Internet Plagiarism

Every now and again I search for web pages that contain content from my site. In many cases I find snippets that have been used from my web pages as part of larger pieces of work which is fine by me. Other times I find entire pages that are clearly plagiarized versions of mine.

Most recently, I found that a site owned by [name deleted] contained about 15 pages that have been plagiarized from my site. The usual process I follow with copyright violations is to send the site owner a few e-mails requesting that the offending material be removed. This is often effective. The next step is to post screenshots of the plagiarism to my hall of shame page [page removed as plagiarists complied with my requests].

Yet another step involves contacting the ISP to have the pages removed. This last step takes a bit of work. A typical ISP will require this list of information before acting on a page removal request:

  1. A physical or electronic signature of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.
  2. Identification of the copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed, or, if multiple copyrighted works at a single online site are covered by a single notification, a representative list of such works at that site.
  3. Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing or to be the subject of infringing activity and that is to be removed or access to which is to be disabled, and information reasonably sufficient to permit us to locate the material.
  4. Information reasonably sufficient to permit us to contact the complaining party, such as an address, telephone number, and, if available, an electronic mail address at which the complaining party may be contacted.
  5. A statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner, it's agent, or the law.
  6. A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed.

To find copyright violations, I use a combination of Google and Copyscape. The trick with Google is to select a fairly uniquely written sentence from a web page and searching for it. You don't want to use anything too generic or you'll end up with a lot of matches. You can also reduce matches by surrounding the search text with quotes. This tells Google to look for an exact match.

Copyscape, on the other hand, simplifies the process by simply requiring you to enter the URL of your page. It then searches through its database for matches. It even highlights the copied text on the matched pages which makes it quite handy. A relatively small fee allows you to have your site monitored all the time with reports sent out weekly.

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2 Comments

  1. Marios Alexandrou

    Kurt, Plagiarism is a lot like identity theft -- banks could stop it if they wanted, but it would cost them more than to allow it to continue. With plagiarism it's even worse because there is no measurable damage especially when it comes to small publishers. So while I agree that it would be great if it were easier to deal with plagiarism, I'm not holding my breath.

  2. The interesting thing is, most of the article sites that you submit to will not help you when it comes to removal of plagiarized material. I contacted one place that I had submitted to very recently, and they told me I was on my own in getting my content removed from one of their subscriber sites. It should be far easier than it is to shut down sites with stolen content.

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