You May Be a Criminal Without Even Knowing It

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You May Be a Criminal Without Even Knowing It

You’re probably shaking your head… Criminal? Seriously? Of course you haven’t broken the law!  You’re a law-abiding citizen and would never consider doing such a thing! And yet, there may be hundreds of you who have done just that. Further, you would deny it – until you learn the facts. The facts, described here, may help you get back in line with the law if it’s required. I recently heard from one of our APHA members – we’ll call her Member A – who reported discovering that entire portions of her website, her intellectual property, had been stolen by another advocate, who we will call Advocate Z. Member A reached out to Advocate Z, explained that she had found the text from her website, word-for-word on Member Z’s website, and asked her to remove it. Advocate Z had plagiarized Member A’s website; copyright infringement by its very definition. It’s the theft of your intellectual property. It’s against federal law, and it carries huge fines and prison time. Even the FBI has something to say about it. Now – at this point you’re thinking… OK. What does this have to do with me? I didn’t steal any content from another website! My question to you:  are you sure?  Let’s begin here:  Who built your website? Advocate Z’s response to her own copyright infringement is typical: she dismissed the plagiarism by saying her web designer had supplied the copy on her website, so he was the one who had stolen it. Therefore it wasn’t really her problem. Not true!  For one thing, when YOU own a website, when it’s about YOU and YOUR business, then YOU are responsible for it. And if the content on your site was originally stolen, then YOU are considered the responsible party, not your web designer. That means that any copyright infringement that may appear on your site is YOUR crime. Unless it is part of commentary by someone else and is cited as commentary, then no matter who put it there – it’s your crime. It makes no difference whether you knew it existed or not…


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