Website Plagiarism: How to find it and respond

February 16, 2012

I got this email the other day:

I'd like to setup a call with the principal of your firm. We've recently discovered a web company that has been plagiarizing our content. In doing our research, we've notice that they've also stolen from you. This should look familiar...

What followed was a link to an article I had written, but it wasn’t on my site. It was on another company’s website. There were a few minor changes, but it was 90% the same. They had even copied one of the comments and added it as a comment on their post.

How did we find it?
It turns out, this company had copied more than 20 articles, mostly from a web design firm called Newfangled, but also from Blair Enns. It was Mark from Newfangled who spotted it.

Together, we decided to contact them. Blair sent a email demanding they take down the articles and recommending that they take down their entire blog. The full email is posted at the end of this article. It’s absolutely worth reading.

Their first response? “We didn’t know that was plagiarism. We thought everyone does that.” So let’s get that out of the way. What exactly is plagiarism?

  • pla·gia·rism (noun): The practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own.

Pretty clear. If you make it sound like you wrote it, but you didn’t, and hold it out as your own with no citation, no link, or attribution, that’s unlawful and you enter the world of copyright infringement. Had they cited the work and linked back to the authors, it would likely have been legit.How do I know if my content is being used unlawfully?
It’s amazingly simple. Here is one of the many plagiarism checkers: Copyscape. Checking for violators is as easy as searching Google. Here’s how it works...

Read the full post here >