Earlier this week I was surfing the Web and came across a fellow blogger who has been accused of plagiarism because guest bloggers on his site plagiarized content. After feeling defeated he said he would no longer blog, but thankfully has since changed his mind and is active again. More than 50,000 people follow this guy…
This infuriated me. This blogger who uses it to relieve stress and express himself was put in the position to give up something he loves because someone plagiarized – the fancy word for stealing someone else’s work.
So how does one plagiarize?
It’s really not that difficult to understand. If someone else said, wrote, painted, sang, created, etc…something, and you try to claim it as your own, you have plagiarized. If you used it in any way without permission from the creator, or if they allow permission, but you do not credit them, it’s plagiarism.
What’s the big deal?
Those who create things – writers, photographers, illustrators, designers, programmers, musicians, anyone considered an artist – work HARD to create things and usually pour their heart into it. It’s just wrong, and why would you steal from some random stranger who’s never done anything to you?
People can also get sued or in serious trouble, hence the copyright laws and usage. There’s a reason people put the © symbol on their creations. It’s a way of saying this is mine, and in my professional world, if you violate it, you’re gone. Do not pass go. You know where the door is.
It’s a violation and insulting. My biggest problem is that most people don’t think about it or care. If it’s on the Internet, it’s fair usage. Wrong. Other people are intentionally trying to cause harm, and karma will find those people one day.
How to avoid it:
- Credit everything you use. Photos, quotes, copy, everything. If you did not create it, it belongs to someone else.
- Don’t try it. Those of us who know what to look for, look for it. We know if it doesn’t sound right, and a quick Google search will confirm or deny it. It takes 5 seconds.
- Respect the creator(s). Most of us don’t mind you using our stuff with credit. There’s a lot of awesome stuff out there, and it should be shared. However, respect the people who put in the time and hard work.
- If you can’t create something, try harder. For example, maybe you think you’re terrible writer, so you decide to “borrow” someone else’s writing. Stop. It’s lazy. If you feel that way, do what’s necessary to make it better. Take a class, send it to a trusted proofreader or friend, read books on improving your writing, practice. I know it sounds like a lot of work, but by the end of it, you’ll be a better writer and have self-respect.
- If you’re unsure if it’s plagiarism, it probably is. Better to be safe than sorry, so ask for permission and reread No. 1. There are also great sites that check for plagiarism, and there’s no shame in checking! Try: Grammarly’s.
Feel free to share your thoughts about plagiarism in the comments section below!