Ah, the joy of it all. Discovering (before breakfast, even) that a story you have published online has been re-posted by someone else on another site, as their own work.
Yes, you guessed it, that happened to me. Today, actually. I was going to post about how last week I had a brilliant idea for my next novel (main story, subplot and hero and heroine conflicts all worked out) but this has stayed my hand, so to speak, as I’ve been running around doing what needs to be done – reporting it to the site, posting on Twitter to warn others, etc etc.
I found out through a vanity search. I’ve got Google alerts set up for all sorts of things – my name, my pen name, this story title, you name it. I got the idea from my husband, who does it too: apparently he’s both a professional soccer player in England and a techie in the movie industry who worked on the Lord of the Rings movies. But I digress. Through this vanity search I have found things like the video someone made in honour of my story, and the blog of the person who wants to make a movie out of it. I’ve also found some less than complimentary comments on it, but you have to take the bad with the good, don’t you?
The story in question is on another site under another name and, within a certain genre, is rather popular. As such, I’ve had this problem before – people have posted it on other sites under their own names. I think this is the third time it’s happened, but there could be more and I’ve just blocked it from my subconscious. After all, there’s not much that makes me feel sicker than knowing that someone out there in cyberspace is willing to steal my work.
As such, this blog is intended to be a warning. I know that I’ve talked about this risk before, especially when discussing posting your work online, but in reality everyone thinks that it’s not going to happen to them. Even when it’s happened before, there’s something in your mind that says that you’ve had your share of bad luck, and it’ll be someone else’s turn. (This sucks for the someone else, but when they’re nameless faceless people in cyberspace they seem a lot less human and therefore you feel less guilty about subjecting them to the risk.)
So take note. If you do publish original work online, make sure that you check up on it. Do a Google alert for the story title or a character name or something, and do a manual search occasionally as well. Because there are people out there who don’t have the same sort of scruples you and I have, and they’re willing to pass off your original work as their own. It’s not on, but unless we stay vigilant and report every instance we find, it will continue to happen.
- How to Keep Content Thieves from Stealing Your Work (kissmetrics.com)
- What is Plagiarism and how do I avoid it (youngwebbuilder.com)
- Writing Essentials: What is Plagiarism? Paraphrasing? Homage? (reginajeffers.wordpress.com)