Kidnapped!* A Case of Plagiarism

Plagiarism – the worst sin there is, at least in the eyes of writers and other artists. Technically, “plagiarism” refers to “the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing it off as one’s own,” according to Google.

But I prefer the hidden and truer meaning of the word – “kidnapper.”**

Recently, I discovered that someone, whom I shall not name, kidnapped, as it were, several of my blog posts from the last few years and posted them – many in their entirety – on his Web site. Slight and strange changes to my name accompanied many of the posts. A polite entreaty to take these down resulted in nothing, even though I told him I would file DMCA reports if he didn’t comply. The posts remained up, so I filed DMCA appeals via WordPress.com. After I informed the individual of this action, he then removed my posts and words from his blog. I thanked him, but really wanted to scream, “Did you not know you were stealing from me?”

“Kidnapping” might seem a strong term for his act, but, trite as it may sound, when writers struggle for weeks, days, and hours to birth their work, only to find some opportunistic person using that work for content or passing it off as their own, well, there’s a colossal feeling of loss. Betrayal also describes the shadow of nausea that passed over me, boding sickness and evil, when I realized what happened. One seemingly small pilfering here, another there, may appear innocuous to the plagiarizer, but it is anything but innocent. Stealing another person’s work sits right up there with assault, only this version is mental, close to stalking. Yes, yes, yes!

In today’s data- and information-saturated climate, taking care of one’s words becomes an arduous task, not unlike vigilance over the safety of one’s young children or grandchildren. How do I, or any writer, keep my words safe? I could just set each post to PRIVATE and, like King Midas, play with them in the privacy of my own space. But I don’t want to do that, because – for one thing – I glory in the fact that women today can write under their own names. At least in most places in the world.

So I will carry on, watchful, attentive, hawk-eyed.

_________________

To read more about plagiarism, take a look at Plagiarism Today, especially this link, which assists writers and artists in finding plagiarists: “How to Find Plagiarism.”

And this site offers a crash course for those who need a refresher about plagiarism, Plagiarism.org.

*With thanks to Robert Louis Stevenson and his novel.

**From the Latin word “plagiarius.” 17th century, meaning “kidnapper.”

© 2015 C. Bertelsen

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