It all started with Ken Mueller of Inkling Media. (If you know Ken, you can imagine several ways that sentence makes sense…)
Ken wrote an interesting post on his blog about having one of his blog posts stolen, word for word, and reprinted, without attribution (or, obviously, permission). Ken does a nice job of laying out some strategies for keeping this from happening (you should read his blog), but the bottom line is this: The things we write are more and more available to be stolen, reused, re-packaged, and even mis-represented.
After some lively discussion on Ken’s blog, I set about looking for my own work, reprinted on the internet, without my permission or, even, simple attribution. I found two places where one of my blog posts, a brief review and summary of James Thurber’s, The Catbird Seat, had been re-used. The first one at least kept my name and a link to my blog attached to it. It also kept several links to my Amazon-powered bookstore intact, so that perhaps if someone actually ever USED that site, they might stumble into my online bookstore and buy a book.This particular web site was obviously an automated “scraper” or “harvester” that went out and copied the content of my web-page and stuck it on a site with “essays” about other well-known fiction.
The second one had been stolen by another writer. Completely stolen. It was posted as “written by” someone named “samyessay”. Not a word was changed. See for yourself:
<img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-358" class="size-full wp-image-358 lazyload" title="Screen Shot 2011-08-11 at 9.57.40 AM" src="https://ericswyatt.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/screen-shot-2011-08-11-at-9-57-40-am.png" alt="stolen content" width="500" height="468" />
This is what the essay website posted. When compared to my original post, the plagiarism becomes obvious.
And here is a screen shot of my original post:
<img aria-describedby="caption-attachment-359" class="size-full wp-image-359 lazyload" title="Screen Shot 2011-08-11 at 9.57.27 AM" src="https://ericswyatt.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/screen-shot-2011-08-11-at-9-57-27-am.png" alt="The original content. Not stolen." width="500" height="434" />
Here is the post about James Thurber's The Catbird Seat as it first appeared.
What has happened, in this case, is that the writer, “samyessay” was contracted by a company that posts essays and articles related to various literary works online, ostensibly of “student research”. There are warnings all over the site that students shouldn’t copy these works, but only use them as reference. Unfortunately, Samyessay wasn’t held to the same standards that a student would be. He took my work, took out the links and other identifying markers, and passed it off as his own. He wasn’t harvesting. He was stealing.
In the modern world of essay writing, teachers have tools that automatically take student essays out onto the web and check their work against the vast storehouse of data we have at our fingertips. These automated programs return a score for originality and mark areas of possible plagiarism. If this had been done with Samyessay’s work product, it would have quickly been found that I had originated that content.
How did I find the duplication? Did I search and search and search the internet? Nope. I plugged one of my own sentences into Google, with quotation marks on both ends to keep the string of words in that specific order. That’s it. Obviously, I selected a sentence that was unique to me, but that’s all I did to find this instance of stolen blog posts.
I emailed the site, requested they remove the post, and forward to me whatever amount they had paid Samyessay for his “work”. The agreed to remove my post.
They didn’t make mention of any payment…
Have a great weekend, everyone, and Happy Writing!!
P.S. If you haven’t been to my website, I’d love it if you stopped by: EricSheridanWyatt.com