Plagiarism


#1

Thanks, Caroline, for your recent email highlighting SVA blogs. I starting reading one and diverted into another about protecting your brand. I admit it’s ages since I thought about this and I had forgotten about Copyscape,so I did a check. Oh yes, a virtual business, of two people, has lifted 92 words (12%) of my page on pricing, and paraphrased other parts of my text. (I’ve successfully found their full names and addresses via LinkedIn and Companies House.)

I realise I’ve taken my eye off the ball here during the last few years of heavy workload. I am sure I used to have a copyright notice on each page but in my site refresh a year ago this seems to have been lost - I hadn’t noticed. It’s years since I spotted something similar on my previous site and wrote to the person concerned (and I can’t even remember how it ended, so much water having flowed under the bridge since then).

I just wanted to check how the forum sees this. Do you agree that the copying verbatim of 12% of a page (and my ideas) are worth following up, or was Caroline’s original blog more related to taking bigger chunks or whole pages of text? I note the reference to the affect on Google rankings. I don’t want to go overboard on this, partly because there are only a certain number of ways of describing similar businesses, but this is definitely copied from or based on what I wrote, minus my references (eg the SVA survey) and acknowledgement footnotes, and a link to someone else’s article on a relevant topic. Whilst imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, I am unhappy that they didn’t even ask. Thought I’d ask you all for your thoughts.


#2

12% you may have an issue with proving it to the webhosts to get the data removed, but I’d think that anyone being caught out having lifted the text would be fairly embarrassed and change it (well you hope so!!).

In other cases I’ve seen, it’s been basically a word for word lift of the entire site, just changing the business name and pictures! Google probably wouldn’t penalise you for this, but my worry would be that if they’ve done it once they’d do it again, and you might not even notice and it may well start to affect the site.

In this case, I’d contact the site owner, point out copyscape highlighted this as an issue and that BOTH sites will be penalised for duplicate content by Google. State when you wrote this blog, that it’s original content, copyright to you and as such you are asking that they remove the content by X date (I’d say 2 weeks is generous here, but worth giving them that time as they may not have the techie know how to do it themselves and have to get hold of a web designer).

See what happens. Ping me an email if you don’t get anywhere?


#3

Thanks Caroline, that’s very helpful indeed.

I have found a link in Copyscape which enables you to discover free when you first published a web page and the number of changes since. I’d already figured out the month I wrote mine (October 2012) but now I have the actual date. Copyscape > Plagiarism > Responding to Plagiarism bullet 6.

I’ll report back appropriately in due course.


#4

Caroline and all, I’m reporting in. I used Copyscape historic web views to work out exactly when they copied my text (because I had some PA salary information which I had annually updated) which was five years after I wrote it.

I wrote a polite email pointing out the facts, along the lines Caroline suggested, and I got an answer back within an hour; a rather formal one simply thanking me for bringing it to their attention. I’ve just checked, and the wording has already been appropriately amended or deleted.

It’s made me review things a bit more - I’d been so busy working for clients I’d let this slip.

Thanks so much Caroline. You are appreciated!


#5

Good result!

Yeah I think people do get very embarrassed about being caught out (and rightly so!) but at least they’ve removed it and it won’t cause you any other issues.


#6

it’s very interesting that you’ve raised this issue. I often read other VA sites and sometimes feel like i am reading the same site over and over again! Not entirely related but when I first started posting on social media i realised a local VA was actually making really similar posts as me. I posted a picture of my desk space (with a bit of text) and about 3 or 4 days later she posted the same thing, but with her desk! I am glad you got it sorted x


#7

It’s tricky when it comes to that kind of copying… Because unless it has directly lifted text or pictures or you can prove people are getting confused between the businesses, it’s not illegal to do a copycat style…

Indeed, there is a whole industry behind creating brandable content for social media/blogs/websites - so you might get 100 motivational quotes related to admin or content which you can use in your newsletter or branding kit which focuses on different services etc. I’ve often thought this would really help VAs be consistent in their marketing but the risk of it all being a bit same-y between different businesses puts me off creating it. I guess you could add logos, change colours/fonts, spin text and pick when you wanted to schedule stuff etc.


#8

This is the reason I am wanting to learn by trial and error. Almost daily I get ads on Facebook for ‘free resources’ and ‘free’ masterclasses’ and webinars and templates for social media (i am talking about random ads I get, not through groups I am a member of)
During the whole process of becoming a VA I have been eager to learn as I go along, what works and what doesn’t. Because I want to make something individual to me. But I agree there is nothing I can do about it. I am trying to take it as “imitation is the best flattery” lol x


#9

Sara and Caroline, thanks for your thoughts. It’s an interesting fine line between copying an idea and copying someone’s text.

That’s exactly the approach I took when I wrote to the people - I said that, while imitation was the sincerest form of flattery, they had actually breached my copyright. In one way it is good to know that others admire the way you are marketing yourself and want to do the same themselves!

My business approach was always to make it individual to me, and I suppose that’s why most of the website doesn’t work for anyone who wants to copy it. Sara, I wish you well in your VA career and business and it sounds as though you are doing a great job!


#10

That’s one of the things I’ve always said:
I do actually have a template for my business - it’s a whole handbook which I can give to someone, they can read it and run the business. It has everything from what tools to use, to how we market and follow up.

But if someone else nicks it, and then tries to replicate it in their own business, it won’t work. It’s specific to me and my set up. They don’t have a team, they don’t have all the gizmos and tools we have, they haven’t got 15 years’ experience doing this, and it’s our voice which reads out on the follow up emails and postcards and recommends services that we want to plug…

It’s pointless for them to do and it peeves me beyond measure when people do this to me - especially because absolutely everything I know about being a VA is right here on the SVA website and all they need to do is not steal my time - that’s the only thing I ask.


#11

Janet, it is indeed a very fine line. Well done for writing to them and getting it removed! It sounds like you were very tactful in your approach to them. I am still a newbie to the VA world! All the best and hope your business continues to flourish!!
Caroline, I keep thinking: maybe I should write down my research, and all the ideas I have in one place! I have notes and ideas EVERYWHERE, in my phone, various notebooks, on my computer in notepad, even on post it notes!
And yet I am not an unorganised person! Lol! I totally get where you are coming from, it would be completely wrong if someone took your work and used it as theirs. The ‘voice’ would be all wrong, there would be no continuity and it wouldn’t represent them properly. Unfortunately “there will always be one” and you have to watch your back with these things xx


#12

Business continuity - v important! Disaster back up plan, if you will…

Basically, I cheerily think up worst case scenarios if I get run over by a bus, if my computer and all peripherals get flooded, total hack of my computer and everything stored on it etc. What do I do?


#13

This is a good thing you mention- at the Festival of Enterprise was the National Cyber Security Centre and I picked up a couple of booklets with lots of info about what to do and how to prevent security leaks and breaches. I didn’t even know a National Cyber Security Centre existed but duhh, of course there is one!! Lol! x