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Help, I've Been Plagiarized!

I picked this song for three reasons. First, I have never posted an Allman Brothers song, which is just wrong. Second, it has amazing guitar work by Duane Allman and Dickey Betts. Third, it is about a man who is about to get caught cheating.

About a year ago, I started writing education related essays in the hopes of compiling a book someday. When I told people that I was enjoying this new writing hobby, some suggested that I should start a blog. While recognizing that this would be an easy way to get my writing out there, I also thought that blogs were a strange concept. You write all of this stuff, and then you give it away for free. Why would people ever pay you to write what they can get for nothing, and what’s to stop people from just taking your words and/or ideas and publishing them as their own? In theory, of course, you could “monetize” your blog, and if you ever got a decent amount of traffic, it could turn into a little money. Also, in theory, people are not supposed to steal your work. Blogs are copyright protected, and there are tools to search the web in order to find out if someone is posting your words. Proving that someone took your ideas, however, could be a bit tricky. Still, I decided to plow forward about eight months ago. After all, how else could a person with no writing experience get himself so easily “published”? I could have kept my ideas “secret” until a book was put together. The odds, however, of an unknown essay writer like me finding a willing publisher and paying readers seemed pretty slim. And so here I am, having a great time sending my thoughts out into “the cloud.”

A couple of days ago, I joined “Hubpages,” a popular site where millions of users share articles with one another. After a couple of days of posting “hubs” and of doing a little browsing in order to see how the site works, I am thinking that it may be a better platform than this blog for sharing some of my stuff. (Here's a link to my profile.) There was a little problem, however. For three of the four hubs that I posted, I received a “duplicate” warning. This was not a big surprise or major issue. After all, everything that I posted had previously appeared on this blog, and posting duplicates is not against their rules. The only problem, apparently, is that it lowers something called your “hubscore.” So I decided to email the site and let them know what was happening. When I received their reply, however, I found out to my surprise that my posts were duplicates from two sites: first my blog, which I expected; and second, some mystery site with a business sounding name. Out of curiosity, I clicked on the link that they sent me, and there was one of my blog posts, copied word for word on to some site called “Finance / Go for Gold.” After doing a little browsing on this mystery site, two things became clear: there was no source or author listed for any of the works on the site, and this was not the only one of my posts copied. It turns out that this site had posted practically everything on this blog that was related to either politics or economics. (Here’s a link to the site and one of my copied posts.)

My reactions varied. On the one hand, I was a little bit flattered. No one, after all, had ever cared enough to plagiarize me. I also noticed that some of my posts had a fair number of clicks, so some people out there are unknowingly reading my words. (Of course, the site looks kind of crappy, so I’m not that flattered.) But on the other hand, this was a confirmation of my previously stated fears. I have been chasing this crazy dream that writing could become a second career of sorts, supplementing my inconsistent adjunct faculty income. Meanwhile, here is a site (from China apparently) trying to benefit in some way from my hard work. How am I supposed to get off of the ground if people can so easily steal my stuff? I guess that this is what people mean when they say that they “feel violated.” Luckily, I have not been the victim of any kind of significant theft in my life, so this is a little shock to the system. And I can’t help wondering if there are plenty of other characters out there doing this kind of thing to myself and to other hard-working bloggers in the world.

I have now been officially welcomed to the internet age. Like everything else, the World Wide Web can be a great tool for good or evil. It creates unlimited opportunities for people to communicate. Some use it to publish their thoughts, start legitimate businesses, and find others who share their interests. Others use it to break copyright laws, post disgusting videos, and plan terrorist attacks.

I’m still pondering my next course of action. My first priority is to get that duplicate warning removed from my “hubs.” From corresponding with the “Hubspace” people, it seems that they are probably willing to do it. Most likely, I will start focusing more of my attention on that site when posting in-depth, longer essays on history, politics, and more academic topics. Future would be plagiarizers might be more reluctant to copy material from such a well-visited site. “Hubspaces” has also been nice enough to give me some courses of action for dealing with copyright infringement. If there are any internet experts or lawyers out there, I am open to suggestions. And if you are a blogger who writes on political or economic topics, you might want to click on the link to “Finance / Go for Gold.” Who knows? Your words may be more “famous” than you are, and you may even be helping someone else earn a little money.


  1. Wow! That is awful! I think that being plagiarized because someone else wants to make money would suck. Maybe if they asked permission to publish you and gave you a cut of the profits it would be nice, but just stealing is creepy.

  2. I have a copyright notice on my blog, with a note that people must ask permission to use material. I don't know if it will do any good.

    Good luck!


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