Plagiarism is a nasty thing. It is theft.
With the ease of self-publishing via the web it is becoming more common than in times past. Some is deliberate. Other times it is done without forethought. Many so-called writers, often article marketers, don’t realize that they are plagiarists. Thieves.
Most would never think to lift whole sentences, paragraphs or chapters from a published print book and call it their own. No, they have honor. That would be theft. Yet some of these very same people think that anything published online is fair game. Many equate free-to-read with free-to-use.
Back in the dark ages of, say, twenty years ago and before cutting and pasting was easy writers invested time, effort and intellect in their work. Cutting and pasting, back then, was primarily the domain of compositors – not writers. It was not in and of itself a creative effort. It still isn’t for writers.
In recent weeks there have been several threads concerning this subject on the “Warrior Forum" target="_blank">Warrior Forum“, an online meeting place for marketers, writers, designers, artists and others involved in or interested in e-commerce. WF is fortunate to have, in its membership, a fair number of writers with longevity and real-world print and publishing experience. People whose livelihood and reputation was/is dependent on original “pass-the-smell-test” writing.
One such gentleman on WF brands himself “Patrick Pretty“. In real life, under his real name, he’s an award winning journalist, investigative reporter and syndicated columnist writing for national business publications. In one of the recent WF threads regarding plagiarism Patrick Pretty equated cut and paste “writing” thusly, “Some folks treat writing as though it were a chop-shop operation: Steal a part here, steal a part there, and pretty soon you emerge with a car to sell to the highest bidder.”
Pass-the-smell-test writing requires comprehension, thought and originality. These are traits possessed by real writers, not hacks. Writers will first spend the requisite time researching a subject, making notes and gaining insight. Seeds will be planted which will germinate. Only after they’ve, so to speak, broken ground will they actually begin writing. As they block out the article they’ll find a fresh perspective, a different viewpoint to generate the story.
Plagiarism is not a major problem in offline publishing. Offline publishers of any size usually have deeper pockets and more lawyers than online only operations. Most writers working offline come from an established tradition of original thought and rigorous compliance to legality – often reinforced with a battalion of in-house attorneys.
The bottom line: If you can’t write hire a writer. “Chop-Shops” are illegal. In the automotive trade and the writing business!