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Plagiarism: What To Do When A Competitor Copies Your Work

Is plagiarism the best form of flattery? You may be left wondering what to do when a competitor blatantly steals your work.

Plagiarism: What To Do When A Competitor Copies Your Work

Posted Monday September 22nd, 2014 by in Analysis + Strategy.

Is plagiarism the best form of flattery? If you spend lots of time creating compelling content for your audience, you may be left wondering what to do when a competitor blatantly steals your work.

I can just hear it now – Mom coming up with some old adage about how those who engage in such egregious behavior as plagiarism will get their just desserts. But in the business world, it’s difficult to leave such scientific data theft to a loose concept of eventual moral reconciliation. Although the plagiarizing business may falter “one day,” it’s difficult to imagine when that day will come.

If you represent an author or company whose work has been blatantly ripped off by a competitor, here are a few things to consider to put you at ease:

1. Mom Was Right – In a Way.Clients have no tolerance for lying or cheating, because it usually signals more underlying problems within the organization. When the plagiarizing competitor’s client comes to you for any reason whatsoever – to price out a project, explore other options, etc. – innocuously pointing out the plagiarism goes a long way (although this seems like tattling, it’s all in how you do it. Take it from us – this works!).

2. Plagiarism is an Indication of Weakness, Not Strength.It did not take long for news of a competitor’s plagiarism to travel through our own company; within days, our staff as a team felt angry and powered up to defeat the utter lack of integrity. Not only did it make the team band together, but it also signaled to the team that they were on the “good side.” If you’re wondering if a positive sentiment like that trickles all the way down to clients, you bet it does!

3. If a Higher Standard of Morality Doesn’t Get Them, Google Will.Google is cracking down on what it calls “duplicate content.” Ask Google itself and it will return plenty of articles from content experts such as HubSpot’s humorous “7 Tell-Tale Signs Your Competitior Is a Total Shmuck” or John Engle’s “Avoiding Duplicate Content”. Unfortunately for the culprit, the result of a guilty verdict in duplicate content is a lifetime ban from Google. Ouch! If your competitor is taking that kind of risk, imagine what other potentially fatal mistakes your competitor is making…

4. If All Else Fails, Lawyer Up.As a last resort, you can litigate against the competitor for copyright infringement, and with time-stamps on the web pages, it won’t be a difficult fight. However, it will be a costly fight, often with little or no way to prove the value of the content. Companies do win this fight all the time, but as a business owner, you’ll have to be prepared for all the trappings of legal conflict.

Most importantly, remember that if a competitor is plagiarizing your hard work, it does not bode well for your competitor. It is usually an indicator of many more underlying issues that will eventually sink their ship and jettison their clients, all for your ultimate benefit. So, as Mom would tell you, “keep your chin up and keep fighting the good fight!”

Have you been plagiarized or do you know a company who practices plagiarism? Share your story in our comments below!


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