One of the most popular posts on my blog continues to be My Life, Ten Years From Now written in July of 2010. It was a response to a Plinky Prompt and then surprisingly featured on Freshly Pressed. This week alone, it has been read 249 times and everyday one of the top searches that brings people to my blog is – 10 years from now I will be.
Out of curiosity, I plugged that post’s page into Copyscape’s Plagiarism Checker search engine. In a click of a key, I was suddenly staring at my own work on someone else’s website. Not only was it on someone else’s website, but it was marked as a premium essay, which meant I had to pay for a subscription to read the essay in its entirety. Someone was getting monetary compensation for my copyrighted work. I felt sick to my stomach.
What kind of website was this? And how did my essay end up here?
Apparently I am much older than I want to admit, because I had no idea that there were websites offering subscriptions to gain access to “example” papers. In fact, this particular website’s mission statement reads:
To provide an idea encyclopedia that enables members to streamline their research process, jump-start, and focus their paper writing efforts.
In order to get a free membership, with limited access, you have to submit an essay “donation”. Apparently, someone passed off my work as their own in order to get a membership to this service. There are numerous disclaimers stating that you are not allowed to plagiarize or submit plagiarized material. And of course, there are numerous disclaimers stating that this service can not be held accountable for unknowingly posting plagiarized material. Of course, the only reason that they are not “in the know” is because they don’t actually check any of the work submitted. In fact, just for fun, I submitted something myself yesterday to gain access to all the content. Within seconds, I received an email thanking me for my “donation”. My essay was posted immediately, glaring mistakes and all.
*So if you are one of those paying patrons, be very aware that these “quality” submissions have not been checked for grammar, spelling, form or function. They are posted “as-is”.
Obviously, I made a complaint. At first I called their help-line and was told they can’t help me. The available phone number is only for their sales department. My only option was to fill out a complaint form and report the essay as plagiarized, linking back to the original work. I am happy to say that my essay was removed from the website by the end of the day. And their response?
Beside the fact that someone has been financially gaining from my work for two years without my permission or compensation (it was added to their website in September of 2010), it really irked me that sites like this even exist. Maybe shocked is a better word. If the intent of this site is to help students jump-start their writing, or give examples of quality work, don’t people know they can get all that information for free? Good grief, at the very least, they could have been reading that particular essay for free right on my blog! Or, I don’t know, meet with your professor if you are having trouble or take better notes in class. How about this idea? Do your own friggin’ work.
Hmm, maybe I’m missing a big opportunity here and should make my blog password protected and start charging a monthly membership fee. If I charged what this site does for unlimited monthly access to other people’s work ($30), based on the number of followers I currently have (2,341), I would be making about what? $70,000 a month?
- Prevent Content Theft (WordPress.com Support)