Plagiarism: Content Theft

When it comes to creating content for a website, content writers (both professionals and do-it-yourselfers) are jockeying for position. The position in question is the top rank with the major search engines – Google, Yahoo!, MSN and so forth.

Creating content isn’t just about embedding the proper search terms and keywords for the purposes of organic SEO. Yes, meta tags are very important, but they are worthless if no one is looking at your website. Eloquent, interesting and fertile (containing strategically placed SEO tags) content takes some effort.

That is usually when people decide to copy content from other sites. It sounds good, it’s the same information they want to convey, it’s interesting, and they don’t have to do the work (and it is work!) themselves.

Then they come to us because of one of the following reasons:

  • Their site has been shut down
  • They’ve received a removal notice
  • They’ve received a bill (also called a “fine”) for use of copyrighted content
  • They’ve received a notice of impending lawsuit

You absolutely CANNOT use someone else’s material. It doesn’t matter whether it is a short paragraph, a blog article, or a catchy headline.

As soon as original content is published, it becomes the property of the person who uploaded it. The only way for someone else to use it is to reference it directly, and even that can be dangerous if not done properly.

In an increasingly litigious society, it is very difficult to get away with content theft. One of the reasons is because of a little thing called Copyscape (and other similar programs).

In addition to the cost of dealing with the content theft they have committed, they now have to pay us to create original content.

Just to be clear, content theft isn’t just about writing. It is also about images and music. There are programs that scan the internet looking for copyrighted photos and tunes, as well. If you have the content but not the license, you could be in for trouble.

A previous client was sued for using a “free” shareware music file. Beware of free file sharing sites. Often it is a scam to sue you for use of their “stolen” content, so please don’t trust these.

The point is, be unique, be creative, but most importantly of all, be original!

If you require professionally written, original content, make sure you contact a professional writer with the right skills and experience.