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How Big A Problem Is Blog Plagiarism?

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December 28th, 2005
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Blogging News, Business of Blogging

How Big A Problem Is Blog Plagiarism? I have written about this in the past and used to have very strong views about it. In the past couple of weeks I have been alerted by readers and friends of quite a few other blogs that are copying my content (among others) and publishing it as their own. The number is surprisingly large. I stand on the fence on this issue. I love this comment on the Techdirt article. I came here from memeorandum, which is another site profitting from your content. That’s how the blogosphere works. I think our view of IP in the blog world will have to go through some major upheaval (like Om’s discussion) and might even need a few big lawsuits before bloggers know how far they can go without getting making people angry.

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  1. CT (6 comments.) says:

    Must be something in the air, as I was just reminded that this scumbag is republishing posts wholesale from a bunch of hockey bloggers (including links, which is how I happened to find him of late). I don’t think there are any grey areas or considerations that need to be made for “new media” landscape: It’s theft, pure and simple.

  2. Chuck Simmins (1 comments.) says:

    I’ve had a question or two about the media, as well, in my time. Articles have appeared which are curiously similar to my posts.

    Perhaps a WordPress version of the canary trap?

  3. David Russell (32 comments.) says:

    The problem is that short quotes are allowed under ‘fair use’ provisions of copyright law (and even, I think, the much more restricted ‘fair dealing’ provisions of UK copyright law) – and since most blog posts are abominably short, a ‘short quote’ can actually work out as a fairly big chunk of the post in question. Regardless of the copyright issues, what you describe is tantamount to plagiarism which is entirely unethical regardless of the legal issues.

  4. Alistair (2 comments.) says:

    I have now counted around 5 blogs that copy my content amongst others and try and pass it off as their own. Considering it is my own thoughts about my hobby I find it pretty disturbing !

  5. daveb (3 comments.) says:

    I’m in NYC and I’ve had two of my friend’s New York City oriented websites completely copied–from graphics, comments and posts and republished with real-estate links and ads. Not just one post, but the entire site, including the logo graphic. One friend tracked down the thief and actually got them on the phone where they proferred a lame and kind of illucid excuse that they were a professional magician and that their “theft” was part of a “magic trick”. Yeah, right.

  6. Sky (5 comments.) says:

    Blog plagiarism truly sucks.

  7. John Ale (2 comments.) says:

    If the author is claiming his or her “borrowed” writings as their own, that is copyright infringement. The EASIEST way to claim “Fair Use” is to credit the original author.

  8. Gerard McGarry (3 comments.) says:

    I have a site that is reading off my content (presumably via the RSS feed and republishing it on their own page. The dilemma is that the site is actually linking back to me via the post titles and seems to be passing back around 100 hits per day.

    Although I have taken steps to contact the web host about this, I’m still hung up on the obvious traffic this has generated. The one thing I have done, though is restrict the feed content to post summaries only, so that folk have to click through to read the rest of the article.

  9. Rob Redmond (1 comments.) says:

    I learned about copyright issues and web sites the hard way. My web site used to be a 2,000,000 word encyclopedia about Shotokan Karate. However, I kept finding complete copies of my graphics and everything I had written on other web sites. Someone would be making a web site for their club, would read some SEO instructions which said “Write content”, and they would just come grab my content. I used to chase them down and practically made a hobby out of it. I now realize that anything I put on the web is, despite the law, pretty much fair game. No Russian, Chinese, or even Swedish court is going to enforce my copyright or allow me to sue over some stolen text. If I put something on the web, it is cast upon the water like bread, and I need to be comfortable with that.

    I have taken the things I did not want copied off of my web site so that in the future I can publish them as a book. I still chase anyone who tries to publish that material on their site.

    As for the articles on my blog, I surrender them with a little prayer before I push the send button, and I only ask that people link back to my site and give me credit for what I wrote.

    Those of you who are having your site’s taken entirely, perhaps RSS is not for you. I know that a lot of people think that RSS and other feed systems are really for readers or notification of updates, but really, it is a true syndication system intended to allow someone to grab your articles and present them on their site. Turn off the feeds if you don’t want to share.

    Another option is to sign your work inside the post itself so that when it is taken, your name and a link back still appears.

  10. Pinyo (1 comments.) says:

    Haven’t have my blog plagiarized yet, only an entire post quoted with a link to my site at the end. I have had other parts of my site copied wholesale. All I can say is that it really sucks. People should show more respect.

  11. Jenny (3 comments.) says:

    some people are just so ignorant. thats why i hate society.

  12. Dkessaris (2 comments.) says:

    I publish my blog under a creative-commons licence (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike) so I let people copy my content as long as they link back to me. I think that specifying a licence for your content is the first thing bloggers should do.

  13. Jonathan (2 comments.) says:

    Blog plagiarism is bad and it’s getting worse. However, bloggers are still fortunate in many regards when it comes to plagiarism. Yes, some individuals do plagiarize blogs, but most blog plagiarism is limited to a few individuals using automated means to steal a large volume of content fast.

    If you run a static site, like the karate site mentioned above or a literature site, like my other home page, you can expect to deal with a much higher level of plagiarism. I know that, personally, I have one incident of plagiarism for roughly every 1500 visitors (meaning one piece stolen). I’ve dealt with over 300 individuals in the past few years, many of whom stole over 20 works.

    Mathematically, very few readers plagiarize, but it’s still a higher percentage than most bloggers see. However, it’s those that work in the visual arts that have it the worst. If you make icons, dolls, signatures, templates or anything to the like, you can expect to be plagiarized by nearly every visitor.

    Yes, it’s bad here, but it’s worse elsewhere. It’s sad to say that the blogging world is just now catching up to the static Internet when it comes to plagiarism, but it’s the truth.

    Luckily, me and my site will be there to help fight it…

  14. Ed Kohler (1 comments.) says:

    It sucks when people steal your content, but it’s generally not going to be people with important blogs. Given that, a person with an important blog will clearly be the primary source of the content, thus most linked to since people will likely find the info their first.

  15. Cynthia (1 comments.) says:

    Genie Tyburski from “The Virtual Chase” suggests using wildcards within a phrase to find plagiarism. The plagairizer may change a word or two. Enter: “the plagiarized sentence begins * and ends” with quotations.

  16. levati (2 comments.) says:

    I found over 10 articles wroted by me and copied from my blog to another sites. There are backlinks and I don’t know is it plagiarism?
    My blog content my own works such as poems, prose, essays in russian so I want to protect them. How I can do it?

  17. James S (1 comments.) says:

    I personally use the http://www.copygator.com website to find duplicated content. To me it has a number of benefits over copyscape and copyrightspot:

    1. it’s automated and brings me results instead of me searching for duplicated content. All i had to do was submit my feed and it started monitoring my feed showing me who’s republished my articles on the web.

    2. i get notified by email so it contacts me when it finds copies of my articles online.

    3. i use their image badge feature to alert me directly on my website when my content is being lifted.

    4. it’s a free service as opposed the “per page” cost of copyscape/copysentry.

  18. frankiec (1 comments.) says:

    I think you guys are forgetting the whole point of the internet! If you put anything on the web, people will find it! Some people will steal it! The bright side of this story is that there are good poeple out there who are interested in your content, will post it on their website(and of course give you credit), and create significant traffic back to your website.

    If you don’t want your material seen or copied, don’t put it on the internet or make it a private blog.



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  1. […] me thinking about blog plagiarism was a December 28, 2005 entry at Planet WordPress. The entry, How Big A Problem Is Blog Plagiarism?, is just a rebroadcast of a post from Weblog Tools Collection, but the copied content is linked […]

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