Monday, February 8, 2010

Stop! Thief!

Last week, writing pal Carmen (not her real name) was surveying updates from her Facebook pals when she discovered a posting by a fellow writer she’d grown chummy with.

Let’s call him “Dirty Conniving Creep.”

Carmen was stunned to see that DCC had just published a poem that bore a startling similarity--key phrases and all--to a work she’d emailed to him for feedback not so long ago.

Horrified, Carmen followed DCC’s link and discovered that, yes indeed, DCC had plagiarized her work.

The next few days were a nightmare for Carmen. When she contacted DCC, he gave her the cockamamie excuse that, when surveying the elaborate web of his computer files, he couldn’t keep track of what was his work and what had been written by others. Not only that, but he could no longer recall all the publications to which he’d submitted Carmen’s poem.

Carmen got down to business. An internet search revealed DCC had published her poem in multiple publications. She emailed the editors to explain the situation. She included a trail of the emails she’d originally exchanged with DCC, proving her work had been pilfered.

The editors responded immediately, horrified and angry. They pulled the plagiarized work from their publications. Carmen felt better, but not healed. She was offended and hurt on many levels. As her friend, I was offended on her behalf. She still feels gun shy about sharing her work with other writers.

In honor of Carmen and all she’s been through, I decided to share with you the top 5 reasons I despise plagiarism. They are:

1) Plagiarism steals more than just a writer’s words.

Carmen’s poem was a lovely piece about a mother’s loss when her child grows up. DCC not only stole the words she’d used to express that, he stole the beautiful, universal and tender emotion Carmen felt for her grown son and called it his own. Since DCC is a parasite, I doubt he’d begin to understand such a noble feeling. He isn’t decent enough to claim it.


2) Plagiarism makes editors suspicious of innocent writers.

I’d bet money that the numerous editors Carmen contacted are embarrassed by publishing this fraud. No one likes being embarrassed. I’m sure they’ll be skeptical of work coming over their transom for a long time to come. That hurts hard working, honest writers like you and me.


3) Plagiarism robs authors of the right to publish their own work.

Now that Carmen’s work has been published, she can no longer viably publish it under her own byline. ‘Nuff said.


4) Plagiarism makes writers suspicious of one another.

As writers, we often operate in a fog of creative innocence. We never imagine something like this will happen. But Carmen is nervous now. So am I. I’ll be more cautious now about sharing my unpublished work. This saddens me. I always enjoyed putting my work out there for feedback. But I’m grateful for the trustworthy peers I’ve already found.


5) Plagiarism is the worst kind of grubby, back-stabbing behavior a writer can exhibit.

As far as I’m concerned, anyone stealing someone else’s work has no right to call themselves a writer. Writers create. Plagiarists steal. That’s not the same thing at all.

24 comments:

Angel Zapata said...

Greta,

“Cockamamie excuse,” indeed.

I'm really sorry to hear this happened, but I am glad your friend took immediate action. I know all too well that horrifying moment when you discover your creation has been stolen. Back in September, I found one of my flash pieces featured in a publication...with another author's name attached to it. You can read all about the plagiarist scoundrel, Richard Ridyard's exploits in the following link from my blog:
http://arageofangel.blogspot.com/2009/09/ive-been-plagiarizedand-im-not-alone.html

As well as the writing community reaction in the comments field, and in my second post 3 days later:
http://arageofangel.blogspot.com/2009/10/plagiarizedthree-days-later.html

After much digging, I discovered this same plagiarist had stolen work from many fellow writers in my community and even work from the likes of Stephen King himself. I would encourage your friend to pry further into DCC's submitted work to publications, because there could be more writers affected by this creep's actions. And if it proves to be so, please expose the real name of this plagiarist so editors and writers can be made aware of such a vile threat to our honorable community.

Your friend should be quite pleased to expose another wolf in our midst.

A link to this posting will be placed on my blog.

-Angel Zapata

Alan W. Davidson said...

I was led here by Angel's recent post about plagiarism. It's frustrating to here about this sort of thing occuring again. You're doing the right thing supporting your friend "Carmen" and exposing the fraud. The entire on-line writing community needs to show their support. Thank you, Greta and Carmen. And thank you, Angel for getting this out there.

Linda said...

Whoa! That's horrific. I've never understood how people can sleep at night knowing they are passing others' creations off as their own. Plagarism is more rampant than you'd think, and so difficult to uncover.

I am curious where this poem was published?

And folks -- how can we: 1/ protect our material? and 2/ discover if our work has been stolen?

Thanks for a heartfelt and informative post. Peace, Linda

Linda said...

And I'd appreciate knowing DCC's real identity. If you know him, and 'Carmen' knows him, then I may, too.

I'm with Angel -- brand this person with the Scarlet P.

Peace, Linda

Crybbe666 said...

Greta, I have heard about this incident from Angel and I agree with what he says:

"I would encourage your friend to pry further into DCC's submitted work to publications, because there could be more writers affected by this creep's actions."

These people need to be exposed for the low lifes that they are!!

Best wishes,
Paul

J.C. Towler said...

Hey Greta,

Thanks for posting this story and sobering reminder.

I've read a number of plagiarism stories (including Angel's from some time ago). None of them end well.

Plagiarists are just as guilty of larceny as someone who shoplifts. Unfortunately, it is very hard to recoup anything from the plagiarists at the level most of us are writing at now. (Plagiarize J.K. Rowling and watch what happens). Plagiarists, like most criminals, have committed the act repeatedly before getting caught. Without an avenue to punish, exposure is the best course of action.

Best,

--John

Lee Hughes said...

That was a weak-ass bull%^&t excuse if ever there was one. Everyone knows everything they've written. I read work for over a dozen writing friends on the web and even say a year later I'd still know which is mine and what's not. The dirty thief should be named and shamed so we can tar and feather them everywhere!!

David Barber said...

That was the lamest of excuses. We all know what we've written and what's our work. This w****r wants stringing up by his balls!

Col Bury said...

Greta,

I'm truly saddened to read this and I concur with the above comments. But we do need a name so, as we all did when Angel was plagiarised, we can blog n shame this abhorrent character and ostracize them from our wonderful writing community.

Regards,
Col

Michael Solender said...

I am with Angel on this - the DCC's real name should be outed as to alert others, writers and editors, to his low down slimy ways. Why are we affording him anonymity? He so wanted recognition, let's give him what he deserves.

Linda said...

Hi Greta, Your friend posted the DCC's name on fb -- but it seemed he did a switcheroo with the poem he plagarized. Does she want the wrath of writers to descend upon his head? At least more muckraking? Peace, Linda

Stephen said...

Greta,

I was sad to hear about your friend's news. People who steal like this must have some sort of identity problem--not happy with who they are, they feel the need to try on someone else's identity. As I've mentioned to you before, I hope DCC finds himself in Publishing Siberia. As far as trying to find out if anyone has plagiarized you, I can only recommend Googling a search of your story titles and key words to see what kinds of links pop up.

Take care.

Laura Eno said...

I can't even imagine why a writer would want to plagerize. He is scum and I hope he's drummed out ever being able to publish again. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. It's the only way to protect ourselves and still share our stories.

Greta Igl said...

Everyone, I'm really happy to have touched a nerve here. I know I've been complacent and trusting with my work, never thinking this would happen to me. I'm glad to have opened the door to this discussion. I'm just sorry it happened at Carmen's expense.

Angel, I really feel for you. No one should have to go through what you have.

As far as posting the perp's name, I'm not going to do that for a number of reasons. They are:

1) Our DCC can easily change e-identities, making it impossible to reliably identify him.

2) Carmen is still debating whether or not she wants to pursue this. I don't want any action on my part to jeopardize her case.

3) My husband would kill me I brought a lawsuit down on us. Let's face it: revealing DCC's name makes me liable to prove my case and, while I'm certain DCC is guilty, proving it in a court of law is a different matter. I am one degree removed from this case, making tangible proof a very difficult burden.

For those of you who are concerned, and rightly so: Carmen did NOT meet this creep through an online forum

Davin Malasarn said...

My thoughts go out to Carmen. This is a horrible situation. I hope she sees how many supporters she has.

Erin Cole said...

Hello Greta,

So sorry to hear about what happened to your friend, Carmen. There is no excuse for stealing other writers' work and you mentioned it was more than just stealing their words-absolutely! I wrote a piece about this when Angel's work was plagiarized last September and titled it, Stealing Babies, (http://erincolelive.blogspot.com/2009/09/stealing-babies.html) because that's what it feels like. Some of our writes come from very emotional places or have been a grueling process of researching and editing, and to have some steal all that work is painful.

Your friend is not alone and I do hope she continues with her writing goals, otherwise they win.

Bernard S. Jansen said...

Greta,
Found this post (and your blog) from Angel's link. I'd just like to express my anti-plagiarism support along with everyone else. I've also blogged about your post here to encourage more people to read it and be aware of the ever-present risk of plagiarism.

jb said...

Hi everyone,
It's me, "Carmen."
I have found a SIXTH place where the poem is published. So I emailed the site's editor with the correspondence I had with the DCC, including my original poem. We'll see what she decides.
My blood is still boiling.
Your support has been TERRIFIC, so nurturing and outraged at the same time! I'm on this guy, watching him. Any advice is welcome.
Thanks, all.
jb

essygie said...

Every writer's worst nightmare (and you know the only reason why they plagiarise is cos they can't write anything original themselves).

Will be tweeting a link to this, to spread the word.

... Paige said...

I cannot not express my sorrow for Carmen enough nor my disgust for DCC. I feel guilty using both names in the same sentence.
Someone needs a lesson in storage of computer files, and what a lame excuse anyway...

Steph said...

Like everyone else, I sit here shaking my head and feeling both outraged and disgusted. No matter how many times these things happen, and they happen often, I will never be able to respond to them with a shrug and a 'oh well, that's life'.

Writing is a lot of hard work. We sacrifice a lot in order to be able to express ourselves in specific ways which will raise our work, be this fiction, non-fiction, poetry, drama, whatever, to publishable standards. I agree with the sentiments already expressed; JB should stay strong but pursue this offender to the best of her abilities.

JB: we are thinking of you and feel your pain. Keep us posted.

I have even seen such disgraceful behaviours within the academia, where PhD researchers often come across professors that will re-use their research and conclusions without their permission. Considering that universities are so concerned about plagiarism... well, I'd say that a certain turn of events is beyond ironic.

All the best everyone!

Greta Igl said...

Thanks to everyone who read and commented. It's been so gratifying to see writers supporting one another like this. Really helps to balance out the negative stuff.

I'm currently planning a follow up post. Please check back if you'd like to see how this situation is progressing. I hope to have it ready within the next few days.

Greta

Jodi MacArthur said...

Appalling, sick, and twisted.

There are always the few that will steal our words, just as there are others that will steal our vehicles or jewelry. The difference is that you have to defend yourself when you've found the perpetrator. The best self defense is what you and this other lady have done - go public with it and don't hide it away. It's the best form of karate one can do on the net.

Barry J. Northern said...

This is the worst case of plagiarism I've heard of yet: an actual writing pal who has been asked for advice and feedback on a poem, then steals it? What an evil jerk. What a rubbish excuse. I hope, as must surely be, that he is blackballed from all those publishers he duped.