I don’t like it when people plagiarize my work.

Now, most of the time, when I find someone has illegally copied and pasted my work into their website, I notify them and I get back a quick apology and they take the thing down.   Most of the violators don’t actually plagiarize, in the sense that they still give me credit, they are just violating the copyright by copying and pasting the whole article into their site.  Some of them did not pay attention in their high school English classes and truly don’t know.

I edited the rest of this post because the plagiarized posts came down.  I don’t know whether it was voluntary on their part or if the DMCA takedown order came through (I never heard from the hosting company).

Anyway, thanks for all the support!


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38 thoughts on “Exposing a Plagiarist

  1. Google “but honestly Monica” to find how a friend of mine addressed plagiarism and copyright infringement when it happened to her. Good luck, and keep fighting the good fight.

  2. I also commented on one of the articles (they must be “approved by the blog owner,” so I don’t expect it will see the glow of any computer screen but Bastian’s). Not surprisingly, Joanna’s comments aren’t viewable either, but at least the people that they’re targeted to will see them, and I’m guessing there will be plenty for them to sift through. People like them stifle the exchange of information by making people afraid to share their work freely…not cool.

    1. I’m kind of guessing they don’t care. In reality, I shouldn’t let it bother me because I doubt they get much traffic anyway.

  3. Forgive me if I seem rude….

    But do you mind my asking which you spend more time doing: ego-surfing the web to find your own stuff or tracking down the probably small number of people who actually do?

    Just curious. It seems like tons of wasted energy to me, is all.

    So Writer’s Digest can republish your stuff, but you post a mud-slinging blog post about this nameless dude who copied some of your stuff? Hmmm. I guess he should reserve his right to not really care where it is that you’re coming from then either, I suppose.

    In my opinion, the more places my writing is on the web, the better. The more people I’m reaching. I’m not worried about it, because I simply make sure that it’s easy to distinguish who the original author is (in this case myself, obviously) and the more people out there sharing it, the more eyes are reading it.

    I’m chill with that.

    Just my thoughts on the subject, no offense meant. You DO have the word “Evil” in your name, so I’ll consider myself having been warned. 😉

    1. ***But do you mind my asking which you spend more time doing: ego-surfing the web to find your own stolen stuff or tracking down the probably small number of people who actually take it?***

      1. Ego surfing! Ha! In all actuality, I don’t spend a great deal of time on finding plagiarists at all. It’s extremely easy to find them, if you have 30 seconds. Copy and paste two-three sentences from a popular post into Google and in .03 seconds, you have a list of everyone who is copying!

        But, for the record, I stumbled upon this particular plagiarist because I was looking for an article I had written, so that I could link to it. In addition to my site coming up, this guy’s did too.

        I don’t generally do public shaming–as I said most people are very apologetic and take it down, or post an excerpt with a link back. This guy gets public naming and shaming because he refuses to take it down.

        It’s not about ego. It’s about protecting the brand. The last thing I need is someone thinking that this guy wrote the articles and I copied them.

      2. Dear Writer,
        As a Crusty Old Editor, I’ll explain to you why copyright should be exceedingly important to you as a “writer”:

        You indicate that “the more places my writing is on the web, the better.” True enough, but that’s a rather short-sighted perspective. For example, let’s say you hit the big time as the author of the next great American novel. And then more people become interested in your writing. But lo, someone else has posted your writing on their site without proper credit. Without proper credit, your writing is now their writing. So now, because you’re “chill with that”, people are going to start asking who plagiarized who. It’s going to be pretty hard to defend yourself as a plagiarizer when you can’t prove who owns the work.

        If you think this amounts to “tons of wasted energy” then, frankly, you deserve to have your work stolen (which is exactly the definition of plagiarism…theft).

        As a Human Resources Manager, let me also say that if your attitude about copyright infringement were to surface during an interview, you would be summarily escorted from the interview room with the obligatory “don’t call us, we’ll call you” brush-off.

        Grow up.

        1. Actually, the bigger you become…the easier it becomes for others to distinguish you as the original author of your own work, in cases where someone else tries to plagiarize it. Like, I don’t think any idiot who tries to pass off “Moby Dick” as their own work or doesn’t properly credit Herman Melville is going to cause any real confusion. Not to mention, Mr. Melville doesn’t even have to be alive (thankfully) to defend his work, so…I would disagree that making it big creates more of a problem when it comes to plagiarism.

          Same goes for authors still living, such as Steven King or anyone else. No one is going to be able to do any real damage by stealing their work. In fact, there is very little for them to benefit from doing so and very little damage possible on the author’s end of things.

          Besides, making it big indicates that you are probably doing well enough that plagiarism isn’t going to make you lose out on any significant amount of money, to be honest as well. Until the thief starts managing to generate the same amount or more as the original author (with the ripped off work) then, in my opinion, it is not worth most people’s time. But again, I don’t see that happening.

          And also, you can spare me of your lecture as an HR manager. Never once did I claim to condone plagiarism, nor would I during an interview or at any other time. My statement had purely to do with the response from the original author/creator of the work. I was merely stating that I find ignoring such idiotic and pathetic individuals typically just as effective as wasting tons of energy on them, when it’s really not necessary. So maybe you should learn to chill a bit too.

          And I very highly doubt that I will be interviewed by any HR managers at any companies. At least not any time soon. I’m what you would call an independent everything. I live on the fringe. That means I don’t get to enjoy the benefits that most of society does, but it also means I am able to escape tons of the consequences it imposes also. I dig that. But thanks for the heads up, not that I couldn’t have figured out what is appropriate and what is not appropriate to say during an interview.

          1. As a photographer and a writer, what you’re saying is completely unfounded. Copyright infringement DOES matter – it’s a fact, despite your opinion. Stealing is stealing – it matters naught if the subject is tangible. Your words are indeed condoning the practice.

            And might I ask – where do YOU find the time to yell at someone who is affronted by being stolen from? Sounds like a piss-poor way to spend your time.

            1. I never once came close to saying that my opinion of plagiarism or stealing the work of others was “okay” as you are claiming. Not even sure where you are referring to as intangible.

              I do not agree with stealing the world of others, nor do I engage in such plagiarism. My point was that as the original writer and copyright owner, you are relatively safe from any real damage posed by a thief who is trying to rip off your work.

              If you need that put into more simple terms, by writing your own stuff and not being a thief yourself, you already have the upper hand in any attempt at plagiarism, so while it may be upsetting on a moral level, it is probably not worth much stress in the practicality sense.

              Hopefully you read what I wrote this time, as it seems you skipped that part the first time you started saying things to me.

          2. One last thing.

            “Besides, making it big indicates that you are probably doing well enough that plagiarism isn’t going to make you lose out on any significant amount of money, to be honest as well.”

            So if you were ever employed, would you treat the company’s assets the same way? “Oh, they’ll never notice this $20” . . . or $200. Seriously – where is the line drawn in your head??

            1. Well, that’s a rather dumb question if you weren’t able to figure out that everything I wrote has been as a writer.

              Never was I writing from the perspective of or in regards to the person ripping off the work of other writers.

              So…not sure how in the world you think you are making some sort of accurate analogy by asking me if I would underpay my employees, were I to own a business instead of being a writer….?

              Again, you seem to have forgotten including a quote where I said that stealing was okay and I don’t think there is anything wrong with it.

              So….yeah, to answer your question, no….I would not try to rip off my employees or cut costs in some obviously unethical fashion simply because I might not get caught.


              Methinks you are a woman, and very confused.

            2. Ashly, you seem to have a really big chip on your shoulder about this topic for some reason. Most reasonable people agree that taking someone else’s work without permission is wrong. It’s stealing. It’s objectionable. I find it odd that you’d spend all this time commenting here about how it’s no big deal — what’s your motivation here?

            3. My theory? Ashly has plagiarized in the past and plans on doing so in the future. In order to convince herself that it’s no big deal, she has a theory.

              The theory is this: If you are talented enough for people to want to copy your work, then you must be rich. If you are rich then it doesn’t matter if I take something from you because you’ll never miss it. Therefore, I can plagiarize your work because there are no bad consequences for the author.

            4. No chip on my shoulder whatsoever. Nor have I ever plagiarized anyone’s work, but thanks for your profound and awe-inspiring theory. It should come as no surprise that you are completely mistaken, since you don’t know anything about me. So that makes sense, I suppose.

              If I were really looking to rip off rich people, I’d start stealing [redacted] that is worth a [redacted] of a lot more than someone else’s writing. Physical goods are much easier to steal and get rid of quickly, with no one’s name attached to them (such as with writing).

              However, I have never felt any urge to steal material items from someone else. Likewise, never felt the need to pass someone else’s writing off as my own.

              My main issue with this entire complaint is that when someone quotes a part of your work (depending on how long the piece of writing is) and gives you credit for it, I don’t see what the hell you’re worried about.

              Any writing you post online has a date attached to it. That means if someone copies and posts it somewhere else on the web at a later date, that will make it pretty easy to determine who is the original author, now won’t it?

            5. I have discovered that I can edit comments! Yeah! So, I took the bad words out of Ashley’s comments and replaced them with [redacted].

              And Ashley, giving credit but still using a large amount (above and beyond “fair use”) is called a copyright violation. Plagiarism is when you take the work and pretend that you wrote it.

              This particular person was committing plagiarism. And yes, it’s a big deal and no, I don’t believe that you’re innocent in this area at all.

              Hopefully I’m wrong, but I seriously doubt it. Because if you feel so strongly that plagiarizing and violating copyrights are not big deals, then why wouldn’t you do it if you could get away with it?

            6. So, I was bored–actually procrastinating an article deadline I have tomorrow at AllBusiness.com (it will be fabulous, I promise!), when I noticed that Ashley Lorenzana has a website. So I clicked.

              I looked at the first two articles on Ashley’s site and discovered this article, http://www.ashlylorenzana.com/blog/freelance-writing/10-legitimate-sites-that-will-pay-for-content-writing has the byline of Ashly Lorenzana, but the article is also published here, http://sites.google.com/site/ieverythingandalittlemore/blog/freelance-writing with a byline of Adam Ledford.

              The second of Ashly’s articles, http://www.ashlylorenzana.com/blog/freelance-writing/how-to-start-out-as-a-freelance-writer-online-4-ways-to-find-clients-and-build-your-business, is also published here, http://sites.google.com/site/rockinblogcom/blog/freelance-writing/how-to-start-out-as-a-freelance-writer-online-4-ways-to-find-clients-and-build-your-business with a byline of alex steele.

              So, somebody is plagiarizing someone and I don’t know which way it is going. The copying is complete with pictures so it may be done with permission (some sort of weird freelancer thing?) but if I were looking for a freelancer, I would be totally turned off by this.

              And that, my dear Ashly, is why this type of stuff matters to you. If you want to make a career out of freelance writing, and you truly wrote that stuff that is under your byline, then you should be mad as heck that alex (who is too poor to afford capital letters) and Adam stole your stuff.

              I suggest DMCA takedown notices, if, in fact, you are the victim here.

    2. There are various software tools and internet search engines specifically devoted to finding online plagiarized material (many college professors use them as well, to find if students have purchased term papers and such). I’m willing to bet EHR utilizes those. She probably spends less time than you’d suppose.

      Since people who plagiarize are stealing her INCOME, I think it’s a pretty pressing concern. Wouldn’t you?

      1. I’m actually low tech on this one and just use google to find places that are quoting my stuff.

        I don’t do it all that often, just when I have nothing better to do.

    3. Your comment to EHR is a bit unfair. I wouldn’t mind if my work is reprinted *with* my permission. But if someone tries to pass my writing off *as their own*, not only that, but in a commercial context where they might make money from stealing my work? I would be hopping mad, too.

      I would go and post nasty comments in their plagiarized article, except it appears their whole blog has been taken down at the moment… *evil chuckle*

      1. Ha! It is down. I never heard back from the hosting company so I don’t know if the DMCA takedown notice worked or if my friend Bastian came to his senses.

        Either way, it’s gone, and hopefully won’t come back.

  4. Hello all,

    I’m sorry you (EHRL) had to go through this, and appreciate your posting. I just completed an editing project and am trying to understand this better.

    I read through the “Cooks Source infringement controversy” on Wikipedia. In part it says, “Gaudio was credited in Cooks Source for the 1,300 word piece, which was retitled . . .” If Gaudio was credited, I’m not sure I understand — was the problem because it was retitled? If Gaudio was properly credited, the e-mail exchange wouldn’t have occurred (or maybe not in the way it went down; I can understand the problem there). It sounds like EHRL was not credited — which was definitely a problem. Thanks, Pati

    1. Just because you give someone credit doesn’t mean you can use their stuff without permission. It’s not plagiarism if you credit, but it it’s still a copyright violation.

      The Cooks Source problem was that the editor a. used the article without permission (copyright violation) b. when the author found out about it and asked for payment, the editor was extremely rude and c. the editor loudly proclaimed that she could use anything she liked and d. the editor claimed that the author should be THANKFUL that her work had been stolen.

      Copyright violations are another big problem, clearly.

  5. Thank you, EHRL. I wondered if the passage that I read had covered all the bases. I appreciate your taking the time to explain. I enjoy your column. Pati

  6. I strikes me that the pretentious tone of your retort makes your writing unworthy of rhetorical theft. If it wasn’t good, she wouldn’t have “utilized” your article. Get off your high horse. At best it’s a compliment. At worst you suffered no damage in any way. Not a single dollar was lost, not a moment of hardship was forced upon you. You really would fire someone for doing that? Maybe you really an evil hr lady. JEEZ!

  7. Thanks for sharing this experience.

    I am sending the link to my students, many of whom are surrounded by cut-and-pasted quotes without attribution, to give them a sense of the human side of plagiarism. No set of rules and regulations can so clearly and humanly explain as clearly as you what plagiarism is, why it happens and why it’s wrong-and that real people are affected by the problem.

  8. EHL- I have long enjoyed and benefited from reading your blog articles and posted comments. I also can certainly appreciate an author’s distress when discovering that their published (or unpublished) material has been plaigarized. As you noted, plaigarism is the representation of another person’s written work as their own without acknowledging the original creator. It is not, as often misunderstood, illegal in the sense that plaigarism in and of itself is not a crime. It is not recognized as a legal concept. It is, however, considered a moral offense and unethical. In academia and journalism, the consequence to plaigarism is often more severe than that which might be exacted if it were a sentence of legal punishment. Plaigarizing, when determined to have occurred, does not allow for legal restitutions such as paying a fine to restore one’s standing. Society has long defined this behavior as a moral offense and as such those found to be intentionally in violation of the social more are judged to be unethical in their character. The punishment reflects a rejection of the person, themself, as opposed to the behavior. They are often expelled from an institution, terminated from employment, excluded from an industry, and impugned in reputation and character.

    So, it is not surprising when people express a relatively higher order of moral outrage given it is a moral offense. We tend as a society to become emotionally engaged with matters concerning our moral beliefs.

    However, the issue at the core of my response is that of copyright and by your account, infringement to your rights as the owner of the article content specific to this thread. It was asserted clearly that in this case, you were never attributed to as the original author. This digital content was re-published online as being an original created work of the person re-publising it. That is, we all would probably agree, a slimy and unethical thing to do. We might even go so far as to condemn the offender as being a dishonest and generally immoral character we would not associate with, ever hire or welcome to date our daughters. Shame on him.

    What was not made clear, however, is that a claim of copyright infringement does not necessarily a crime make. Although tempting as it would be for an author to be emotionally persuaded to assume any unauthorized use of their writing was a copyright violation, this is simply not true.

    Although I am not suggesting that the article in question is not exactly as you describe–the comments that followed have taken a course that wholly discounts the factual existence of both affirmative defenses to claims of copyright infringement as well as summary dismissal in those circumstances where it is absolutely appropriate and legal to use someone’s published content without an author’s permission.

    Before allowing and participating in that particulary nasty character assasination in response to the commentor questioning your position, it would have, in my opinion, been more reflective of the professional I respect you to be, to have considered mentioning such things as fair use and why this case did, indeed, present as a legal violation. Instead, the comments muddied and mixed the two very distinctly different concepts of plaigarism vs copyright law.

    I was disappointed that you didn’t choose to manage the thread objectively. I perceived your being emotionally invested in supportive responses even when they were founded on misrepresented argument. At no time was it appropriate to assert the implication that an individual who questioned you was a plaigarist. That, in my mind, is tantamount to a public accusation impugning the commentor’s character and reputation which I believe was not only unfair and unprofessional, but speaks to your own behavior when someone disagrees with you. I would be inspired and most impressed by your considering this.

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