A/N: There are two new trends in the online Fiction-writing world:
(1) Plagiarizing the work of others.
(2) Complaining about the plagiarizing of the work of others.
I figured I'd jump on the bandwagon as well - by doing #2 and not #1 because...well, read the rant to know.
Plagiarizers: Please chop off your fingers.
- Rebekah's Rant -
My god-sister messaged me on MSN two weeks ago and asked for help with her English assignment on Sophocles' Oedipus the King. Luckily for her, I just finished taking Introduction to Classical Mythology this past semester, the story was part of the syllabus, and I was interested enough in the course to remember the specifics. She suggested finding some old essays online and using them as outline and reference points for her own assignment. Note: She didn't want to steal any sentences/paragraphs word-for-word, but she wanted to take the main themes. Technically that wouldn't be considered plagiarism, but I told her a definite 'no', explained to her a system called Turnitin (in case you don't know what it is, it's a site that teachers/professors use to compare your submitted assignments to other things floating around the Internet to make sure you didn't steal it), and then we worked on the assignment from scratch.
And, while we're talking about Turnitin, I'd like to point out a real situation that took place very recently. An accounting professor of mine was going over the class course outline in September, but he stopped when he got to the assignment instructions and shot us all a glare. He told us that one student in his summer class had found the assignment solution by using Google. He then shared the site with his group members, and some of the group members mentioned it to their own friends. Needless to say, when the assignment was handed in, about 60% of the class had used the solutions. Turnitin caught the problem and EVERY SINGLE ONE of those students was called in for academic misdemeanor trials. Some of them didn't even know that their group members had used the solutions, but just having their name on the submitted assignment made them accountable. EVERY SINGLE ONE of those students received a ZERO in the class (which is a serious drop in GPA), and the guy who discovered the solutions was expelled immediately.
The moral of these stories? DO NOT PLAGIARIZE.
This post is spurred on by the rash of plagiarism regarding FictionPress authors' stories. These people have worked hard on their writing and put them up for critiques (and bashing, because not everyone has the same tastes) by you, the general faceless Internet public.
When you plagiarize their work, it's a very perverse and twisted form of flattery. By that, I mean that you're probably thinking they should put you on a throne for being such a stalkerish fan, but they're just wondering when they should hit you with a lawsuit.
And no, you're not immune because you're stealing on the Internet. You might think it's impossible to track you down because your username is "omigodreviewmyawesomenessXD3", but I assure you it's entirely possible. Internet connections leave footprints that can very easily be tracked down - so don't be surprised if you receive a court notice in the mail after you steal somebody else's work.
I can understand the psychology behind using things you find online when doing assignments for school. I don't accept it, but I can understand it. I mean, it's a project, you get marked, the marks determine your average, your average determines your future (be it more school or a career). So yes, there's a thought process there that makes sense in a very unethical way.
But stealing fiction and posting it up on a free-to-view website? I know one of Myrika's stories was self-published by a moron looking to make a profit. However, all other cases I've heard of to date were all put up on websites that gave the thief no monetary "reward". So what, you put up somebody's work and lap up all the praises you get because people think you wrote it? Where's the satisfaction in that? Or are you twisted enough to convince yourself you deserved the praise for being able to use MS Word (or whatever word-processing software you use) to search-and-replace John's name to Bob and Jane's name to Sue?
So please, get yourselves a life and understand that PLAGIARISM IS NOT AN ART FORM (and neither are rows of soup cans, but that's another story altogether).
~ Rebekah ~
A/N: So this was something I put up on my LiveJournal a little while ago...and then I figured "Eh, might as well torture FP readers by putting it up there too."
Also, I know a lot of great author's have removed their work from FP, but I don't have any plans of doing that. For one thing, I haven't been plagiarized. For another, I have no intention of pursuing publishing, so I don't have to make sure copies of my work are not floating around.
That does not mean I won't take action if anything of mine is plagiarized. If I find any of my work is floating around cyberspace without my permission (or without being clearly stated it belongs to me), I will not hestitate to take steps to make you hate your life.
Best of luck to all those authors who are scrambling to protect their work. I wish you all the best in the publishing world.