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Plagiarism Detection: How to Win Against Thieves Who Steal Your Articles
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Plagiarism Detection: How to Win Against Thieves Who Steal Your Articles
Copyright (c) 2010 Royce Tivel
Plagiarists love your original content published at EzineArticles
and other honest publishers because it ranks high in Google's
search results. The trouble is that plagiarists do not include a
link back to your site or author credit--because they do not
publish the resource box or include a link back to the article
source. Here are 5 steps you can take to protect your content,
detect plagiarism, and get unauthorized copies of your content
removed from the World Wide Web:
1) Include copyright and author information when creating your
2) Set up an early detection system for finding plagiarists,
3) Identify and contact the offenders,
4) Identify and contact their registrars or hosts, and
5) Submit a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) complaint.
1. INCLUDE COPYRIGHT AND AUTHOR INFORMATION WITH YOUR ARTICLES
The first step in the war on plagiarism is to provide copyright
information in the article body as well as author information in
the resource box. Within the article body, you can include a
copyright notice and the article title with it's date of
publication. Here is an example of what I use at the end of my
Copyright � 2010 [Your Name Goes Here] [Your Site Name Goes Here]
[Site URL Goes Here].
[Article Title Goes Here], [Date Published Goes Here]
If you can do so, use an active link for either the site name or
site URL. Depending on the publisher's article-submission
requirements, you may not be able to use an active link or domain
name in the article body. Even if these are permitted, all active
links and URLs in the article could be stripped by the
plagiarist, although a non-hyper linked reference to your site
might still remain--especially if the plagiarist is using
software to automate the theft.
You can use the resource box to positively identify yourself as
the author and can include an active link to your web site or
blog. Here is an example:
"About the Author: [Your Name Goes Here] has written extensively
about [What You Write About], and more. Visit his/her web site at
[Your Site Name Goes Here], [Site URL Goes Here], for additional
content on these subjects, including many images related to
his/her articles published at [Publisher's Name Goes Here]."
I would *strongly* recommend using an active link to your site
in the resource box. An honest publisher will include the
resource box, will not tamper with the article body, and will
provide a link to the article source. If a plagiarist strips out
the resource box or neglects to include a link to the article
source, the chances are still good that the copyright and author
information will be left in the article body.
2. DETECT THE PLAGIARISM EARLY
Plagiarism detection begins by setting up an early warning system
for plagiarists. I estimate that 90% of all article theft is done
when the article is first published. The worst offenders appear
to be plagiarists with blogs. Today, content can be easily
gathered with content-aggregator software through RSS (Really
Simple Syndication) feeds, manipulated, and placed on a blog.
"White hat" content aggregation that includes author credit and
article source information is great for authors--but "black
hat" manipulation of the aggregated content, which removes the
author and source information is just plain article theft.
Many WordPress sites are using the Multi User (MU) version and
offer "members" a free WordPress blog as a sub-domain. An
offshoot of WordPress is BuddyPress--and I have found plagiarized
content at these sites, too. I have found that there is little or
no supervision or monitoring of the "members." I have also
found that the administrators of the MU sites will terminate a
blog when they receive a report of plagiarism. In the case of a
subdomain on an MU site that has plagiarized your material, the
registrant in a lookup will be the "owner" of the domain who is
responsible for the sub-domains. Your plagiarism detection system
must first identify the plagiarist before you can report them to
Because of the blog problem, a Google Blog Search on the title of
the article, a keyword, a phrase, or a "snippet" from the
article--using quote marks around the search term(s)--is probably
your best *no cost* tool for plagiarism detection. Jonathan
Bailey at plagiarismtoday.com has this advice for searches:
"I would focus not on titles but statistically improbable
phrases within the work, 8-10 words long. Those produce good
matches and are easy to find in a work."
Once the search is completed, and if there are results matching
your quoted search query, you will be able to look through the
results for plagiarized content. I would certainly want to check
out a search result that came neither from my web site nor from
my article publisher.
Google's search results include a title (blue), a snippet (black
text), and a URL (green). The URL will include the domain name of
an offending site. Clicking on either the title or URL will take
the browser to the actual blog or web page. The domain name will
also appear as part of the URL in the browsers address bar.
Even if the snippet of a search result contains plagiarized text
from your article, the title or URL may take you to pages with no
trace of your article. This can happen when your plagiarized
article is published by the plagiarist, gets listed in Google,
and then the plagiarist substitutes his own page content for your
article: the plagiarized content remains in the snippet but the
links go to the plagiarist's own content, thus hijacking your
traffic! The remaining "footprint" left by the snippet can be
enough to shut down a site or blog.
A great feature of the Google Blog Search comes at the bottom of
the results page. At the end of the results are options for
setting up email alerts--the early warning system--so you can be
notified when sites use the search term in the future.
You are most likely to see plagiarized results show up within the
first few days of publication; so, I recommend that you set up
your alert to receive an email once each day. You can end the
alerts at any time. The alerts can be limited to blogs or contain
comprehensive results for the Web as well: for my alerts, I elect
the "comprehensive" option for email alerts.
3. IDENTIFY AND CONTACT THE PLAGIARIST
The best way to identify a plagiarist is to do a "whois" or
similar "lookup" on the domain name. Using a "whois" lookup
for the domain name will display contact information for the
domain-name registrant. In my experience, plagiarists do not
usually leave contact information on their pages, but the domain
registrant is required to include it when the domain is
registered--but plagiarists do not always include valid contact
information! If you do not find valid contact information for the
registrant, you can contact the registrar about this.
Depending on the lookup service used (internic, domaintools,
domainwhitepages, etc.), the contact's email address might be an
image and not text. In that case, you will have to type out the
email address. Here is the registrant's information from a
lookup of my web site:
- canonical name: selectdigitals.com.
- addresses 22.214.171.124
Domain Whois record
- Queried whois.internic.net with "dom selectdigitals.com"...
- Domain Name: SELECTDIGITALS.COM
- Registrar: ENOM, INC.
- Whois Server: whois.enom.com
- Referral URL: http://www.enom.com
- Name Server: NS5.IXWEBHOSTING.COM
- Name Server: NS6.IXWEBHOSTING.COM
- Status: ok
- Updated Date: 19-feb-2009
- Creation Date: 08-feb-2004
- Expiration Date: 08-feb-2011
- Last update of whois database: Fri, 23 Apr 2010 14:45:21 UTC
- Registration Service Provided By: NameCheap.com
- Queried whois.enom.com with "selectdigitals.com"...
- Registrant Contact:
261 SE Craig RD #3
Shelton, WA 98584
- Administrative Contact:
Royce Tivel (rtivel@...
261 SE Craig RD #3
Shelton, WA 98584
- Technical Contact:
Royce Tivel (rtivel@...
261 SE Craig RD #3
Shelton, WA 98584
- Status: Active
- Name Servers:
- Creation date: 08 Feb 2004 16:50:50
- Expiration date: 08 Feb 2011 16:50:50
In the case of selectdigitals.com, all of the information
necessary to contact the registrant is available. In my
experience, registrants of MU sites have responded promptly to my
complaint and have removed the offending "member"; so it is
worthwhile to make the attempt and allow two or three business
days for a response. This gives the registrant a chance to comply
with the original publisher's terms of service or to remove the
Sometimes, the registrar or registration service will provide a
"firewall" for a registrant. At NameCheap.com, this is called
"WhoisGuard." The registrar's contact information is given in
the lookup and emails to the registrant are forwarded without
giving away the registrant's "real" contact information.
Your goal in contacting the registrant is to get the article
published accurately, completely (including resource box), and
identified with the complete article source. You can help the
honest publisher by supplying the article title, a link to the
article source, and a copy of the resource box. You might not
always end up getting everything you ask for. At the very least,
though, you should be identified as the author and there should
be an active link back to your site.
I have found that contacting a plagiarist by email is the least
effective method of removing plagiarized content. Still, this
attempt should be made to give the honest publisher a chance to
make necessary changes. Also, the fact that you have made the
attempt will give more weight to your complaints sent to the
registrar, host, or to Google. Give the suspected plagiarist two
or three business days to respond.
Translating Your Documents into a Foreign Language
If you are trying to contact a registrant, registrar, or host in
a foreign country (non-English speaking, in my case), you can
take advantage of the Google Translate service. I first create
the letter in English and then use the translator to convert it
into the foreign language. It is very important to test any links
you wish to include in the translated version: you might have to
modify a translated link so it works. My practice is to email the
letter in English (my native language) together with a translated
version. Note: I suggest "plugging" the translated copy back
into the translator as a check: translating back to the original
language might reveal problems with the translation that will
have to be fixed.
4. IDENTIFY THE REGISTRAR OR HOST
A lookup of the plagiarist's domain name will include a list of
the domain-name servers (DNS). From the DNS information listed in
the lookup above, the web host is clearly identified as
Name Server: NS5.IXWEBHOSTING.COM
Name Server: NS6.IXWEBHOSTING.COM
A lookup on a DNS will yield additional information about the
host used by the plagiarist--and the host's contact information.
Here is some of the information available from a lookup of
Host Contact Information
- canonical name ixwebhosting.com.
- addresses 126.96.36.199
- Administrative Contact:
Said, Fathi fathi@...
1774 Dividend Dr
Columbus, OH 43228
Similarly, a lookup for the registrar listed in the original
"whois" will result in additional information about the
registrar. A reputable registrar or host will provide information
about reporting copyright infringements.
Registrars often use resellers for the business of domain
registration. The resellers also have stringent policies against
abuse. For my domain, the reseller is listed in the original
lookup as follows:
Registration Service Provided By: NameCheap.com.
Contacting the registrar or host is probably the most effective
way to take a plagiarist's site or blog off the air. Here is
what I typically do. I create a Digital Millennium Copyright Act
(DMCA) complaint, just as I would for a complaint written for
Google, except I do not use a title directed to Google. Both
hosts and registrars take these complaints very seriously and, in
my experience, take fast action to block the offending sites from
web access. Give the registrar or host two or three days to
respond before going any further. I use this format for my
1) To: [registrant, registrar, or host name]
2) Date: [date and time]
3) Identify the copyrighted work,
4) Identify the offending web page, including the search query
used to find it ("tower trainer 40"),
5) Provide your contact information,
6) Provide contact information (if any) for the plagiarist (the
email address you used for the registrant),
7) Include specific language as to the accuracy of your
8) Optional: If I have additional information, I put it here.
When you identify a plagiarist from another country, it might
seem like an impossible task to get the content removed, but you
might be surprised. Recently, I was able to get a web site
blocked by a Korean registrar, co.cc. After identifying the
registrar, I looked at their terms of service and here is what I
"You agree that you will not upload, distribute or reproduce on
the Web Site:
a. any copyrighted material, trademarks, or other proprietary
information without obtaining the prior written consent of the
owner of such proprietary rights...."
After I submitted my complaint to the domain service registrar,
co.cc, I got a response the next day:
"Dear Sir, In reponse to your request, we have suspended ...,
the domain won't work with co.cc domain for now.
However, I would like to inform you that we are just a domain
service registrar. For that reason, we do not have any authority
over deleting original web site. It seems keep happening no
matter how many times we block up this kinds of sites, abuser do
not stop abuse co.cc domain.
Please let me know if you face this kind of issues in the any
future, I will try to take prompt action.
The response reflects, I think, the frustration registrars and
hosts feel in dealing with the huge problem of plagiarism. In
this case, even though the site did not get deleted, it is no
longer visible on the Web. If the site still remains in Google's
search results, a Google DMCA should take care of the problem.
Jonathan Bailey has this to say about contacting registrars:
"...even though it can work, I tell people to avoid sending
notices to registrars as almost none will actually revoke a
domain over a copyright issue. They will only do it if there is
an issue with the domain itself. Your interaction with co.cc was
the exception, not the rule (for better or worse)."
5. SUBMIT A GOOGLE DMCA COMPLAINT
If nothing else seems to work, you can FAX a DMCA complaint
directly to Google. Google has both legal support and AdSense
support. Each support group has it's own FAX number for DMCA
complaints (legal: (650) 963-3255; AdSense: (650) 618-8507). For
action against a Google blogger, you can file a DMCA complaint
If AdSense is on the site along with the plagiarized content, a
DMCA complaint to Google AdSense support just might hit the
offender in the pocket book. Revenue from AdSense is often the
primary reason plagiarists use your articles--your valued content
draws increased traffic to the AdSense site.
A useful add-on for FireFox users is SeoQuake. When this add-on
is activated, hovering over an AdSense ad will bring up the
"AdsSpy" with a link to information about the plagiarist's
AdSense ID. The plagiarist's ID can be included with the DMCA
Plagiarism, Plagerism, Plagirism, Plaigarism
You don't have to know how to spell "plagiarism" to join the
fight against plagiarists. You can still detect plagiarism and
join the war to remove it by
* Putting your copyright information in the article body,
* Begin plagiarism detection right away,
* Identify the plagarism and the plagarist,
* Try to contact the plagiarist and resolve the issues,
* Contact the registrar or host about the plaigarism,
* File a DMCA complaint against the plagiarist, and
* Contribute your ideas and experiences with respect to
detecting and fighting plagiarism by joining a forum on the topic
or, better yet, write your own article.
After four years of college and after writing this article--I can
still misspell plagiarism with the best of 'em. My favorite way
to misspell it is, "plagerism."
Copyright � 2010 Royce Tivel Select Digitals
Plagiarism Detection: How to Win Against Thieves Who Steal Your
Articles, May 26, 2010
Royce Tivel has written extensively about digital photography,
Adobe, radio-controlled (RC) airplanes, WordPress, travel,
and more. Visit his web site at Select Digitals
for additional content
on these subjects, including many images and resource
links related to this article.
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