What do you do when someone copies your blog content?

Guest article by Cuckoo

You must have heard the word plagiarism. Ever wonder what does it mean and why we should know about it ?

Any of the following is considered plagiarism.

  • turning in someone else’s work as your own
  • copying words or ideas from someone else without giving credit
  • giving incorrect information about the source
  • changing words but copying the sentence structure of a source without giving credit
  • copying so many words or ideas from a source that it makes up the majority of your work, whether you give credit or not

In other words, plagiarism is an act of fraud. It involves both stealing someone else’s work and lying about it afterward (either by refusing or by not giving due credit).

Now, are you wondering why am I talking about this ?

Well, like you I am also a blogger and have three blogs. I happened to be a victim of plagiarism many times. Several of my creations have been lifted by others without my knowledge.

When I spoke about it to Nirav Sanghavi, the founder of BlogAdda.com, he requested me to write on the topic and I thank him for giving me this opportunity.

Here I will explain you the legal aspects, implications and my experiences and how to deal with it.

The expression of original ideas is considered intellectual property, and is protected by copyright laws, just like original inventions. Almost all forms of expression fall under copyright protection as long as they are recorded in some way such as a book, a computer file, a painting or even a blog.

At one time, a work was protected by copyright only if it included a copyright trademark (the © symbol). However, now as per the laws, our works are by default copyright protected with or without the inclusion of this symbol.

Anyone who reproduces copyrighted material improperly can be termed as violator of the Copyright Act and can be prosecuted in a court of law. It doesn’t matter if you intend to plagiarize or not, ignorance is never an excuse.

In the eyes of the law any form of plagiarism is an offense that demands punitive action.

Most cases of plagiarism are considered misdemeanors and are punishable by fines of $100 to $50,000 and up to one year jail-term.

But in a case where a plagiarist copies and earns more than $2,500 from copyrighted material, plagiarism is considered a serious crime. He or she may face up to 100 times ($250,000) in fines and up to ten years in jail.

However, in India the laws are not so well defined. Generally it is acted upon in haphazard manner after somebody complains or the media cries over the issue. Sometimes if it takes a shape of copyright infringement, it takes a serious turn.

What do I do when someone steals my material ?

I take a softer approach in the beginning. I start with leaving a comment on the plagiarist’s blog mentioning his/her mistake and the consequences. In most cases, it suffices since the plagiarist is ignorant about it.

In some cases, the plagiarist tries to be extra smart and keeps deleting your & your readers’ comments. A little humiliation in front of his/her readers is the key then.

If possible, write a post on your blog citing the case and invite his readers there.

There was only one case who did not accept that he did any wrong, rather accused me of stealing his material !! But I had enough evidences to prove my point and had to ultimately report to his blogging platform that definitely did not approve such misdeeds. His readers also confronted him and he had to publicly apologize on my blog. By that time it was too late and his entire blog was deleted and he was banned from further blogging.

I am glad that till date I did not have to resort to the ultimate step of knocking the doors of court but I’ll not hesitate if the need arises.

How to prevent plagiarism

  1. Display copyright policy or badge on your blog
  2. Watermark all your photos
  3. Enable word verification to avoid spam
  4. And keep your eyes open

How can you copy if you have to copy ?

  1. Put within quotation mark everything that comes directly from the text
  2. Paraphrase but be sure you are not just rearranging or replacing a few words. Changing only the words of an original source is NOT sufficient to prevent plagiarism. You must cite a source whenever you borrow ideas as well as words
  3. Give credit to source, but sometimes giving credit is not enough and they expect you to ask for their permission. Check for any such copyright policy.

Admin Adds: Has your blog content ever been copied? Do share your thoughts and views about the same. You would also like to check Copyscape, where you can check if other blogs/websites have similar content like yours. If you would like to post a guest article at BlogAdda, do write to us.

26 Replies to “What do you do when someone copies your blog content?”

  1. T have a couple of guitar blogs. The lyrics come from the net itself. It have a clear declaration about that. Of late, one older blogger of this niche has been intentionally rating my blogs very low regularly – even after the vote was removed from the blog itself.
    It came down from 4.9 stars (stood there for about 2 weeks) to 4 in 2 days. He has also been lifting my “formatted” material (material isn’t mine, but all the hard work behind the formatting is mine). I have approached him but he included the source only after a lot of persuasion. What do I do about this misuse of the rating system here on blogadda?

  2. P.s. It takes 3 hours per post (2 pages) with all the research, linking, typing and corrections. Someone just lifts it in 2 seconds and rates mine far below average though he uses the same in his own blog!!!

  3. A Very informative article as it enlightens us about the various issues faced by bloggers. Above all it also gives us the various steps needed to prevent plagiarism. We need to take the steps as stated in the article. Would love to read more of these kind of posts here.

  4. pdfblogger,

    I think you need to ask blogadda for this. I, myself do not care about these rankings here because I had similar problems as yours. After that it really do not matter.

    Harish,
    Thank you.
    Well, though this is my first article on blogadda, I keep writing such on my blog. Will be happy to write here some more.

  5. I have already removed the blog ranking from my blogs. Thanks. They did look cool tough, when they were near 5 stars.

  6. To begin plagiarism is cheap. however at some point of time we have to copy a particular article. In that case we can copy an excerpt and link to the blog or website owner. that would give us an added advantages of the blogger linking back to us. About the rating, yes people can take unnecessary advantage of it. Hey, but what is fool proof on this digital era? even you tube is cloned, windows is cracked, hacking is most common.

  7. Hi, it was really informative. As you defined it plagiarism is everywhere. The best way to counter it is to be watchful. Recently we have an experience. One gentleman became adventurous and keyed in a small portion from one of our best selling products “Smarten Your English through Cricket” on his blog. Our products are non-copiable and won’t accept print command! Even then this beggar sat for hours and copied it! As you explained in this article, we approached his blogging platform and got it removed. “Smarten Your English through Cricket” is a 700 Hours skill-building program, but he could key-in only 30 minutes of the content!
    Good article, keep it up.

  8. I never knew about this till I read it here. Thanks to blogadda and cuckoo. Cuckoo, have your content ever been copied? It seems that it must be since you have put up a well researched article. If so, what have you done to prevent it. Are you doing everything you mentioned to prevent plagiarism? Watermarking all photos seem difficult.

    I will also like to add that you can take up the creative commons license and put it up on your blog. Thanks!

  9. pdfblogger,
    Yes, blog ranking looks cool. I too had a single person whose work was only to rank me the lowest. 🙂
    And it does give a wrong picture.

    Detect plagiarism,
    I have said the same !!

    AGGRBHARTI,
    Oh yeah. That’s the consolation one can give to oneself. 🙂

  10. Andrews Dominic,
    I am happy that you liked the article.

    Thank you.

    Bhaskar Soni,
    Thank you. I am happy that you could learn something from this article.

    Yes, as I mentioned in the above post, my posts have been copied umpteen no. of times. Yes, I do watermark my photos though it takes time but nothing comes for free.

    Well, I had put the creative commons license on my all the blogs at most visible place and in spite of that my material got stolen. I think copyscape is better option.

    You can visit my blogs at http:cuckooscosmos.com/Musings and
    http:cuckooscosmos.com/Travel

    Manoj,
    Thank you.

  11. copy a thing is really a bad action. The one who copy from others, say whatever it is good or bad is not correct. Everybody have their own intelligence. They have to use their own mind. Y do they copy from others. By this they will loose their originality and they never be successful in life. They are only cowards. They are not using their brain. I dont like this action and i want to punish whoever does it. All efforts done by one individual will go to another person who is copying him.

  12. suppose of the 1st december i wrote an article on world aids day cos i recieved a mail from the wolrd bloggers unite association to spread awareness about aids and then i copied the stats and people suffering data from wikipedia then is it a part of plagiarism? anybosy in the world can make it out that its taken directly from a source but just wanted to share the useful info as much as possible from my end so i did the same

  13. मैं उसे धन्यवाद दूँगा कि चलो मेरा आईडिया किसी के काम तो आया…….

  14. Much depends on the intention of the writer. Yes, if one feels that one’s product is the result of toil and moil of long hours of writing and is something novel, deserving monetary rewards, then I believe that one should stick to the gun of taking offence at being copied.
    At the same time, if the purpose of writing is to spread awareness, or to educate then I believe one should not be unduly perturbed but seek the acceptance of one’s labour by the general public as one’s reward.
    One thing I wished that the writer of this piece of writing had mentioned is, how to go about making a copyright of the work. By that I mean, what’s the best, hassle-free and actually free way of doing so.

  15. Well, Copyright act cannot be applied on any philosophical idea per say.
    As for example, if I have an idea for Privatization of Roads, I write it up and if someone reads it, and gets some inspiration by the philosophy behind the idea, and further improve it and produce a new series of work, it is his choice his freedom.

    Intellectual property is hard to prove and todays anti-piracy laws are extremist kind they are not healthy. That is why these days, most of the libertarian writers, painters, artists uses common creative licenses.

    I have a different view over copyright act, please have a look Legal or Illegal: Violation of Copyright

    That does not mean that I do not not support copyrights.
    I answered that post well by mentioning the proper reason why copyright are valid here
    Violation of Copyright is Illegal

    Yet, I agree that the copyright laws of present system are ridiculous and exploitative.

  16. Thanks for this article. My blog was just plagiarized yesterday in a way that seemed entirely intentional. Small changes to the article were made in an effort to make it unique but 95% of the article were literally transcribed from my original. It was posted as original content with no citation at all or link and worse, they provided a trackback to the article they plagiarized from me. I did leave them a comment and was firm but still kind. I have asked them to provide proper citation and a link. Let’s see what happens. Thanks again for the info.

  17. Nice lesson Cuckoo 🙂
    Thanks
    I just had a question,long ago i had written a article about blogging which i had published in an article directory site then after few days i see that many of the bloggers have used that article by totally rewriting it.
    So what do you think what should i do next time when this happens???

    Regards
    Sunil Jain

  18. Nice stuff!!!
    I agree. Plagiarizing can be really annoying especially when you have put so much hard work in to it. In this technological age it’s happen very often. So what to do when somebody copied your content? As you know Theft of website content is a rapidly growing problem and owners should check their content frequently to find out whether it is being used somewhere else. I use PlagTracker.com.

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