I was annoyed recently to discover some faux Web sites, called splogs, have stolen my content for the purpose of marketing and moneymaking. These content scrapers and spinning spammers have plucked my words without a sound, a credit or a link. The bastards.
Maybe you already know about all this. If not, there are steps you can take to protect your work.
Before I go any further, I’ll be the first to admit I’ve made many amateur mistakes with content usage and linking. But, I’m not here to make money. You may quibble over details with me and you may win, but I maintain that there’s a difference between innocent mistakes and intentional plagiarism for profit.
This sort of Internets tackiness annoys me the way story swipers do: You know, those people on the periphery of your life who listen in on your life stories and then steal them. They snatch your one-liners and snappy comebacks out of the air and stuff them in their pockets. Reminds me of a neighbor who told me she had a sculpture stolen from her front yard. She found it days later on the front porch of a house down the street. When she confronted the homeowner she was told: Prove it.
She couldn’t, but my neighbor learned a valuable lesson: Do not place original artwork on your front lawn unless you have a security system.
There are no security systems for story swipers — only vigilante justice — if you’re into that sort of thing. Today I’m wising up. I’m going to install a digital fingerprint plug-in on my blog and go after these sploggers when I catch them in the act.
When I worked in the newspaper business, mostly for local papers, occasionally one of my articles would reappear under a new byline in another, smaller publication. Our editors would wave it off as small-time plagiarism not worth the bother. Corporate doubletalk translation: We cut the media lawyer expense, among other things, so we could keep our 30 percent profit margin.
But it was worth the bother to me. Often I’d call the offending paper or write a letter of complaint. Sometimes I’d post both copies of the story on a public bulletin board just to let people know what was going on.
Protect your work.