Plagarizing website content is a big no-no

Many new VAs have a difficult time writing their website content. I know it took me a really long time and many, many revisions before I finally wrote something I liked. The main point is that I wrote it myself and didn't steal it from anyone else.

It's tempting to copy and paste a line or 2 two from another VA's website. But, when you copy entire paragraphs then it becomes plagarism and is illegal. I used copyscape.com for the first time in a long time tonight. On a whim I decided to see if anyone had plagarized my stuff and I was stunned to learn that someone had.

I researched the offending site and realized it had only been registered a few weeks ago. I imagine this is a new VA who doesn't know any better. At least I hope that is the case. I would hate to think she just doesn't care. Still, I sent the person an email requesting she removes "my" content from her site. She copied many parts of my site, including parts of my bio among others.

Please don't copy and paste another VA's website and put it on your own. It will be discovered eventually because copyscape is a free program that almost ALL virtual assistants use to learn if anyone is plagarizing their sites. We all make mistakes and most VAs recognize this. Please write your own stuff.
 
I totally agree! I paid someone to write content for my website (a friend who's into copywriting), I used copyscape only to find out that someone has copied the whole front page!

It makes me cross, you try to make your website unique and someone "steals" what's yours.
 

Kerans VA

Member
So sorry to hear about this Shari! I agree that it is frustrating to spend so much time creating your own content to be unique and a reflection of your business only to have someone else claim it as their own.

Good luck in your dealings with the new VA and keep us posted as to what is happening. :grouphug:
 

Your Virtual Wizard

Community Leader
Shari, I am glad it all worked out for you.

Can you say if the VA gave you a reason for copying your work? Or did you receive an apology without explanation?

I am always interested in knowing why people take what it is that is not their own. I see shoppers popping grapes from the produce aisle and eating unpaid candy from the Brach's candy display in the grocery store; all without question. Thievery is quite common whether it be from the Internet or at the grocery store and yet, we know it is wrong (at different levels, perhaps).

I am always interested in how people rationalize dishonest behavior in their own heads and do so, in front of children thus passing the bad behavior onto the next generation of thieves.

I'm guessing the plagiaristic VA felt that since the info was on the internet, and open to everyone to view, thus making it OK for the taking...




Jan
 

JKVirtualOffice

New Member
I totally agree with you Shari. It's very aggravating to put all that time and effort into your own content just to have someone lift it and copy it for their own purposes. Good for you for confronting them and getting it resolved.
 

April

New Member
I've had that happen to me several times unfortunately and I know of other VAs who have had the same problems.

Most of them seem to be some kind of scam. It makes me wonder how many of them are real VAs trying to start a business and how many of them are just thieves setting up a website long enough to rip someone off then disappear.

I don't get it either. I don't know if people think they just won't get caught or what. It even happened to an attorney in one of the forums I belong to. You would think a lawyer, of all people, would understand how unethical and illegal plagiarism is.

I would definitely encourage everyone to do periodic checks on Copyscape and, if you're hiring someone else to write copy or articles for you, make sure they're not plagiarizing someone else because the responsibility is ultimately yours.
 

Write Associate

New Member
Wow, how frustrating! I don't understand how someone would think that it's okay to steal someone else's work...do people really not know that it's not okay? If so, that's a sad statement to the state of our educational system, that people aren't even being taught that plagiarism is a big no-no, whether it's 1 sentence or a whole page.

I'm glad you were able to get the situation corrected quickly. Hopefully it doesn't happen to you again!
 

virtual writing

New Member
It's hard to understand, isn't it? Especially when everyone you know would be ashamed to do such a thing. It's like when I drive by litter on the roadside ... who's so primitive as to litter? Doesn't everyone know it's seriously distasteful? Don't people know stealing the words of others won't get them anywhere? Are these people uneducated, or what?
 
I'm still wondering shy she would want to copy parts of your bio too! I mean, your bio?
She used the wording and then replaced my experience and dates with her own.

I exchanged emails with her a few times yesterday and I really believe she is a naive newbie and honestly didn't realize what she was doing was wrong. The fact she removed the content so quickly helped me see that she really is a very nice person who simply made a mistake and wanted to quickly rectify the situation.

I was mad at first but now I just want everyone to know that it happens, it's not right, and we all need to write our own content. I know many VAs who have had this happen to them. Most of the time the situation gets quickly resolved with no issue but I have heard of some nasty emails being exchanged in other instances. That was not the case with me. The VA is very sweet and I wish her great success.
 
Hi,

It's unfortunate that a new VA didn't know that plagiarizing someone's content is not professional. However, quite frankly, many veteran VAs act like they are unaware and if they are, don't care and claim ignorance when approached.

In the Core Competencies for Emerging VAs document created two years ago by representatives of the international VA community, and posted on the Alliance for Virtual Businesses web site, Professional Integrity is identified as one of the traits VAs should possess.

Fortunately, the new VA in this situation describer here exhibited her professionalism by removing the text from her site immediately. There are others, however, that you have to go so far as to complain to their web hosting company, threaten to have their site taken down, and in some instances threaten legal action before they remove the content.

The specific core competency I'm referring to at A4VB is:

"Competent VAs exhibit outstanding Professional Integrity. They adhere to a set of ethics binding on their conscience, and admit to and correct mistakes. They outsource or refer a client who requires services they lack the skills to provide and never knowingly procure another VA’s client or subcontracted client. They never discuss subcontracted rates with a contractor’s client. VAs respect the copyrights of colleagues and others’ intellectual property. In essence they avoid plagiarism, software piracy, etc. Additionally the competent VA upholds strict client and colleague confidentiality."

The complete description of Core Competencies can be found at:

http://tinyurl.com/4bx2b3
 

virtualguy

New Member
That's the key....Professional Integrity. In this instance the VA may not have been aware that it was wrong and quickly took care of the problem. There is a client that I work with who ran into this very problem from a VA he was previously working with. The VA's entire portfolio of forms and web designs were based on "mix & match" scrapings from other people's work. The VA got the client into HOT water with a big named company for lifting some web content from the company and using it on his site without the proper permission. It cost the client $75,000 in legal fees and fines.

I know at times we may come across something really nice on a VA's site and think, "Wow I would love to use that paragraph or those terms and conditions." Many VA's are not unreasonable people if you ASK before taking. A simple, "I like your contact form design and was wondering if I can request your permission to use a section of it on my website?" will go a long way in regards to your integrity.

You may get approved or you may be denied but the VA that you requested from would probably think more highly about you because you extended the professional courtesy to ask first instead of ripping off their hard work.
 

Dexter2907

New Member
Copyscape is so good. It makes checking so much easier.
And Mary, I am with on on the littering! It drives me mad!!!
Rosie
 

JKVirtualOffice

New Member
Hi,

The specific core competency I'm referring to at A4VB is:

"Competent VAs exhibit outstanding Professional Integrity. They adhere to a set of ethics binding on their conscience, and admit to and correct mistakes. They outsource or refer a client who requires services they lack the skills to provide and never knowingly procure another VA’s client or subcontracted client. They never discuss subcontracted rates with a contractor’s client. VAs respect the copyrights of colleagues and others’ intellectual property. In essence they avoid plagiarism, software piracy, etc. Additionally the competent VA upholds strict client and colleague confidentiality."

The complete description of Core Competencies can be found at:

http://tinyurl.com/4bx2b3
Sharon,
Thank you for posting this. As industry, the more we can unite in the way we work, present ourselves and interact with our clients, the more we will continue to legitmize our industry and strengthen our ability to serve our clients in the most professional manner.
 
I used to write articles for a popular web site and it was aggrevating to see my content posted on other sites with no mention that it was written by me. When I contacted the persons, most were ignorant to copyright rules and thought anything on the web was public domain.
 

hbplifestyle

New Member
For those of you new VAs that don't care to write there is a website that you can use articles from them as long as you post all of their active links. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to use the site name so email if you'd like to know it.
 

MountainVA

New Member
I'm dealing with a situation that I've discussed in another thread, but I found this one to be quite relevant too. I wanted to respond and say that you are fortunate that this newbie VA immediately removed your content, but have you taken additional steps to protect your information from other content stealers? During my research, I discovered that it would be beneficial to have your information formally notarized - should you need any legal recourse. I feel for you, I understand how upsetting this is... and in my situation, I have periodic interactions with the woman who stole my content.
 
I can't imagine anyone wanting to steal my content but maybe I should check things out anyway. Glad you got things resolved in such a simple matter Shari....but I do find it hard to believe she didn't know she was doing anything wrong, we were taught way back in grade school not to copy other people's work :)
 
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