Sincere flattery or blatant affrontery?

Copy theft is rife on the web. There’s so much of it, you have to be selective about what you lose sleep over.

Let’s leave aside substantial, deliberate infringements for the time being and look at the lazy copier. You know the type: Wish I’d written that page/constructed that set of links. I’ll just grab it, maybe tinker with it a little and then pass it off as my own. Plagiarism is the polite euphemism for that. I prefer copy theft.

To the copier – don’t do it! This is not simply legal advice, nor a moral stance. The fact is that in today’s internet culture you serve yourself better by acknowledging and linking to your source. This is particularly so in the blogosphere. Grab a chunk of good copy from a perceptive blogger, quote it, comment on it, acknowledge and link to the original post. The original blogger will be chuffed, you score brownie points and maybe make a friend and you boost your Google rank into the bargain.

But if you’ve been affronted by someone else’s copy theft, there’s a quick way to verify it to the satisfaction of any hip judge. Grab an offending sentence including some of your unique IP, drop it into the Google search box and, voila, you’re at the top and heinous thief is at number 2.

Even better, visit Copyscape, drop your URL in their search box and you get a nicely highlighted version of the offending pages, complete with stats of how many contiguous words they have copied.