A colleague of mine just had her article copied by someone without giving her any credit.
This could be so frustrating — to have your work “stolen” by someone else and used as theirs without making any reference to you as the inspiration.
As she shared her experience with us (other colleagues), a few thoughts went through my head which I now wish to share with you:
In an ideal world, nobody will so obviously copy someone else without giving some kind of recognition. But then we’re not in an ideal world so these things happen.
My hope in this article is to offer some reframes — to help you see the plagiarism in an alternative light in order to better relate with it.
Reframe 1). Plagiarism is a form of compliment.
It may not feel like it, but the only reason someone would copy you is because they liked what you wrote so much that they couldn’t think of a better way of putting it in their own words.
Does that give them license to do what they did? No, it doesn’t. But maybe that was the limit of their courage at that time.
Notice I said “courage” and not “knowledge”.
In other words, they know that they were inspired by your writing; but don’t have the courage to be open about it to their own audience.
It could be a mixture of pride and fear – maybe their followers will leave them for you or whatever; we can’t know what goes on in their head.
But the summary of this first reframe is that anyone copying you simply admires you; and you can start thinking of their plagiarism as a compliment.
Reframe 2). See them as your “collaborators” in the bigger spectrum of events.
By this, I mean that when someone copies your content and shares it forward, what they’re effectively doing is helping you with free advertising.
I understand that they don’t mention your name and so it may not feel like they’re promoting you in the ordinary sense of the word “advertising” … but they are actually promoting your message to an audience that you may not have reached otherwise.
This reframe has to do with you reconnecting with your bigger goal of content creation & distribution.
Take a moment to pause and consider the question: Deep down, why am I creating content? Is it strictly as a tool to attract clients or because I genuinely believe in this message and would love it to help someone?
If it’s because you’d truly love to help someone, then maybe you could reframe this violation as a way of helping you get your message out to as many people as possible. That is, they just saved you some advertising budget!
Again, this is not to make light of plagiarism or offer a justification for them; but it’s a healthy way of thinking about it so that you don’t pull your hairs out.
** Other reframes and perspectives: **
1). Nobody can ever truly copy you – you’re completely unique in who you are.
2). Letting go of the need to be referenced frees you up emotionally and psychologically. It also saves you time and energy.
3). No human knowledge is original – everything we know today is a combination of what we’ve learned, read, seen, heard, or experienced.
4). They can only copy you so much – it’s going to get tiring even for them to keep an eye on every single post you make
5). You are unlimited in your creativity (okay now I copied this one from my mentor George, lol). But it’s true – there’s no limit to what you can create from your genius. So, if someone copies you, just make a new one ‘cos you have it in you. They are the ones to get tired cos it’s not easy to copy.
Here are some resources to help you explore more on this subject:
Reading through these links will give you a sense and a feel of the concept behind it; and hopefully some clarity.
When someone copies you and your feelings have been hurt, give yourself time to process those feelings and respect yourself.
I don’t expect you to suddenly feel good about people copying your work without credit; but I hope that this is going to be some kind of beginning to a journey that you’d end up enjoying (even if you can’t see that right now).
Wishing you well.
Got any questions you’d love for me to answer? Email me: [email protected]