So while this is not a Blogmas Post, it is a post that I want to write with some of the things that I have seen going on.
Twitter has got quite heated about this and I think a lot of people need to understand certain things when it comes to coyping other’s work and also how to give credit where credit is due.
I refuse to name names in this post. I am all for calling people out but I won’t be name shaming here. If the person wants to step forward and apologise then that’s their decision and I am not the person to push them into doing that.
But I know as a content creator both here on WordPress and on YouTube, I would want to know if my content had been stolen and I do actively do reverse image searches, Googling of my content and more to check that I have not been copied. Anyone who takes any amount of pride in their work DOES NOT want it copied.
I am going to not only discuss what has happened, I am also going to tell you how you can give credit to others, how to add some amount of protection to your work and some of the appropriate etiquette around sourcing from other people’s work.
The case that has prompted me to write this is one of a blogger who was caught out for copying work and did, in fairness, apologise but has since completely copied an article from a few well known sources and given no credit and hasn’t even changed the pronouns within the work.
This is unacceptable.
There is no justification of copying an entire article and passing it off as your own blog post. Somebody worked hard to write that article, was probably paid and you’ve just copied it straight over, word for word, to your own blog? That is firstly disrespectful and secondly that undermines the hard work someone did on that post.
This is plagiarism in it’s purest form. There was no credit to the original post at all.
According to Wikipedia, Plagiarism is:
The “wrongful appropriation” and “stealing and publication” of another author’s “language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions” and the representation of them as one’s own original work
While it is not defined as ‘illegal’, as such, it can be seen as copyright infringement should the work be copyrighted. This is where the law does has a grey area in the sense that yes, you can be held accountable by the original owner if the copied piece is covered under copyright laws but if it’s not, then the copying of this work is seen as only immoral and not illegal.
If that makes sense.
But the complete copying and pasting of a document from a source with no acknowledging the original article is pure plagiarism. And should you be monetizing your site and therefore making money off this work… I’d say you’ve opened a whole different kettle of fish that I don’t wish to comment on because I am no lawyer or expert on UK law.
On my blog, if I reference something even as small as a YouTube video, I give a link to that source. If I mention a blogger or use and modify an idea of theirs, I will link to them so they get the glory too. New articles, linked. Websites I mention, linked. It is tedious but when you’re taught to do that in essays then you get used to it.
I studied musical copyright law for 4 years (all part and parcel of Music Technology) and written many essays and did a GCSE in ICT… Referencing my sources is something that was vitally important and I lost marks when I didn’t! My ICT coursework… the document I had to fill in with my sources, how I used them and all that jazz, was worth 6 MARKS OUT OF 60. It was 10% of my total grade. For reference, I did get an A* in ICT, Distinction Star in L2 Music Tech and DDM in my 90 Credit Music Tech diploma.
Smart arse, I know.
But how can you source? If you’re copying a quote word for word, then use quotation marks as though they were talking and you’re reciting what they said. If you can link to a social media outlet or blog, then do so. Let people see where they are and by doing that, you’re supporting them as a creator.
If you’re not copying word for word and are rephrasing the information into your own words, then I find that still linking to where you drew inspiration from at the point of discussion is a good way to go. I usually introduce the information by saying where I saw it, for example:
IN THIS (THIS would be a hyperlink) VIDEO, *insert person* SAYS THAT….
The type of information that is used has raised some… arguments, on Twitter. In my understanding, there are different types of information. You have intellectual property which incorporates businesses, creative content and basically anything that is the product of someone’s own creativity or thoughts. Then there’s fact and but nobody owns a fact, in my opinion.
Again, if this makes sense.
Let’s break this down.
Intellectual property is covered by copyright and even without a copyright protection, if you can prove you had the idea first then you can claim that you are the original owner. So if you write a song, you could mail the lyrics to yourself so there’s a proof that the information was created at that point and if someone subsequently copies you, you have a date to say “woah, hold up. I had this idea before you!”
It’s not the best way and doesn’t replace having copyright protection but it is a way of proving when you had the idea.
Fact, is what has scientific (or otherwise) fact behind it to back it up.
Nobody owns science.
Discoveries are different so the discovery of DNA by Watson and Crick is accredited to them but subsequent and significant discoveries and theories belong to others but are based off the work of Watson and Crick… following?
When it comes to symptoms of diseases and medical or scientific knowledge, this information does not change from article to article. If the NHS website says the symptoms of Atrial Tachycardia are a, b & c and I write a post on that, I will link to the main document and in my post list symptoms a,b & c.
That is fine.
The issues come when someone would take the whole article and copy it in to make their point but not say that it is from the NHS website. They’d claim they had written that article on their blog themselves. That’s the plagiarism.
The listing of symptoms and scientific fact, as long as it has a source linked to it, is fine. Because there’s only so many ways to say shortness of breath or fast heart rate. How a normal person with no medical qualification can rephrase entire medical fact or advice is beyond me. I work within medicine and couldn’t do that!
But how can you stop your work being stolen and copied? Well, first of all you can do Google searches for sentences in your work or copy a post into noplag.uk where it will show you any articles that are almost identical.
With photos and videos, you can watermark them and this doesn’t stop people but it’s a good way to deter them. To see if your images have been used, do a reverse image search and it will bring up where else it’s used.
It’s disappointing that I’ve had to write an article on such a negative issue and I know it’s not my place and I didn’t have to but I do feel that for the nature of the issue, people need to know that it’s happening in this community because as I said, I would want to know if someone had copied my work and I would also want to know if it’s going on so I can be careful.
The main person in question has since added where the source is but just the name alone, in my opinion, is not enough. Link back to the article and add at the top of the document that the article is from X location.
Unfortunately, it’s rife everywhere and sometimes, people don’t realise that they’ve worded something a bit too closely to where they sourced it from and then they apologise. But straight up copying is wrong.
Sorry for the negativity… back on with Blogmas!