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Modern Crusader: Plagiarism Today with Jonathan Bailey

When you look around the world today, especially in the blogosphere, do you find many serious crusaders? I have, and Jonathan Bailey of Plagiarism Today is one of my modern crusader heroes.

When it comes to defending copyrights, few are better at digging into the truth and destroying the myths than Jonathan Bailey. While admittedly not a lawyer, he blogs about the legal issues with great clarity and passion regarding copyright violations and infringement, defending content rights, and fighting sploggers and scrapers.

So it was stunning to find out that even Plagiarism Today can get ripped off by sploggers, and trust me, Jonathan Bailey is one blogger you do not want to mess with. He describes DMCA notice to bitacle as weighing in at “eighteen pages (with cover sheet) and covers some 250 items and is over 5 times as big as the next largest DMCA notice I’ve sent.” You definitely want this copyright crusader on your side when it comes time to battle sploggers!

Bailey’s work with Plagiarism Today isn’t just about help you to defend your content’s rights. He wants you to understand how copyright works, how to protect and defend your work, and to understand how content thieves work and why they continue to get away with plagiarism. In a recent article, “The Five Kinds of Plagiarists”, Jonathan Bailey describes the five typical types of content thieves:

To a person who enjoys the creative process, a plagiarist can seem like an alien being. Someone who can feel satisfaction from a falsehood and the most uncreative of acts is a strange notion to many. Yet, everyday, thousands of people do just that.

…Despite this, plagiarists are actually simple to understand. All one has to do is be willing to crawl inside their mind for a bit. While doing so, for most, is neither pleasant nor easy, it’s an important step not just to understand why plagiarism occurs, but also how to combat it.

…Before one can really understand a plagiarist, they first have to realize that not all plagiarists are created equal. They have different motives for what they do and have very differing attitudes about the morality of what they are doing.

With that being said, most plagiarists fit into one of five different categories, each with their own reasons, patterns and ideology.

The five different categories listed include The Profiteer (making money from your work), The Professional (it’s not about money as much as doing for the skill of it), The Academic (old fashioned plagiarism – copying other people’s work to get the grade), The Fraud (fakers mixing fact with stolen content), and my personal favorite, The Idiot (those who should know better but don’t get it).

Under each category, Bailey provides information to help you identify the behavior and motivation behind each plagiarist type, highlighting what they take and how they take it. A threat level assessment is given on how much at risk you may be from these plagiarists. Of special interest is his very specific ways to stop them.

Here is his assessment on how to stop a Fraud Plagiarist:

How To Stop Them: Theoretically, shame is the ideal approach to stop such plagiarists. They are seeking personal glory and a boosted reputation, attack that and they should relent. However, frustrated will defend their illusion to the hilt. They will treat an attack on their reputation, even a deserved one, as an unjust assault on them personally. They almost always fight back, their stake in the illusion is just too high, and between sock puppets and friends who have bought into the lies, you are almost always outnumbered.

Though these fights can be and usually are won, the are pyrrhic victories that are very draining emotionally and time-wise. Freudians are, generally, masters of drama and know how to make things difficult for someone wishing to burst the illusion they’ve created.

Instead, for the most part, the best approach is to shut the offending site down either through a cease and desist or a DMCA notice. Freudians spend a large amount of time carefully crafting their illusion, selecting works, images and layouts to steal while building up their online reputation and popularity. Destroying that is usually a heavy blow. They may or may not stop plagiarizing all together, but they will almost certainly not revisit the same works.

Tackling some types of plagiarists means being a thorn in their side, but it can work.

One of the ways many feel is the easiest way to fight back the abuse of feeds for scraping content from blogs is by changing their feeds from full content to excerpts. In Why My Feeds Are Full, Jonathan Bailey writes in favor of leaving feeds set to full content, examining the pros and cons. As a reminder, whether or not you have your feeds set to full, you still control the rights over your blog’s content, including use of feeds on commercial sites.

There is little left uncovered by Jonathan Bailey’s blog on copyright issues and plagiarism, For more information on copyrights, see “What is a Copyright?” and “Limitations of Copyright” from Plagiarism Today. And check out “Five Essential WordPress Content Protection Plugins”, a great breakdown of what tools are out there for WordPress to help protect your blog.

If you are worried or have found your content ripped off, visit Plagiarism Today to dig into the reasons behind content theft and how to protect your blog and your blog’s content. The better you understand your enemy, the better you can fight back.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network

Member of the 9Rules Blogging Network

5 Comments

  1. Posted October 18, 2006 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Wow. I really don’t know what to say beyond thank you. It means a lot to read this entry and to know that my work is appreciated.

    If there is anything that I an do to help anyone reading this, please send me an email and I’ll gladly help in any way that I can.

    Thank you again for this extremely flattering (perhaps too flattering) post. It really leaves me speechless.

  2. Posted October 18, 2006 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    I hadn’t visited his site before. Thanks so much for the heads-up on this incredibly important issue.

  3. Posted October 18, 2006 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    I’m so glad you wrote this Lorelle. Jonathan and his site deserve all the good publicity in the world.

    You call him a “modern crusader’, and I’ve called him a “superhero”. The figure is right: When you observe how victims of plagiarism send out their scream of anguish to the blogosphere (“Oh! I’ve been ripped off”), and the next thing you see is a comment from Jonathan Bailey offering to help… He truly comes out the clouds offering his help out of the kindness of his heart, and his passion against the scourge of plagiarism. He won’t fight your fight for you (and he shouldn’t), but he gives you all the weapons and tells what to do, and then slaps your horse sending you out to protect what’s yours.

    We need more people like him working on different fronts: Developers creating new tools against “offline browsers” (i.e. site mirror machines) and feed scrapers. We need people to take ownership for their stuff and fight back when it gets stolen. Plagiarism shouldn’t be tolerated or sponsored by anyone…

  4. Posted October 19, 2006 at 3:41 am | Permalink

    One more category, The Frustrated. People who can evaluate and appreciate the creative process, but lack the talent to create it, and lack to moral backbone acknowledge it.

  5. Posted October 20, 2006 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    As always a good point, Lorelle, plus this time a mayor aspect in plagiarism.


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  5. […] of my heroes, Jonathan Bailey of Plagiarism Today, whom I’ve written much about and love his work on the Blog Herald, has simplified the issue of content theft into two brilliant […]

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