Hey, that’s MY blog post!!! July 26, 2011Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
Tags: avoiding plagiarism, blog plagiarism, content protection, plagiarism
A reader came on our blog, Poor Richard’s Almanac, with what we thought was an eminently sensible question. Unfortunately, we didn’t have an answer.
The reader noted that we publish a whole heck of a lot of original content, and wondered what we did to protect ourselves from being plagiarized. Plagiarism is just a fancy word for somebody stealing your original content and using it, without permission, generally as if it were their own, whether reposting it to their blog or dropping it into a term paper or what-have-you. He added that he too posted lots of original content and was concerned about protecting it from folks who have no scruples about helping themselves to other people’s research, hard work, style, and ideas.
We certainly couldn’t blame him. No writer, photographer, artist, or other creator of original content wants their work usurped and used without proper credit (and, as we’ll see, some don’t even want it used with credit). Publishers have long been vigilant about this, going after people who attempt to plagiarize their authors’ works, knowingly for profit or innocently passing information along, with a battery of lawyers. As far as blogs go, though, you’re on your own.
We’ve seen lots of attempts by bloggers to protect their content. Most put a copyright disclaimer over every photograph so it’s harder to copy. As for the writing, we’ve seen various versions of “this content protected by…” We’ve seen each post copyrighted with all rights reserved. We’ve seen hilarious threats of retribution from various gods, superpowers, sci-fi entities, even H.P. Lovecraft horror figures (thanks, Jodi, yours is the best!). We’ve seen very sober and lengthy warnings inviting violators to meet the original authors in court for copyright infringement if proper credit was not given and prior permission was not sought, in one case adding that such permission was never granted even when sought. (Hmmm.)
But does any of this really work? At a guess, no. Someone who’s immoral enough to steal your content is, in our opinion, unlikely to be deterred by a bunch of threats, however creative, dire, or legal they sound. After all, how would you ever know that someone had stolen your content, unless it suddenly appeared on a hugely popular blog or on the news? We certainly wouldn’t.
Mind you, the stolen-for-term-paper thing is under much better regulation now that most teachers and professors have recognized the potential. They regularly search the internet for phrases from term papers that seem a bit suspect, not exactly what they’d expect a particular student or any student to say, and they’ve become quite good at tracking them down to their original sources.
But the ‘stolen from your blog for my blog’ thing isn’t so easy or straightforward. We try to protect ourselves here at Poor Richard’s Almanac by being eccentric and writing about issues of interest to us in a very idiosyncratic way. It’s hard for any of us to believe that somebody would really want to try to steal our content. But if they did, we don’t know how we’d ever find out, much less do anything about it.
So we’re asking every blogger to tell us, and the reader who asked us, what you do to keep the unscrupulous and lazy good-for-nothing scavengers and scalawags lurking out there from appropriating your blog’s content for their own evil ends. Have you found something that works? How do those “protected by” thingies work? Enlightenment, please!