Plagiarism Is Not An Acceptable Art Form

Real Estate Agent with Kimberly Howell Properties (210) 646-HOME

A copy shop in Copenhagen, Denmark

photo courtesy of fengergold

Cut, copy, paste.

I logged on this morning to read through the news (I'm trying to make a bit more effort to get back here more often) and was running through the featured articles, when I saw it.  I was sure I was having a weird case of deja vú or something.  I ran off to my Twitter account to check a recently favorited article on Inman news.  My check only confirmed what I suspected.  Word for word plagiarism.  I'm still trying to wrestle with the idea of it.  No source attribution, no comment that it was borrowed from somewhere else, nothing.

I always thought it was more of a subtle problem - less of a copy word for word and more of a copy it concept for concept while rearranging a few things to make it seem like you wrote it yourself.

I don't want to seem too high on my horse about this, but seriously?  Without a single mention of who or where it came from?  Copying a news article takes two seconds, but so does adding a bit of attribution.


It appears some people thought that I had said that Inman News was the plagiarist.  This is not the case.  Inman News was the original source for the article and an ActiveRain member was the one who plagiarized the post.  Since I posted this, the "feature" has been removed from the offending post and ActiveRain staff have been dealing with the issue (as has Inman News).

I did not write the original article on Inman News and have never written for Inman News.

I did not mean to suggest that wholesale copying of any article is okay as long as there is attribution.  Rather, I was shocked to find that someone signed their name to the unauthorized re-print of the article.  Regardless of one's knowledge of copyright law and proper etiquette when it comes to writing on the internet, I find it sad that one would not at least feel an ethical obligation to say "hey, I didn't write this, but I wanted to share it with you."

By not attributing an article to someone else, you are implying it is your content.  Your average consumer would probably never have read the article on Inman News (or any other original source), thus blindly accepting it is your content.  From that content they would begin to form opinions of you based on false information.  That certainly screams of an ethical dilemna to me.  Mis-representation of who you are and what you are about (via your blog) is not a good way to start any relationship.

I wrote the post early in the morning and unfortunately may not have been 100% clear.  I hope this helps to clear up some of the issues.



Re-Blogged 6 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Lenn Harley 02/22/2010 09:52 PM
  2. Daniel Guest 02/23/2010 12:00 AM
  3. Carol Pease 02/23/2010 12:37 AM
  4. Roland Woodworth 02/23/2010 01:30 AM
  5. Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers 02/23/2010 04:30 AM
  6. D B 02/23/2010 06:39 AM
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Vickie McCartney
Maverick Realty - Owensboro, KY
Broker, Real Estate Agent Owensboro KY

I have found a few blogs that were copied word for word and reported them to ActiveRain.  I do not even remember now who or what it was, but when I had checked the posts were still up!

Feb 23, 2010 11:26 AM #109
Ross Therrien
Prudential Verani Realty, Londonderry,New Hampshire - Londonderry, NH
Realtor, Broker Associate

You ask and give me credit---no problem--I thank you.  You claim it as your own is very wrong.

Great reminder to those that commit these "crimes".  Awesome comments as well. Read them all!!!!

Feb 23, 2010 11:37 AM #110
Lane Bailey
Century 21 Results Realty - Suwanee, GA
Realtor & Car Guy

It is financially dangerous to run around copying stuff...  Just the legal fees would smack down most of us...

Feb 23, 2010 11:56 AM #111
Melissa Zavala
Broadpoint Properties - Escondido, CA
Broker, Escondido Real Estate, San Diego County

Some people did not go to high school (or pay attention in high school) when they taught about how to cite sources. Others probably copied stuff in high school.

Feb 23, 2010 12:54 PM #112
Linda Hinson
S & L Properties - Calabash, NC

Why would anyone be by large numbers of adults plagiarizing?  Remember the high school teacher who was forced to resign for punishing her students for flagrant copying of texts on their project.  She set up rules and had the facts.  The parents didn't care...all they cared about was their GPA and college transcripts.  I would love to know a few years down the road what those students learned.

Feb 23, 2010 01:07 PM #113
Corinne Guest
Corinne Guest, REALTORĀ® | Barrington Realty Company - Barrington, IL
Barrington Lifestyles

I detest people that have no moral substance!

Feb 23, 2010 02:12 PM #114
J. Philip Faranda
J. Philip Faranda (J. Philip R.E. LLC) Westchester County NY - Briarcliff Manor, NY

Another good source of images you can use worry free is Wikipedia commons. 6 million freely usable media files, they say. 

Feb 23, 2010 03:00 PM #115
Frank Castaldini
Compass - San Francisco, CA
Realtor - Homes for Sale in San Francisco

It's so easy to copy and laziness contributes to temptation.  I've learned one thing and that is "Just Don't Do It."

Feb 23, 2010 04:32 PM #116
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

Josh the Realtor really has PLAGIARISM down to an art-form, cutting and pasting from House Logic, PUBLISHED articles AND using their graphics/photos.  Plus cutting and pasting from the NAR's own website . . .

Feb 23, 2010 06:17 PM #117
Robin Dampier REALTORĀ®
Coldwell Banker King - Hendersonville, NC
Hendersonville & Western NC Real Estate Source

In this day and age its hard for me to believe that anyone would think copy and paste (sooooo easy to do) would be the right thing to do!  I might believe they were naive enough to think that at least if they mentioned the originators name it was OK.  And than as Lynn and others point out there are the issues of photos/graphics.

The folks who do this just figure "what the heck" if they get "outed" not much happens (on AR anyway).  At the very least AR should expose them to maintain the integrity of info.  If the "stealer's" would do this to fellow AR's what do they do to their clients and customers?

Sue of Robin and Sue

Feb 23, 2010 06:31 PM #118
Barbara Kornegay
REMAX Essential - Wilmington, NC
Wilmington NC Real Estate, Homes

Well that is just wrong....  You should really call them and ask for a reprint with your name as a credit!  You worked hard for it!

Feb 23, 2010 08:31 PM #119
Allison Stewart
St.Cloud Homes - Saint Cloud, FL
St. Cloud Fl Realtor, Osceola County Real Estate 407-616-9904

Lack of imagination is no excuse for stealing content. 

Feb 23, 2010 08:45 PM #120
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

Well the post this is about is  NOT featured anymore.  Over 100 comments without a star.  No Kersplat yet (the symbol you get when YOU do not take points or if ActiveRain finds your content is not original yellow dot with a red x ) I wonder why the symbol for NOT original content  would not be done at the same time the star for a featured post comes off?   Maybe different people at ActiveRain.

A post where I mentioned to the member posting that it was NOT original content the members response:

"I thought this story bore repeating in my forum.    I have seen too many reblogs for my taste on AR and do not really understand why AR accepts them.  That said, I should have stated that I was repeating a story I heard.  I corrected that."

I was NOT suggesting he  Re-Blog the content that he shared as what he was sharing was not necessarily on ActiveRain, just on hundreds of blogs out on the Internet.  He can share the content with a link and a snippet just like everyone else.  Or he can take the kersplat and forgo taking 200 points for unoriginal content.  He corrected it to say he heard the story, but you better believe I've got it flagged. Watching for how long it takes AR to give the kersplat.

Incidently I wrote  a post about the question raised about Matt's use of the photo here if anyone is confused about Flickr photos.

Feb 24, 2010 01:03 AM #121
Matt Stigliano
Kimberly Howell Properties (210) 646-HOME - San Antonio, TX

Maureen - You forgot the link to the post you mentioned, so here it is for everyone else:

Everything you always wanted to know about Creative Commons licenses*

Feb 24, 2010 01:15 AM #122
Matt Stigliano
Kimberly Howell Properties (210) 646-HOME - San Antonio, TX

Please note that I have updated the post slightly in order to clarify some things that were being misunderstood.

Feb 24, 2010 01:44 AM #123
Glenn Roberts Jr.

Matt, while your blog post hits an important point -- that plagiarism is wrong -- I want to clarify that it was an ActiveRain member who apparently republished an Inman News article without attribution and without permission, in violation of Inman News copyright.

Glenn Roberts Jr.

Managing Editor

Inman News

Feb 24, 2010 02:08 AM #124
Maureen McCabe
HER Realtors - Columbus, OH
Columbus Ohio Real Estate

Matt thanks for adding the link to my post.

People understood that Inman had stolen content?  Did they bother to read the post? 

I certainly did NOT read that in it.  Or that you were saying it was OK that you steal any content or that just giving credit was enough.  Thanks for your efforts to get the post that plagiarized Inman  unfeatured on ActiveRain. 

I sometimes wonder why AR does not put a bounty on the plagiarized content.  They give us 10 points for reporting a SPAM comment.  Taking the time to flag and document the garbage here  is a lot more work... and the delay discourages members from bothering.   Or would we all go crazy vigilante if there were points for flagging and create work for AR? Kersplatting and trying to determine how many strikes against a member gets them tossed....

Feb 24, 2010 02:48 AM #125
Mark Hall
Realty One Group Cascadia - Vancouver, WA
Homes for Sale Vancouver Washington

That is just plain stupid. Big sources like that are the easiest to quote. You can publish the entire piece by giving them the appropriate credit and linking to the source. To claim it as your own is foolish.

Mar 03, 2010 07:09 AM #126
South Austin Real Estate Blog
Sky Realty South Austin - Austin, TX

Active Rainer desperate for points and no creativity of their own - copy paste copy paste - insert joke of the day - its a bit ridiculous. And people know they are doing it - they just dont care b/c its an easy shortcut. Good for you for pointing it out and turning them in, no points are worth our integrity.


Mar 23, 2010 12:28 PM #127
Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers
BVO Luxury Group @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty - Scottsdale, AZ
Serving Scottsdale, Phoenix and Maricopa County AZ

plagiarism is a growing issue, hence the product growth such as Copyscape

Jan 10, 2011 11:06 AM #128
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