Stealing Not Allowed

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plagiarismSuppose you wake up one morning, and realize as you make your way to the kitchen that someone has broken in overnight and stolen your belongings!

You never heard anything – you slept right through it. And yet, they’ve taken some of your most valued possessions.

You feel violated. You’ve lost your sense of security. It’s a disruption, it’s disturbing, it makes you feel sick….

You try to figure out exactly what is missing, what exactly they have taken, and you wonder whether you’ll ever get any of it back or even more importantly, whether you can ever feel safe in your own home again.

They’ve not only stolen your stuff, they have destroyed your peace of mind.

Very upsetting.

I’ve been fortunate.  (Knock wood) no one has ever broken into my home.  But I’ve felt that same sense of violation and it forever altered my peace of mind….

How?

I’ve been plagiarized.  People have stolen my written work.  Except for the fact that there are no police I can call, nor fingerprints left behind, it’s that same sense of being violated – that someone has taken something that belongs to ME – MY work.  And just like a thief would sell stolen jewelry or electronics or household items on Craigslist, those who stole my words have published them online,perhaps even pretending they were their own.

It’s wrong. It’s unethical. It’s against the law…. and it happens every day.

Further – not only has it happened to me; it has happened to at least two of our Alliance members, too.  I know this because in both cases, they wrote to ask me what they should do.  How could they get their stuff back? !!

In both these cases, the advocates who wrote to me found their own words on someone else’s site.  But that’s not the only way plagiarism takes place….

If you have a website or a blog and someone else has ever posted to it – from a webmaster, to a PR person, to a guest blogger – YOU may have plagiarized without knowing it!  If you have anyone else’s work on your site – words OR images – and you don’t have permission from the original creator of that work, then you have plagiarized their work even if you don’t realize the work belongs to someone else.

How embarrassing.

Examples:  a guest blogger submits an article to you which you publish, but it turns out that person actually stole it from elsewhere.  OR – and this is what I was told happened in the case of one person who had plagiarized me – you have a webmaster who tells you they will supply the text you need for your website, and can add articles, too – and they simply steal the text or photos from elsewhere on the web.  So not only have you now plagiarized, you’ve paid someone else to do it!  OR – you liked someone else’ work so much that you simply re-published it. Maybe you used their name, maybe you didn’t. Maybe you linked to their article, maybe you didn’t.  No matter how you did it, if you reposted more than a sentence or two (more than what would be considered an excerpt) then you have violated the law.

Now here’s the second part of the insult:  The whole idea behind putting good articles and photos on the web is that it will improve your search engine rank, help potential clients find you, and contribute to the public’s understanding that you are an expert, right?

Well here’s the problem with that:  as soon as material is duplicated, then search engines (most notably Google) will penalize your site.  Not only will someone else have stolen your stuff, but now YOU will be additionally penalized because it shows up somewhere else, too.

So now that makes copyright violation (plagiarism) an even bigger whammy – wrong on every level.

In the past, when I have been notified of sites where my work has been copied (with big thanks to those who have notified me!) – or if I have found the plagiarized copy myself, I have taken steps to get that material removed from those other sites.  So far, I’ve been successful every time. In the majority of cases when it has happened, it has required only one, firm and specific (albeit scary!) letter.

If you are a member of the Alliance of Professional Health Advocates then help for you is on the way, too.  Whether you fear that someone has copied your material, or you fear that you may have copied someone else’s material without knowing it, I’ve put together the steps you can take to protect yourself and your work.

It includes:

  • How to Find Plagiarism (Copyright violations)
  • How to Stop It
  • How to Prevent It
  • and How to Use Someone Else’s Work Without Infringing on Their Copyright
  • Plus Samples of letters you can use to request someone stop violating your copyright

Find them all here http://aphadvocates.org/resources/tips/b-plagiarism.asp by logging in first to your Membership Dashboard.  Once you are logged in, you can either click directly on that link, or you can find it through the General Business Center.

Ignorance is no excuse. Having your intellectual property stolen is a horrible violation. Stealing from others whether you intended to or not is unlawful and unethical.

End of lecture.

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Agree? Disagree?

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Comments

  1. Steve Borek (@SteveBorek)  August 18, 2013

    Well said Trisha.

    There’s a tool you can use to help track when something you wrote was used by someone else. The name of the tool escapes me at the moment.

    I enjoy reading your stuff.

    reply
  2. Trisha Torrey  August 18, 2013

    Thanks for the good words, Steve.

    Yes – the tools are all outlined on the APHA Membership site, along with a handful of other resources including sample letters to write to the people who have stolen your work.

    That’s what the Alliance is for 🙂

    Trisha

    reply
  3. Rachel Trabelsi  August 18, 2013

    Wow! sucks, the one thing that gives me a little peace is that those who do it are sucky people. And they are not going to make it no matter what they will pay at some point. Doesn’t make it any better and it is not the right thing to do!!!!!

    And not that this helps or is right either but it seems like the famous and talented are stolen from!

    reply

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