Watch What You Write & Publish– You May Be Surprised Where You Find It

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By Beth Boynton and Jim Murphy

Confident Voices in Healthcare Blog is a labor of love, a potential source of revenue, a platform for honest discussions among healthcare consumers and professionals, and a way to collaborate with progressive-minded kindred spirits.  People who write for Confident Voices as guestbloggers put their valuable time and effort into posts that we hope inspire conversation, challenges, and learning in ways that will contribute to safer, kinder, and fairer care. There is rarely any reimbursement for authors or significant income from ads.  Still, it is gratifying to have an expanding readership and a certain amount of acclaim.

And don’t get us wrong, we’re all for sharing, but with permission and attribution such as this Medline article “My Anxious Mom and a Nurse Named Wendy” originally published here.

No doubt many of our readers also write for Internet publication, either on another blog or a personal or business web site.  Such efforts may not result in any compensation, but at least there is the satisfaction of having created intellectual property, .  And by the way,  there is a Copyright Notice plainly visible in the menu above.  So it is disconcerting to find that one’s hard work has been stolen.

On July 17, 2014 Jim Murphy posted and article on Contented Patients.  On 7/21/2014, we were very surprised to 120px-Drogenbeschaffungskriminalitaet_9526see this verbatim (except for change in the title) on the web site of a healthcare service provider – one with the Joint Commission Seal of Approval, and a long list of well known clients no less! There was no attribution.

We work hard to write responsible and original material and so do most bloggers that we know.  When we complained, suggesting that a public apology, attribution and a fee were in order, we got a phone call regretting the posting, rather implausibly explaining that it had been submitted by an e-mail that did not identify Confident Voices as the source. But why wasn’t the author of that e-mail cited? (The post was taken down – but we have screenshots!  If you’d like to see one, write to

Further investigation showed that all of the blog posts on this company’s site have been lifted from elsewhere on the Internet.  In one case, the links identifying the source were removed.  In another case we found the material verbatim on more than one other web site!

Even though we all know it is illegal to steal copyright material, it can happen to you! Internet plagiarism is rampant and can hurt you and your business in many ways.

How can you find out if you are being plagiarized? You can periodically just input your text into a search engine.  But if you wish to spend the money, you can use plagiarism detection software.  There is also what might be called plagiarism defense software.

If you have been such a victim, you should complain to the perpetrator, as we did. You should notify the internet service provider of the offending web site.  ISPs may take down web site of organizations that repeatedly violate copyright law.  And in our case, we notified the legal experts at The Joint Commission.  (We wonder how their ‘seal of approval’ and the client list might be impacted by association with an organization that steals.)

The process of protecting your intellectual property rights can be very complicated, expensive, and time consuming. So everyone, including us, has to decide what’s best for them. We would be interested in readers’ experience with and views on this topic. Perhaps as a result of our efforts, too, the company that we cited is now posting with attribution!

Jim Murphy has a solo consulting practice called Management 3000, focusing on jim murphyorganizational development and change management. Formerly he led the Massachusetts Bay Organizational Development Learning Group, was Human Resources Director for the City of Boston Assessing Department, and served as a consultant with the Boston Management Consortium.  His consulting practice includes management coaching as well as research and writing on employee relationships, leadership, healthcare and collaborative practices.  Having produced newsletters for several organizations  and being a frequent content writer for the”Confident Voices in Healthcare” blog, he is interested in writing and research opportunities, as we all consulting and coaching.
BB closer Headshot 1-13 CherationsBeth Boynton RN, MS is a national speaker, organizational development consultant, and the author of the award-winning book, “Confident Voices:  The Nurses’ Guide to Improving Communication and Creating Positive Workplaces”.  She specializes in communication, collaboration, & emotional intelligence for healthcare professionals and organizations and is trained in the Professor Watson Curriculum for Medical Improv through Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She offers medical improv training for communication, emotional intelligence, culture change, and teambuilding efforts. Her video, “Interruption Awareness:  A Nursing Minute for Patient Safety” and blog, “Confident Voices in Healthcare” have drawn audiences from all over the world.  She is currently writing a core text with F.A. Davis Publishing Co. tentatively titled Successful Nurse Communication:  Safe Care, Positive Workplaces, & Rewarding Careers, practices as a Per Diem RN in a LTCF for folks with dementia, and a student of improv.  Her complete CV is online.

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7 Responses to Watch What You Write & Publish– You May Be Surprised Where You Find It

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  4. Beth_Boynton_RN_MS says:

    I received an email question from friend and colleague Tony Salerno, DO ( asking: “I have to ask. Did an attorney who (hopefully is aware) of your and/or Jim’s article (subject matter) offer services Pro Bono? I understand your personal decisions and respect them. Just curious?

  5. Beth, I’ve also had material blatantly stolen, and when confronted, was told that no author was mentioned when they picked up the post (wow!, they don’t “get it”!). It doesn’t bode well for the “big guys” to be willing to come out of their silos, communicate and collaborate when they can feel good about stealing material from anywhere that appeals. You and I have done a lot of work on our own, and a fair amount of it together, too. I’m of the belief that “what goes around comes around”, AND I’ll continue speaking up when I’m abused this way. Thank you for posting!

    • Beth_Boynton_RN_MS says:

      Thanks for your feedback and sharing your experiences, Stephanie! We have and continue to work hard to make healthcare safer and more rewarding to work in. An uphill battle as you know! As appalling as the situation is, I do have to chuckle at this seeming big healthcare organization stealing material from “Confident Voices” Blog! They couldn’t write their own article or credit ours or ask for permission? Stealing? Seriously? Maybe it is a sign we are making progress!

What are your thoughts?