Plagiarism & Content Theft of a Squidoo Lens

Plagiarism, content theft, scraping…What if it happens to your Squidoo lens? Do you have rights if your content on a Squidoo page is copied or scraped? Can you prevent plagiarism of a Squidoo lens? What if your lens was stolen, where can you go for help?

Plagiarism, Content Theft, and Scraping of a Squidoo Lens

Many lensmasters work really, really hard creating their Squidoo lenses. They are unique, well-crafted… and a prime target for content theft. As Margaret pointed out, finding out that your lens content AND your traffic has been stolen can be maddening (to say the least!)

So, what can we do if we feel out lens content has been copied or scraped? Squidoo is a free-to-use website, do we even have any rights to our work? Is there a way to find out of your lens has been copied? Can you prevent plagiarism of your Squidoo page?

All these questions led me on a mission to find the answers. What I found instead, was a one-man show with one goal – to teach others how to prevent and fight internet plagiarism.

Meet Jonathan Bailey from PlagiarismToday.com

Jonathan Bailey- PlagiarismToday.com

After scanning through Jonathans site, I was so impressed with his knowledge of plagiarism and his openness to help others, that I asked Jonathan if he would consider being interviewed here at PotPieGirl.com.

Jonathan accepted (thank you!) and what you are about to read is an interview with Jonathan Bailey from PlagiarismToday.com. Please note that Jonathan is not a lawyer (but he certainly is an expert in his field).

Plagiarism, Squidoo, and You – Q&A

Q. Being that Squidoo.com is a free-to-use site, and content creators do not own the site their work resides on, do Squidoo lensmasters own their unique work and content they create?

Jonathan Bailey – “The simple answer is yes. Copyright in a work is created the moment that a work is fixed into a tangible medium of expression (such as saving a file or saving it to a server) and automatically, barring some form of work for hire arrangement, rests with the author. Though Squidoo does pay at least some of its lensmasters, it does not reach the level of a work-for-hire, which most typically takes place in an employer/employee relationship.

On that note, Squidoo, through its terms of service, does reserve some rights into the work, mainly the right to display it and make necessary changes to it to use it. But copyright rests with the author and they can allow or prohibit others from reusing it.

You can read more about this on item four of Squidoo’s TOS. “

Q. What can a lensmaster do if they feel their Squidoo lens content has been stolen, plagiarized, or copied?

Jonathan Bailey – “As the copyright holder of the work, lensmasters have all of the rights and tools available to them that any other Webmaster or blogger would have.

Their first option is to send a cease and desist letter to the infringing site, if they can locate the owner of the site.

The more reliable option is to file a DMCA notice with the host, which can easily be done using tools and stock letters available on my site.

Finally, if the host is uncooperative or is in a country that does not have a notice and takedown system (most major Internet countries including the U.S. EU and Australia already do and others are in the works) you can file a DMCA notice with the search engines an have the infringing pages pulled from Google, Yahoo!, MSN and Ask.

Unfortunately, for most infringements lensmasters see, suing for the infringement will be impractical or even impossible.”

Q. Are there ways for Squidoo lensmasters to be proactive and protect their lens content from potential theft?

Jonathan Bailey – “With text-based works, there is very little that can be done. Text is very easy copied and, even in situations where the Webmaster has total control over their site, something one doesn’t have with Squidoo. The methods for protecting text are worse than the actual problem of plagiarism.

I am unaware if Squidoo users can set their RSS feeds to partial, but that can mitigate against RSS scraping, which is one of the more common and more damaging types of content theft going on.

With images, lensmasters can, and likely should, consider adding watermarks over their original images. These will both reduce the number of times an image is lifted, but help verify ownership when it is. There are many freeware applications that can place watermarks over images.”

Q. How can a lensmaster check the web for copies of their lens content?

Jonathan Bailey – “In this area Google is your best friend. If you have static content that isn’t regularly updated, you can search for unique phrases in the work in Google to see what matches come up. If it is just your content, it likely hasn’t been copied, at least not in a large-scale way.

With dynamic content, such a trick is not practical. You can embed a unique character string, known as a digital fingerprint, at the footer of each item. Then, if the content is scraped, usually via the RSS feed, they will pick up that string and you will be able to search for it as well.

In both cases, you can use Google Alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts) to automate the process.

Also, Copyscape (http://www.copyscape.com) and Bitscan (http://www,bitscan.com) both can help automate the plagiarism detection process.

With images, there is much less that can be done. Image detection is still somewhat in its infancy. You might consider using Picscout (http://www.picscout.com) or Digimarc (http://www.digimarc.com) but both solutions there are expensive and likely out of the reach of most lensmasters.”

Q. Where can Squidoo lensmasters go to get more help and information about content plagiarism?

Jonathan Bailey – “Some great resources would be the U.S. Copyright Office (http://www.copyright.gov) for learning about the basics of copyright and who to contact at a host to file a DMCA notice. The Performancing Legal Issues Forum (which I help moderate) is a great resource for bloggers and others to get information about specific plagiarism cases and, of course, Plagiarism Today, my own site has both static guides and up-to-date information about protecting content and the current copyright climate on the Web.”

Jonathan, Thank You! I hope other lensmasters got as much out of our conversation as I did. It sure is great to know there is someone like you out there to help folks that get stuck in this situation.

If you would like to learn more about fighting plagiarism, preventing plariarism, or the climate of content theft and other copyright infringements on the internet – PLEASE visit: PlagiarismToday.com.

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