Plagiarism of Poems, etc.

We see one problem routinely at DarkPoetry, and that is people copying works from our site to various places around the net.

Most of us realize there is a risk of this, but we know the potential rewards of sharing our works with others outweighs the risk of having them stolen. In any case, hoarding our poetry so only we can read it kind of defeats the purpose.

Imitation is certainly the sincerest flattery, but it is also illegal. If an author writes something, and does NOT wish it to be duplicated they are often left helpless; they would gain little to nothing by suing the other party, and often they would have such a hard time getting the whole affair to court that it would cost far more than the benefits of winning would merit.

There are some simple steps you can take to help prevent having your work stolen however.

1. Display a conspicuous copyright notice at the bottom of your work with your real, full name and a date. If you insist on going by a psuedonym, you are much more likely to be ripped off.

2. If you are a member of DarkPoetry, choose to make the work visible only to logged on members. This may reduce 'drive by' copy and pasters.

3. Use the "poor man's copyright" as described in the node/doc/tos#copyrightcopyright information on DarkPoetry.com. Make several envelopes in this manner, you may need more than one unopened copy.

Now, you ask, what's the easiest way to find out if people are copying my works on the internet?

The answer is simple. Take one line from your work, the longer and more distinct the better. Here's one from my Poem "Facing the Hunter"

Lungs on fire screaming please hurry

Open a browser window for Google and enter this line into the search box but surrounded by quotes:

"Lungs on fire screaming please hurry"

The quotes will tell google "give me only results that are exactly the same as what I entered between the quotes" and since Google has practically the entire Internet in it's databases, if someone else is copying your work in a close to verbatim manner, you'll score a few results.

Fortunately, in my case I find that the only page in google is my own. But in many searches for others works as reported we find that there are copies of many works from DP all over the internet.

What should you do when you find someone has taken your work and posted it as if it were their own? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Write to the site's webmaster and tell them both the date you wrote the item, and show them where it is originally posted on the internet. How do you find a site's webmaster if it's not obvious? Visit Whois to get their contact info.

2. If it's possible to post comments on the thieves' page or guestbook, make a remark including the copyright date and they will often make it 'vanish' out of embarrassment.

3. If you have enough money to sic a lawyer on them for the sake of defending yourself on principle, go for it. Often a single phone call from your attourney will cost you around $100 but will get a good result without having to land you in a court battle. Of course, I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, so see your lawyer for a more qualified opinion.

It is the official policy of DarkPoetry.com to close any account where someone is plagiarizing work. The burden of proof is listed in the copyright document.

It is not the job of DarkPoetry to go after people on other sites violating our member's copyrights, though we regularly send emails to other webmasters to help members who are being used in this way. If you have been copied without your consent, please follow the steps in this document to persue the matter yourself. If you find a DarkPoetry member has copied material illegally, please do report it to us.

Comments and suggestions welcome, this is a work in progress...
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