Whether writing for money or pleasure the creative effort that goes into a writer’s finished essay, article, or creative piece is the same. He or she will have pondered over the subject, researched the topic, sweated and worried over phrases and words and reread their work until their eyes crossed. Those who publish on the internet might do so on a writers’ collective like Factoidz or on their own blog or perhaps have sold an article on a freelancer’s forum or to a business website.
Their work may have been published freely, on a pay-per-view basis or the article sold on an exclusive or non-exclusive basis. Although the writer may have sold the article outright and therefore left the buyer with the option of adopting full credit, in most cases the credit for writing the article will be kept by the writer and the article, wherever it is published on the web will form part of the writer’s overall brand, perhaps carrying links to the writer’s own website or other sources of his or her writing.
The internet has been a great boon to hobby writers and to authors and in fact is changing the landscape of publishing in general. There have never been so many opportunites for writers to practise their craft and to find an audience. And there is the rub. For with this increased audience comes a greater risk of theft. It barely even needs human intervention as smarter ‘scraping ‘ bots are created to rip the content off a site, swap words around a little and throw articles on an affiliate or made-for-adsense website as skimpy textual wallpaper intended to fool Google spiders into seeing a site which carries significant content instead of one which is a mere skeleton for affiliate advertising.
Mimicry in this case is not flattery. There is no pleasure to be had in finding your own words parroted back on another possibly competing website. But what can one do? Especially when there are so many more writing avenues than there used to be and the act of stealing intellectual property has become so easy and commonplace, how can a writer keep his or her eyes on all of their creative efforts and know that thier work is not being plagiarised?
There are standard services that offer some protection. Copyscape is, according to their own website, ranked number 1 in plagiarism copyright detection and will charge 5c per search. Certainly that is not a lot of money but ranked number 1 or not, how sure can you be that Copyscape really captures all instances of plagiarism? Also, 5c may not seem like a lot per search but how often must you search per article in order to feel that your articles have not been scraped?
There is a way to back up and automate your plagiarism protection. Although it also is not infallible it will give a little more security and it is free, costing only a few extra moments of time per article.
Google Alert Plagiarism Check
Google offers an automated alert system which you can set up to advise you on a daily, weekly or ‘as it happens’ basis, should any string of keywords be mentioned in online news, blogs, websites, videos or groups. To make it easier you have the option to select ‘comprehensive’ which would send the Google spiders scurrying off after every kind of online content which carries the keywords you set up.
To use Google Alerts as a guard against plagiarism most effectively you would obviously have to extract a string of words that would not be found together on a regular basis. As an example, earlier on in this article I used the words, ‘skimpy textual wallpaper’. I have set up a Google Alert for that exact phrase. Thanks to Google Alerts, I will know when this article enters Google’s serps and when and if anyone rips it off.
If an on-line writer were to take a few extra seconds per article to protect his or her intellectual property in this way, it may help throw up the content pirates in a more timely fashion. Once identified, it is the subject of a whole other article, what a writer must do to get the plagiarised content marked as duplicate of an original and taken down if possible.