Friday, January 9, 2009

Taking Down a Plagiarist by Debra Shiveley Welch

I had the good fortune to discover Debra Shiveley Welch's article through Author and Book Event Center
For more information on Debra:

Taking Down a Plagiarist
Recently I had the unpleasant experience of discovering that I had been plagiarized. Through Google Alerts (, I learned that a certain “Fantoni” had placed my essay “Sometimes Life is a Metaphor” on under the parenting section.

Google Web Alert for: "Sometimes Life Is A Metaphor"

Sometimes Life is a Metaphor - articleitem
Sometimes Life is a Metaphor. ... Sometimes Life is a Metaphor. By: Fantoni. Every spring, Chris and I order butterfly caterpillars. We have an inexpensive, ...

There it was, word for word, not a punctuation mark, not a syllable changed, and credited to – Fantoni.

I was enraged! How dare someone steal my work! It took me three days, but I finally was able to take action to bring the page with my stolen essay down!

I tried to write to the owner of the site to politely instruct them to either give me credit or remove the page, but emails to the webmaster of the website, which was listed in WhoIs, came back as undeliverable. The “Contact Us” on the web site threw up a 404 error, and when leaving comments, many of my friends received syntax errors when they tried to put my name in as the true author.

My attempt at finding the web host was frustrating. I could not find anything until a kind tech from a related site, taught me the following:

Go into and fill in the name of the web site. Under Server Data, look at “IP Address.” There should be a hosting site mentioned there. If not, click on “trace route.” Scroll down and you should find a hosting url. In my case, it was

Once I had finally discovered the web hosting company, I contacted them and they were very cooperative. Here is what I discovered that I needed to do to remove the page, with my essay credited to the plagiarist, from the web site.

First, read about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act here:

In 2000 a copyright law was passed to protect those of us who post our writings, pictures, etc. on the internet. Should you find that someone has plagiarized your property, fill out a DMCA Take Down Notice form.

You can find the form here:

As you look at it, you will see that it asks you to name the copyrighted work, provide the url where the plagiarist has placed your writing, picture or trademark under their name, who the copyright belongs to and other pertinent information. It then asks for your signature to the following:

“I hereby affirm, as the complaining party, that I believe in good faith that the use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright holder, its agent or the law.

I hereby affirm, under penalty of perjury, that the information contained in this notification is accurate, and that I am authorized to act on behalf of the holder of the exclusive right that I claim to be infringed.

Fill out the form, fax it to the web host and the pertinent pages of the site will be taken down within 48 hours.

Watch the web site. If your material comes up again, most companies will take the entire site down. At this point, the ball is in the court of the plagiarist. If he or she wishes, they can contact an attorney, and then it is between the two of you.

I filled out the form, faxed it to Reliable Hosting and the page was taken down within 24 hours. I felt great satisfaction in rescuing my little essay.

If you have published on one of the writing community sites, you may be affected.

To see if you have been plagiarized, go to:

Note: Debra mentions Google Alerts: I have Google Alerts and discovered that someone had mentioned Waterlilies Over My Grave as being by another author. Just to check, i found that author had never written a Waterlilies Over My Grave. I'm sure in my case, it was an accident. An over enthusiastic reviewer giving her favorite books of the year. Google Alerts is a great tool. Although I believe some have found their obituaries (LOL) Many folks with the same name. pg


Joanna Waugh said...

Wonderful article, Pat. I'm glad you posted it to your blog so folks not members of Author & Book Events Center could read it. Like you, I keep an eye on things using Google Alerts. It's a wonderful and FREE service that not only raises red flags about bad stuff but, better yet, points you in the direction of good things like discussions about your book on forums, etc... I found a couple reviews of BLIND FORTUNE that hadn't been reported to either me or my publisher. Google Alerts is a terrific resource!

Patricia A. Guthrie said...

yes it is.

I found an overenthusiastic reader who listed Waterlilies as one of the top books she's read all year. She put the name of the wrong author after the title.
I'd never have caught that if not for Google Alert.

Debra Shiveley Welch said...

Thank you for helping me get the word out, Patricia!

Patricia A. Guthrie said...

You're welcome Debra.

This is important to all of us!


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