Plagiarism is unfortunately inescapable. The internet is a large place filled with people that have bad intentions looking to profit off of your talent. No matter how much time you spend working hard on a website, a photograph, a work of art or a piece of writing, there’s always someone out there who doesn’t care about your efforts and wants to use them for their own personal gain.
It’s true that this may very well happen to you at some point but you don’t have to take it. You can fight back.
Track Down the Source
Quite often the people stealing your work will most likely be a single individual working on their own. When you come across your work somewhere on the internet, you need to identify who is stealing it. The first step would be to gather information such as address, email address or any other contact information relating either to the person who is using your work or the administrator of the website which it appears on.
The next step is getting in touch with that person. The best thing you can do during your first contact attempt is be civil. If you come off as hostile it could escalate the situation. Contact them in a calm manner, whether it be by email or phone, then inform them they have stolen your work and go from there. Give them the chance to remove the material which has been stolen or plagiarized and if they refuse then it’s time to take things to the next level.
Cease and Desist
Should your attempt to contact the guilty party not be successful, the next step is a Cease and Desist Order. A Cease and Desist Order is a legal document that basically tells the guilty party to stop using your property or they will face legal consequences.
You can find templates for a Cease and Desist Order available for use on the web and you can edit them to fit your specific situation. If this Cease and Desist Order still doesn’t get the attention of the person who stole your work, the next step would be to contact the server which hosts the website. These are the type of legal situations which servers try to avoid, so contacting them directly may result in the thief’s website being suspended.
Contact the Search Engines
Thanks to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, search engines such as Google and Yahoo are obligated to get involved in your situation at your request. If it comes to this point, gather all the information you have which proves the work is yours and present it to Google or a search engine of your choice. After reviewing the information, the search engine will contact the other party on your behalf and will remove them from their search engine.
As you can see, you have options when it comes to fighting plagiarism. There are many resources at your disposal which will make your life easier if you’re trying to protect your intellectual property.
Don’t let a thief get the best of you. Follow these steps and protect your work.