Pinterest, Productivty, and Plagiarism

It’s another snowy day here in North East Ohio and I have been completely remiss at both my cross stitch and reading.  Part of which has been the house recovering from illness all month.  The other part is because I finally joined Pinterest.  With so many good ideas, I’ve done several crafts around the house.  I finally got my son’s figment pin collection mounted and framed and I am working on getting peg board up in my kitchen (they are painted and stenciled, now need to do the wall work) to hang pots, pans, and other things from.  You can find both the figment project and the peg board on my Pinterest board.

Yesterday the romance world exploded with the finding of massive plagiarism by an author.  It was not a simple case of plagiarism either or just a stolen line or two.  From the reports on many blogs, every book she had published was plagiarized almost word for word.  I am not going to rehash the entire story, you can certainly read the whole thing, including comments in the links below, but no one should be shocked that this is occurring.  Plagiarism and pirating of books is not new.  What is new is the ease at which it is being done.   Between ebooks and self-publishing,  these types of cases are going to be on the rise.  What’s worse is that the places selling these stolen books, Amazon, Smashwords, etc have very little checks in place to ensure that people are selling their own work.  Amazon simply has the person check a box saying they own the work.  This, of course, is no deterrent to someone who has already stolen a book to publish as their own.  They also do not aid the authors, whose work has been taken, in getting relief from the accused.

At this point, the publishing world could go in one of two directions, or even both.  They could develop further digital rights management controls to make it more difficult to re-tune and republish a book.  While this seems to be the most logical direction, DRM brings with it a loss of flexibility to users, library (as determined by the vehement dislike of my Electronic resource librarian husband who deals with them all the time), and other difficulties.  The other way to combat this type of blatant plagiarism is to bring legal action and not just against the plagiarist.  Publishers and Authors would have to sue the plagiarist, their publisher (if any), and each site offering the book for sale for being negligent in not making sure the author actually owned the works.

Unfortunately, that direction may be a death knoll for self publishing as these big sites will not want the responsibility or liability of determining if a person owns the rights to the story and the easiest, most cost-effective way, is to shove it off to someone else, IE publishers.  Which is sad because self publishing is one way for small less popular genres to be made available to the public.  It is a way for an author to make a name for themselves in order to get a publisher on board.  Or for some authors, who are already successful, it is a way for them to write and publish the story they want, but the publisher didn’t buy.  In fact, self publishing is one way for an author to be more responsive to their fans and to have more control over their own work.  Sadly, cases like those of Kay Manning, may ruin a good thing for everyone.

Copyrights are not something to mess with.  As a lawyer I know that intrinsically.  But unless you have lived under a rock while the music industry has sued the pants off people who illegally download, you do to.  By taking a book and claiming it’s yours (even if you change a few words here and there), you assume that your readers and Google are stupid and won’t recognize that you stole someone’s work.  But neither are, and like a drunk driving, you WILL get caught.

To read the story of Kay Manning please see

SmartBitches

Dear Author

Liz Felding, who broke the news as it was her novella that was originally found to have been plagiarized

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4 thoughts on “Pinterest, Productivty, and Plagiarism

  1. WOW!! I am just floored… I can’t imagine the enormous cajones needed to do this over and over. I have never written a book, but I’ve put plenty of things out on the web over the last decade… now I’m compelled to google it all and see if it’s still mine!

    • Erin Schmidt says:

      That was my response as well. I will point out that this isn’t limited to just authors of books. There was recently some posts on a major legal listserv where attorneys were ripping off, word for word, other attorney’s blog posts, websites, etc. And it was just released a few days ago a lawsuit in Canada against Lexis Nexis and Westlaw for taking legal briefs from cases and reselling them.

  2. That is awful! I can’t imagine stealing someone else’s work (of any kind), presenting it as your own and then being able to sleep at night!

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