Plagairism - my standard procedure


#1

As you all know, I have in the past been very happy to help any new or established VA’s in any way that I can and have been happy to meet or hold telephone consultations (free of charge)

Unfortunately, some of these people have recently been ‘borrowing’ content (in one case almost all) from my website. Whilst they may feel that they will ‘in time’ update it please note that if a website is ‘live’ and viewable over the internet and you are not using original content then you have plagiarised - ie: stolen - from somebody else.

In order to keep tabs I have recently set up the following procedure that will be put into place whenever I am contacted about setting up and running a VA businesss:

  1. I will immediately check my website using copyscape.com/

  2. I will immediately set up a ‘google alert’ for the person, company name and website of the enquirer

  3. I also check my website regularly using copyscape (as above)

If I find I have been plagiarised I will contact the person and ask them to remove the copy. If this is not forthcoming I WILL take further action - obviously I’m not going to give full details here, but rest assured, it will be done!

If anyone has any other suggestions I would be very, very grateful… I’m extremely frustrated at the moment.

Best Wishes

Sheena


#2

Sheena - I share your frustration. And really, as an industry, we should absolutely not tolerate this kind of theft. Please PM me the names/emails of any offenders and I will happily block them from SVA. People who have zero morals shouldn’t be able to take advantage of the generosity of others experience, hard work and advice. We should all be able to freely share ideas without the fear of someone taking advantage.

The only other thing I can suggest is getting VAs to sign a non-disclosure-type agreement before speaking to them, but frankly as your copyright is automatically enforced these people clearly aren’t discouraged by the threat of legal action.

I’ve basically said that if I find any VA on our Virtually Sorted mailing list they will automatically be blocked from joining SVA or working for us. Those lists are for clients only and it takes us time/money to follow up and track those subscribers let alone the time/cost taken to develop the materials in the first place.


#3

Thanks Caroline, I’ve PM’d you a full outline. You honestly won’t believe it!

Sheena


#4

hi Sheena

I’ve blocked her from SVA and also contacted several other VA organisations who I’m sure will also remove her from their membership.

I’m afraid there is very little we can do on the legal front to help with this, but certainly it might shame her into at least removing the offending material.

Caroline


#5

Sheena

I am totally with you on this and have just today done a search with Copyscape and found a VA that has used my copy, changed some of my documents available for download and just added her company name - which is nearly the exact same also - oh the cheek of these people.

I just wanted to check something, what kind of wording do you have when you contact a VA who has plagarised your webcopy?

Lyns


#6

Caroline… thanks for all your help with this, I really appreciate it.

Lyndsey…I have PM’d you the text.

With regard to the ‘further action’ - if it isn’t removed I have already used ‘WHOIS’ to find her hosting company and I will approach them directly to ask for the site to be taken down if necessary. I will use a solicitors letter if this doesn’t work.

In addition to all of the above, I have now also signed up to Copyscapes COPYSENTRY PROFESSIONAL which means that my site is now checked automatically on a daily basis and I will be emailed of any cases of further plagiarsim…

I’m tired of being ‘the nice guy’… I’ve worked extremely hard to build my business and reputation and I AM NOT going to have it taken from me or belittled in this way.

Sheena


#7

Lynds - fire that VA thru to me as well and I’ll ban them too.

I’m really quite upset that virtual assistants would be this unethical.


#8

All this has prompted me to do something that I have been meaning to do for a while - sign up to Copyscape - which I have now done. The initial result shows that no-one has copied any part of my website.

I can quite understand how angry it makes you feel, Sheena and Lyndsey, and Caroline. I’d be spitting. What a shame the rotten apples spoil the barrel and make others feel they have to spend their hard-won earnings on protecting their business.

It makes me feel ashamed that these unethical ladies could do such a thing.


#9

If nothing else it is so unprofessional.

You should take it as a compliment in one respect as they are obviously impressed with your website/documents to copy them but at the same time it makes me livid that they then go and copy them because they can’t be bothered to write their own copy.

It is sheer laziness on their part.

I hope you both come to some sort of resolution and get this stopped asap.


#10

You know the reason I am quite so upset over this, is because there is a case for naming-and-shaming the perpetrators. (I’m NOT advocating this, because it could get me as the website owner in a lot of trouble).

But as virtual assistants we are privy to a lot of very confidential material - things like customer databases, email accounts, bank accounts etc. Would you feel comfortable knowing that your data is being handled by someone this unethical?

Anyone who has a problem, please contact me. Sheena/Lyndsey - please keep me up to date?

Thanks
C.


#11

Sheena and Lyndsey, this happened to me last year.

I used ‘WHOIS’ and copied the hosts in on the email I sent to the person concerned. It does work.

It’s a shame we have to be on the ball with this as our time is precious.


#12

Take heart from the fact that they will come a cropper eventually, because what they are selling isn’t them - and that lie will be the undoing of them…

My website/marketing material may not be the best, but it does reflect me and my personality (which might be why no-one else wants it!)


#13

Gosh. I’ve just checked mine (after a long time) on Copyscape and found that one paragraph has been taken from my explanation about what a VA is.

How serious is a couple of sentences and how much time should this take up? I know we have discussed before that there is a finite way of describing how a VA works. I am surprised someone has done this but am not sure how livid I should be. Would value your thoughts. Is this a banning offence, Caroline? If you think so, I will let you have the details.


#14

I think in the case of a few sentences - particularly on, say, a description of a VA - it’s open to interpretation. If you feel that yours is unique and they’ve copied it word for word - let me know. Otherwise if it’s using a fairly generic description, then there’s only so many ways you can say what we do.

Theoretically it is possible for two people to come up with the exact same wording and be entirely innocent and unaware of each other’s websites. I myself found another Virtually Sorted a few months after starting up - I was horrified because they’d registered their site several months before me so it looked like I was the copycat!

In both Lyndsey’s and Sheena’s cases this was clearly lifted word for word from a fairly unique section of their site. And Sheena’s copycat had actually been in contact with her to talk about being a VA before using the copy!

One reason to really check for this online is that Google don’t differentiate between who got theirs up first - they just see duplicate copy and blacklist both of you. So not only are they trading off your hard work, they are also wrecking your ranking!


#15

Caroline - TVM. Have sent you a PM. J


#16

Unfortunately my site has been plagiarised too by several people over the years so I know how infuriating it is. I have now changed most of the content of my site for this reason.

I never used to check because I never thought someone offering exactly the same services as me would copy my site word-for-word. How naive of me.

I did email one person recently asking them to change their wording as it was copied word-for-word from a page on my site. I did not hear back from her and now she has password protected her website. I guess the chances are she hasn’t changed her content.

The free use of copyscape is good and I’ve found copying a notable sentence into Google with speech marks around it also brings up any duplicate sites, in some cases that copyscape did not pick up.


#17

Sarah

If she has password protected her site, does that mean no-one can see it without the password?

If so, she/he must be missing out on many potential clients as they won’t be bothered to contact her to get the password to look at it - they are just too busy for that.

So, even if she hasn’t changed the content, at least there is a partial victory in that less people will be viewing the site.

Dawn


#18

Thanks Dawn, yes that is some consolation. She only registered the domain in July 2010 so I wouldn’t imagine she has built up a decent client base in that short time.


#19

There hasn’t been any new content on this topic for a while but I am glad I found it. I was initially reluctant to join VA forums because i was worried about Plagiarim… my own website may not be perfect but I certainly did not want anyone else to come along and copy some or all of the content. I am glad that there are ways to deal with it and that most VAs are professional and will collaborate rather than steal.


#20

This happened to me a year or so ago, it is so, so frustrating. We put hard work and time in to writing so why shouldn’t they? Copyscape is good for spotting this kind of thing - since my ‘experience’ I have started using it on a regular basis just in case :slight_smile: