While the online space has become an open market for anyone to become a content creator, it’s also fertile ground for plagiarism. While it’s rare that someone would intentionally steal your work, plagiarism does happen from time to time. If you find your work popping up elsewhere and attributed to another creator, it’s time to act.
Keep in mind plagiarism applies to written works (articles, commercial blog posts), commercially-produced videos and graphics, but not shared content on social platforms.
Assess the situation
Is there a link to your original work?
Does your name appear anywhere in the piece?
Was the work republished in its entirety?
These three questions are a good starting point. Chances are the other creator may have no idea they plagiarized your work. In that case, reach out to them via their Twitter account and other platform. Ask them to either include an attribution “Originally published in XX journal.” with a link back to your original work.
You may also ask them to remove the content outright.
Cease and desist
If the offending creator chooses not to include a back link or attribution, you have the option of sending a cease and desist letter. Request the content be removed completely from the offender’s site. State a specific deadline by which the work needs to be removed, and clearly state the consequences if they don’t comply.
Very few people have the means or time to go through the court system, so a cease and desist letter may be all you need to resolve the issue.
An ounce of prevention…
If you are working in a plagiarism-prone industry, or if you’ve had trouble with others plagiarizing your work previously, taking some additional steps after publishing your piece can help curb plagiarism.
Once you’ve created a written piece, enter it on Google Alerts so you’ll be alerted if it’s published elsewhere. Create internal links within your blog post or article. Doing so makes it harder to “scrape” and distribute elsewhere under a different name or entity.
Lastly, if you have solid proof your work has been plagiarized, consider filing a DMCA notice through Google. While it makes Google aware of the problem, this tactic could backfire without substantial proof, and you could be the one in trouble.
You’ve worked hard to create your digital content. Don’t hesitate to act if you see your work published elsewhere online by someone else. Very often contacting the person or publication in question directly is all the action you’ll need to take. Action can range from an email to the author or entity, or a cease and desist letter.