I've been writing online for well over two years now, starting first just writing small articles for this web site, then gradually branching out to other avenues as they have presented themselves. I always knew that it was likely that at some point I would be plagiarized, but until tonight I never gave it much thought. Turns out I should have been a bit more observant as several of my articles have been stolen by other sites.
Plagiarism Dilutes The Value Of A Web Page:
Every person that writes content on the web is placing their intellectual property out there for anyone to read. That is in essence the pure nature of the Internet. Anyone can find information on anything at any time just by doing a Google search. What many people do not think about is that in many cases articles that are posted on the Internet are posted in the hope of earning some form of resitution. In the case of the content here at MusicEdMagic that small amount of income comes from ads that help to pay the web hosting bill and to take my wife out to dinner once in a while.
When an article is unique it is more valuable because it presents information that for the most part is not available anywhere else on the web in that form. When an unscrupulous blogger or webmaster steals that article and posts it verbatim on their site it dilutes that uniqueness and therefore also dilutes the traffic going to the original site because the search engines tend to see it as duplicated content and thus, less valuable. In the end the plagiarist winds up earning income on content that he or she did not legally get the rights to publish. In the early days of this site many of the articles here on MusicEdMagic were written by other individuals, but all were public domain articles and were used legally.
Finding Out If You Have Been Plagiarized:
As I said I write articles here at MusicEdMagic, but I also write under contract for an information site named Suite101 where I am the computer accessories feature writer . After reading a plagiarism complaint on the writer discussion board I went to a web site called "Copyscape " and did a search on some of my more popular articles from Suite101. It turns out that several of those articles were indeed being pirated by other sites, in some cases posting the entire article word for word. The Suite101 legal eagles are handling that one now, but in searching some of my own articles from here at MusicEdMagic I discovered the same thing. Now I am in the process of drafting cease and desist letters for the various sites that have ripped off my content.
Protecting Your Intellectual Property:
There is no real way to protect your writings from those that would take it illegally, but there are ways to detect it. The first, and easiest I have found is to use the Copyscape service that I mentioned previously. The Copyscape site also provides a simple, yet effective banner to post on your site to let people know that you will be checking to see if they steal your writings. You can see one of them in the left column of this page. If you discover that you have been plagiarized take a look at this excellent article at BlogHerald that talks about the steps to take and how to craft a cease and desist letter.