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.