Online plagiarism is out of control.
Recently, I have been looking to buy some wepages which have traffic, but before I do, I always run a little check to make sure that the content is not plagiarized. There is a fast and simple way to check any webpage thanks to Copyscape. All you do, is go to Copyscape, enter the URL of the page you want to check, and it scours the web looking for plagiarized content. Many of the pages I considered buying had in fact, plagiarized much, all or at least some of their content. This was very discouraging.
There is a solution for web content that is clever… but I’m getting ahead of myself… read on…
Most authors do not register copyrights for their material, and in the USA, if you want to sue someone for violating your copyright, your material must have been registered with the US Copyright office. Something most people, and especially us bloggers – do not do. The Berne Convention was supposed to eliminate that, but it really has not.
The Berne Convention
Copyright law is supposed to be simple and straightforward thanks to the Berne Convention which is a kind of international treaty standardizing copyright law across many nations. There are 184 countries that are parties to the Berne Convention, according to WIPO. All countries that are members of the WTO (World Trade Organization) are required to accept almost all of the Berne Convention. Despite this, copyright terms and rules for most countries differ.
The United States at first refused to become party to the Convention, since it would have required major changes to US copyright law: moral rights, removal of general requirement for registration of copyright works and elimination of the mandatory copyright notice. The US is now a signatory, but in fact, little has changed. You cannot sue someone for infringement in the US if your copyright has not been officially registered – contrary to the Berne Convention! Even Europe has widely different copyright rules!
So what is an author to do?
A clever solution
If you write something really good and clever, your content will probably be copied someday, by someone, somewhere. These plagiarists are often quite lazy, and so they will copy your text lock, stock and barrel. They know that you probably aren’t going to sue them, and if you do – they will not have to pay damages because bloggers don’t usually copyright their content in the US. They feel that the law has absolutely no teeth whatsoever.
There is a measure you can take, if not a solution. In the fight for pagerank and backlinks, one thing you can do is to hide an “absolute” link in all of your text pointing at your webpage! This, in effect, is a kind of payment for them stealing your material. Plagiarists plagiarize because they are lazy and do not have much imagination. So when they copy all of your text, they will copy the links that point to your page. This is a little bit more work, and maybe it’s not the best practice in HTML, but get used to making absolute links in your text instead of relative links – especially for all of your internal pages… anything that is susceptible to plagiarism.
Then when these people post material they stole from you, they give you wonderful backlinks that point to your site – increasing your pagerank and raising your page in the search engines’ results pages!
For example, you have webpage you want to protect with plagiarism judo. Let’s say your page is called www.mydomain.com. On that page, you have an article, and it points to your homepage. Normally, the HTML in the link would be a simple relative link like this:
But to implement the plagiarism judo technique I described above, you should make your links ABSOLUTE like this:
Now, when one of these plagiarists grab your material and post it out of laziness, they are giving you a free backlink pointing at your site. This is a stealthy technique that can turn a major annoyance into a minor advantage. This will also have the added effect of alerting you to any plagiarism when you check the links to your site.
Another alternative for protecting your online content is c-site copyright services for online content.