I sorted out my feelings about the plagiarism of one of my Performancing blog posts by the anonymous people behind Zurza. I refuse to create a hot link to that site, but you can cut and paste the link into a browser to see the post stolen from me: http://zurza.com/be-a-happy-hooker/.
Today, I posted on Performancing about what you can do when people steal your words. I could have called the anonymous Zurza various epithets like scumbag, no talent hack who must steal for content, scurrilous scoundrels (they'd probably have to use the dictionary on that one), but in the end I decided to take the high road and not call them names. Instead, I'll dispassionately discuss their copyright infringement and try to tell you what to do if it occurs to you.
Why Do Some Steal?
Because they're larcenous at heart? Because they don't have the talent, brains, or skill to produce their own content? Who knows? What's more important is to know what you can you do about it when they do. I've had to confront all these questions upon discovering the morning of August 4 that my post had been hijacked down to the very last period by Zurza, apparently well-known in the blog community for its plagiaristic, copyright-infringing actions.
Do they steal because they're too lazy to write their own posts? Again, who knows? I don't. At this point, I don't care either. I could pose questions all day long, but I suspect one of the reasons people steal others' words is because they can.
It's so easy on the Internet to copy something. The sad thing is that there is little that can be done to prevent it from happening or to punish those who do it so they won't do it again.
What To Do
The DMCA (Digital Media Copyright Act) is supposed to protect the rights of us creators of content. So the only thing you can do is follow the protocols established by it. That's what I'm doing. If you want examples of the letters to write and to whom you should send a letter, please visit Jonathan Bailey at Plagiarism Today.
Jonathan maintains a resource treasure for writers. You can educate yourself about the growing copyright infringement problem and what you can do about it. One of the tabs you'll see is Stock Letters, actual letters you can personalize and use to send your notices of copyright infringement to the appropriate party.
As I said in my weekly Performancing blog, every writer needs to protect his or her work. If you want others to use it, then select one of the Creative Commons licenses. If you want your name attached to your work in whatever license you choose, then you need to educate yourself about copyright, the different licenses available to you as a creator, and the redress available to you when someone infringes on your license or copyright.
Most importantly, you need to bear the responsibility for fighting plagiarists and copyright theft by doing your part when it happens to you.