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Plagiarism and The Internet

Good morning everyone! I wanted to take today’s blog to write a bit about Internet plagiarism. Having managed several sites over the years and worked with countless owners as well I’ve seen my fair share of plagiarism even by my own clients who after advice against such acts proceeded anyway.

As clients of Cal Coast Web Design you’ve been told that “duplicating” another websites page is a bad idea. Although this can disrupt your search engine optimization, there are several possible legal ramifications as well. These days not only is the site owner responsible but I’ve seen more than one instance where the web designer as well as the hosting company held responsible. You’ll want to note that Cal Coast uses best practices when creating and working on your website and keep layered files of all images we create for you so that it can be proven you are the owner of such images.

Be wary too, you don’t have to copy something word for word or pixel for pixel (about 10%)for it to be considered plagiarism. If somebody feels and can prove that your content, images, or design where simply based on theirs, or can show that the things on your site are some kind of modified version of their things then you’re going to be in trouble.

Having handled some of these instances directly I can tell you that when I received a letter from a lawyer or website owner I generally have to contact the offending person and let them know that the page and in one or two instances the whole site was going to have to be taken down within 24 hours (unless changes are made). I can also tell you that no one likes getting a call like that and many times the offending parties had no idea that they had “borrowed” anything from another site.

Removing part of or an entire website, even temporarily is damaging to you as a business owner and it disrupts your SEO as well to some extent. When we see something really cool or read some great content online it may be tempting to want to take what you see and modify it but it’s never good for you and according to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act it’s illegal to boot! If you absolutely must have something or make use of something always contact the owner of that site and your designer/hosting company so that all sides are covered. If the owner of the content gives you the ok, you should receive that in writing from the owner on company letterhead and provide everyone who manages your site a copy. When in doubt ask, it can save you a lot of headaches!