There’s a feeling we get when we make something. It’s ours. Maybe we consider it a right. I made this, I should get credit for this. If someone takes it and says it was their work, there is something wrong with that and I should have recourse. We plod through K-Undergrad getting this idea hammered into our minds punitively. We don’t copy because it’s wrong.
When we are out in the wild, we bring it with us. We write posts on Facebook, book reviews on good reads, and blogs on blogs on blogs. Despite the fact it’s put out there on the internet, we still have that feeling. It’s mine, damn it. But is it?
In the popular blogging blog http://howtoblogabook.com/copyright-how-to-protect-your-blogs-and-blogged-books/ (how meta) we see this topic covered in legal terms. How does the enterprising internet writer protect her work? She goes into detail about periodically copywriting your online work in case of copying. She also mentions that there may not be a lot of recourse even if they do violate your copyright. In general, it gives you the right to issue a cease and desist. If they don’t listen, you will have to spend a fortune suing them for a few hundred dollars a victory that will echo quietly in the hollow vacuum of the internet.
In short, you technically have control over your online material. The issue is enforcement. Let’s look at how these pocket-protector riding jack-wagons are stealing our hard-earned content.
There are three major types of plagiarism we can apply to the blogging world ranging from the egregious to the pervasive.
The definition of content scraping. The most obvious case of plagiarism and copyright infringement. It means people will take entire articles and other content from someone else and republish them on their own website without asking for permission or giving attribution. Once your blog or web presence reaches a certain size, you will definitely have to deal with this.
Taking parts of content and stitching in your own. For example, check out these Metal album covers via a blog dedicated to exposing the rampant partial-plagiarism in the metal world.
AKA lazy man’s plagiarism. Patchwriting is a term I had never heard before and is something I will explore in its own post next.
Before we jump there though, we need to wrap up some thoughts here. Your online writing feels like your own. You pour your heart and soul into it. In fact, there are even some laws out there that say as soon as you publish something you have a copyright over it.
But we now know you really don’t. Having a copyright on a blog is like holding a million bucks in monopoly. It just ain’t worth a damn in the real world. When you are a normal person facing down the full force and power of nerd-dom out there with content scrapers and whatnot, you are pretty much screwed.