Email marketing company Reachmail has put together a really cool infograhpic that shows why it…
In this digital age most businesses publish content online. This could be writing how to articles, creating news blogs, publishingwebpages, drafting press releases and sharing information via social media. A recent debate has arisen about copyright issues and the creation and sharing of online content. Let’s take Twitter as an example. Imagine that you decide to tweet a snippet from a blog article you are reading. You credit the original source of the quote by @ mentioning them in the tweet. Your tweet of their quote then gets re-tweeted by your followers but with many of them removing the original source and crediting you instead. This could be perceived as quite an innocent practise when you consider the small amount of characters you have to play with on Twitter but it does leave the original author somewhat out in the cold.
The Nitty Gritty Truth about Plagiarism
Whilst most of us would use terms like ‘copying’ or ‘borrowing’ to describe someone who plagiarises someone else’s work, words like ‘stealing’ or ‘fraud’ would actually be more appropriate. Plagiarism is an offence that is very often downplayed as many people do not fully appreciate the consequences of it. Stealing the words of another and then passing them off as your own is very serious as it is an infringement of the original author’s intellectual property rights.
It is not just stealing someone else’s work that can land you in hot water. Not crediting your sources properly can also be considered as plagiarism.
Getting it Right
Think for Yourself – Instead of simply just stating what other people are saying about a certain subject, form your own opinion of it and write about that. This could take the form of a ‘response’ to another person’s work.
Be Yourself – Each of us have a unique way of writing, often called our ‘voice’. Don’t try and copy someone else’s style, simply be yourself and your work will reflect your own uniqueness.
If it Doubt, Cite – Don’t take a chance. It is better to give a thorough citation or credit and it not be needed than to miss one out and get in trouble.
Crediting Sources Properly
- Check to see if the author has any written content usage guidelines and follow these.
- Always put quotes in quotation marks.
- Add credit immediately after your quote, paraphrase or picture as well as in your sources box.
- Check that any links you have inserted actually go through to the correct page.
- If sharing via social media tag the original source or provide relevant links in the update.
Protecting Your Own Work
- Whilst you do not have to have used the © symbol on your work for it to be protected, doing so can work as a visual deterrent to anyone thinking of stealing it. Marking your work with a © shows people that you take your IP very seriously and therefore will encourage them to make the necessary credits. You can learn more about how to officially copyright your written work from the Intellectual Property Office here.
- Consider applying for a trademark for certain phrases and titles.
- Date all of your original work and save a copy on your computer.
- Draw up your own reproduction guidelines which clearly state who can use your work and how you would like to be credited. Place this in a prominent position on your site.
- Use copy checking services such as Copyscape to find out if your work is being illegally reproduced elsewhere online.
- Use a plugin like Tynt on your site so that when people copy and paste parts of your content into Word or social platforms it automatically adds a credit back to your website at the end of the pasted sentence.
Vicky is a digital project manager based in Leicester, UK. As well as online corporate copy, she loves to write stories, poetry and songs.
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