Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Online Plagiarism & Why It Needs to Be Stopped

"You should just give away your art and share it with the world." That's the response that my artist/illustrator friend received when he kindly asked the person to remove his artwork from their site. The "online plagiarism" discussion fueled me to write about a subject that really irks me -- people who steal artwork and writing, and think they are "entitled" to it...without having to pay a dime.

My friend makes a living from his art, and I make a living from copywriting. I know there are some people who are not informed when it comes to copyright law, and not every person out there "steals" art and content on purpose. However, it's a slap in the face to artists and writers when they assume that we should just give away our talents and skills for FREE. Are they going to pay our bills and expenses, and put food on our tables? I don't think so!

My response to people who think it's okay to steal art, music, writing, etc.: Would you clock in at 8 am and tell your boss you will work for free today? Would you step into a lawyer's office and expect him to give you FREE legal advice? 

Most of us who "create" for a living are freelancers and independent contractors, and we work hard to earn our money. We probably works ten times longer and harder. Because we are freelancers, that does not mean we give away our time and skills for "free".

And online plagiarism doesn't end there. It has taken over education as well. I have a friend who is a high school teacher and at the end of the year, I always ask him how many plagiarizers he caught during the school year. He said it never fails and kids don't learn their lessons. He has flunked students for plagiarizing papers. Unfortunately, the internet makes it easy for students to plagiarize, but it also makes it easy for teachers to catch their students as well (if they are diligent and cross-check facts and information).

I didn't go to college and earn a degree in journalism for the heck of it. And my friend doesn't spend hours creating his artistic illustrations for his clients because he has nothing better to do.

Please be respectful of artists, musicians, and writers, and please don't steal their work. If you want more information about digital copyright laws, check out the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) .


  1. I'm with you on all this. There is a debate about free e-books. After all that work, years of sweat, tears, and not playing with your kids, people give away an e-book. Give a book away for a while and that increases sales in the long run. And all the free e-books out there (sorry, but many are garbage), and then we think we should be able to get any e-book for free. I have been sucked into this mindset. However - ah, here's the rub - when I finally have a book ready to publish, I don't want to give it away. And no, I would not stand on my feet for six hours a day, dealing with customers and freight and paperwork, for nothing! Writing is a "job," just like any other job.

  2. I agree. Because something is free, it doesn't mean it's quality. Some people use e-books as promotional tools, but I don't think e-books should be given away for free. Yes, writing is definitely a J-O-B!


Therese Pope, Copywriter/Content Developer & Digital Buzz-icist

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