My colleague Arlene Prunkl, owner of PenUltimate Editorial Services, posted a shocking but important article on her blog about how the carefully crafted text on her website was stolen by several freelance editors who were too lazy to write their own copy.
The article, entitled Caveat editor: beware the e-plagiarist, is available in full over at her website, and I'd recommend reading it in full. Arlene gave me permission to feature a link to her important post here on the Parlour.
In the article she explains how her online content was stolen; she also provides some excellent advice on how to monitor and tackle the problem.
If you're uneasy about my use of the word "stolen" I'll not apologize. While some view copying as a form of flattery, that's a poor excuse. At the very least it's lazy. At the very worst it's a deliberate attempt to jump on the back of someone else's hard work and success and pass those things off as one's own. Copying web content isn't like admiring our best friend's shirt and deciding we'll get one too. It's like going into their house without permission, taking that shirt out of their wardrobe, putting it on and claiming we bought it first!
While freelance editors' and proofreaders' websites invariably address many overlapping issues in terms of service provision, there are thousands of ways to write that material in an original way. That plagiarism is quite a rare occurrence in the international editorial freelancing community is a testament to that fact. So when it does happen, it can't be tolerated, even if the perpetrator claims it was an "accident". It's incumbent on each of us, as professional business owners, to respect our colleagues (and the law) by seeking permission and citing appropriately when we use another person's words.
I'd like to thank Arlene for highlighting this important issue and for offering solutions that ensure we can all strive for good, and legal, business practice.
About Louise Harnby
Louise Harnby is a professional proofreader and the curator of The Proofreader's Parlour. Visit her business website at Louise Harnby | Proofreader, follow her on Twitter at @LouiseHarnby, or find her on LinkedIn.
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I am an Advanced Professional Member of the UK's national editorial society. Visit the SfEP website for more information.
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