The Text Thief: A New Trend In Plagiarism, and What To Do About It

Photographers: there's a new bandit in town, and he's not coming after your pictures. He's a text thief. Your blog--its posts and static content--could be robbed.

Sound scary? That's because it is. Recent social media grumblings about text being lifted from other photographers' sites, with no attribution, links, or acknowledgment--a copy and paste job, if you will--are reminiscent of photographers screen-capping to steal other photographers' images. Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out in the biz, there's no excuse, no “good intentions” that make this behavior excusable. Not only is copyright infringement illegal and punishable by a fine and/or jail time, but it's also misrepresentation of the worst sort. Being a bad writer is OK. Being a thief is not.

What are you doing to protect yourselves? Now that you know about this phenomenon, you can take the appropriate steps to lock down your content. We use Copyscape, among other technologies, to protect our work; these two articles outline best practices (and your recourse!) against text theft. Altering your site's source code, disabling right-click, and truncating your RSS feed are among your options. And be vigilant! Searching for duplicates of your posts every month (even if it's the old-fashioned way--through Google) is as important as backing up your data. Finally, remember that plagiarism is like bullying: it won't stop unless you take a stand. Email the offender with a firm reminder that your content is original, and that their version needs to be taken down; and reach out to a site like Photo Stealers to assert your copyright. Stealing other photographers' work--image or text--is wrong. It's up to us to make it right.




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