Updated: Jan 9, 2022
by Gabrielle Lopez
Designs by Gabrielle Lopez
Nobody wants to have something stolen from them—and artists, including writers, are no exception.
Our craft—which includes everything from an idea to an output—is ours and should remain so.
In the digital world that we live in today, the sharing of such ideas and outputs only become easier with more time and with increasing innovation. However, with such an easy access to each other’s intellectual properties, both online and even offline, it in turn becomes easy to steal—easy to copy and paste, easy to assume the work of another, easy everything.
So, here are some easy tips to avoid getting plagiarized.
The easiest way to not get plagiarized is to not post our work at all.
That’s boring, though, isn’t it? And it beats the point of stories, which is that they ought to be shared.
So, limit what you share instead. As we say nowadays, “Keep it lowkey.”
Post only when needed, with good reason, and to limited (and trusted) people. Control the accessibility of your work. This way, our writings are not scattered all over the internet for anyone to see—and steal.
By doing this, we lower the chances of our stories becoming those of another.
When sharing a story for people to see, trust is key. So, choose your platforms wisely.
Carefully consider the site where you will be posting your work, as well as the audience who will be receiving it.
Though of course, this advice applies to everyone—even those who are simply posting their work on social media or on their own websites and blogs—, it is especially important to remember for people who do freelance writing or at least, who submit written pieces to certain publications for posting.
Verify first if the site or host is legitimate—and if its audience is also safe—because otherwise, our work becomes vulnerable to intellectual thieves. We should be aware that there are sites who do not give due credit to the writers who submit to them, and who mask the masterpiece as wholly theirs without permission from the author.
Make sure of their credentials, read reviews about them and their past publications, understand their terms of agreement. It is important to stay vigilant and to always check.
Possibly the best way to avoid having our masterpieces stolen from us, is by getting published.
Submitting our works for publishing companies to print, distribute, and market lowers our chances of getting plagiarized because the said companies will be providing the extra security of legal rights with which to accompany our work and protect us as writers.
In any case, whether we submit our works to publications or we post them of our own accord in our social media accounts and websites, it is essential to make our writing personal. Distinct. Obviously original.
This way, we not only get to hone our unique voices as writers, but we also get to show people that a certain work is ours—not anybody else’s.
Sure, others may have subtle similarities with us; it is unavoidable. But the exact details of our work are unmistakable, especially to the people who know us.
So, in case somebody does plagiarize us, we will be able to trace it faster, and people will know which one is the original mind.
No, this is not our Outfit of the Day. This is our Output of the Day.
We can decide to be #Lowkey when it comes to our writings, sharing limitedly and exclusively to certain people.
Or we can ironically keep sharing them to as much people as possible so that there is proof that the work is truly ours, and we get a lot of witnesses on such. By doing this, in case the crime of plagiarism comes our way, we will have earned not just an audience for our artworks, but supporters as well who will back our claim on our originality.
By definition, the Copyright law protects our means of expressions as authors and artists. The Copyright automatically applies to each one of our original ideas and works as long as they are made into tangible forms, which, yes, include the stuff that we put on the internet.
Because of Copyright, the people who wish to “borrow” our work for some reason can only do so by citing the source and our authorship properly or asking permission from us directly.
Stating our Copyright as the author of our written artworks may not be necessary—because again, our Copyrights are automatic, whether or not we state them—but doing so emphasizes our intellectual property rights to our audience, in turn, making them understand better that the work is ours, and they cannot and should not steal it.
It is advisable to claim our Copyrights at the beginning of our works so that visibility is ensured. The format, “Copyright © - Year of First Publication – Author’s Name” is followed. For example, the copyright to this article would be stated as “Copyright © 2021 by Gabrielle Lopez.”
By claiming our copyrights, we prevent our readers from simply doing copy-paste, a phenomenon so evident and yet so unacknowledged.
Connected to the matter of our Copyrights, it is helpful to guide people on how to properly cite our works, should they wish to use them in some way or another.
When we do this, we become amicable to them in the sense that we do not make our works too exclusive, all the while we encourage them to be respectful of our boundaries as artists and owners of our ideas.
It is important to remember that not everybody knows how to cite others’ works properly, which is one of the reasons why they succumb to plagiarism. So, by handing them the guide to various citations on a silver platter, we lessen their tendencies to steal our work.
Another useful step to lower the risk of plagiarism is to give our audience a gentle reminder that it is a crime, punishable by law, to plagiarize.
Regularly checking if our works have been plagiarized is yet another effective way of dealing with this problem and avoiding any more future instances of such.
We can do this by utilizing search engines, wherein we look up unique sample phrases or keywords from our works in order to see where else they have turned up and if they have been properly attributed to us.
Google Alerts is one specific tool that can help us with this task by automatically notifying us whenever our saved keywords and phrases have newly appeared somewhere.
This is not paranoia. Being on the lookout for violations against our intellectual rights is simply a healthy habit to practice, especially if we want to keep writing and sharing our stories without having to worry that somebody else has done it for us.
Almost, if not literally, everything nowadays is made easy, and plagiarism has become more undeniably tempting for various reasons.
Maybe some people are too lazy to make their own content, or maybe they just do not know how to cite sources. Maybe they have a vendetta against someone, or maybe they are even fascinated by the work of others. Whatever the reason behind it, plagiarism is a crime. It is an act of stealing.
And so, just as much as we lock our front doors on the way out of our homes, we should make the necessary precautions to keep our original works from getting plagiarized.
By taking the steps to avoid being plagiarized—such as explicitly expressing our Copyrights, giving audiences a guide to citing our works, and the likes which were explained in this article—we become the means of influence against plagiarism. We not only impact people who might get plagiarized, but also people who might perform plagiarism.
When they see our efforts in acting against plagiarism, their eyes will be opened to the truth of the crime.
So, let us normalize originality—because who better to start this than us, the masters behind the masterpieces?