How to Spot and Stop Plagiarism
By Mariah, age 15, Minnesota
Sweet Designs Featured Writer
Plagiarism is the illegal reproduction of someone's original written work or thoughts. In other words, the stealing of words and phrases of another person. These people took the time to write and come up with these works, and someone else is taking advantage of them and their ideas.
Once someone writes their words or ideas on paper, types it up, and posts it on the internet or publishes it in paper form, no one can copy their work; to do so would be illegal.
Plagiarizing is a felony, and you could face up to 10 years in jail, as well as up to $250,000 in fines. However, if you are a minor, it is not you who will get into trouble; your parents will be held responsible. Hopefully, it will make people feel guilty about plagiarizing, knowing their parents will be the ones who go to jail, when they did nothing to deserve these consequences.
In my opinion, I do not understand why it is so hard to come up with original ideas and content, rather than "cheating" by stealing other people's ideas, and using their text or content to take the easy way out and save some time. I would rather spend an hour or two coming up with a great essay or website page, and be able to say I created it with my own two hands and brain. Knowing your creations are 100% yours gives you a strong feeling of accomplishment, as opposed to spending 5 minutes copying and pasting others' content into your website, and claiming it as your own. Some people don't know what they're doing, and don't know it's illegal, while others know it's wrong, yet they are unaware of the seriousness of their actions.
When you don't make or create your own work, you aren't learning anything. The only thing you're learning how to do is break the law, and if you break it once, you're bound to break it again. What some people don't get is, regardless of which country you reside in, the entire internet is protected by a mass copyright law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which protects all work on the internet from being plagiarized. This outlaws plagiarism on the internet throughout the world. The only way to stop plagiarism in its tracks is to report it immediately. You should give the plagiarizer a feel about why it's wrong, and warn them that what they're doing is illegal.
Some people think, "Oh, they're not going to do anything about it. No one's ever going to find out."
That's why we need to enforce the laws by notifying people who are plagiarizing that it is illegal. As a website owner myself, it is an insult to find plagiarism on the internet, when lots of people, including myself, are trustworthy people who would rather take the extra time to write their own content. It's a slap across the face, really. Plagiarism reads "quality doesn't matter". If a mass plagiarism hunt were established, especially on the internet, we would help make the world wide web a credible place, filled with great information created with creativeness and originality in mind.
How to Spot Plagiarism:
If the sentence structures, paragraphs, words, vocabulary used, etc., differ from the usual content on the website.
Blackle / Google the alleged plagiarism to see if it's plagiarized; do this piece by piece, because they may have changed a word or two to throw off the searches.
How to Report PlagiarismTake a screen shot of the page, or pages, that are plagiarized.
How to Take A Screen Shot1. Go to the page that contains plagiarism. (If it's more than one page, you'll have to screen shot them separately.)
2. While on the page, press CTRL and Print Screen
3. Click on "Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> Paint"
4. Press CTRL and V to paste the plagiarism.
5. Save it as "(Title of Website)'s Plagiarism"
Then contact the website owner to notify them that there may be counts of plagiarism located on their website, and send them the screen shots so they can determine how it got on their website.
Editor's Note: So much of the content we see on the internet is cut and pasted from somewhere else without citing the original source. Worse, sometimes people claim to author what they did not write. Sweet Designs Magazine rejects stolen or non-original submissions, and either rejects or returns for re-work articles which contain "borrowed" content for which the source is either not properly cited, or else the quoted sections are too extensive for the work to be considered original. With limited time and resources, a few plagiarized lines in a couple long ago articles managed to slip through, only to be spotted by our readers. Determining fair use of photographs not obviously copyright protected is also an issue we take seriously, and admit it's possible at times to make an incorrect determination. We are committed to publishing original content, and we check for plagiarism, as Mariah recommends, whenever we suspect it.