Plagiarism and Stealing

Recently, I’ve witnessed several acts of plagiarism and stealing. As the need for content and attention (a result of good marketing ideas) increases, it’s likely individuals will engage in more thefts.

Unfortunately, stealing ideas and content is something that impacts all businesses and individuals trying to monetize their online activities (here’s a piece on how to detect plagiarism).

It’s too damn easy. Copying and pasting content, whether it’s via source code or simply highlighting text on a screen, makes all words accessible. Blogs are frequent targets for plagiarism.

The intense demands of content creation and the ensuing burnout that many individuals complain about creates a sense of desperation. Publish or perish, as academics used to say. When publishing becomes difficult or impossible, some people turn to stealing ideas and content.

Unfortunately, stealing hurts many people, and business itself.

When you steal credit from someone you rob them of the very attention and relationship equity that they, too, are investing time and resources to achieve. Why not write your own post and link back? or share that post?

Can’t riff off the post, then ask to reblog it. Most authors and companies are happy to grant folks the ability to reblog.

Repercussions Abound


Image by Valerie Peters

Plagiarism and stealing hurt the offending party, too. Consider the following:

1) You get caught, and are exposed publicly — perhaps even sued — permanently tarnishing your brand in the eyes of your community as well as long term through search.

2) You get caught, and the matter is handled privately. Your reputation is still tarnished with those involved. Word may get out on the grapevine.

3) You get caught, and are not told. The party prefers to not do business with you in the future, storing the information as a character reference. Worse, perhaps they inform the grapevine about the incident.

4) You don’t get caught, but now have to continue feeding the content beast. Who will you steal from next?

This latter consequence may be the most underweighted one. A brand or individual that continuously steals from people suffers in a few ways.

How will you develop the critical thinking necessary to succeed as a top brand in the information economy? Because your are sharing others’ ideas, when it comes time to deliver to customers who are attracted to you because of that content, you won’t perform as promised. Plus the costs of knowing that you didn’t write or deliver that content, which may not be top of mind, could plague you wherever you go. It’s the proverbial look in the mirror.

So, just link and share. If you can’t blog or create content to meet a need, hire help or find a different way to market.

Just some thoughts on plagiarism and its impact. What do you think?

This post ran originally on the Vocus blog. Feature image by Andrea Allen.