Web copy plagiarism and copyright
We were recently contacted by someone to tell us that one of our articles, “Static Vs Dynamic websites - what's the difference” had been reused without our permission on another website. Here at EDi, we’re very much about openness and sharing of content and ideas. We are down with the Creative Commons and we formed a free digital resource to allow creative people to promote their projects and share ideas with each other called Creative Hive. We have also in the past given permission for our content to be used elsewhere.
We were intrigued about the use of this article and the subject of web copy plagiarism. The email we received had mentioned a web service called Copy Scape. This is quite an interesting resource of information which also contains a search option for you to check who is using your content, either verbatim or modified. After searching for a couple of our website articles, it was quite amazing to discover just how many other websites were using our content. Some of it was modified, but it was clearly our content being used without them having requested permission or providing any kind of credit.
Purely in the name of research, we contacted the companies that had used our content. We have yet to hear back from any of them. It begs the question - is it legal or ethical to use or modify someone else’s work without any kind of permission or credit? On the legal front, it is not acceptable to do this, but on a practical or ethical level, plagiarism of copy on the web is much more rife than we could have expected.
It is true that the Internet has opened up the doors of information to enhance openness and sharing, which has to be a good thing, but by the letter of the law, and ethically, permission should be sought for any kind of use or modification of original content. Seeking permission can sometimes be a tedious or unfruitful process but ultmately, content of any kind should really have permission to use it.