Plagiarism vs Integrity - What they don't know won't hurt them, right??

Mortgage and Lending with Social Media - Infinity Home Mortgage Company, Inc


Plagiarism vs Integrity


Angry about plagiarism

How angry do you get when people cheat or mislead when stealing your business? 

How angry do you get when you see someone post something that is 100% not theirs, yet there is no reference to another article.  What if they stole your content and made money off of it? 


I know Lenn Harley is good at writing these kinds of posts about plagiarism and she seems to be the master of putting the right information out there. But I guess I had to write about this today after I came across four posts back-to-back from one single person. WOW.. Okay, I could see one now and maybe one a few weeks from now. But four all within several hours? I guess it didn't take long since they were all copied word for word.


Why should this anger me or anyone else? Because I work hard when writing my own posts. No, I don't buy the material and I especially don't copy the material. And if I did copy some bits and pieces, I would place those sentences in quotations and reference back to both the article and the author. Just common sense, right?



who is the real person?


When you copy something without permission, what are doing besides stealing content or pictures? Aren't you stealing something from yourself? Maybe integrity? Self-worth? Who is the real you behind your posts?  The list could go on and on.

What ever happened to common sense and right from wrong? I have seen some people get caught and say, "I didn't know any better."... lol  Sorry for laughing, but really? I am sure most of us at least got to 8th grade and I can remember clearly being taught from 3rd grade to 6th grade that copying, aka plagiarism, was wrong.

So, what is plagiarism?  From wikipedia and many dictionaries, "the wrongful appropriation". Please click on the link for a more defined answer and some interesting history regarding plagiarism.  Can you fit the description of integrity if you plagiarize?



Summary :  Hey, I am far from being perfect. I know when I was in 4th grade, I would copy a 3 sentence paragraph and build around that with my own words. But my teachers would sometimes still question me about it. Even then, I knew it was wrong. As an adult, you possibly can't figure this out on your own without a handbook? In society, do we give the benefit of the doubt on everything now, let it go the first time, and forgive? Again, I am not perfect, but at what expense? And if people do this, what are they saying to their clients when trying to get their business?  Are they lying? Misleading?  Just food for thought....


TRUE STORY - I once had a post here on Active Rain that was not only stolen, plagiarized, but it was featured that day... lol  I contacted AR and after they investigated the issue, it was taken down.


FOOD FOR THOUGHT -Okay, so you didn't tell me that you knew any better, when you plagiarized. But now you received 3 comments telling you what an excellent post and how you did such a great job with writing it, how great it sounds... nice job here. You mean an alert siren doesn't go off in your head saying, "wow, they thought I wrote this"... "so I must tell them"...


For those that might not be clear on this topic... if you are going to copy a sentence or small paragraph, you would want to italicize it, place it in quotes, and make reference to the article and author with a link. In my opinion, when copying the whole article, even if you are going to make reference to it, is still wrong. Besides, I have people ask me if they can repost my stuff on their outside blog, which I have no problem with. As long as I get credit with a link. And isn't this common sense anyhow?


And Lenn Harley added her insight and a very good example :




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Copyright © 2011 by Jeff Belonger of Infinity Home Mortgage Company, Inc

Comments (101)

Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Eighteen Years Experience in Brevard County

I guess I have just not reached the quality worth stealing - yet. I may not write very good or take very good pictures but they are all mine! I will admit I have been inspired to write about a topic by someone else but after the inspiration it is all my perspiration!

Would it make me mad? Darn right!

Jan 24, 2011 12:11 AM
Erby Crofutt
B4 U Close Home Inspections&Radon Testing ( - Lexington, KY
The Central Kentucky Home Inspector, Lexington KY

While I've already got my 10 for the day (seems I hardly ever get stopped at 10 though), I wantred to share this here like I did on Lenn's plagiarism post:

What's that quote:  "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."

Glad to see you doing something about it.

For those interested in putting watermarks on their photos, here's a snazzy little free program that will allow you to do so.


FastStone Photo Resizer

Use the advanced options feature to find the watermark tab.

Here's a sample of what I use.

Jan 24, 2011 01:14 AM
Jeff Belonger
Social Media - Infinity Home Mortgage Company, Inc - Cherry Hill, NJ
The FHA Expert - FHA Loans - FHA mortgages - USDA loans - VA Loans


MARGE... comment #69.. .  I like putting names out there... but I know AR won't go for it...besides, don't we have to adhere to the "innocent until proven guilty" theory? Just sayin.... I think talking to the person directly and getting them to fix the problem. If it was my own stuff being stolen, I would be like Lenn and start to taken monetary action... enough is enough. It would be a tough lesson learned by many then.

BILLIE.... . I know about copyscape and keep telling myself that I need to look into it... and you just never know about your material. thanks

CLAUDE.... . you stated ...   "Sometimes, it's called syndication..." - Yes, but syndication still operates differently. Read the definition by wikipedia... Syndication -  Then there is Print Syndication and Media Syndication - Not sure exactly what you were trying to describe within your comment about syndication, but there are still ways that it must be handled.  thanks

MALIK.. . as I mentioned to someone else.. if we let the chips fall were they may on everything, this country would be a mess. This is not at you, but in my opinion, we can't take that attitude. Even with plagiarism. Trust me, I don't look for it... but if I suspect something, I will act on it. And if it's my stuff, no doubt will I do something about it.  thanks

JOAN.... . I get people that ask for permission all of the time. Don't get me started with the reblogs though. I find it rude that people can't repay back to you or pay it forward by giving you a one sentence polite introduction. Some just put a few sentences in there and never mention anything about the original author. thanks

SALLY.... .  lol.. hey, I think it it's just so basic..  but yes, some people have said that they didn't know. I even received an e-mail from someone who stole my stuff here on AR. I just think that is sad.. and glad that I could make you laugh.

KATE...comment #75 .. I think there are many terms for these types of people.. thanks


Jan 24, 2011 01:29 AM
Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate

Good morning Jeff, Ok you know I didn't read all 85 comments. LOL

We had a guy in MI that was reposting the same things over and over and over, just changing the title and the area's he submitted to. On the way to doing this he climbed his way up the ladder.



Jan 24, 2011 01:37 AM
Jeff Belonger
Social Media - Infinity Home Mortgage Company, Inc - Cherry Hill, NJ
The FHA Expert - FHA Loans - FHA mortgages - USDA loans - VA Loans


LOREENA...comment # 77 ... .  I am one who is all about 2nd chances for the most part... but don't tell me that you didn't know any better. I used that line when I was in 4th grade on other issues.

CARLA.. . you make a very good point on how some posts start out. But again, if I read an article that was written like that, I might use it in the same text, as long as I didn't use the sentence. But I would throw in... "An outside source says that Washington _________ ..."  and if I got some of my information from that article, I will reference that article.

LANA... . I have known for decades that common sense is not so common and have even written about this. And yes, I don't think AR would allow us to publicly display such names and or links. thanks

PENNY... . no, it's not smart at all and is just pure laziness. How else can we define it?  But they will probably learned if they get a large penalty. thanks

GARY... . any time I am inspired by someone else's work, I will mention them in my post. And hey, you never know who might steal your content no matter what you think of it.

ERBY... comment #83 .. there have been a few comments saying... why sweat this.. just go about your daily routine. I disagree and thanks for your kind words. Just putting this out there for others to read might stop a few.. maybe.. and thanks for sharing that program.

hhhmmm.. someone left a comment here and then deleted it...

MISSY.. comment #86.. . you should have read all the comments.. lol You know that many would be similiar to this discussion. Was this guy here on AR? Or just in general. Either way, that is just pure laziness and someone trying to game the system, any system. thanks


Jan 24, 2011 01:40 AM
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

What is the solution to stop plagiarism and if you can't stop it, then what? How would a reader know that the information has been plagiarized?

Jan 24, 2011 03:11 AM
Michael Deery
Citywide Financial Corp - Pacific Beach, CA

Oh if only these people were blessed with your talents Jefffrey there would be no need for plagiarism!

Jan 24, 2011 03:23 AM
Tara Cummins
Stratagy4SuccessNow - Mesa, AZ
Marketing Concierge, Strategy4SuccessNow

I think your post and many of the comments have covered that stealing content is just plain wrong.

What also gets me is when people use content that they've purchased and do have permission to use, but they still pass it off as their own.  The difference between these posts and the ones they write themselves is painfully obvious.  Just makes then look stupid if you go through their blog and see some really professional content and some mediocre.  Just my two cents....

Jan 24, 2011 03:49 AM
Tamara Perlman
Referral Network Inc. - Truckee, CA

Jeff--It's such a problem on a number of levels.  A friend produces adventure sport videos, people copy and post his material to youtube all the time... not necessarily taking credit for it, but reducing potential sales of a product that he and his crews have worked tremendous hours to create....

Jan 24, 2011 04:46 AM
Cynthia Larsen
Cotati, CA
Independent Broker In Sonoma County, CA

Jeff - I had a blog post stolen word for word, even the title! I called the AR member and asked him to remove it from his web site.

Jan 24, 2011 04:50 AM
Jeff Belonger
Social Media - Infinity Home Mortgage Company, Inc - Cherry Hill, NJ
The FHA Expert - FHA Loans - FHA mortgages - USDA loans - VA Loans


KIMO... .  one way for us to curb plagiarism is to keep writing about it, just like I did and that Lenn Harley did. In regards to finding out?  Well, for your own stuff, there are services online that can help you with this. As far as the reader knowing? In most cases they won't... and another reason why some will steal and copy.

MICHAEL... . thank you very much for that polite compliment.

TARA... . yes, I think many of us will agree on this topic. Regarding your 2nd part.. don't get me started on that. I know one loan officer in Florida who buys 95% of his content and you wouldn't be able to tell as a consumer. He is getting attention from other realtors and from the media as an expert and nicely written articles.. and no, not once does he lead on to the fact that it's not his info. Has he broken any laws?  No, it's legal... but I don't like it, because people think he is a good expert because of the quality of his stuff... aarrggghhhh

TAMARA... . I am sure this happens on many different levels. Your friend.. I am sure he can put some kind of ad at the bottom of the video, with his name and number... so when people do copy and post it, they will see it. I am not 100% sure if someone copying a video can change that... but with blog posts? It's easy to copy and past... and that gives me an idea... ps.  I just read your profile and I am impressed on how you are so up on the green housing stuff...and what you have done since the 70's...

CYNTHIA... . that is just terrible.. and from what I know, it has happened to me once.. and that post was even featured.. but AR took it down. Did this member take it down?  thanks


Jan 24, 2011 05:13 AM
Brad Hornshaw
Brad Hornshaw Realtor Lynnwood, Bothell, Everett - Lynnwood, WA
Realtor, Listing Agent, Buyers Agent, Investments

Hi Jeff        

I just don't under astand why folks do this I would get no satisfaction in not writing my own stuff.........Brad

Jan 24, 2011 05:30 AM
Cynthia Larsen
Cotati, CA
Independent Broker In Sonoma County, CA

Jeff - this guy took my post and published it on his external web site. AR can't do anything (I asked) outside of, which I understand, so I took matters into my own hands. And yes, the first words out of his mouth were "do you want me to take it down?"

Jan 24, 2011 05:46 AM
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

I think the last thing I plagerized was a report in Jr. High.  I had to do it by hand.  Now my kid cuts and paste to do it; but I catch him.

Jan 24, 2011 05:55 AM
Evelyn Kennedy
Alain Pinel Realtors - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA


I like to think that agents who use your material are ignorant of copyright rules, not plagarists.  They just need to be educated.  We need to encourage our local boards to provide ethics continuing education concentrating on this issue.  NAR and state associations should devise a template for ethics classes concerning violations dealing with internet postings.

Evelyn Kennedy

Jan 24, 2011 06:19 AM
Pamela Seley
West Coast Realty Division - Murrieta, CA
Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA

I agree with Evelyn #97 - I think there are some agents who are ignorant of copyright infringement.  Again, ignorance is no excuse.  Education is important, and periodic blog posts such as yours and Lenn's so those who are infringing can read and change their ways. 

I agree with one of the comments here that there should be a flag button to notice AR that the article may be a complete cut and past job.  I've seen many posts on AR that were a direct copy from WSJ, or NY Times.  These agents could get themselves in BIG trouble.

Jan 24, 2011 06:43 AM
Tamara Perlman
Referral Network Inc. - Truckee, CA

Hi Jeff--And thanks for the feedback.  There is usual credit on the video, but to run it over the entire video would take a lot away from the experience.  Imagine watching AVATAR with the copyright or contact info over the bottom.  The videos are segmented into "chapters" and it's apparently easy enough, even with certain protections for people to come up with ways to circumvent the protection and post the chapters individually. 

And you should see the hoops you have to go thru to prove the content is yours, even with copyright, it's not easy and very time consuming....

Thanks for checking out my profile.  Yes, I've always been interested in energy efficiency.  I'm so excited to see the growth in attention over the last few years!

Jan 24, 2011 09:13 AM
Brenda, Ron, Lee Cunningham & Tara Keator
West USA Realty - Phoenix, AZ
Realtors, Homes for Sale - Phoenix Metro

I am just getting started with blogging, but I can't imagine taking someone elses work.  It wouldn't even occur to me!  A flag button is a great idea to notifiy of a possible infringement.  I am hoping that people are just not aware and just need to be informed.

Jan 24, 2011 02:08 PM
Mike Henderson
Your complete source for buying HUD homes - Littleton, CO
HUD Home Hub - 303-949-5848

I guess I'll go have to copy another one of yours since this one was already featured.  j/k

Jan 24, 2011 04:54 PM
Patricia Kennedy
RLAH Real Estate - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Jeff, it wouldn't surprise me to find that the four posts were written by a fellow blogger who "invites" people and then writes posts for them - and get's an addtional bunch of points added to his "invite" score. 

Bottom line, it you are paying someone to write your posts for you, or if you are letting them do it for free, you might not be getting any benefit from your blog.  In fact, it's probably going to come back to bite you!

Jan 29, 2011 02:35 AM