plagiarism, copyright infringement, and piracy – oh my

It seems the spread of plagiarism, copyright infringement, and piracy knows no boundaries. First it was the Record Industry, then the Movie Industry, even the future of books has come into question.

This time, it’s not the musicians, or moviestars, but regular bloggers that are being hit.

Whether it is a totally copied web design, or just plain old fashioned content theft, the issue of plagiarism on the web keeps creeping up. Often, there is vey little you can do to prevent these occurances, and if it does happen to you, the infringement usually isn’t worth the cost of taking legal action. But what i find most interesting is that today, more and more website owners are standing up for themselves and fighting back.

As an alternative (or in addition) to dealing with costly copyright lawyers, web owners can empower themselves by being proactive. Through the use of clever keywords and the awesome power of search engines like google, it is possible to expose these culprits to the rest of the web community. A good example of this type of effort can be found at Smart IT Consulting. Here the author does a very thorough jobs of advertising all kinds of information about the accused. Included is a brief description of what happened, followed by a list of the thiefs’ email addresses, the original source material as well as a reprint of the stolen content, complete with screenshots and Whois Information for the offending domain.

Smart IT Consulting is also where i first learned about Copyscape. They offer a free service that will search the web (using google APIs) and tell you if any of your content is being reproduced. All you have to do is enter the URL of your page that you want to check, and Copyscape returns a list of possible matches. Results are organized in a simple and clean manner, with many extra features, like highlighting the copied portions of text, a copied word count, even links to the actual paragraph in question. Naturally, there is also a paid version of this service called Copysentry that will search your entire site for you on a regular basis, emailing you the results, so you don’t have to enter each page individually.

That being said, i can’t help but feel a little bad for all those unknowing highschool students who are going to copy eachother’s term papers, only to find that the teacher has caught them using Copyscape. Oh well, live and learn.

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