everything is so accessible on the net, so easy to copy and paste. My flatmate is a photographer and while he goes to great lengths to make sure his stuff is watermarked and protected, it's entirely possible that his images are being downloaded or copied somehow.

    However, there is a big difference between downloading a photo from Google and putting it on a website page or in a blog, and actually taking your words and passing them off as your own. I agree with you that that is just unconscionable theft, plain and simple. That won't stop people doing it though and the internet is quite simply, too big to police.

    It is wrong that Blogger didn't get back to you after you provided evidence though. Have you chased it up? Bombarded them with email after email demanding that they do something about it?

    The person above who mentioned Pinterest has hit the nail on the head though - Pinterest is simply one huge copyright infringement. It encourages you to find a photograph taken by someone else and attach it to a page. Admittedly, you don't pretend that you took the photo but you're still effectively copying it and pasting it without the owner's permission.

    It's an absolute minefield but to go back to the original point - most people don't give a shit and they couldn't care less about your feelings when you find that your work has been copied. There are some things about human nature that you just can't change.

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    1. I'm with you on the Pinterest issue, Em. Like I said above, I'm not sure about using it because of the stories I've heard. I don't want people using my photographs on their pin boards though a good friend of mine did ask my permission first and I agreed to let her.

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  16. Oh crumbs, it had never crossed my mind that people do this.. why use someone else's blog posts? That is pure laziness and theft!

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    1. It is extremely lazy isn't it. Lack of imagination too. People who can't write their own blog posts shouldn't have a blog in my opinion, unless of course they're reviews and guest posts.

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  17. I've had a post copied and the copy is still there. Its not the right time for me to take on the trouble of dealing with it. I considered setting myself up with a proper checking service but I don't consider what I write that worthy really. I don't really understand the copying mentality but I do often use other peoples posts as prompts,quote them and link back. I only ask them if it's ok to do that if it's about something sensitive.

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    1. I try to link back if I've been inspired to write a post by someone, or if I've read a post that has something to do with what I'm writing about. It's only manners to do it. Your blog is most definitely worth - it is a criminal offence and morally wrong for anyone to copy a blog post however it's written.

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  18. Actually this happened to me soon after I started blogging, but the post seems to have disappeared now. I have no idea how to check if any other posts have been copied and I don't care particularly unless stuff is taken out of context I have printed stuff written by other people a couple of times on my blog - with their full permission, but that is different I think x

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    1. I think there is a way to check but at the end of the day, a blog post could have been copied several times around the world and you'd probably never know. However, what I've been reading about is posts copied by many people in a link-system which is absolute laziness beyond belief.

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  19. Good for you for sticking out for what is right. Do these people not realise they are stealing and why bother to post pieces that are not original?

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    1. I've no idea - they have no imagination if you ask me.

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  20. I have been hearing more and more about this. If someone does not have words of their own why in all that is sane are they blogging. To blog is to write. I just don't understand.

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    1. I feel just the same, Ann. Why bother writing a blog post when it isn't your own. It simply doesn't make any sense.

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  21. Oh, yes I feel your pain. I sometimes design and give away free cross stitch patterns on my blog. I used to have them hosted and would simply post the link to the PDF. I stopped this when my freebies started appearing on a Chinese site. Really...someone steals "free" patterns! Now, when I design a freebie I have my readers email me for a copy.

    I take heart in the knowledge that Karma can be a real witch...

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    1. We have to go to such lengths to stop theft don't we. You designed those patterns out of the goodness of your heart and someone took extreme advantage of that. Shame on them.

      p.s. I absolutely love your little moving avatar!

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  22. Obviously I totally agree with you. But the subject of images is one that grates with me slightly. I've been advised numerous times to label my images accurately to increase SEO. and I do get lots of traffic through image searches.But...
    Let's be realistic, people aren't Googling images to sit and admire - chances are they will be using them for something. I know they shouldn't be and I'm not condoning it in the slightest.
    I am starting labelling my images randomly with numbers, I'm not a big SEO hound and maybe that will be my downfall but otherwise I feel I'm leaving myself open to have images nabbed.

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    1. What's SEO?

      I imagine they will be using them for something other than to admire. We do leave ourselves open but to think that our images may be being used and even sold on by someone else is sickening. We should be able to publish photos on our blog and not have the worry of them being stolen.

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  23. What is there that can be done to stop it though? If only there was a way...

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    1. I think it's a very difficult thing to stop happening but I know if it ever happens to me again I won't take it lying down.

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  24. Did you know that GENERAL INFORMATION is not subjected to PLAGIARISM?

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  25. What's happening in the internet is simply a product of divergent thinking and what you know is known by millions of people esp. that children are being trained as early as possible to use computer. When they learned to use computer everything become as reachable as anything and yes there will be many children being diagnosed with ADHD, AUTISM, DYSLEXIA and Asperger Syndrome. Plagia will be so rampant.

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  26. Wow, something that has started to concern me is the use of images from peoples blogs. Some people have no morals.

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    1. That is a worry, especially if you publish photos of your kids. I'm probably going to watermark my photos in future

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    2. I know exactly what you mean! I keep getting sex spam on twitter which in itself wouldn't worry me too much however my twitter account links to my blog where I have photos of my daughter. Having read your post and having seen Tesco use a fashion students image on one of their T-Shirts without permission I do worry. I might look into watermarking some of my photos. I want to be trusting however as your post points out you should never under estimate some people.

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  27. People who copy other's work are exactly the same as trolls and online bullies in my eyes. As soon as they get caught out they delete their account, change their name and start again afresh. It's horrible :(

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    1. I totally agree with you, Nickie. They only stop when they get caught and as Blogger do very little about it, they rarely get caught!

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  28. would be good to know how to tell if it has been copied other than another blogger telling you so..

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    1. Frankie, I think there is a way but I can't remember what it is. I'm sure someone will know the answer.

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  29. Quite agree with the above - maddening, isn't it - and as someone who works in the field of copyright for a major broadcaster in the UK, I certainly agree with your post and the comments here. Moral objections aside, I see no point in somebody copying other blogs into their own, unless they've got some kind of ad-scam going?

    I think the problem as far as taking other people's intellectual property, and re-posting it on the Internet, is twofold. Firstly, there are some people indeed who don't fully understand copyright at all. A lot of people think it is a verb (it isn't - it's a noun meaning intellectual property); others may re-post a video on Youtube, knowing full well it's not theirs to post, and they think they can get away with it if they say "no copyright intended" as a disclaimer. You may, I suppose, be able to excuse them as fans of the work.

    But the other major problem is the fact that copyright laws in so many countries are either too lax, don't exist, or unenforcable. Some places don't even see copyright as a form of property. If you are able to find out who is copying your blog, and where they are based, you can hit them with the relevant legal statute in their country and an appropriate associated threat!

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  30. Thanks for your informative comment, Mike. Your last paragraph just about sums up what I think (or at least suspect) happened when my posts were stolen last year. The thief claimed not to understand what she had done and showed no remorse at all. It is extremely maddening.

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  31. Just checking comment moderation isn't on.

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  32. I have a friend who recently needed to censure a woman who insisted on copying portions of his book on the internet. I thought it incredible that she would think it okay to do this, even after he specifically asked her to stop. He felt sorry for her at first, because it seems she was a fan of his writing and meant to review his work, but she was copying too much. I have never thought it okay to copy someone else's work and pass it off as my own-I find it offensive and also a bit scary. I hadn't really considered the possibility that someone might do this to me. I use all of my own photographs on my blogs (notwithstanding the decorative elements, which I take from sites specifically geared toward web design) and would hate if someone else "borrowed" even those. And I signed up for Pinterest but haven't used it yet-I'm not really sure it's ethical.

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    1. I'm the same with Pinterest, just isn't interesting me at all. I think a part of me pitied the girl who stole my posts too, but when it appeared she knew what she was doing by changing the odd word to make it look like her writing, then I felt angry.

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