Plagiarizers and Content Stealers Can Suck It
Last night, I came home to discover that a couple of “anonymous” internet minions lifted articles that I’ve written, re-posted them on their own websites, and claimed them as their own work without giving credit to me or the publication for which I wrote these pieces.
My first thought? I was pissed off. As creators, we work our asses off developing what becomes the final project—in my case, it’s the blog entry or the feature article or profile or novel. I write for a living and I work really hard to maintain a certain level of integrity in what I report, in the expression of my opinions, and in the quality of the writing. Doing this requires time and energy and as Oscar Wilde put it, sometimes you can fret all day over something as small as a comma.
Fabrication, theft, and plagiarism are sticking points for readers. We don’t like to be lied to—especially when we’re told that something is true. Even when something is fiction, finding out that the author lifted it from another writer is emotionally and mentally damaging. Why else was there so much outrage after the infamous James Frey incident?
Furthermore, to be on the receiving end of such theft sucks. At least give me some ounce of credit for my work if you’re not going to pay me for it—it’s the very least you can and should do. My work is not up for grabs via Creative Commons and re-posting it as your own crafty endeavor on your crappy, I-steal-from-everyone blog doesn’t count as Fair Use. Sorry, but your bloody idiocy isn’t going to save you here.
I’ve written about the remix movement before and to some extent, I think it’s a wonderful thing insofar as it’s created an entirely new genre of art. Giving credit where credit is due, however, is important and I think some (but perhaps not all) contributors to remix culture do that.* We live in an era where the speed of sharing burns as quickly as a wildfire in a dry forest; sharing information has evolved beyond trend to the point of almost unconscious habit. Still, the law hasn’t exactly caught up with the technology.
So, should I view this as some screwed up form of flattery? Should I be flattered that someone thought my work was so good that they just had to pass it off as their own? I don’t know. Do I have a right to be mad?
Imitation, remix, recycle, reuse, and all of the other flowery terms for distributing ideas not originally your own DO NOT APPLY to STEALING CONTENT and passing it off AS YOUR OWN.
So don’t do it. Unless you’re just dying for someone to slap you with a lawsuit.