Monday, June 18, 2012

Plagiarism (a story with a happy ending)

I made a startling discovery on Friday. In last week’s WIRTW, I gave a shout out to the Meritas Social Media Guide for Lawyers v. 2.0. (In the name of full disclosure, my law firm, Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, is the Cleveland member firm of Meritas, an international alliance of full-service law firms, and its Social Media Guide features my blog.) One of the guide’s authors, Ethan Wall, took to Twitter to thank Daily Legal Law for mentioning the Social Media Guide. The only problem is that Daily Legal Law had plagiarized my column from Friday, reprinting it word for word.

I am all for other websites and blogs being so enamored with my content that they want to run it on their sites. Please, have the kindness to email me first to ask permission (I rarely say no), and then provide proper attribution. Don’t copy and paste my copyrighted content, and exacerbate your evilness by listing someone else as the author.

This story has a happy ending. Five minutes of easy research led me to’s web host, HostGator, to whom I sent a takedown letter under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Yesterday, I received the following email from HostGator:

HostGator took down the entire website. If you visit, this message is all you will find:

If you have employees posting content for your business online, remind them that plagiarism is illegal, that copyrights have meaning, that violating others intellectual property rights has consequences for the company (such as infringement lawsuits, civil fines, and criminal penalties), and that plagiarism is a terminable offense. Build these ideas into your social media, online communication, or similar policy, and re-enforce the concept in the training of your employees on responsible and legal online communications. Also, if you are regularly publishing content, it is wise to monitor the Web to check for stolen content, so that you can act swiftly to protect your IP.

To the proprietors of If you are going to steal copyrighted material, at least have enough common sense not to steal it from the one group certain enough to know how to protect their IP rights—attorneys., you are free to copy this post (and only this post) and paste it, in its entirety, on any of your other websites.