How Safe is Your Blog from Plagiarism?
Today’s guest post is written by Al who writes also for iSoldMyHouse.com and he is now giving tips, based on his precious copy writing experience, on how to protect our blog from plagiarism.
Plagiarism is a dirty, rotten, filthy act–the kind of thing we expect only from scoundrels, ne’er-do-wells, and garden slugs. The sad truth is that many such entities exist, and bloggers are easy targets: Since most of you don’t have publishers or attorneys to help protect your intellectual property, your work is ripe for the picking. However, there are a few no-cost tips to help you deter plagiarism.
Find Your Voice
The best way to avoid plagiarism is to find your voice. When you write with confidence and introspection, your work reflects your personality. If another writer steals your work, your voice makes it easier to spot the plagiarism in a number of ways: Your readers will recognize your work should they happen upon the plagiarist’s site, your distinct style will seem out of place with the plagiarist’s work, and you can use distinct phrases from your posts to search the Web. For example, the phrase “for sale by owner” is likely to turn up too many results, but a phrase as unique as “a blog without graphics is like a salad without bacon” should narrow things down a bit.
You should copyright your work as a matter of habit, even though that step would only make a difference if the incident became a legal matter.
For every post you publish, don’t get up for that celebratory cup of coffee before you post links. Log on to your Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr accounts and let the world know that your blog contains fresh content. You probably do this already out of pride for your work, as well you should. Posting links to every blog post also serves as a deterrent to plagiarism by increasing recognition of your work and your voice, increasing search engine visibility for your work while also time-stamping each post.
Turn to Social Media
If you are a victim of plagiarism, successful legal action is an effective means to halt further acts, but the cost of hiring an attorney may not be worth it to you. Strategic use of social media is arguably more effective and shouldn’t cost you a cent, although reacting publicly without prior planning could cost you readers and your reputation. When you discover that someone has stolen your work, you will be angry, but reacting to your initial negative emotions could backfire in any number of ways. Do not proceed until you are able to do so calmly.
The first thing you should do is save everything. As soon as you have discovered plagiarism of your work, save a copy of any pages of the plagiarist’s site containing work stolen from you and copy the URL of the plagiarist’s webpage on which your stolen work appears. Send the URL immediately to a circle of associates and your attorney, if you have one. In the email, ask these people to read the posts and copy them, but do nothing further. If accusations fly around the Internet at this point, things could get out of your control.
Next, unsubscribe to the offender’s blog, to his Twitter feed, his Facebook page, and any other sites and services attached to his name or site. Posting your grievances on social media sites could backfire; before you even think of doing so, contact the plagiarist. Use calm, clear language that is free of incendiary language. Plainly state the dates and titles of your original post(s) and his post(s). Ask for an explanation. Even if you are certain that an apology is not forthcoming, the longer you keep the high road, the greater your leverage will be going ahead. More importantly, you are creating documentation of your attempts to obtain an admission of guilt. Should you decide at some point to publish any correspondence, your professional attitude will serve you well in the court of public opinion.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but plagiarism lacks any sincerity. If you value your intellectual property, take steps to protect it from thieves.
About the author:
Al Natanagara is a writer, journalist, and blogger whose career includes stints with ZDNet, CNet, CBS, LexisNexis, and law enforcement. He apologizes if any garden slugs were offended by this post.