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How to Keep Your Written Work from Being Copied and Plagiarized

Dec 25, 2007
It's happened to most of us that write and if it hasn't happened to you yet it will. It's only a factor of time and exposure.

Someone has stolen your labor intensive work and put their name on it. Or, taken your work and rearranged the paragraphs and put their name on it. Or, taken all your good ideas and reshuffled the words and put their name on it. Or any combination of the above.

If you publish and distribute on the web you may have hundreds of articles on a large number of websites, blogs and article databases. That's a lot of exposure. If I google the articles name I might find one that has not given proper credit. Usually they are novices and correct the problem. This type of plagiarism is easy and simple.

It's also a question of monetary gain. My own personal cases of plagiarism did not amount to any monetary gain. Nobody sold my content and made money. So if that is the case, back off and let it go. Notify the infringer and let it go. If big money is involved, talk to a lawyer.

But there are several ways I have found to protect myself. The first is that if I am going to put the article in a public place in the public domain, I want to post the article on my website first. This is proof it is mine.

The next is a bit more involved and it has to do with the content structure.

When I first started writing business articles I wrote nuts and bolts types of articles; what is a balance sheet, what is direct marketing, etc. The problem with these types of articles is that they can be rearranged rather easily and become a 'new' article. There is actually software out there now that purports to do just that.

That's right. There is software out there that can take linear, step by step nuts and bolts articles and rearrange them so someone else can put their name on them.

And of course people can do the same thing. From one hundred dollars down you can buy an article on just about anything from someone else and put your name on it. The only problem is the quality is so bad you may want to use a pen name, which defeats the whole purpose in the first place.

Fortunately this rearranging software only works on content that can be broken up easily. What if the content can't be broken up easily? What if the thread or train of thought of the article is such that it can't be reshuffled and still make sense? What if the text has lots of fragments and subtly intertwined expressions? Ha...just think of the headache of taking it apart and rearranging it. The truth is it takes so much time and is such a pain that it's easier to just write the article from scratch. Go figure...

I also try to spice up my content with slang, offbeat expressions, punctuation and whatever else happens to be handy. Poke, jab, kid, enrage, prod, insult do anything outside the linear behavioral model and your content becomes very difficult to repackage as well as livelier and more interesting.

My strong suspicion is that a lot of these rewrite and write services are offshore, especially in India where English is spoken. So if you add a lot of local zip and slang to your content they won't know that is. It has to be straightforward and linear for them; otherwise they can't do it.

Here's an example. I'm writing an article about the Revolutionary American flag with the snake on it that says 'Don't Tread on Me'. The title I chose was" 'Don't Tread on Me' Snake Motto is Foundation for the Modern Free and Inquiring Mind."

Rearranged, it going to have a lot of rough spots. It's even a tough title as it is...

In the text I open up freely and let it go. The bodacious and frolicking text is very hard to duplicate and repackage. I also consciously try to make the story thread or trail a convoluted and unpredictable one. It can only go this way or it makes no sense. At this point I have probably beaten all the copiers. They of course can take the general idea of the article, but to get another article they will have to write their own.

And so it goes. We all get copied and we all get mad. I just try to make it harder to copy. With fragments. Lots of fragments. Don't forget the fragments.

Think fragments. Mucho fragments...
About the Author
Jack D. Deal writes promotional marketing articles and is the owner of Deal Business Consulting. Related articles may be found at http://www.jddeal.com and http://www.freeandinquiringmind.typepad.com
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