Is Plagiarism The New Black? | Copycats In The Blogging World

Plagiarism is the "wrongful appropriation" and "stealing and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions" and the representation of them as one's own original work."

I'm sure you've all heard of the expression "Imitation is the highest form of flattery", right? It is, in some shape or form, but how are you meant to feel/ react when said "imitation" crosses the line? Can all forms of plagiarism be justified as "flattery"?  Of course not.
The blogging world has changed dramatically over the last 2-3 years. I'm an old fogey at this stage, having started back in 2009 and I've seen it go through all of the various stages of the new "in" thing to do. I find blogging has become slightly lazy this year - I see thousands of new bloggers starting, most with a completely innocent and enthusiastic approach to it but there's a huge handful starting looking for the easy way in. How do they go about it? Plagiarism, spam, fictional stats.. you name it. It's all out there in droves.

It's difficult for me not to come across sounding high and mighty when discussing people imitating me. It can come across as greatly pretentious but I assure you this is not the direction I'm going in nor do I mean to come across as such. This post may be harsh but I want it to constructively help people - genuinely.
We all derive inspiration from everything; whether it be your favourite celebrities, your group of friends, cult movies - we all imitate to some extent. However, imitation can exceed justification when it's consistent and OTT. Gaining inspiration from someone or something is fantastic but making it your own is key.

Over the last month, various blogger friends have pointed my attention to a blogger clearly using my outfit posts for "inspiration" - now, don't get me wrong there is nothing wrong with looking at someone's outfit and thinking "That's a great way to wear a crop top, I'm gonna wear it like that tomorrow!" and the likes. However, if you're seeing someone consistently imitate everything from your style, posing, locations and general blog design - what do you do? What can you do? Scrolling through this blog was mind-numbing, as post after post I could point out evident imitations from work I have published on my own blog and social sites.

My best friend Chris and I spend weeks planning shoots - whether it be location hunting, mood boarding and so on. When you see a person evidently copying the work you put everything into, it's a little heart-sinking. Evan Doherty a Dublin-based photographer even said himself that "imitation isn't a form of flattery - it's the lowest form of creativity" - and he's dead right. Trying out another person's style - whether it be clothes, makeup or what have you - is fine but to do it repeatedly is when you step into the plagiarism minefield.

I was advised by friends and peers alike to contact the blogger but a few brief tweets on the subject with no mentions of a name, seemed to get the message across. Like I said, it's difficult not to come across as the "bad guy" in a situation like this; calling someone out for copying your work isn't bullying or being a troll. If you go about it in a mature and constructive way, it's perfectly fine - it's your right to stand behind YOUR work.

Using excuses like "we all need to start from somewhere" and trying to justify plagiarism with your age, lack of knowledge, being a new blogger or just plain laziness isn't acceptable. I have countless blogger friends who have gone through similar and they feel plagiarising someone's work isn't taken as seriously in the blogging world (and online, in general). If a journalist copied another journalist's work in print, a shit-storm would occur. So why is it deemed okay and constantly overlooked for bloggers?

I was annoyed enough about this, until I was linked to something earlier today that completely blew my mind, again. My friend linked me to a blog post; a blogger under the name of "MakeupChair" had literally copied and pasted an entire blog post I had written; my Get The Look: HAIM blog post was there, word from word, picture by picture with only a few words and phrases changed here and there. I tweeted the blogger pointing out that I had seen this - the blog post was deleted but I never received an apology or explanation. Just a casual deletion as if it wasn't something to be taken seriously at all.

Some may think "She says she's 17, she probably just loves your blog." That doesn't make it okay! I started blogging when I was 16 - I worked my ass off to get where I am today. I never decided to cop the easy way out in ways like this. Teenagers are well aware of what's right and wrong, being 15-18 doesn't somehow excuse you copying other people's work and being a total and utter ignorant idiot.
To go on to someone's blog, press right-click and copy and paste the entirety of a piece someone has spent hours on and to think it's perfectly okay to re-publish it as your own post, is beyond my understanding.

Two fellow Irish bloggers sent in their opinions and experiences on the issue, just to show you all how common an issue this has become in such a growing community in a relatively small country:

Popular Irish beauty blogger & writer wishing to remain anonymous: "Blogging about beauty in Ireland has become increasingly competitive. Whether bloggers will publicly admit it or not, it has become a fairly negative and underhand community when all things are said and done. I have met some amazing people through blogging but I’ve also experienced some serious nastiness and witnessed a heap of bullying. It’s taught me plenty of valuable lessons; don’t invest or expect too much from people, keep your cards close to your chest, and stick to your guns! Oh, and age is by no means a measure of maturity. Not one bit. I’ve seen bloggers express disappointment over a perceived lack of support in the community – honestly, I’m at a place where I don’t expect any. I do this for myself at the end of the day, and I’ll look to my friends and family when I’m flagging!
This increasing air of competition has meant that bloggers are now more than ever far less likely to even mention each other in posts. It’s not the worst thing in the world but it can be annoying at times if you are the first to rave about a product, a load of bloggers subsequently go out, buy and blog about said product, and few (if any) credit you for the idea or first mention. I have seen people rip my own blog off in many different guises, from layout to format to wording, and there’s not a whole lot I can do about it. It’s very frustrating because there is little guidance in this area. If I was to publicly protest against or name every incidence of copying on social media, I’d be branded a bully, yet people are doing well from ideas and concepts that are not their own intellectual property. I am not a person to kick up a big fuss on Twitter – I’d prefer to mull things over in private and ask a few people that I trust for good advice. It’s a catch-22 to say the very least, though – I can’t announce who or what has been copied, but it’s happened quite a lot over the last couple of years. What I’ve experienced has not been direct plagiarism (we’ll leave that to the spam pages!), but a certain breed of copying due to what I would see as a lack of originality. It’s more than disappointing to see some bloggers take shortcuts. I don’t believe in blogging a press release and trying to pass it off as my own content, and I certainly don’t agree with lifting ideas, concepts and phrases from other blogs and publishing it as my own. No matter what your approach is, good, fresh, original content is what blogging is all about, and it’s something we all need to keep in mind."


Joanne Larby, makeup artist and blogger: "As a Make Up Artist within an already saturated industry it's integral in my opinion to be as unique and creative as possible. A blog by its very nature is meant to be personal, by all means make it into a business but the foundation must stand out; individuality is key. I try to be as creative as possible with my posts, make up and style looks and even instagram updates. I think it's essential for your work to appear like a brand so people immediately know it's yours. From editing to artistic effects on images to your colour palette these aspects will set you apart from your fellow bloggers. I see so many lazy bloggers steal images from Google with no credit or effort. The content of the post; your views and opinions are integral but the visual aspects must be too. Similarly, something I have experienced myself is people copying video formats on Youtube. I spend up to two days editing a 3-4 minute tutorial. I take into consideration everything from the font matching my make up and nails to the music tempo, making my video library fluid and recognisable. A fellow blogger literally copied my editing from start to finish right down to the info bar content. Although frustrating, your followers will always know your work and efforts and how they were made prior to the copycat."


It is obvious that plagiarism is growing and growing within the blogging world; regardless of topic or talent, it has become the norm. It makes me really sad and it disheartens me; I love inspiring people, expressing my creativity and giving people ideas but it's issues like this make me question what I do.

I know that this is quite a negative post and I try my best to remain positive on my blog, however I feel that this is an important topic that needed to be addressed - especially in Ireland. This country is far too small for people to think they can get away with it. Like I said, once or twice is fine when looking to "steal someone's style" - buying something because you loved X and Y wearing it, is fine - it just goes overboard when it becomes consistent and really evident to everyone. Alarm bells should start ringing if people within your industry start to notice because that's when your reputation can get tarnished.

My 'Get The Look' series takes style icons and I discuss how you can replicate their style - however, I'm not advising people to go out and dress head-to-toe like them and throw their current wardrobe into a bin. It's all about admiring others, thinking "Yeah, I could totally wear those sort of shoes with my favourite skirt!" and meshing both your vision and theirs together to create something unique.

It's always best to be yourself, always - especially in the blogging world! Brands and readers alike won't be willing to work with you/ click on to your blog, if they see you imitating another person - what's the point? I know some people struggle with self confidence and their style (I know all about it, trust me) but looking to incorporate your own vision and ideas on to your creative platform will benefit you more in the long run.

"A large part of the reward of writing a blog and maintaing a presence online is not just attracting an audience and, possibly, collecting ad revenue, it’s also about creating something original and leaving a mark, no matter how small, on cyberspace. Knowing that something is truly yours and that you built it, more or less, from the ground up gives one a sense of pride and whenever you build your achievements on the backs of others that you failed to attribute, that sense of accomplishment is taken away." - Jonathan Bailey
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