Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Plagiarism

I'm sure you all have heard about the most recent episode of plagiarism that has taken place. I don't want to talk about that today, but rather what people's reaction to it has been. I was appalled to find that half of my friends seemed to think the whole thing was a big joke and the other half seemed to think it was fake or not a big deal. To an author the thought of plagiarism is a horrific experience similar to having a nightmare about a never ending vapid conversation with the Kardashians.

Let's start with the definition of Plagiarism - the practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own.

At it's heart Plagiarism is theft. When you have developed an intellectual property, there are multiple revenue streams that you can collect from them. When someone steals your work and passes it off as their own, it dilutes the amount of revenue you could be collecting and gives it to someone else. This is money you will most likely never recover as an author unless you can somehow identify who it is that is doing this and they live in a country that will pursue such claims. Then there is the cost of court fees and lawyers and so on. For many it isn't even worth the effort to try to recover lost revenues.

Let's say you work construction and you build a house. It's a very nice house that you are expecting to get paid for. Now let's say John Doe picks up your tools, poses by the house for some pictures, and claims to be the one who built the house. Your boss says, "Wow! What a nice house! John Doe, you're getting a bonus!" I bet you would be pretty angry about it all when you find out, but John Doe has already skipped town with your bonus money and your chances of finding him are very low.

That is how it feels to be plagiarized as an author. This sort of thing happens all the time now that it is easier than ever to publish an ebook. People will make an exact copy of a book (even well known classic books), make minor changes to the cover, and then begin to sell it online as their own work of fiction.

It can be quite an ordeal to get Amazon to remove the offending novel that contains your stolen story. I have heard tales of an author's work being removed from Amazon because they found another similar book, which was published by someone who stole the work of fiction. If you search across the internet there are many tales of horror that rival that of Pikachu being melted down then frozen into a flavor of ice cream.

If you don't think plagiarism is a big deal then I want to be your friend, so I can take your ideas and eat them. I will be your personal idea zombie. I will craft and cultivate your best works by changing a word here and there and I will profit from your hard work while you enjoy diminished returns on your investment of time and energy. Thank you for your contribution to the Grand Idea Zombie Horde!

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