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The Problem With Plagiarism Checkers

By Author: Timothy Gonzalez

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My guess is that you hate plagiarism. You're a good writer, and any time you create an article, a blog post or any other bit of writing, you do your best to craft a piece that is as succinct and clear as possible.
In fact, I would go so far as to say, that your propensities are closer to perfection than anything else.
Given the fact that plagiarism is anathema to you, what could possibly be the problem with web sites that check for it? In this article I'll share that with you.
Recently, HubSpot publishes an article about how a well-known blogger had his or her account closed by Tumblr. The reason for this drastic measure was the copyrighted content had been placed on that blog.
In this case, it was a couple of photographs. And the blogger had done in the belief that he or she had used them in a perfectly legitimate way.
It turns out that some dishonest people had taken copyrighted material and loaded it into a public site and put a kind of common use license on it, making it appear that it was okay for all and sundry to use it.
It was only when the blogger got a letter from the legal department of the offended party that the problem even became known.
But, what about plagiarism checkers?
The problem here is that there are only so many ways that you can describe something and still make the piece intelligible to readers.
Let me give you a personal example.
One of my hobbies is playing the piano, and I do that reasonably well. And I can tell you that much of the technique of playing that instrument was determined hundreds of years ago.
Bach, for example, was the first composer to use his thumb when play the keyboard.
And so I'd written something about playing a scale, and I said that in order to do that you had to swing your thumb underneath your hand, and that it was easier to do if you swung your elbow to the outside at the same time.
My description was flagged as plagiarism.
I knew that was complete nonsense, because that's the way my teacher explained it.
I didn't need to look on the Web to discover how to do it.
And as I mentioned, Bach was teaching his students to do it in the 18th century, almost 250 years before the Internet was invented.
My point is that just because a plagiarism checker thinks you've stolen copyrighted material doesn't mean that you have.
All it means is that two people who write pretty well have chosen the same form of words to express an idea. And it's an unfortunate part of writing on the internet that such things can be considered a violation of copyright.
In my case, I told the company that I had written the piece, that it wasn't plagiarized, and that there were only so many ways to say the same thing, which they accepted.
But if you find that all you get is grief, then rather than agonize over it, take your business elsewhere.
If clients are unwilling to accept that you have written something in good faith, then you don't want to do business with them anyway.

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