Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Original Content is Critical: What to Do When Someone Steals Your Work

Today has been a roller coaster ride. I added a cool, new client that needs a revamp of their website. I received an email asking if I would write an article for a popular SEO website. And I got blatantly plagiarized. By someone who claims to be a friend, and does not understand Google and duplicate content!

This is not the first time plagiarism has happened to me; I consider it an unfortunate fact of the free nature of the Internet. However, this time was different. It was not some nameless, faceless person in a third-world country snagging my post for their blog.

This time, it was far more personal. The work stolen was a page from my website, and this copycat was someone in our social circle. This was someone that has had trouble finding work, and that I have tried to help get started with writing for a living. I have pointed out on multiple occasions the importance of improving skills, and given her links to spelling and grammar checking sites. I have edited work for this person and pointed out weaknesses-- (hint, f-en hint!) Sorry, can you tell I am just a wee bit perturbed?

In fact, I even passed some overflow work on to this person several years ago, and it ended disastrously. I let it slide, but learned that arm's length is better at times and to double-check and oversee any work done on my behalf or in any way connected to me. 

                                                                         No good deed goes unpunished.~ Clare Boothe Luce 

Still, NOTHING prepared me for the word-for-word copying of my website into a newly setup Facebook business page, effectively competing with mine, and with a name that sounds way too much like my own business name. It was my writing services page, complete with my pricing-- which reflects someone with my experience and references. (Over ten years, with credits from USAToday, SanFranciscoChronicle, Kikolani, Business2Community, SocialMediaToday...and hundreds more, literally. You can Google me and find me everywhere online.)  As my Dad would say, somebody's got some brass balls. Did she think this was okay to do? Did she really think I would not notice? What's more-- does this person who does not string sentences together well believe her writing deserves the same rates I charge for high-quality work? That's fairly insulting.

What to Do
Do not ignore it if you notice someone taking your work-- I guarantee that this person is ripping off other people's work, too. Tell them you know about it, and you want your work removed.

I could rehash all the laws and how they pertain to the Internet--- but there are some excellent resources already available which I will point you to.

First, take a gander at this terrific blog post, which has great tips to help you keep your work from getting ripped off, as well as the author's plagiarism story. This blog post outs the person in question in the beginning of their blog post...but don't try to follow the link to her blog. It does not exist any longer. Finally, for a comprehensive look at copyrights, patents, trademarks, check this out.