Your own writing style and the way you interact with audiences through it is the most important part of your brand or website or blog. Starting from your blog to your social media and everywhere in between, this is the strongest and consistent voice that makes your content so readable and valuable. So how do you feel when you see that strong and consistent writing is being copied to elsewhere without your permission? A blog that you enjoy reading, one day you found that they have copied your words, verbatim and they have not given any credited to you either. When you start reading you start thinking, why they did not contact you before taking your contents? Why there is no link back to your website?
The answer is simple, that’s because you have been plagiarized. Though all writers abide by the moral law to always write unique, sometimes it does not go the way they want. It’s an honest mistake in some cases which is usually flexible. On the contrary, the other person is copying your writing intentionally. That’s the time when you have a sticky situation and feel uneasy. If your contents had been stolen before then you defiantly want to protect it, for now, and also for the future. Let’s find out about plagiarism and how it works and how to stop it.
In simple word, plagiarism is copying “someone” else’s work without taking that “someone” permission. This does not mean copying only text writing, it can be images, videos, audios etc. There are many types of plagiarism. Let’s talk about the types now.
Patchwork plagiarism: This plagiarism is also known as mosaic plagiarism. In this method, the thief may not have copied your contents directly but took some bits and pieces of your work and combined it with their own writing style. This may not look like your work but still your work and used against your will. This type of plagiarism is very hard to find out and detect but not impossible.
Self-plagiarism: This is the use of someone else previous work in another context without citing that it was used previously. You can even plagiarize yourself, make sure that your thoughts, suggestions, and ideas are unique in each of your posts. If you think your ideas went on vacation and you don’t have anything to write about, take some time and give your brain a rest and then start writing again. You’ll be doing fine.
Accidental plagiarism: It happens when someone did not copy your contents intentionally. They did not copy your work so maliciously or they don’t even realize that they copied someone else’s idea. They may not use a plagiarism checker before publishing their contents. It’s just that both of your ideas matched. This way their articles end up looking awfully close to your article. This is the reason you should be using a plagiarism checker while writing about a common idea.
Verbatim or direct plagiarism: This is something that someone directly copied your contents and pasted it onto their web pages. Directly copying contents is a rare incident but who does this, they erode the trust of those writers. They actually damage their own reputation by doing this type of stupid works.
When you have published your contents online after doing so much hard work, you really don’t have the time to sit and monitor it. Because you get busy with your next project. If someone copied your article, how on earth are you going to find that out on this gigantic internet? It happens sometimes that your readers help you to find out about it when they see something similar to your writing. But this happens rarely. However, you should be diligent in making sure that your own creation stays yours. To do this you can set up an alert online by using Google Alerts. This is free and only requires a Gmail account. Google alerts give you the option to customize your search queries and even option to create multiple alerts. Copy and paste your whole article as a search query. Google alerts include forums, discussions, books, videos, websites, news, and blogs. Then decide how often you want Google to send you alerts as daily or weekly.
There are few good online tools that help you to find out copied contents. Here is a list of them
Grammarly Plagiarism: Almost everyone knows about it. Just paste the contents to check if there are any plagiarism or spelling and grammatical mistakes in your content.
Plagiarisma: It can read languages in 200 languages. Just upload the document to use this tool.
PlagScan: This is for professional teachers and writers like you. Just copy the copied blog post to a word processing document and then upload it to PlagScan.
Copyscape: One of the best plagiarism checker online. It searches duplicate contents by URL. Just copy and paste plagiarized URL and you are good to go.
Small SEO Tools Plagiarism Checker: Free tools to improve your contents. You can also check images, website page size, backlinks makers and many more.
If you receive an alert or find someone who copied your contents, then you should be taking some steps to save your own creation. What can you do? Just contact the person or website who did this. Never comment or harass publicly on their website. This is not ideal at all. If you do this then there is no difference between you and them. I know this makes you upset while seeing someone is copying your creation. But you need to be calm and act as a wise person. Try to keep this matter private and find the writers email and send him a mail telling to take down the copied contents. Most of the time they will take down the contents that they copied from you, telling you from my experiences. In the mail telling them that they have accidentally (even if that is not true) copied your contents to their website and you want them to take that down. Send documentation comparing both yours and their contents side by side. And gently tell them to take that down. In a short period of time, you’ll be hearing from them and they will be apologetic. You’ll find that they have deleted the copied articles instantly. What happens when you don’t hear back from them (this is rare) and they don’t take down the copied contents? Use the following methods for further actions.
Google Webmaster Tools Digital Millennium Copyright At Notice: this would be the perfect method to send them a legal notice. You will be able to do this online and make sure you have links handy because Google is going to ask you for the sample of the plagiarism contents and proof that you are the rightful owner of the original article or contents.
Using Cease and Desist Letter: This does not mean to get a lawyer and bringing the offending party to court, but they will not know that! Just act as the letter is from your lawyer and send them that. Trust me nobody wants to go to court for copying an article of contents online. They will delete the copied contents as soon as they receive the letter from you.
Take legal action: If things go worse and your contents are really very important then you should be taking legal actions if above methods don’t work. If you take this action and become successful, it will make sure no one copies your work in future anymore. Though it is not guaranteed that will not happen. Also be sure to spend a good amount of money if you are really going to go this far. Both of the party will lose a great amount of money if this is something goes to real court.
Plagiarism cannot be prevented completely but you can take some good steps to minimize the issues. If you are lucky (also us), you can stop it by following the below steps.
Legal copyright: You can go to U.S. Copyright office and get your blog or website officially protected from copyright infringement. If you are not a U.S. person then I’m sure your country has something similar like the U.S., In fact, all country has this type of services as far I know.
Use DMCA: You can get DMCA website to protect your data or contents online. You can get a certificate from them as well. They charge monthly fees for this service. It will give you the way to put a DMCA copyright notice on your website.
Put a copyright notice: This will not stop plagiarizers from copying your contents, but they will think twice before copying your contents.
Charge for the full post: This will make sure nobody copies your contents. If they want to copy they need to pay first.
Be specific: Make your contents more specific. This will make plagiarizers work hard to copy your contents.
As a writer we all know that plagiarism happens and also there are ways to prevent it. Don’t get frustrated and angry, work smartly and be patient while taking actions. This does not have to be a blemish on your career, because your audiences will understand you and support you. You are at no risk zone, so don’t worry. Other parties who copied your contents are in risk and will be paying for their actions at any time, whether from you or from search engines or from readers.