Plagiarism: Flattery or Just Plain Theft?

Regular legal-contributor Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt, whose articles here have been plagiarised, felt it was time to write a reminder of the legal repercussions in Spain on copying other people’s intellectual property.

By Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt
Lawyer – Abogado
8th of October 2016

 

This month’s article is somewhat personal. Due to the attention some of my articles receive, I get copied a lot. It has reached the point where I am catching over ten people/companies every month. A recent example is the article I wrote earlier this year on Andalusia’s Holiday Rental Laws. This article alone was massively plagiarized. Because of this I thought it would be a good idea to write up a reminder of the legal repercussions in Spain on copying other people’s intellectual property.

In Spain, much like in the United Kingdom, all original written material is protected by Intellectual Property Laws (Royal Decree 1/1996). Moreover, Spain’s Criminal Code in its Chapter XI protects author’s Intellectual Property Rights against plagiarism in three articles no less (articles 270-272), all of which have jail terms associated to them, ranging from 6 months to 4 years. All an offended needs doing is file a denuncia against the offender at a Police Station. Plagios are a pursuable criminal offence in Spain. As an example, two people were arrested in Torremolinos (Malaga), and were remanded into custody for plagiarizing just one article from a website.

I first started writing articles in 2004 and, with any luck, would like to continue doing so for the remainder of my career. The aim is to provide insight to legal topics which continuously crop up with my law firm’s clients. Since many of these legal queries were on the same topic I decided at the time to make it easy on myself and write up fact sheets on a given matter collating the most frequent queries on a topic and replying to them. In time, some of these fact sheets evolved and became the elaborate articles I now publish.

As an example, I wrote back in 2005 a fact sheet on Licence of First Occupation. At the time of publishing, LFO were unheard of and my article was the first to be written in English on the matter. In hindsight it would have been more grammatically correct on my part to call them First Occupancy Licence but the term LFO catched on and I just let it go. You can still find an original version of my fact sheet from 2005 on following this link. Over time this article evolved and grew more complex resulting in this other one: Licence of First Occupation.

Where I am getting at is that some of my articles and blog posts are liked so much that people and companies happen to borrow them from our article’s archive and reproduce them in their own blogs or corporate websites crediting me as the author as well as placing a working link back to the original article, which is just fine by me. In fact, this prompted me to add a disclaimer in every article I write saying just that:

Please note the information provided in this article is of general interest only and is not to be construed or intended as substitute for professional legal advice. This article may be posted freely in websites or other social media so long as the author is duly credited. Plagiarizing, whether in whole or in part, this article without crediting the author may result in criminal prosecution. VOV.

Unfortunately, a minority at times takes a step further crossing the red line, removing my name and cheekily crediting themselves as authors! Despite the famous quote by cleric Charles Caleb Colton, Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, I would argue that imitation is simply profiting from other’s hard work, whilst taking undue credit for it, which I personally find repulsive and is too much to put up with. I for one do not feel flattered; to my mind plagio is simply cold-hearted thieving and I take it very seriously adopting a hardline stance. I also warn in my disclaimer that I may take legal action against offenders when appropriate. I have instigated criminal proceedings against two individuals and one company for this very reason so far.

Besides, before publishing an article I always lodge it first in an Intellectual Property Registry. The purpose of this is to be used as evidence in a criminal case and prove who wrote a text first as the date and time are electronically registered on submitting the text. I was forced to act like this as some people lost the plot stealing content from me left, right and centre. Some articles, like the one I wrote on Bank Repossessions in Spain back in 2007, elicited a huge response and generated over 200 plagios!! This article at the time was the first one to be written in English on how Spanish repossessions work and garnered much attention. You can find an updated version from 2014 here.

Bottom line, sooner or later I am bound to catch all those using my articles and blog posts without authorisation; that is without crediting me as the author. Over the last decade I have caught several hundred websites using them unlawfully, as well as over a hundred lawyers/law firms, both Spanish and British, all of which apologized. Only in 2016 I have been forced to contact several dozen law firms on grounds of plagiarism. I do not relish having to waste my time hounding people and companies when they could make a perfectly licit use of my articles by simply crediting me as the author. It is not as if I charged for my articles, they are free.

Native English speakers may be harder to hound, because, on mastering English, they are able to sneakily change the wording, producing what they think is an ‘original’ work that make my plagiarised articles more difficult to track down on using search engines. This aggravates me even further when I finally get on to them. It should be noted that, from a legal point of view, amending or tweaking written content to fool search engines with a view to conceal a plagio is still regarded legally as plagiarism and only buys them some time. Regardless, they will be held criminally liable when found.

As written above, and in line with Spanish Property Insight’s copyright policy, I have no qualms in anyone using my legal articles on their own websites so long as they comply with two simple requirements:

  1. Credit me as the author.
  2. Place a working link back to the original published article (not the website´s homepage).

For example:
Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt
Lawyer, Abogado.
Original article:  http://www.en.larrainnesbittabogados.com/articles.php

On complying with the above, there is absolutely no need to previously contact me to request my permission to publish any of my articles. Hundreds of websites, spanning from mortgage brokers to real estate agencies, use my legal articles unmolested and I welcome their use. You can find my articles collated here should anyone wish to use them:

Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt

I will only contact those whom I feel are abusively taking unfair advantage of my hard work by not crediting me as the author and profiting from it or else even going as far as removing me and crediting themselves as the authors of my articles!

Examples of correct usage of my articles

 

Andalusia´s Holiday Rental Decree

Rental Laws in Spain

New Rental Legislation in Andalusia

Dación en Pago – Handing Spanish Property back to the Bank

How European Regulation affects Foreign Resident’s Spanish Wills

How to Buy Property in Spain Safely

Taxes on Buying Spanish Property

The pros and cons of buying and owning Spanish property through a company structure

Taxes on Selling a Spanish Property

Non-Resident Taxes in Spain

 

 

Examples of non-sanctioned use of my articles that may lead to prosecution: Spot the Differences!

 

 

  • Escritura Title Deed Explained

Plagio by Freedom Media, S.L. (Paul Sully and Lynne Robinson, Canary Islands). These individuals are hands down the plagio kings of this list with over 8 articles plagiarized across seven issues of their magazine. Not content with plagiarising just one article, this Canary Islands magazine ups the ante and cheekily plagiarises two of my articles on the same issue in 2.013, word-for-word (pages 8 and 16)!!: http://www.freedom4sale.com/downloads/freedom-issue-80.pdf

Plagio: http://lascasitas.eu/escitura.html

My original article (ranking number one in Google): Escritura – Titled Deed Explained – 8th of April 2.013

  • Renting in Spain: Top 10 Mistakes

Plagio by Freedom Media, S.L. (Paul Sully and Lynne Robinson, Canary Islands). Page 16: http://www.freedom4sale.com/downloads/freedom-issue-80.pdf

My original article (ranking number one in Google):  Renting in Spain: Top 10 Mistakes – 8th of June 2.011

  • Off-Plan Construction Guarantees – Know Your Rights

Plagio by

Original article from 8th of November 2.011 (ranking number one in Google): Off-Plan Construction Guarantees – Know Your Rights

  • How to Buy Off-Plan Property in Spain

Plagio by

Original article from the 18th April 2.010: Tips on Buying Property in Spain Off-Plan

Revamped version from 8th June 2.013 (ranking number one in Google): Buying Off-Plan in Spain

  • Dissolution of Joint Property Ownership

Plagio from 2.013 (page 16): http://www.freedom4sale.com/downloads/freedom-issue-79.pdf

My original article from November 2.007: Dissolution of Joint Property Ownership

And a revamped version from 8th May 2.011 (ranking number one in Google): Dissolution of Joint Property Ownership

  • Bank Repossessions in Spain

Plagio from 2.014 (pages 16 – 18): http://www.freedom4sale.com/downloads/freedom-issue-85.pdf

Original article from 2.007: Home Repossessions in Spain

Beefed up article from 21st February 2.014 (ranking number one in Google): Bank Repossessions in Spain

  • Andalusia’s Holiday Rental Laws

Plagio Serviturismo Carboneras (2.016, unsigned): http://www.serviturismo-carboneras.com/en/InfoDecanglais.pdf

Plagio by Lets in the Sun: http://www.letsinthesun.com/2016/03/01/holidayrentalslicence/

Original article from the 8th February 2.016 (ranking number one in Google): Andalusia’s Holiday Rental Laws

  • Licence of First Occupation

Plagio (undated, unsigned): http://www.discovercostacalida.info/en/Information-On-Living-In-Spain/Your-House-In-Spain/articles/First-Occupancy-Licence/

Plagio: http://www.spanishsolutions.net/2010/10/cedulacertificate-of-habitation/

Plagio from a Spanish law firm: http://www.cdsolicitors.com/2012/01/19/obtainning-the-first-occupation-license/

My original fact sheet from 2.005: Licence of First Occupation

Article from 29th January 2:009: The Licence of First Occupation Explained

A revamped version from 8th April 2.013 (ranking number one in Google): Licence of First Occupation

  • Golden Visa Law Spain

Plagio Panascho Media (page 53): https://issuu.com/panashcomedia/docs/plm_issue_11_light

Plagio by Spanish law firm: http://www.dfdiaz.com/practice/immigration-law

Plagio by Spanish law firm: http://privatiaconsulting.com/index.php/component/k2/item/21

Plagio by San Sebatian Houses: http://sansebastianhouses.com/english/ENnoticias.html

Plagio (undated, unsigned): http://www.hondonvalleyproperties.com/pages/EN/listProperties.asp?ACT=New&Custom=166&QN=167

Plagio by Investor-Visa UK: http://investor-visa.co.uk/spanish-golden-visa-program-in-2016-news-666/

My original article published on the 8th November 2.013 (ranking number one in Google): Investor´s Guide to Golden Visa Law

  • Non-Residents: Six Advantages of Making a Will in Spain

Plagio from a Spanish law firm from 2.016 (unsigned): http://www.carbray.es/making-will-spain/

Plagio June 2.014: http://www.balearic-properties.com/blog/2014/06/make-spanish-will/

My original article from September 2.009: Non-Residents: Six Advantages of Making a Will in Spain

A revamped version from 8th August 2.012 (ranking number one in Google): Non-Residents: Six Advantages of Making a Will in Spain

  • Nota Simple Explained

Plagios (undated, unsigned):

http://www.discovercostacalida.info/nota-simpla/

http://www.answers.uk.com/services/spainproperty.html

Original article from 8th of April 2.013 (ranking number one in Google): Nota Simple Explained

  • Reclaiming back your off-plan Bank Guarantee deposits: Supreme Court Rulings

Plagio by Brenda McAllister from Spanish law firm Legal Logic Abogados (Deposit Reclaim Spain): https://depositreclaimspain.com/2016/06/17/high-court-rulings/

Original article from 8th April 2.015 (ranking number one in Google): Supreme Court Rulings on Bank Guarantees

 

Conclusion

Plagiarising content in today’s world of internet is downright stupid (as in flat electroencephalogram stupid). Catching people is as easy as copying and pasting chunks of my own articles into Google’s search engine and the plagiarized text will surely pop up.

Why risk getting tangled in criminal prosecution when you can simply credit the author and move on? Beats me every time.

Well, me morals is low. But me ethics is high.” Cynthia Payne.

Cynthia Payne was an English Madame and party hostess who made the headlines in the 1970s and 1980s, when she was acquitted of running a cathouse in a southwestern suburb of London.

Please note the information provided in this article is of general interest only and is not to be construed or intended as substitute for professional legal advice. This article may be posted freely in websites or other social media so long as the author is duly credited. Plagiarizing, whether in whole or in part, this article without crediting the author may result in criminal prosecution. VOV.

2.010 and 2.016 © Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt. All rights reserved.

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