As plagiarism becomes an increasing issue in the book blogging community (or at least a more widely publicized one), it’s good to know what options you have if it ever happens to you.
1. Find the Plagiarism
Oftentimes writers stumble across plagiarism accidentally. They’re reading a post and it sounds familiar, or a friend tips them off to an article that sounds like something they’ve written. If this happens to you, your next step should be finding out whether the one stolen post is the extent of the plagiarism. It often isn’t, so be prepared to find more content stolen from your site or from other bloggers.
You can quickly check for plagiarism by running the blogger’s posts through an online plagiarism checker. I like the one at Small SEO Tools because it tends to pick up more plagiarism than other free checkers I’ve tried, but you can use whatever tool you like best. Alternatively, you can run your own posts through the checker and see if you get any hits that aren’t your own site.
2. Take Screenshots
Before you do anything else, take screenshots of the original post(s) and the plagiarized version(s). Make sure the dates each were posted are clearly visible in the screenshot so you can prove which version was posted first. This will be your proof your content was stolen.
You should do this before alerting anyone of your suspicions because news can leak. You don’t want the plagiarist becoming aware of your suspicions and removing posts before you have documentation of the theft.
3. Alert Anyone Else Who Was Plagiarized
If you find a blog that plagiarized both you and other bloggers, alert the other victims. Email is the most private means, but some bloggers don’t list email addresses as contact information, in which case you’ll have to decide whether you want to go more public by tweeting them or posting a comment on their blog.
Contacting other plagiarized writers is a good move at this point particularly if you’re feeling alone and not sure what steps you want to take next.
4. Decide What to Do about the Plagiarist
Your basic options:
- Do nothing.
- Privately email the blogger and request your content be removed.
- Publicly out the plagiarist on social media or through an expose post on your own blog.
- Notify Goodreads, their blog host, and any other sites their content is plagiarized.
- Look into legal options. (Rare for bloggers due to time and expense.)
If you already contacted other bloggers, your options might be limited, so be prepared. You may want to try contacting the plagiarist privately first, but someone else might already be publicizing their theft on Twitter. If this is a concern for you, you should consider switching steps 3 and 4.
5. Be Prepared for Nothing to Happen
Sometimes plagiarists apologize, and sometimes they deny everything. Sometimes they remove the offending post, and sometimes they “close” their blog just to start a new one and keep plagiarizing elsewhere. Most web hosts will cooperate with you in removing plagiarized content, but Goodreads won’t keep banning the same person forever if they just keep creating new accounts. So if the plagiarist refuses to be shamed out of the blogging community and you don’t have the money or inclination to start a legal case, the outcome of the confrontation with the plagiarist could be disappointing for you. (It was when I was plagiarized.) Just know that the blogging community has your back, and you don’t have to face everything alone.