Today is Prevent Plagiarism Day, created by freelance writer, columnist and “Queen of Holidays” Jace Shoemaker-Galloway to call attention to the rampant problem of high-tech theft of words, images and ideas that is all too easy in the Internet age.
When does copying and pasting from a source constitute plagiarism? The Harvard College Writing Program’s guidelines help students define and avoid both overt and subtle forms of plagiarism. It’s also an excellent resource for writers trying to determine whether or not someone has met the criteria of a plagiarist.
According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, to plagiarize is:
- to steal and pass off (the ideas or words of another) as one’s own: use (another’s production) without crediting the source
- to commit literary theft: present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source
These days, it can seem impossible to fight this thievery. But Shoemaker-Galloway refused to accept the use of her words without permission or attribution. When a particular person ignored several polite requests to remove misappropriated material, she informed the company hosting the offending site and it was taken down as a result.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) became law in 1998 to protect content creators. Copyscape gives specific information about responding to plagiarism. It also has advice on how to prevent it and has a free search function to find out if your web page has been copied. Small SEO Tools checks chunks of text at once. IPWatchdog has further information about the steps to take when writing a takedown letter.
How should you observe this holiday? Take some time to visit these sites, learn about plagiarism, its consequences and what you can do to combat it. And, whatever you do, just be yourself. Happy Prevent Plagiarism Day!