All about Online Plagiarism

The Threat of Plagiarism

Plagiarism is a serious and growing problem on the Web. At any moment, anyone in the world can copy your online content and instantly paste it onto their own site. After making minor changes, they will claim your content as their own. 

The Web is built on the hard work of honest people who devote their time and energy to creating original content. The global epidemic of content theft violates people's rights and discourages the creation of new web content. 

Copyscape was created as a free public service to address this growing problem. The resources below can help you protect your rights online and defend against the threats of plagiarism and content theft. 

Preventing Plagiarism

When creating original content, it's important to take the right steps to make sure that your intellectual property is not only safe but attributed to the correct owner (yourself). With the internet making plagiarism even easier, following these 4 easy steps should help deter people from stealing your content: 

  • Placing a plagiarism warning banner on all your pages will demonstrate you’ve registered your site with the proper companies and should therefore not be copied word for word. 
  • Including copyright notices follows the same line of thinking. To create the copyright symbol (©) in HTML, type ©
  • CopyScape has an automatic CopySentry feature that detects illegal copies of your content as soon as they appear on the internet. 
  • If you find out someone else is pretending to pass off your content as their own, take immediate steps to have it removed. Make sure to contact the plagiarist first and collect proof that the content is rightfully yours first before contacting the authorities.  

Detecting Plagiarism

It is up to you to find out whether someone has copied your content without permission. Copyscape provides a free service that lets you easily search for plagiarism online and identify instances of content theft. Simply type in the URL of your original content, and Copyscape does the rest. They also offer professional services for more advanced needs. 

Responding to Plagiarism

It is very important to act quickly if you discover someone has stolen your website’s content. However, before proceeding with the legalities of copyright infringement, we recommend speaking with a qualified lawyer as copyright laws differ from place to place. Here are some things to keep in mind when dealing with plagiarism:

  1. Attempt to contact the plagiarists in question first. Send them a (polite) message asking them to take down your copyrighted content. If you can’t find any contact information on their site, try emailing webmaster@domainname.com, changing ‘domainname’ with their own.  
  2. If they don’t answer or you can’t find any contact information, trying using the Whois service to find out the website owner’s name and telephone number. 
  3. Using that information, contact the website’s web hosting provider and inform them of the copyright infringement of their client. 
  4. Create a formal ‘Cease and Desist’ letter and send it to the offending website, stating that they must remove the stolen content from their site. 
    • In most cases, a Cease and Desist letter will require proof of infringement. You can use the Internet Archive to show that the copyrighted material came from your website. 

If you want more information on online plagiarism, make sure to check out Copyscape’s list of online resources here

More information

The ideas in this article were originally presented by CopyScape. For more information about plagiarism or their copyright features, make sure to go to www.copyscape.com

If you still have questions or concerns, feel free to contact us by opening a support ticket or by using our live chat feature.

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