Plagiarism and Blogs

Plagiarism and Blogs

What’s the difference between a quote and outright theft of intellectual property?  Well, as a blogger, I worry I’ll miss an attribution.  The problem is, there are blogs out there that don’t take things nearly as seriously. 

Case in point:  Read this article by Al Lautenslager- 10 Marketing Tactics Under $10 and published online at with the following clearly displayed: “Copyright © 2006, Inc. All rights reserved.”  Then go to this site (link removed, the owner removed the post quickly as requested), which popped up in a Technorati search this morning.  As I was reading it, I couldn’t help but think “I’ve read this before…”

At the bottom, the fine print:

This blog is setting up for R&D, except tagged as “Original” all sorts of blog aticals are derived from Internet. Original authors retain the copyright of his/her/its works. If you DO NOT want your works to be referenced, plz contact me, i’ll withdraw it as soon as possible. Thanks for your support.

Nice thought, but that just doesn’t cut it.  It’s not up to us, as writers, to scour the net daily to “opt out” of getting our content stolen by people like J, who obviously knows he/she is up to no good, as there’s no personal information at all on the web site.  What’s next, I have to find and locate all the car thieves in Central Massachusetts to “opt out” of their service as well?

In the past few days, we’ve had some interesting discussions about corporate blogging, about blogging as a future for independent journalists, and about transparency in blogs. The problem is, that in the days of print journalism, we always had the appearance, at the least, of journalistic ethics.  In blog-vegas, while the assumption of ethics may exist, there’s no ombudsman hanging on every word written ready to pull the writer into the woodshed. 

What “J” has done is every bit as bad as Jason Blair or Mike Barnicle, and probably a fair degree worse.  And to my mind, blogging will remain an also ran medium until we can find a way to deal with the outright thieves.  Once the appearance of ethics is gone, we’ve got little left.


8 thoughts on “Plagiarism and Blogs

  1. Thanks for the link!

    I’ve had this happen a few times, particularly with items from a news and politics blog I write for our local paper. I am really not sure what to do other than ask people to stop it. Sometimes they do include a link… but frankly, I’d rather they include the link and appropriate excerpts rather than quote the whole article.

    MySpace pages seem to be particularly bad about this. I have Technorati searches set up to find links, but that doesn’t find everything.

  2. I’m a big fan of the group blog, esp. the way you are doing it with – you’ve made my morning read list…

    The Myspace problem tends to just be cluelessness in my mind. That doesn’t make it excuseable.

    It really burns me up when I see a person like J who is running Google Adsense to generate revenue and stealing his content from around the net. It’s a big old money play for him.

    I see Al L. has posted asking him to remove the article. It will be interesting to see if and how quickly it gets removed.

  3. In the current legal climate, it’s a bit unfair to blame Google (the owner of blogger) for inaction. They are required to receive a DMCA notice before they can act and a DMCA notice requires many variables. The most difficult in this case is a sworn statement by the copyright holder, in tis case the publisher.

    I’ve literally sent dozens of DMCA notices to Google over Blogger issues and all have been handled quickly. It’s just a matter of sending it in the proper format so they cover all of their legal bases.

    The biggest problem this creates is that you can not help anyone else protect their copyright, they have to be willing to do it themselves. You can’t fight someone else’s battles.

    It’s frustrating, but how the game is played right now.

  4. Completely agreed…for many writers it’s tough to jump through the hoops, but that’s the rules for the game.

    I hadn’t mentioned in the post that I’d seen reference to plagiarism on – mainly for the reason you’ve cited. In the world of blogs, everyone tends to whine online first, without actually contacting the people they need to contact. Never mind actually adhering to the proper proceedure…

    ( Jonathan’s site is an excellent resource for those looking for more info on plagiarism – )

  5. I have withdrown this article from my blog as soon as read the comment from Al Lautenslager. I’m sorry about quote this artical without any authorization. I have read the title from “digg”, it linked to this blog “Top 10 Reasons”. I didn’t notice the oriantal link in this blog and did not go to the original pages. So i don’t know about copyrights of this article. Then quote this excellent article without notifications. I am really sorry about this.

  6. Nothing personal J – I used this as an example of a problem in blogs, and am sorry to single you out as you’ve obviously done exactly the right thing. I’ll pull the link out to the site and de-personalize the post.

    As writers, we spend a lot of time pulling articles together. John Whiteside explained about the right way to handle this – post a breif quote, perhaps comment on why your readers will want to read it, then link to the story, or something along that line.

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