Intrepid entrepreneur and home staging expert Debra Gould takes aim at website owners and bloggers who plagiarize content for use on their own sites.
Entrepreneurs: Plagiarism Will Come Back to Bite You
Entrepreneurs, if you’re building a website or writing a blog, you should know that it is NOT okay to copy another company’s website or blog content and pass it off as your own. It’s not flattering and it’s illegal.
Even if you change some words around, it’s still plagiarism and theft of copyrighted content.
Many of the same parents who would be mortified if their child were kicked out of school, or failed a course, for plagiarism seem to have rationalized the stealing of others’ content for their own marketing efforts.
Don’t think you won’t be caught because you’re hard to find.
Just as schools use software to detect and penalize students who submit plagiarized work, web site owners are stepping up their own battle to protect their copyrighted content through services like Copyscape.
One of my students who runs a home staging company in Montreal has copied much of my material. She moves the order of the sentences or paragraphs around and then puts it on her own site. She has lost tens of thousands of dollars in home staging project referrals from me because of it. How short sighted is that?
She is also at risk of having her site taken down since it’s not hard for me to prove to her Internet service provider that her content is copyrighted by me and that it appeared on my site long before it showed up on hers.
Rather than stealing content from another company’s website or blog, you have a couple of options.
If writing isn’t one of your strengths, you can hire someone to do it for you. All you have to do is gather your thoughts, make some notes and send them to a copywriter with experience writing for the web.
If you just want some articles to add more information to your site, you can search article directories for content and as long as you credit the author you’re usually free to use it.
Alternatively, if you find content on a website that you’d like to use on your own, contact the site owner. You might be able to get permission to use chunks of their copy as long as you give them credit and quote them somewhere. I have given such permission many times. On the other hand I take a very dim view of people I catch stealing my content and I will take appropriate action.
If you’re a Staging Diva® Graduate, you have the opportunity to join the Staging Diva Directory of Home Stagers and have a complete profile page created for you. You write only 600 words of text about you and provide three sets of before and after pictures, rather than enough words and photos to fill an entire website. Within a week, you’ll have a very effective web presence on an internationally recognized and respected website that is already linked from major sites like CNNMoney.
You should also know that plagiarism goes beyond just copying text, it applies equally to stealing photos. If you present another company’s work as your own and you’re caught, you’ll have zero credibility— not to mention risking having action taken against you.
“Plagiarism,” according to Wikipedia.org, “is the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work.”
That means you can’t pass off another individual’s photos or ideas as your own – it’s all plagiarism.
Please create your own website content from your own ideas or have a professional help you along. Don’t damage your reputation (or your karma) by copying other people’s content.
If you have a home staging business, you can learn how to effectively write about your services and photograph your own work in the Staging Diva Ultimate Portfolio Guide: Winning Clients With The Perfect Home Staging Portfolio.
About the Author, Debra Gould
Intrepid entrepreneur Debra Gould has been writing about business and marketing since 1990. She is also known internationally as The Staging Diva® and is the creator of the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program with 1000+ Graduates worldwide.