Internet plagiarism is a term used to describe the illegal use of written work, photographs, or graphics on a website. It is usually taken from another website without giving credit to the creator of the original content. The laws governing online content are the same as for printed materials, meaning they are protected by copyright infringement laws.
When something is written or a picture or graphic is created, it is automatically copyrighted and protected under the law from being stolen. Internet plagiarism is sometimes harder to detect than with printed materials because of the ease of which materials can be stolen. There are software programs which can alert content creators when their work is being used elsewhere, and legal action cane be taken when this occurs. Most search engines will block a site using plagiarized materials from showing up in search results. Their websites may also be taken down, although the exact action may depend on what the original content creator's desires.
Internet plagiarism can include things aside from content and pictures. Anything taken from another website, or print materials, and placed in another place can be considered plagiarism. This includes social networking sites, personal blogs, and private emails. The original creator of whatever content is being used should be given full credit for his or her work. To do this, it is generally acceptable to list the name of the author, photographer or artist. If this information is not available, listing a link to the website where the content was found is often acceptable.
To ensure proper credit is given, however, it is a good idea to request permission from the content creator directly. This is can usually be done by sending an email or calling. Sometimes rules for using content are displayed on the site itself with information about how it should be used, how to give credit, and the types of sites it can be used on. Most require the citation for credit to be clearly visible and easy to read. It should also be close to the content, usually just below it as a caption.
Those who feel they have been the victim of Internet plagiarism should contact the appropriate officials with a link to the offending website or person. Sometimes it is more effective to contact the person using the content first, since many people don't realize that they are breaking the law. Sometimes, simply requesting the content be taken down or that credit be given to the rightful content owners is enough to remedy the situation.