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 Â© 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
- Display copyright policy or badge on your blog
- Watermark all your photos
- Enable word verification to avoid spam
- And keep your eyes open
How can you copy if you have to copy ?
- Put within quotation mark everything that comes directly from the text
- 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
- 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.
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