HOW TO COPE WITH BEING PLAGIARISED: The Sincerest Form of Flattery

After years of waiting, someone has finally copied my work. They have used a nom de plume. Being copied, even by a fictitious entity, does not take away that warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that someone likes my work as much as I do, maybe more.

I wrote an article about a law firm being blessed by the Pope. It was accepted by a legal magazine for publication online. When I did not hear from them, I found that they had taken lines, which we clearly both thought funny, from my article and used them in their own piece as if it was their original work.

Moral rights or, as we the plagiarised like to say, “Moral, I know my Rights” provides for a right for you to be named if your work is copied, and to control the form of the work, but there are exceptions. Also, there is “reverse passing off” which covers plagiarism.

The editor would not explain, apologise or print the article in full, but did take down the offending web page, and she offered a mention of my site in a “regular blog spot”, a sort of “plagiarise one, get one free” offer.

It may be understandable that editors do not readily apologise, just as captains often do not go down with their ships.

Like many potential litigants, I hoped that there might be a copyright lawyer out there, even a fictitious one, who would share my angst and take my case as a matter of principle, i.e. for free.

However, as a copyright lawyer myself, I realised that was just not going to happen. So, it was left to me to do what any red-blooded copyright lawyer would do; write an article and then advise myself as to the next step.

I advised myself to accept the mention in their regular blog spot and to get on with my life.   

Don’t underestimate the power you have by telling a publication that they have used your work without permission. You can easily damage the credibility of the publication and/or  ruin the reputation of the person responsible. Not only should you be very careful in exercising this power, as it can backfire seriously, but be aware of the consequences of your action.

Extract from "Easy IP: How to use the Law to Protect you Money-Making Ideas" by Paul Brennan


©  Paul Brennan 2010. All rights reserved.

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