Theft of journalists’ work is exploding on the internet thanks to a new wave of automated story-copying software – but news organisations are not equipped to tackle the problem, according to one reporter carving a niche as the web’s anti-plagiarism crusader.
Conventional forms of plagiarism, in which writers poach one another’s words, resurfaced recently after washingtonpost.com fired its right-wing blogger for the offence. But now online marketers are harvesting journalists’ work to boost their visibility, says Jonathan Bailey, editor of Plagiarism Today, a weblog rapidly gaining popularity with victims seeking help.
“The New York Times, the AP and countless others have been hit with plagiarism scandals recently,” he told journalism.co.uk. “While computers and the web have made it easier for journalists to do that, the act is the same as it was 50 years ago.
“What’s changing is what is happening to journalists as their content moves online. No longer is their content at risk just from other news sources – they are at risk from amateur bloggers and, possibly worst of all, spammers.”
Mr Bailey, a New Orleans-based writer, founded Plagiarism Today in June 2005 to document an ongoing battle concerning theft of his own work. Bruised by the affair, he turned the site public to chronicle other copycats’ misdemeanours and added resources like detection tools and cease-and-desist letters for freelancers to use.
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