I know this happens in all new genres but it seems to be especially bad in the online gaming world. I have been writing online poker content since 2003. I moved more towards news after Black Friday when many well known poker news outlets, in my opinion, were not doing their jobs. Ever since, I have been shocked by the number of people that have been unethical when it comes to my copyrighted work.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act gives a web publisher the rights to articles that they publish in whole or in part. It basically outlaws internet plagiarism, something that every person was taught at an early age is immoral and illegal. It seems that too many online poker affiliates do not think that law applies to them.
I will use my most recent article as an example. I broke the story on an amendment to a lawsuit filed by Cardroom International claiming ownership of Full Tilt Poker’s software. I spent six hours reading 100+ pages of court documents. I started researching the article about 10pm on Friday night and the article was published about 4am Saturday morning. I did this because I wanted to get the story out ASAP for the good of the website and its readers.
The story was picked up by the Pokerscout news listings on Monday morning. All poker writers like their stories to be picked up by Pokerscout news. It provides a solid link and a nice traffic spike.
After the article hit mainstream, many news outlets wrote their own articles about the topic. Many appropriately credited my article as a source. Gambling911 linked to my article with a quote. Calvinayre.com cited Legalpokersites.com as their source. These two sites are examples of how to do it the right way and I would like to thank everyone that does it.
Many smaller online poker affiliates were not as kind. Some were completely unethical. A few copied parts of the article using a thesaurus to change verbs and adjectives to make it pass a duplicate penalty Google test without citing their source. I found one person that was too lazy to even do that. They just copied my article word for word, all 1500 words of it. They even used the featured image from my article.
As was the case here, most mid sized and large affiliates generally do the right thing when publishing news. Those websites are owned by professionals and they can afford to hire quality, ethical writers.
All writers have summarized another writer’s work. All of them at some point have failed to cite the source for their article. Sometimes that is because the original source is unknown. It could also be because the new article adds substantial new information or opinion to the topic.
The problem is that some writers do not link or mention their source 100% of the time.
On top of there being an ethical issue, there is an SEO issue. Google likes when you link to authority websites in your genre. If a website posts breaking news that is worthy of writing a news story, then that site is likely to be a good site to link to from your site.
It is perfectly fine to use another article as a source of a summary. If you do it, just cite the original work as your source. News sites buy and publish these articles in the hopes of getting backlinks. If people never backlink to them, then the site owners will stop providing the articles. This hurts everyone in the industry.
I often write articles with links in them to sources. I have probably posted 50 links to Pokerfuse.com since they launched. When I cite online poker traffic I will link to Pokerscout every time. If there is a thread at Two Plus Two that sparked a news story or opinion article, I will link to it. It is simply the right thing to do for both the other writers and your readers, and it does not hurt you in any way. It may even help.
The point of this was to hopefully have some of the writers in the gray area do the right thing. I am sure that those writers would appreciate links to their articles and mentions in news stories based on their work. Those writers should show the same courtesy.
What I do when people copy/paste my work
This rant is obviously not going to stop the problem. Some people are inherently thieves that will copy/paste articles word for word. The solution to those people is to file complaints with the affiliate programs that they are a member of and to go to the website host to have them taken offline. Godaddy has pulled several websites upon my request. I have also had Google remove offending links.
As a writer, there is no worse feeling than to see your work word for word on a rogue website, especially when the offending website claims credit for the article. It is illegal, immoral, and many writers know how to get websites like that shut down. The copyright holder has to spend about an hour on it but it can be done and to me it is worth it. Sometimes I even write an article about a content thief so that it shows in Google searches related to their company.
If you copy my work word for word, expect a demand notice. If you ignore it, expect your affiliate accounts and/or website shut down.