Monday, November 7, 2011
plagiarism & copyright infringement
I had a harrowing weekend. It began Friday at 3:30 am while I was wide awake trying to determine if I should surf the net or stare at the inside of my eyelids for half an hour THEN surf the net. Once I was on the computer I got a big surprise. A reader had sent me an email (Yay to being accessible to your readers!) stating that she had just purchased a book from Amazon.com and that she had really enjoyed it--especially when she had first read it six months ago when it was entitled Stranded.
She gave me the name of the book she had purchased as well as the name of the author and said, you have been plagiarized unless that author is you. Shocked I went to Amazon.com and indeed my story was written there word for word with a new title and the names of the characters changed. As I did more research on this individual, I discovered that he had not only ripped off my story but another author at Literotica. Luckily I had just read her story about 2 months before and recognized it. I contacted her and together we SHUT IT DOWN!
But it was nerve wracking. This individual was on Smashwords, Amazon, and facebook as well as Twitter. As of today his accounts have been deleted from both Smashwords and Amazon. I'm just waiting to see what Literotica will do.
So this is what I learned; Once your work posts on Literotica you will notice the small copyright symbol appearing. This means that you have given Literotica a non-exclusive right to publish your story. That's right. This means that you have granted Literotica the right to enforce the publishing rights of your story, which grants them the power to protect your work from unauthorized use. This is where the distinction between plagiarism and copyright infringement becomes very important. You see, plagiarism is very similar to copyright infringement...with one small exception; copyright infringement is a federal offense.
Your kid will probably not go to prison for plagiarism, however, the possible penalties for copyright infringement are pretty steep.
As a writer, I'm going to face this again. I'm not the first and I certainly will not be the last. It is not a 'badge of honor' that your work is 'good enough' to be stolen. No one that has their hard work stolen feels proud. That is almost like saying, "Hey your kid sure is cute. You shouldn't care that someone STOLE him." Ha.
My sentiment was very close to my daughters, "Mom, send him a message saying that if he doesn't remove the story you will kill him." To which I responded, NO. Then she said, "Well tell him that if he doesn't take down the story you will see him in court and it won't be for plagiarism but for murder!" Again I said, NO.
What I did was bite back tears when I read a raving review of the story by one of the Amazon.com reviewers. It was given 5 stars. The reviewer said that she re-read her favorite parts over and over and each chapter ended with a surprise. She said that she had not read any other works of the author but HE had not disappointed.
Sigh...That was hard; reading a raving review of my story and having it credit someone else. Oh yeah, and the fact that he was selling it and making money off something that I gifted to the readers! Well, it has definitely been an eye opener.
I need to publish my work before someone else does!