The Internet just makes plagiarism so easy

Don't steal other people's articles

Don’t steal other people’s articles

Or, “How the article I wrote got ripped-off within an hour”

I was excited this week to publish an article about a new kind of underwater robot in Nature News. I basically got lucky and happened to talk to a researcher about the right thing at the right time, and found out about this story. Nature accepted the pitch, and after a hectic few days of reporting and writing the story came out on Nov. 1. The press release about the story didn’t come out until later the same day.

Within an hour of the story appearing on the web, the press person that I’d been coordinating with sent me a link from elsewhere on the internet, of someone who’d basically cut and paste my article, completely unattributed, and used all my quotes as if she’d done the reporting herself. She did mention Nature News somewhere at the end of the article, but her site also copyrighted my words.

I thought that was bad, but shortly after that someone else ripped off my article again, and didn’t even bother with a token mention of Nature News (and again, copyrighted what I wrote…). The third article that used my reporting was probably the worst, as it not only plagiarized my article but also butchered it so it really didn’t make much sense, and to add insult to injury, called my article a “press release” (Nothing against press releases, but they usually state quite clearly that they’re press releases. And they’re usually not published by a news site.)

I don’t really care that my article was ripped-off by a few random sites, I was just amazed at how quickly it happened.

The sad part is, in this age of blogging, they could have lightly rewritten my articles as long as they’d just posted a prominent link to the original somewhere. Instead, they had to go and be shady about it…

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