July 23, 2013
rosemary published this at 8:01 am
By Tiffany Matthews
Do you remember the first story you wrote? Throughout high school and college, I have often written short stories and poems for friends just for fun. Although these tales and poetry have accumulated over years, they remain as they are–scribblings in notebooks that have now gathered dust at the bottom of my drawer. Some of my friends think that it’s a waste, arguing that these stories should be shared with the world. In fact, they have suggested that I try my luck writing for sites like fictionpress.com. Many writers have gotten their lucky break from this site, signing authorship deals that have made their publishing dream a reality.
In the beginning, you might feel content enough to keep your writings private. But as time passes, you will feel this need to share these tales with others, hoping that they will touch others the way they have touched you. I, too, have felt this need for sharing stories but one worry has always held me back from posting them online–plagiarism.
Everyone is Vulnerable…
All writers are vulnerable to plagiarism. Although self-published authors may be more vulnerable, still, it doesn’t mean that those who publish with reputable publishers are safe from this. In fact, just recently, author Lorelei James’ work was plagiarized. Apparently, someone took All Jacked Up, a title from James’ Rough Riders series, and posted that book chapter per chapter on a free stories website. Everything was exactly the same save for the hero and heroine’s names.
So how can we protect ourselves from this?
Plagiarism has been going on for a long time and this problem is not going to disappear overnight. For any writer who becomes a victim of this, it is one of the worst things that can ever happen to you. Those who love their craft know just how devastating it is for someone to steal their work and pass it off as his or her own. It is almost akin to losing a child. To protect the work of our hands and heart, it is necessary that we implement precautionary measures.
Copyright and Google
Since we know that plagiarism can happen at any given time, one of the things we can do is to register for a copyright. It will not stop a person from plagiarizing your works, but at least you will have sufficient ground for legal action. Copyright registration may vary from country to country so do some research before you do. If circumstances lead you to file to a lawsuit, you don’t need to worry about expensive lawyer fees. You can use prepaid legal plans, which can have budget friendly monthly subscriptions.
Once you have your copyright, you can then set up Google alerts regarding your work. Customize your alert to include your book title, quotes, book passages, your name and more so that you will be aware of news about your book. This will also make it easier to track if someone has been posting your stories elsewhere and claiming to own them.
Connections are Important
Fellow authors make great critics and friends especially if you can trust them. If you are able to form a solid network of writer friends, they will be your support when the issue of plagiarism crops up. They may even be influential in recognizing your work which is being passed off as another’s. You can seek their advice on how to proceed with filing a plagiarism case.
Be Assertive and Take Action
When your work is stolen, you feel violated because you were the one who birthed that literary masterpiece. If this does happen to you, don’t try to repress your emotions. Rant if you must but don’t do anything that would hurt your own reputation. Instead, you should buck up and take legal action. Don’t let this event keep you from writing again. Instead, learn from it and you’ll gain an even deeper appreciation for your work and other writers’ works.
Do you take any proactive steps to prevent plagiarism of your work?