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Online Plagiarism: how to avoid it in your content

Learn the consequences and check out tips to avoid online plagiarism.

A page with text being magnified with a gear symbol in the upper left side, an open book in the lower left side, and a pencil in the lower right side - online plagiarism

Picture this: you’re surfing the web and come across familiar content. When you pay closer attention, you realize that content is just like yours! This is online plagiarism.

Now, imagine this situation the other way around, and you are the one being accused of plagiarism, can you imagine the potential damage to you and your business?

To prevent this from happening, just read this article to learn what you need to look out for when researching and creating your content!

What is online plagiarism?

Plagiarism is nothing more than a copy, but unlike what many people think, this copy doesn’t have to be identical in order to be a crime, since there is direct, indirect and conceptual plagiarism. Therefore, the idea of “writing the same thing but with different words” isn’t a good choice!

According to plagiarism.org, plagiarism is to use, steal or pass off words, phrases, or ideas as yours, without citing the author and/or crediting sources

Indirectly, the crime occurs in paraphrasing (writing the same idea with synonyms and different words). Plagiarism is not restricted to text only, but includes infographics, tables, and images within this criterion as well.

U.S. Law, for example, also clarifies another important point in this discussion: copyrights.

“The expression of original ideas is considered intellectual property and protected by copyright laws.”

Also, we can’t forget about translations. Many people believe that there’s no harm in using an excerpt from translated material, but this unauthorized use is also considered plagiarism.

Therefore, if you misuse certain content on the Internet, you’ll run into many complications. And make no mistake; every day, it becomes easier to identify copies and the punishments will come one time or another.

How can online plagiarism harm content?

Did you know that plagiarizing content could penalize your business online and offline? Check it out:

It affects brand credibility and authority

One of the worst scenarios for your brand is to be caught replicating content from other businesses as if it were original. Many people will think, “How can this brand be any good if it needs to copy from its competitors?”

Your Content Marketing strategy will suffer, your business will look bad in the marketplace, and your audience will no longer trust what you offer.

Search engine penalization

Did you know that Google penalizes pages that have plagiarized information? There’s a specific algorithm for this: the Panda Update. It’s responsible for identifying copies in online content.

What happens is that if plagiarism is detected by the tool, the page becomes less relevant and trustworthy for the search engine itself, and therefore, ranking on the platform becomes much more difficult.

This has a very bad impact on your website because it reduces organic search results, visits and conversions. Nobody wants to publish a page online and not see it grow, right? But that’s what happens if content is plagiarized.

It may cause legal problems

Plagiarism can also result in legal problems. Plagiarism is a crime against copyrights according to U.S Law, and most of the time, is considered a misdemeanor. Penalties can include fines and imprisonment for up to one year. Depending on the severity, it may also be considered a felony, with even harsher penalties.

The actual owner of the content can go to court and sue the plagiarist, which can affect the earnings and freedom of the person who committed the copyright crime.

How to avoid content plagiarism

We know that with so many references and research carried out during the content production stage, copying an excerpt or idea ends up becoming a risk. 

However, we will mention a few tips that will contribute to making your material more original and free of plagiarism! Check them out:

Research your topic carefully

Before you go off and start producing, you need to do a good deal of research on your topic. This will prevent not only inappropriate copying, but also incorrect information. 

With a good range of study sources, and with the subject matter well absorbed, you can assimilate everything that has been learned and formulate original ideas for your texts and images, working better on your creative writing.

Cite sources when reproducing excerpts in full

Do you want to use a line or an excerpt from some other content (an article from a website, academic material, the result of a study)? The good news is that you can use it, but only if the authors and sources of these excerpts are cited in the content as well.

If we analyze this carefully, content that presents quotes from other sources do not cease to be relevant, on the contrary, they prove statements and ideas with remarks from renowned personalities and reliable sources, increasing the brand’s credibility.

Therefore, there’s no reason to pretend that you own an idea. Give due credit and use the quoted content to emphasize your own ideas and arguments.

Use tools to detect plagiarism

Nowadays, it’s no longer difficult to detect material that contains plagiarism. There are online tools that scan the content and check if there’s some other material that contains the same excerpts.

These sites are great for searching through your publications and checking that everything is authentic. One point worth noting is that legally, quoted phrases also appear in the results of these tools, so rest easy about this!

3 tools to check for online plagiarism

After obtaining tips so you don’t have any trouble with plagiarized content, let’s check out 3 tools that check plagiarism online.


Copyscape is a well-known platform for checking websites that use parts of other content verbatim.

The tool is very user-friendly and intuitive. By entering your page’s address, the platform displays up to 10 results (in the free mode) of sites that contain the same excerpts as those used in your material.

It’s important to note that only pages indexed by Google appear in Copyscape’s search.

Plagiarism Checker

This tool has a field available for you to enter the phrase to be compared. The tool will direct you to a search in Google or Yahoo.

This is a very simple option for those who want to perform a search in these two search engines quickly.


Plagium is a great tool for detecting text transcriptions. Its intuitive design features a quick search option by content excerpt, and delivers the sites that contain the same or similar parts.

The interesting thing about the site is the option to check the publications by a timeline and being able to compare the similarities between phrases by a percentage that is shown in each search result.

Now, it’s possible to install a Plagium extension in Google Docs and check the originality of your content right there in your file.

Everything is created; nothing is transformed!

Surely, you’ve heard the aphorism that states, “Everything is transformed” doesn’t quite apply here!

There’s huge importance in original content that goes far beyond avoiding legal problems. Credibility, authority, and search engine ranking are more than enough reasons for material not to be copied and for creativity to be respected.

If you wish to learn a little more about online plagiarism and copyrights on the Internet, check out our article here on the Blog.