Plagiarism: Flattery or Just Plain Stealing?
Since founding of the belegal.com website (http://belegal NULL.com/about/) in August 1999, we have been publishing articles and blog posts on legal matters that were of interest to the Expat Community. These articles are written with the aim of providing insight to legal topics that continuously crop up in the free legal queries’ section (http://belegal NULL.com/questions/askALawyer/) to which we’ve been replying to, on a daily basis, for over a decade now.
Some people like our articles and blog posts so much that they happen to borrow them from our article archive (http://belegal NULL.com/articles/showArchive) and/or blogs (http://belegal NULL.com/blogs/) and include them in their own blogs or corporate websites crediting us as the authors as well as placing a working link back to our website, which is just fine by us. Yet a minority decides to take a step further crossing the red line, removing the names of the lawyers that wrote them so as to cheekily credit themselves as the authors! Some would argue that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, albeit in our opinion profiting from other’s hard work whilst taking credit for it is just too much to bear with. We certainly do not regard it as flattery, and take legal action against offenders when appropriate.
In Spain, articles, blog posts and in general all original written material is protected by Spain’s Intellectual Property Laws (Royal Decree 1/1996). Moreover, Spain’s Penal Code in its Chapter XI protects author’s Intellectual Property Rights against plagiarism in three articles no less (articles 270-272 (http://noticias NULL.juridicas NULL.com/base_datos/Penal/lo10-1995 NULL.l2t13 NULL.html#c11s1)), which have associated to them prison sentence, ranging from 6 months to 4 years. All an offended needs doing is file a denuncia against the offender. As an example, two people were arrested in Torremolinos (http://www NULL.diariosur NULL.es/20080714/local/malaga/detenidos-torremolinos-plagiar-pagina-200807142046 NULL.html), and were taken into custody for plagiarizing just one article from a website.
Furthermore, all our articles are protected with Copyscape (http://www NULL.copyscape NULL.com/)software, so sooner or later we are bound to catch all those using them without authorisation. Over the last decade we’ve caught over a hundred websites using them unlawfully, as well as seven lawyers, both Spanish and British, all of which apologized. Native English speakers may be harder to hound, because, on mastering English, they are able to sneakily change the wording, producing what they think is an “original” work that makes our copied articles more difficult to track down. Amending or tweaking written content to fool search engines is still regarded as plagiarism and only buys them some time; regardless, they will be held personally liable when found.
As written above, and as per the site copyright policy (http://belegal NULL.com/about/copyright), we have no problem in anyone using our legal articles in their own websites so long as they comply with two simple requirements:
- Crediting the lawyer who wrote them, either as a source or as the author, as appropriate.
- Placing a working link back to our website where these articles were originally published.
On complying with the above, there is absolutely no need to previously contact us to request our permission to publish them. Hundreds of websites, spanning from mortgage brokers to real estate agencies, use our legal articles unhampered. We only contact those whom we feel abuse us taking unfair advantage of our hard work by not crediting us as the authors or even going as far as removing us and crediting themselves as the authors of our articles!
Spot The Differences
The following three companies have been previously contacted by us allowing them the chance, at their choice, to either remove our articles from their websites or else credit us as the authors. None of them apologized.
Examples of plagiarism:
- Drunk Driving Offence in Spain (http://www NULL.marbella-lawyers NULL.com/articles/showArticle/drunk-driving) – Our original article published on the 1st March 2001.
- Drinking and Driving in Spain (http://www NULL.idealspain NULL.com/Pages/Information/drinkdrive NULL.htm) – “Inspired” article, both unsigned and undated.
Malaga Law Solicitors
- Dissolution of Joint Property Ownership in Spain (http://belegal NULL.com/articles/showArticle/dissolution-of-joint-property-ownership-in-spain) – Our registered article published on the 14th November 2007.
- Deed of dissolution of joint property ownership (http://www NULL.malagalaw NULL.com/news/guides/deedofdissolution NULL.asp) – “Inspired” article written in late 2008, both unsigned and undated.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that the only original contribution to it happens to be incorrect legal advice regarding the retention of 3% practiced to non-fiscal residents applied by The Spanish Tax office, which our original article explains correctly.
- Bank Repossessions in Spain: A Legal Perspective (http://belegal NULL.com/articles/showArticle/home-repossessions-in-spain-defaulting-on-mortgage) – Our registered article written in 2007 and published on the 25th June 2008.
- When you can’t pay the Mortgage (http://www NULL.tumbit NULL.com/how-to-guides/articles/45-when-you-cant-pay-the-mortgage NULL.html) – “Inspired” article from late 2009, both unsigned and undated.