#MakeITSafePH: Dealing with Plagiarism in the Digital Age

Hello there everyone! How are you all doing today?

If you’re following my blog you’d at least have a hint that this is the second article I made for Globe Telecom’s #MakeITSafePH campaign. If it’s your first time here you can read my first article on this blogpost; #MAKEITSAFEPH: OUR YOUTH ARE SEXTING, WHAT SEASONED ONLINE INFLUENCERS SAY TO AVOID ONLINE INDIGNITY.

#MakeITSafePH campaign aims to inculcate in every netizens consciousness the importance of cybersecurity and cyberwellness. What measures to take to be safe and be protected from the notorious crimes committed and happening in the world wide web.

In this second article I am going to share with you why netizens are inclined to plagiarize, what are the common forms plagiarism in the digital age and how generally we can deal and protect ourselves from it. And by ourselves I mean we, the bloggers in this context.

What is plagiarism?

According to dictionary.com,  plagiarism is an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author's work as one's own, as by not crediting the original author. Or a piece of writing or other work reflecting such unauthorized use or imitation. (https://www.dictionary.com/browse/plagiarism)

Plagiarism in the Philippine context

History tells us that our present concept of plagiarism originated from the capitalist view of ownership and obtaining property. This take on the idea that everything with value - can be ideas, text, images, videos, music etc. can be owned, bought and sold. I would argue that Gen X and the generation prior to that are the cohorts that we’re tight taught of the perils of plagiarism in the academic context. 

Now that we’re in this era of digitalization and the internet of things this culture is further challenged by the immensity and uncertainty of our online security, add to that the fluidity of the character of today’s generation that practically overshadows the internet, the millennials. We’re now brought to initiate a hard effort of dealing with it.

In the our recent project of handling the digital campaign for Kadayawan Sa Davao, our organization, Davao Digital Influencers has put into test the group’s integrity in dealing with plagiarism in the digital age.

I’ll site you an example to put everything in context. Each of our members was assigned to make video teasers of the festival featuring the 11 tribes of Davao. As we all know, culture can be both tangible and intangible. The tangible being the tribe’s material culture and the latter being their language, nuances, music and etc. The tangible can for all time be captured in photographs.  

A number of these beautiful photographs are now live online. I’ll now state the obvious that the problem transpires when these photos are used for commercial or otherwise without the consent of the artists. While some artists are generous in lending their work without fee on the condition of putting credits to their work, some would prefer monetary endowment in exchange for the use. This practice would apply same to using copyrighted videos and music.

At the height of this situation I asked one of our peers. Why do people get so much fuss about their works being used for good purpose online? In my book, the moment I share pictures, articles and other information online, it’s there for every netizens to consume. Well, apparently that only applies for me. My peer’s answer to my question floored me. He asked me back; granting someone stole your underwear, flaunt it around, would you be fond of it? Well, that would be a different story.

In the Philippines, plagiarism is not a crime unless otherwise this amounts to copyright infringement in violation of Republic Act No. 8293 or the Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines. This is punishable of 3 to 6 years imprisonment and a fine of P50,000-P150,000 under Republic Act No. 10175 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. A prominent example is Senator Vicente Sotto’s copied speech from a blogger of his argument on birth control legislation albeit him getting away from it without hitch as it didn't amount to copyright infringement.

Why do netizens plagiarize?

The internet is one dimension of today’s digital life that contains all kinds of information humans has ever created. Other than its vastness, it’s readily available to everyone’s fingertips. Policing for ownership of whatever information you shared online is nearly impossible.

With this access, today’s netizens tend to be indolent in producing their own original content. Using, downloading, clipping, copy and pasting information from the internet without the author/artists consent has been a deep culture since this digital era began.

Reasons can be varied; there’s this immature sense of integrity, lack of experience in a particular field of discipline, no interest at all in a certain subject they’re assigned to do, lack of responsibility in understanding ethical practices, pressure to comply assignments at school or at work, and this constant desire of instant gratification in social media.

How do we deal with plagiarism?

In the beginning of my blogging career, I’ve dealt hardly with other bloggers copying my content. Not only that copying is unethical it also has bearing on the health of my blogsite. But eventually I got tired of policing and figured, well, plagiarism is a form of high complement albeit unethical in a way.

As I have said, with the immensity of information in the world wide web, guarding ownership, especially for seasoned bloggers like me, is nearly impossible. But there are ways to at least caution plagiarists to take extra apprehension in copying your work.

Some cardinal rules to remember;

  1. Always make original content. 
  2. Work down your own ideas, you’ll be surprised how far your hands can go in translating your ideas into masterpieces.
  3. Monitor your content. You can use online sites that run services to checking pirated content.
  4. Set up Google alerts for your brands/names etc.
  5. Take your own pictures. 
  6. Apply watermarks to your pictures. You may use apps to do this. 
  7. Reduce the resolution of your pictures before posting online. This way, using it for commercial purposes without your consent can be avoided. Anyone interested to use it for commercial or otherwise would contact you for the high resolution copy.
  8. Make it a habit to rename your pictures before posting online.
  9. Always quote and cite properly when using someone else’s original line.
  10. Always attribute if you’re using someone else’s work – can be image, video or music.
  11. If there’s a need be, have your texts, videos, brand, music, photos etc. bear copyright license by applying for one at the IntellectuaI Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL) (http://www.ipophil.gov.ph/)

In conclusion, the immense command of this digital era is so powerful that it will consume us if we’re not going to deal with it humanely. Plagiarism or copying someone else’s work without their consent not only constitutes legal consequences but it also tells so much about the person doing the practice. It’s illegal and it’s unethical. 

Plagiarism in the blogging world is proportionate to striping yourself of integrity and trustworthiness. Always observe the cardinal rules I mentioned to maintain authority in the blogosphere.

Let’s always #MakeITSafePH.

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