Plagiarism is a serious offense and is considered fraud. Essentially, it is stealing of intellectual property. It happens when people copy writing without properly sourcing the original source of the work. It is also considered plagiarism when quotes are improperly used, either by failing to use quotation marks, changing the order of the words of an exact quote or failing to identify who said it and the original source of the material. What most people don't know is that it doesn't have to be an entire work copied in order to be considered plagiarized. Sometimes, portions of the text are illegally copied, concepts are the same as another work with only a few new phrases added or the author simply rewords an article without adding anything unique. The practice of copying other writers' work is dishonest. It is considered steeling and is not allowed in academic settings. It also goes against the journalistic code of ethics. It puts the credibility of the writer and newspaper or website at risk. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a U.S. law that attempts to protect online content. If you have copied content, you might get a DMCA and cease and desist letter from the original author before they take further legal action. Typically, if the content is quickly removed, there is no further action needed. Likewise, if you find that someone has copied your work, you have every right to do the same thing. Simply checking the publishing date of the content can prove who published the work first. The best way to protect yourself from stealing content is to cite references, including online sources. Use the name of the person you are quoting within the body of the work. Even paraphrasing, rewriting the content in your own words, can be interpreted as plagiarism without the proper citation. While specific rules need to be followed when writing academic papers, when writing online content, often the only thing you need to do is add a section titled references and place the website links you used for to gather information. It is ideal to use more resources than not enough, even if it's not a direct quote from the site. The bottom line is that while it may be easy to boost your content by borrowing the work of others, it is easier to avoid the hassle of being accused of plagiarism and screwing up your reputation as a writer or expert in your field by doing things by the book. Use quotations correctly, avoid using long strings of words from other works and don't forget to include a resource or reference list.

October 8, 2015