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What To Do If Plagiarism Strikes

Author:  Charlene Rashkow
Date:  11-04-02

A few months ago, I opened my e-mail box to a message from a reader alerting me to something that was rather startling. He said he had just received an article that was exactly the same as one he read earlier in the week in the WebProNews written by me, Charlene Rashkow, only it had a different title along with another author's bio. For some unusual reason the person who wrote me recognized my writing style and intuitively sensed that I was the original author. I was shocked and angry that after all my effort and determination to submit original and interesting articles someone would have the audacity to plagiarize my work.

At first I allowed emotion to take over, quickly finding myself experiencing anger and fear as well as feelings of powerlessness. I wanted to scream. But after about 20 minutes of turmoil, I put aside my fear and decided there had to be a way to rectify the situation. As a beginning place, I went to the site of the literary thief to find out a bit more about who he was and what kind of site he operated. I discovered that not only had he copied my article but to add insult to injury, he had copyrights inserted both on my article as well as all over his site. Talk about hypocrisy.

Thinking my only recourse was to write him a letter and make him aware that I was on to him, I hastily put together a brief note and alerted him of my knowledge. I got no response. Stewing for a while in my discomfort, I was finally inspired to do a search at www.google.com for some information regarding plagiarism. How delighted I was when I found several valuable bits of information that immediately provided me with the tools that put me in the driver's seat.

First, I came upon an article by a gentleman named Michael Southon who had written an excellent paper titled "Is Someone Plagiarizing Your Work?" Apparently Michael had been through something almost identical to my dilemma some time ago except that his perpetrator had actually sent Michael his own article with the plagiarists name written as the author. Due to his situation, Michael wrote an article offering first hand knowledge that I followed to the letter. He suggested that one immediately contact the plagiarist and request that he or she remove the article at once in addition to informing everyone he sent the article to that it had been plagiarized. Michael went on to say one should mention that if he did not withdraw the article from circulation that the web host would be contacted as well as any moderators that distributed the article. I felt so much relief as I sent that message.

With that done, I set on my course to discover what else I could do to alleviate my anguish and stop this from happening again either to me or to someone else. I was not going to let go until I realized some results. So back to Google I went and soon found a web site titled the APIC, Association for the Protection of Internet Copyright. I was so excited that there actually was something akin to the Internet Police that I jumped for joy. APIC is a worldwide organization that protects people against those who steal material from others on the Internet. With fingers flying across the keyboard, I promptly wrote to them and explained my situation. I had a response within a half an hour.

In conjunction with my earlier e-mail based upon Michael's wonderful suggestions and the support from Steve at APIC, I finally heard from the culprit. In his e-mail he made some lame apology and excuse that his intention was in no way meant as plagiarism. He foolishly said that he had received the article with no name attached so he merely used it. I was more than shocked that someone would simply use an article because it appeared in their e-mail box with no name.

In any event, I felt it was important that my fellow and sister writers be aware that there is Internet plagiarism going on and it can affect you randomly. Fortunately the Force was with me when someone so courteously and kindly notified me that my article was stolen. I am very grateful to the person who alerted me and extremely appreciative that they respected me enough to make me aware of the situation. I hope no one else is forced to take such action but just in case you find yourself in a similar situation you now know that there is valuable information available that can support you in a time of need.

Copyright 2002 Charlene Rashkow. All rights reserved. Charlene Rashkow brings 15 years of experience as a Writing Stylist/Author to her creative efforts as a freelance writer/consultant. She has successfully helped companies and individuals reach their objectives by writing outstanding press releases, bios, articles of interest, business plans, resumes, web site content and all other forms of marketing material. You may contact Charlene Rashkow at www.allyourwritingneeds.com or write her at info@allyourwritingneeds.com. You can also call her directly at (310) 514-4844.