May 13 2011
Associations have embraced Web 2.0—and its ability to ratchet up online collaboration, dialogue and the capture of multiple viewpoints.
A well-designed, content-rich website is now essential in order articulate the unique vision, initiatives and services that will engage potential members and constituents. But it goes much further. Blogs, wikis, chat rooms, and other social capabilities have changed the way that we pull information from members—and the way that we push information to the public.
With increased knowledge transfer capabilities and instant content delivery systems also comes the increased risk of the inappropriate use of organization-originated information. Today, many associations are being forced into battle alongside their corporate counterparts for the sanctity and security of their intellectual property. Digital plagiarism is becoming an increasing phenomenon—and associations are not immune!
Plagiarism is illegal, unethical and immoral—and people are taking notice, taking issue and taking action to address the misuse of web content in the digital world. Few take comfort in the fact that while the bad guys can copy their content, the bad guys cannot duplicate their culture or commitment—that actions speak for themselves—and they speak louder than any false echo.
While it is very difficult to police and prosecute content plagiarism in the digital world, there are some resources that can help.
The Association of College & Research Libraries (a division of the American Library Association) has some fantastic online copyright resources.
The Internet Archive’s Way Back Machine is a useful tool for researching different renditions and evolutions of websites (this can be helpful if you ever have to prove that web content originated from your site first). http://www.archive.org/index.php
Copyscape is free online tool that allows you to search for copies of your content throughout the web http://www.copyscape.com/
Even if mimicry is the highest form of flattery, there is nothing more frustrating than creating a comprehensive online resource for your members only to have much of the content snatched and pasted by a competing organization. Please give a shout out if you have any additional resources to share here—or if your organization has faced this issue personally.
Meanwhile, for more information about online intellectual property and copyright issues visit www.copyright.gov.
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