The Case of the Copy Cats

16 Feb

What would you do if you realized that someone copied information verbatim from the organization’s blog your public relations firm is representing? PRmoment.com calls these writers “churnalists.” It is also simple plagiarism, and it is considered illegal. Journalists and PR professionals toe-the-line when they are not careful about including attributes or coming up with fresh ideas. It also puts the reputation of a PR firm at risk if content from their organization is parroted by someone else. It makes publics wonder who really has authority in the media.

Content scraping can be unfortunate and cause some damage. However, with proper PR work, it can also result in reward, according to Angela England on Blogging Basics 101, an informational blog for those working in digital media.

“My initial knee-jerk reaction is usually, ‘How dare they!?’ but this is rarely a useful response,” said England.

She suggests keeping calm when making contact with whomever stole the contact and working out a way for the author of the original post to receive payment for their work by charging who took the content a reprint free if it is not removed by a certain date.

“This not only creates a potential win/win situation, but also makes it very clear that your [organization’s] words have VALUE and aren’t up for grabs,” said England.

However, if this creates more conflict or ends with no results, and your organization’s content still up, you should consider filing a DMCA complaint. This notifies Google and other web hosts of copyright infringement.

You should remain calm and try to keep the situation between your firm, the organization, and whoever copied the content. Avoid posting threats or expressing agitation on social media sites, despite the injustice.

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