Sunday, July 15, 2018
Plagiarism is NEVER okay
I honestly had no desire to write this post. I'm tired of fighting with people I considered friends. I'm tired of finding that I've burned another bridge. I'm tired o feeling like my entire damn community hates me. I just want to be left in peace to write, publish, and be with my family and friends.
But I have my lines, and I got an email this morning that reminded me, viscerally and painfully, why plagiarism is one of them. Why I will never forgive the likes of Cassandra Clare, Santino Hassell (who stole people's LIVES) and countless others.
The short answer, that I shouldn't need to give at all, is that stealing is wrong. Stealing someone's work, whether you get paid for it or not, IS WRONG. Women all over the world know what it's like to have their work stolen by men while they're ignored. POC all over the world know what it's like to have their history stolen, to have things that POC did instead claimed by white people. This is never okay, even if the author "only" steals it for fanfic.
And in a better world, that would be more than explanation enough. Stealing someone else's work and claiming it as your own is wrong. The end.
The problem, though, is that whether they realize it or not, too often people do not truly see authors (all artists) as people ourselves. They see us as little better than a store they can walk into whenever they want to grab what they want to read - and if it's not there, they get upset. They get really fucking callous. Sometimes they even get downright cruel.
No, the author in question did not die.
But her aunt died. Then her uncle died. Then her father died, after years of fighting with a debilitating disease. Then she got injured. Then she had to deal with her mother having cancer.
And authors don't get things like bereavement. Even that one small thing, we don't get. Most readers are kind and understanding, but when you're sitting on your couch crying because your life fucking sucks - because your cat just died, and money is a problem again, and you don't know why you're in constant pain - it's the 'why can't she do her fucking job like everyone else?' comments that stick most in your mind.
What does all this have to do with plagiarism? If you haven't figured it out, I'll get there.
That email I got this morning. It was from a very sweet author of ours at LT3. Their father died on Friday. Back when they knew it was only a matter of time, LT3 made sure their first book would be out in time for their father to see it before he passed. We put it in print, even though it was too short, so their father could see it and hold it. You can imagine how much that meant to the author.
We got another email a few months ago, from an author asking if they could withdraw their book and have rights reverted. Because the cancer their doctor initially thought was minor was in fact terminal, and they had little time left, and wanted to take care of as much as they could before they passed so their family wasn't left dealing with it. Despite my nearly twenty years experience with words, I cannot describe to you how devastating that email was.
Now picture any one of these authors finding out their work had been plagiarized. Put yourself in their shoes. An author too distraught and in emotional turmoil and grief to write, and who is still catching up now on all the books she'd like to finish. An author who dedicated their first book to the father who died soon after. An author who will never get to write a second book.
How do you think it would feel to them, or their surviving family, to learn that someone had turned part - or all - of their story into a Snarry fic? Into a stuffed novel on KU? Into an international bestseller?
Authors are people. We feel all the safe joy and anguish and amusement and pain as the rest of the world. Sometimes we write just to write. Sometimes we write according to a prompt. And sometimes, when the pain has nowhere else to go, we bleed on the page so we can breathe again.
And then we wake up one day and find that someone has stolen our work and claimed it for their own, without doing ANY of the things that we had to in order to put those words on the page.
It has also been well established that plagiarists are repeat offenders; they never do it just once. Even after they get caught, they either find a way to continue on, or they start over under a new identity and keep going.
THAT is why I will NEVER tolerate plagiarists, no matter if they "write" fanfic, published fic, poetry, or whatever. That is why they frankly can burn in hell so far as I'm concerned. If you disagree, that's your prerogative, but this is my line.
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