Have your clients ever accused you of plagiarism?

Hi all!

For 5+ years of freelance writing, I worked with different clients: naive, awkward, dishonest, leary, and just wonderful. I did my best proofreading and editing before sending texts but never bothered about plagiarism issues: wrote articles from scratch, didn't steal content, and was sure my texts were original...

But lately, one client returned my text and said he couldn't accept it because the text was plagiarized! He uses free online tools to check freelancers' writings for duplications, and it appeared that my text originality was 63%... (What seemed odd to me - he refused to tell which resources he used in particular). Well, I decided to beat him at his own game and used the PlagiarismCheck tool to see if the results were the same. 97% of originality! Surprise-surprise! I sent him the detailed report from the tool, and he accepted the text. But, you know, this case had left a nasty taste in the mouth, anyway

It seems I am gonna check all my texts for duplications before sending them to clients now. Do you do so? Have your clients ever accused you of plagiarism? How do you prove you didn't copy your works from others?

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Lesley is a private educator of French language and a blog writer honored to contribute to many authoritative blogs. She writes her first e-book at the moment and hopes to publish it this year.

3 thoughts on “Have your clients ever accused you of plagiarism?”

  1. I think I removed it in my last site update, but I used to have something in my client site’s FAQs about this. When I got started, I would often be asked if my work would pass Copyscape checks. My basic philosophy was this:

    If you’re worried that your writers are plagiarizing, you’re not used to working with pros. If you kick off our working relationship “warning” me you’ll use Copyscape, or similar services, you’re essentially accusing me of being a potential liar and thief before I even begin working with you. And I tell those prospects to take a hike. If they want to use these tools privately later, I don’t care. But insisting on Copyscape-passed content (which can still be a copyright-violating derivative work) is unprofessional and not tolerated on my end.

    I also included basic information explaining the irrelevance when it comes to making sure they have legal content, and I pointed out that the more general their topic and the shorter the content they were willing to pay for, the more overlap they were likely to find simply due to common industry terms and concepts being discussed. I emphasized real quality over “unique text” for SEO purposes (only the first is a natural backlink magnet, which is what they generally really want). And I found having that info on my site helped cut down on those kinds of questions a lot. I only removed it because I haven’t heard anything like that from a prospect for a few years now.

    I think you handled it well given the circumstances.

  2. No, but I’ve been accused of lying. Worse, I’d already sent the client proof that his accusation was false.

    I’d been updating him weekly on the progress of a ridiculously huge project. Each week, I attached the file so he could see — and review for any changes before the damn thing went to print — what I’d done for the week.

    My mistake was this — I’d sent him a note telling him I had finished 152 pages. I’d actually finished 251 pages. So I’d superimposed the numbers.

    His reaction was to go off the walls, calling me a liar, telling me I’d been leading him on about how much I’d accomplished, telling me I was dragging my feet, and how he thought I was the most unprofessional person on the planet…

    And he’d had proof — all along — that I’d made a simple typo. And I had proof in that instant that he’d not looked at anything I’d sent him.

    When I replied, cordially but nowhere near apologetically that I simply mistyped, he responded “I thought it might be that. No worries then.”

    Uh, yes. Worries. You, you unprofessional jerk, owe me an apology for your accusations. You are also fortunate if I don’t drop you on your ass right now for the way you just talked to me.

    I finished the project and never answered another email from him. I won’t work for people who think they can talk to another person in such a rude, condescending, awful way.

  3. That’s awful Lori. Yes, the typo was a mistake. But he could have simply asked why things were off-track if that’s what he thought. Speaking to you like you’re some kind of subordinate, and insulting you (hell, even if you WERE his subordinate) is completely unacceptable.


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