After reading Teresa Boardman's post in the Real Estate Tomato, I was reminded that, like Teresa, I, too, must chase down plagiarizers and get their stolen material offline. And I had neglected this duty for a while because, quite frankly, it's unpleasant. I dislike informing people that they must remove my content, and it personally irritates me that they blatantly swiped it, claimed to be the author and plopped it on their blogs and Web sites.
To get around feeling grumpy and agitated, I have a protocol that I use. Sometimes I begin my letter by saying, "Hey, guess what? Somebody took YOUR photograph and YOUR name and stuck it on my copyrighted article. Who would do such a thing to you?"
But when I find an extremely large number of plagiarizers, I generally send a form letter that says they have published a copyrighted article from About.com that is owned by The New York Times. I give them 72 hours to remove it before reporting them.
Generally, my content is promptly removed. But along with the removal, I also receive excuses and reasons why it was there in the first place. I thought I'd share some of these with you because, in retrospect, they are quite amusing:
REASONS WHY I PLAGIARIZED YOUR MATERIAL
- I believe in putting free information on my Web site for my clients to read.
- My interns did it last summer.
- I paid somebody to write this for me.
- I didn't publish your entire article, only the parts I liked.
- My Web master's mother is dying, and he's too upset to deal with this right now, which makes me depressed.
- I complied with Ohio law, which says I can copy anything I want off the Internet.
- I didn't steal this from you; I swiped it from another site that stole it from you.
- I discount my commission, so I don't make a lot of money and can't write my own stuff.
- I refer a lot of readers to About.com, and this would be a bad business strategy to report me.
- We're supposed to work together, not attack each other; I can't believe you are complaining.
You might think I am making this up, but believe me, I am not. You can't make stuff like this up. I received all these e-mails between last night and this morning.