Let's Go Sherlock on these Clowns
So you've written a novel, a story or a poem, or created a graphic design. You were pretty confident that you owned it and no one could take it from you without your permission. Then, you read about David Boyer, who plagiarized my work, Lisa Morton's work, Jane Baxter's work and even seems to have stooped to grabbing Activision's copyrighted artwork. Suddenly you're not so confident anymore. You realize that you don't even know how to find out if your work has been stolen.
What can you do to find out? Finding the answer to that question is the first step to catching a plagiarist.
If you're an artist/graphic designer and are looking to see if your work has been plagiarized, I suggest going to the website Tin Eye to use their reverse image lookup. Take an image of your own work, upload it and watch as it goes through over a billion web images in mere seconds so you can see if someone else is using it. My lead researcher discovered this resource, and I suggest you use it.
If you're a writer, you've probably heard about sites like The Rusty Nail, or Preditors and Editors or Writer Beware. They keep you up to date with the latest information about who to watch out for. The HWA's Lisa Morton has written a powerful cautionary piece called "PIRATES! Or, How to Protect Your Intellectual Property on the High Seas of the Internet."
And now I'll share what my researchers learned along the way:
First, plagiarists, as they get more canny, will change the titles of your work so that you can't easily find what they do. But you should still look for your titles first. But remember, titles are not copyrightable so you will probably run into a few works using your title. Maybe you'll find some of your own stories under the title you gave them. That would be great, but don't stop there because, as I said, they can also change the titles on you.
What next? Take unique blocks of texts from your story and search the net for them with your favorite search engine. Sometimes that will yield the good result. Other times not, even if your story is actually out there. What to do? What can we do if they change the titles. I was at a loss.
But here's something interesting that my lead researcher discovered- a lot of the works plagarized are available through Google, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. with searchable contents. Take the books you suspect and use those searchable contents to your advantage by looking for your unique blocks of text within those windows. You'll even be able to see the Table of Contents- and maybe just see your title there.
And screenshot every violation you find- that way when the plagiarist goes back to delete the evidence, you'll still have what you need to prove your case.
Plagiarists want to use the Internet to steal our creative work, sell it or give it away as a free download like Boyer did to me.
Let's turn the tables and use the Internet against them. And we don't have to fight them alone. When we find we've been plagiarized- we can let our friends in the Blogosphere know. You'll be surpised how many good people willing to help.