Word Thief

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Yes, it’s Darktober for me right now, sharing works that are especially spooky, gruesome and dark.  This post isn’t about the things that go bump in the night but it’s certainly about fear – the kind of fear that grabs a writer and throws them into a deep abyss of terror – the fear of someone stealing your work!

I have a blogger buddy who has experienced this in recent days. He did a search on the Internet and discovered an essay he wrote was being offered on a website that sells essays and other works. He has attempted to contact them but his work is still appearing on the site. My question is, “What can writers do to protect themselves?”

My understanding of copyright is that once you put the work in written form it IS copyright protected. I’ve gotten my information from Writing-World.com.

But, even if we all know this to be true, there are unscrupulous people out there who will steal your work, so then what? Has this happened to you and what did you do? Does it really matter if we place “Copyright” on the work?

Be sure to check out Writing-World’s article called, “Someone Stole My Article! What To Do When It Happens To You.”

 

(Image courtesy of Microsoft ClipArt)

 

26 responses »

  1. This is unfortunate. But, sadly, it’s a reality. I’d be really ticked if that had happened to me (not that I’ve written any essays worthy of being stolen!). But it goes beyond essays. What about stories, or entire novels? When that information is saved and stored in today’s “cloud” era, they’re more easily accessible than they should be. Then there is the issue with blogs. Unfortunately, from what I’ve been told, once we post something on our blogs, it’s considered “in print.” Granted, it’s still copyrighted because the second it’s posted it is officially ours, but it wouldn’t stop people from taking it and using it as their own. Scary!

    • It takes a special kind of lowly individual to claim someone else’s writing as their own. You’d think that with the use of electronics there would easier ways to protect our work. You bring up a good point with the blogging too – We can prove when we publish our work by date/time it was published to the blog, so I don’t understand why anyone could think they could take it after that….

  2. As someone who prefers to see the good in people, stuff like this really throws me off. How can someone have so little conscious that they steal another’s work? Sadly, unless one wants to pay legal fees and go through the process, it can be a difficult thing to fight. One would hope the site would take it down before it would have to get to that.

    • I hope they take it down, but just getting in contact with someone may prove to be quite the challenge. The site looks a little shady, and my question is this – who buys essays? and why?

      • It probably could be, college level, English writing assignment, but geez, that’s out and out plagiarism…

      • I’ve heard the selling of essays is quite common in colleges (and probably high school, too). Sad, I know.

  3. Hi, Sheila! Also see Bertram’s Blog on WordPress.com for Pat Bertram’s post entitled something like “I’m a Victim of Content Scraping.” “Content scraping” is apparently what you call it when you have a post stolen. She has some suggestions for what to do at least to deter free dishonest access, though going to court may not be an option for you.

    • Hi! Thanks so much for the information! I’ve never heard of ‘content scraping’ before – What’s the matter with people?

      • You’re very welcome. I don’t know exactly what’s wrong with people; it would make me feel bad to think that the only way I could come up with a good idea was to take it without attribution or compensation or some adequate and legal form of acknowledgement from someone else (who wants to feel that stupid?). It seems to be a topic which is on everyone’s mind today in particular–I just read another blog about ten minutes ago, by someone else I follow, on the topic of plagiarism (you can find him at thelivingnotebook.wordpress.com, if you’re interested). Thanks also for the link to Writing-World.com on your site. I’m hoping not to find my content anywhere else illegally on the ‘net, but I remember how within the first month or so of my site being up, a reading site for web publications had put up my “About” page, for some reason, and there was a download function, which at first sight seemed to be to my whole site, though on the copying site itself it said that there was no upload function or storing of websites, or something like that. Now, if my “About” page is the only thing that really was copied, what can anyone else do with that? It’s only about me. I told WordPress.com about it, but they didn’t appear to think that I had correctly interpreted it as a sort of theft, so evidently it wasn’t. I was afraid to try to download from the site to check and see if it had my whole website on it because I’m a nervous nellie when it comes to computer stuff, and I was afraid of virus issues, and what sorts of things might be on the site. So far, anyway, no one has told me that I’ve been copied, so I’m hoping for the best. Good luck!

  4. That’s scarier than any horror movie or Halloween costume. And how do you even find out if someone has stolen your work? I’ve had people add it to those daily ‘papers’ but just a link to my own blog, not for sale. Perhaps it is a compliment. Nah, it’s theft for sure.

    • I’m thinking it’s random ‘luck’ if you stumble across your work on someone else’s site and they published it without consent. This guy’s work was given zero credit – no name, no link back to him, nothing. I suppose we could always do an internet search of things we’ve published and see where they might pop up. I don’t mind if those daily ‘papers’ repost something I’ve written because they always give credit where credit is due and they aren’t trying to make money off the work – that’s more about promotion and such. And of course some bloggers reblog your work but again, it links back to your blog so that’s all good, too.

  5. Very sad. 😦 I don’t know why I’ve been in a movie state of mind lately, but this tale reminds me of the movie “The Word” about a writing struggling to write a novel who finds an old unpublished work written by someone else, publishes it, and then is confronted by the real author. It would make for a great movie if it weren’t such an authentic tragedy.

    • You’re absolutely correct! It’s pretty pathetic that someone would steal another person’s work. I’m so deeply connected to my writing that it would feel like I’d been violated in some way (not sexually or physically) but emotionally. My feelings would definitely get hurt over it 😦 I feel badly for my blogger buddy because the essay was personal for him, and some stranger took it, intending to use it for personal gain.

      • In other cultures, the idea of intellectual property has yet to take root. There’s an attitude that if you leave it out there, it’s free for the taking. Some cultures even justify it by claiming that it’s for the public good (e.g. open source). IP rights is a big issue and unfortunately, it may be a losing battle with billions in royalties lost to piracy. 😦

  6. I forgot to mention that it’s always better and more legally-binding to copyright a work through the USPTO. It’s easy to do through Copyright.gov, but it does cost $25 per registration. It’s is a potentially lucrative work, it might be worth the cost to give the author a legal basis for a lawsuit.

  7. sucksaaaa! :-/ thanks for the info Sheila! I had also read about the Creative Commons Copyright ..which allows you to protect your material and allows others to share your work as well!

    • Thanks for stopping in! I believe a lot of the photo sharing sites use the Creative Commons Copyright you speak of. Now, if only we can weed out the unscrupulous folks who don’t care about our creations! 🙂

  8. i hear you on this one. as you know i do a lot of readings in erie and i’ve talked to a number of them as to blogging. one of course is if you publish on the blog you can’t submit to journals unless you pull them and such. but a number of them won’t publish on blogs because it is rather easy for another to pull it and use elsewhere despite putting your copyright on your blog. it’s a chance that we all take and i would not know the correct channels in which to correct such an issue. of course if an attorney gets involved we all know the score with that.

    • An attorney can help but at what cost… and yes, you’re right about publishing to a blog and then submitting work to other places – a lot of them considered that work now “published” and won’t consider it for their own publication.

  9. Cannot say I have noticed this happening to me. From my perspective I don’t put up anything that I care too much if someone steals it. That is not to say I think it is right, I do not. I would feel offended and more if someone stole something and claimed it as theirs. On the other hand the writings I would want to sell or publish, do not go up here (on my blog), and I would advise against someone publishing something they want to publish on theirs other than a tiny segment or “free” gift.

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