by Sherice Jacob
When talking about “the consequences of plagiarism”, there is no “one size fits all” approach. Plagiarism can be complex and complicated. In this day and age, it’s also becoming increasingly common. That’s why it’s now more important than ever for content publishers and agencies to protect themselves.
Although we often talk about plagiarism from an academic point of view, the fact is that numerous online tools, including AI-enhanced “article writers” have exploded onto the scene, optimized to the point where they can spit out grammatically coherent (albeit factually incorrect) content that, with a little tweaking, appears passable to most website visitors and search engines.
The problem occurs when you understand that plagiarism isn’t just taking another person’s words and making them your own. It’s an entire gray area of being “inspired” by someone else’s words and rewriting them in your style, or working together to draw concepts from different sources and passing their findings off as your own without so much as a footnote.
Take a look at TurnItIn’s Plagiarism Spectrum 2.0, created in 2021, which incorporates many of the different facets of plagiarism and the degree of severity to which they apply.
The Plagiarism Spectrum 2.0 by TurnItIn.com shows the proliferation and severity of different types of plagiarism, along with examples
What Happens if You Plagiarize?
It’s not a matter of if you get caught, but when. Depending on the type of plagiarism and the severity, you may be subject to legal repercussions as well as ethical, professional, or personal consequences. Simply saying “I didn’t know” is not enough to save you. With so many programs readily available today to assist content creators in publishing something decently “human” and to do so for pennies, the temptation to let an AI handle the cobbling together of sentences into a recognizable and somewhat rankable result is high.
Let’s take a closer look at what can happen:
There’s no room for interpretation when it comes to copyright law. Authors have the right to sue someone for using their material without proper reference or citation. Journalists, writers, content publishers, and agencies who are caught plagiarizing may be subject to fines or penalties. On the lower end of the scale, you may simply receive a Cease and Desist Letter but in its most severe form, you may face a lawsuit or other legal action.
Along with the legal repercussions come the potential for damages, which may be granted to an author if they sue their plagiarist. In some extreme cases, the company that hires the content producer, such as a journalist who writes for a magazine, may ultimately be involved in the suit and have to pay penalties or fines for the actions of their employees. You don’t have to look far in the news to find examples of even prominent researchers, authors, and other public figures who have taken significant or even entire swaths of content from other sources without attribution and have had to pay for their actions — monetarily and reputationally.
One of the biggest consequences of plagiarism can strike right at the heart of the offender — souring their reputation. The damage often doesn’t go away over time and tends to follow them (and potentially the company or organization they are associated with) over time. This can in turn have a ripple effect on their future career prospects and may also affect the company that employed them; if they aren’t checking what their writers create, what else are they hiding?
Search Engine Suspicion
Using AI-generated content is firmly against Google’s Terms of Service. But as AI article generators and other tools like GPT, Jarvis, and others become more finely tuned to the nuances of human language and speech, they in turn become capable of creating ever more authentic-looking results. In its attempt to stay one step ahead, Google has been clear about its stance on the use of such content and has invested in AI-detection to help spot and demote such content when it finds it.
In addition to the financial, legal, and ethical considerations, AI content, such as articles that have been spun, both manually and mechanically, do a disservice to your reader. It’s throwing content at the wall and hoping some of it sticks, without really taking the time or initiative to delve into what your readers want, what’s truly useful to them, and what can help them improve in some way. Even if your goal is nothing more than to entertain them and put a smile on their face, copying someone else’s words, style or research only hampers your own creativity.
Great writers understand this and continually push themselves to dig deeper, learn more, discover unique angles, and stand out from the crowd and the competition. As a result, their readers notice, and so do search engines.
How Originality.AI Helps Content Publishers Excel
Originality.AI was built from the ground up to help content agencies and publishers detect content that has been spun, generated, or spat out from a variety of AI systems — even those claiming to have the most authentic-sounding, natural language. In this day and age, your business reputation and your search engine ranking are marketing gold, and it makes sense to invest in systems and services that are designed to protect them.
Try Originality.AI now and save 50% off your first purchase of 2000 credits with coupon code BeOriginal. One credit scans 100 words with up to 94% accuracy on content produced by GPT 3, GPT 3.5, and even the new ChatGPT AI system.
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