Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Plagiarism (College or Corporate style)

I recall in my graduate days when writing a research paper the very stringent rules the university had regarding sourcing of work and references.

Now crediting of sources applies not only in academia but to copy, creative, design and other marketing elements as well. Full disclosure is not just some trendy expression.

Beyond the moral or legal issues, if you try to take credit for the work of others you risk getting roasted badly. Check out this site (flagged by the folks at 37 Signals) where some major clothing retailers appear to get 3rd degree burns.

Whether the aforementioned blog is legit is not my call. What is worth noting is the same Internet used by lazy students to plagiarize now serves to not only discredit them but others for trademark or copyright transgressions as well.

One of my past employers outsourced for original website content. We had a terrific editor who noticed inconsistencies in the writing style by the content provider. The content was cut and pasted into Google. The 'original content' showed up verbatim on a dozen different sites. We had grounds to terminate for breach of contract and also avoided a major bullet.

Could it be possible the pendulum has swung in the other direction? 'Not likely' according to some of my old profs. Nevertheless, whether you are a freshman or a marketer, the risk of public humilation just isn't worth it.

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