All About Content

MSN India Syndicates Plagiarized Content

Posted by Melanie Phung on Monday, April 7, 2008 at 9:58 pm

If you do a Google search and there are two results that contain the same wording, and one of them is from some no-name blogger and the other is on the MSN.com domain, which one do you think is guilty of plagiarism? If you guessed the blogger, think again.

Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about my content being scraped by some spam blog. That happens all the time and I’m quietly resigned to that. What I’m talking about is plagiarism by a professional writer, for profit, on a presumably credible news portal.

My recent post on Viagra’s anniversary happens to rank well for a search on that phrase, but so does an article posted on MSN India.

This piece, “written” by Aditya Mehta and syndicated through India Syndicate blatantly rips off my post’s funniest line (on what SEOHack calls my only decent best post on this blog). The one word difference (the use of a second “please” at the beginning of the last sentence) is due to my having gone back a day later and editing it out of my post because it was redundant… something Aditya Mehta apparently didn’t catch.
India Syndicate Plagiarizes My Content

It’s not MSN’s fault because they just bought content from a third-party provider, right? And I’m sure India Syndicate has hundreds of freelance writers, making too difficult for the content syndicator to police all its writers. (<– this is sarcasm, in case that wasn’t clear. I don’t care how difficult it is to do QA on a product you sell, that’s still your responsibility)

So, boo-hoo, who really cares about MSN India or some stupid Indian article syndication company and whether a few sentences of a fluff article aren’t original? Well, it certainly pisses me off and since this is my blog, I get to rant about whatever I want. There’s also no easy way to contact MSN’s editorial team or India Syndicate (an email to their Contact Us address bounces), so it’s not like I have any other outlet.

Who, if anybody, is responsible for ensuring integrity of the content on MSN’s network (whether it be MSN India or any other portal)? And now that freelance writers for India Syndicate know they can get away with content theft and even have that work published on major resume-padding sites like MSN.com, what’s to stop them from taking shortcuts on everything else they do from now on?

It’s really not that hard to figure out if something is plagiarized — a company with resources like MSN surely can afford some sort of software that checks if content already exists on the web (you could even call it a “search engine”) before it publishes something to its content network.

Update: April 8, 2008

Wow, did my complaining help? The URL to the offending article has changed to point to a completely different article. Good thing I took that screen shot of the SERPs first; wish I’d done the same with the page itself since I wanted to go back and check how much else of that article was copied from other people. The complete text that was copied from me read:

Indirectly or directly, Pfizer is responsible for probably half of your email volume, so be sure to take a moment to reflect on the historic importance of this day. But remember, if your celebration of Viagra’s anniversary lasts more than three hours, please call a doctor. (original post)

Here it is viewed from a different angle:


Same URL, different page info when viewed through my browser cache. The old post appears to be gone from MSN, Google and Yahoo as well.

Comments (7)

Category: Intellectual Property,Navel-Gazing

7 Comments

Comment by WWB

Made Monday, 7 of April , 2008 at 10:05 pm

Well, I’d expect it to be the professional. They’re the ones with the deadlines and the financial pressure to produce. They’re also the ones who tend to believe that their amateur colleagues are beneath them (cf my latest post). I’m familiar with many paid plagiarists, but few amateur ones. But then, they’re also usually the ones worth exposing.

Comment by SEO Hack

Made Tuesday, 8 of April , 2008 at 6:40 pm

damn, i knew i needed to check in here sooner! awesome post – ANOTHER gem!

i wonder how long until you rank for the plagarist’s name?

Comment by Melanie Phung

Made Tuesday, 8 of April , 2008 at 7:29 pm

Haha. I’m #9 for “Aditya Mehta” in Google right now; #8 for “India Syndicate”. Unfortunately Aditya Mehta seems to be a very common name…. so just to be clear and there’s no confusion: I’m talking about the Aditya Mehta who works as a writer for India Syndicate.

Comment by Melanie Phung

Made Wednesday, 9 of April , 2008 at 7:53 pm

This just keeps getting more and more interesting. Apparently a freelance writer named Kamla Bhatt took it upon herself to contact MSN India’s editorial team to ask them to respond. They said they didn’t know until she brought it to their attention. Here’s the full text of MSN ‘s Response

Comment by SEO Hack

Made Monday, 14 of April , 2008 at 4:36 pm

so, MSN India get ahold of you yet?

Comment by Anonymous

Made Tuesday, 29 of April , 2008 at 10:20 am

MSN is so behind the times… one word, sad.

Comment by gregory

Made Friday, 23 of May , 2008 at 11:24 pm

i have lived in india for more than a decade, and will offer some comments….

individual creativity is not a concept that is in this culture

copying is normal and so is lying. neither one raises the hackles it does in the west. if you don’t lie you are not respected, because of course it is expected that your primary interest is self interest, and if not, something is wrong with you

education has been achieved via memorization, not much to do with learning

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