Plagiarism – Learn how to protect your content

plagiarism

Today I want to talk about plagiarism, a personal pet peeve of mine… and I’m pretty sure lawyers aren’t too fond of it either.

I know it sounds childish, “MOM, HE’S COPYING ME!” but copycats are unfortunately not only found in elementary schools. The frustrating thing about technology these days is that it is SO easy to copy others, whether it be content, design, images etc. You work so hard on coming up with original ideas only to find that someone is stealing them right from under you and taking credit where credit is clearly not due.

Before I discuss how to find out if your work is being plagiarized, and how to go about protecting your rights, I wanted to list a few reasons why plagiarizing can not only get you in trouble legally, but it can actually cause you to be blacklisted by popular search engines.


Lower Page Rank: Besides the fact that it’s just plain annoying, plagiarizing has negative consequences for the copier. When you duplicate content from another site, this leads to your own site having a lower ranking in the search engines. And as I mentioned in a previous article about increasing your website traffic, having a high page rank should be a top priority. You might have the most amazing website on the planet, but if no one can find it, what’s the point?

Google is a smart cookie: Even if you don’t exactly copy content from another site, it still picks up on similarity. Similarity equals non original content, and non original content equals a significantly lower page rank. A cool little free online gadget I found was this Similar Page Checker.If you think you’re being copied just enter your own url and the copier’s (is that even a word? well now it is.) url and it will scan the content on both websites and give you a percentage on how similar the two pages are.

plagiarism

Getting your website totally removed: If someone steals content from another source without the proper citation it WILL be discovered. It might take a bit of time before the internet cops pick up on it, (I mean, there are billions of websites that need to be kept in line) but eventually, lack of originality will hurt you in the long run. But seriously speaking, if it’s found out that a website is plagiarized, there will be penalties, some of which can result of your page being taking off search engine rankings. And if you can’t be found through search engine, you’re going to have to work a whole lot harder to get people to view your site.

So, what can you do to find out if someone is plagiarizing your work?
Well, if you happened to come across a website that looks suspiciously like yours, then it’s pretty obvious. But what if you’re just curious if someone out there on the internet is stealing your ideas? Or what if you just want to cover your own butt and make sure you didn’t accidentally take someone else’s content and didn’t properly cite? There are a lot of online fraud checkers out there. Some want you to sign up and pay but personally I don’t want to do that so I found a few sites that are free and easy for you to check.
http://www.webconfs.com/similar-page-checker.php Similar page checker. (Which I mentioned a few paragraphs above)  – This is my personal favorite because it picks up on similarity rather than blatant copy and paste.
http://www.duplichecker.com/ You can cut and paste text and it will tell you if the content is copied from another source.
http://smallseotools.com/plagiarism-checker/ Another cut and paste tool that checks for unique content.
Oh no! I’m being copied! Now what?
 
I’m going to provide a few ways to try and take care of it on your own. But if you’re having a serious problem you should definitely seek legal help.
First off, I would suggest contacting the “author.” Politely explain your case and ask for the stolen content to be removed. Unfortunately, this probably won’t work. Not many people who steal content/ideas are going to take responsibility for their actions.
Okay so.. contacting the author didn’t help. Don’t give up yet! You can write a complaint letter to the web hosting company.
First you’re going to have to do a quick search to find out which company you should be contacting. Search the WHOIS directory that can be found here and type in the domain name. You’ll then be directed to a page with information regarding where the domain is registered.
Plagiarism
Before you go writing a letter (or email) to the hosting company, you should have a few forms of proof to prove that you in fact created the content first. Some ways you can do this:
- List any sites that you are mentioned on proving that you are the author of your blog/webiste etc.
- Share with them your Google Page Rank and Alexa Page Rank. You can do that here. Eventually I’ll write a post on why these rankings are important but all you need to know right now is having good scores will only help you.
- Type your domain into the Open Site Explorer and you can see who is linking back to you. This is great for proving your websites validity. Also just very interesting!
Hosting companies typically take duplicate content very seriously and should respond to your complaint fairly quickly.
Another step you can take is to file a DMCA complaint with the search engines. You can read an excellent article about how to go about that here.
Aside from the consequences I mentioned, being exposed as a fraud just looks bad for you personally. It’s pretty much saying you don’t have original ideas and fail to give credit where credit is due. If you find you’re being copied, try taking steps to resolve the issue, and if that doesn’t work and you don’t want to take legal action, just take it as a very frustrating form of flattery and pat yourself on the back for coming up with such great ideas that others wish they thought of it first.


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Comments

  1. Well written job. Highly recommended.

  2. Great info! Thank you!

  3. Very helpful!

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  1. [...] ideas. (If you couldn’t tell copycats are a huge pet peeve of mine :D you can read about that more here) But what you DO want to do is find a few people who are doing what you want to be doing, analyze [...]

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