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The Plagiarist vs. the Indie Author vs. the Sock Puppet

June 24, 2016
The hand inside this sock puppet could belong to a plagiarist indie author. (image via wikimedia)

The hand inside this sock puppet could belong to a plagiarist indie author. (image via wikimedia)

It must be fun plagiarizing other people’s stuff.   A plagiarist gets the credit for (and maybe even delusional satisfaction from) creating something original.  Maybe the plagiarist even gets paid.  Between getting credit and getting paid, there’s a lot of incentive to be a plagiarist.

Technology has made plagiarism a lot easier today than it used to be, but it has also made plagiarism easier to discover.  A few months ago, I caught my daughter copy/pasting an article and changing a couple adjectives for a research assignment.  After I yelled at her (in a monotone voice) for plagiarism, I showed her how easy it would be for a teacher to prove that she had cheated just by using a search engine.  Then I had her explain the paragraph to me while she wasn’t looking at it.  I told her to write down what she had said instead of copy/pasting.  Maybe my daughter didn’t intend to plagiarize, but adults (especially adults who are writers) should know better.

Supposedly, there’s a lot of plagiarism  going on in independent publishing.  At least, there are a lot of accusations of plagiarism.  It makes sense that a plagiarist would go after an independent author.  If you plagiarize a work that has a big publishing company behind it, that company will sue you and destroy you like the insignificant flea you are.  But an indie author probably can’t do that.

Suing a plagiarist can be expensive, especially when most indie authors don’t have much money to work with.  Any response an author takes requires time and energy, and that’s going to interfere with the indie author’s creative state of mind.  Plus, it must be deflating; even if I write something that appeals to a lot of people, somebody else is going to steal it and chances are I won’t even know about it.  If I were being plagiarized, I’d almost rather not know about it.  Maybe I’d rather be blissfully unaware of the crimes being committed against me as I single-mindedly created new content.

As far as I know, nobody has plagiarized my books or blogs.  It’s almost insulting.  If somebody plagiarized me, I’d at least feel relevant.  Then again, I know I’d be really pissed if I got plagiarized, especially if the plagiarist made money off my stuff.  Even I haven’t made money off my stuff.  I wouldn’t feel “violated” as some writers put it, but I’d be pissed off.

Some writers plagiarize public domain authors because estates of public domain literature can’t sue anymore.  Some authors justify it by giving classics authors co-author credit, such as Pride and Prejudice with Zombies.  If I were going to plagiarize public domain, I’d go all-out and make it everybody curse with modern day slang.  Cursing is funny to a lot of people, especially if it’s done in formal situations.  I could write Pride and Prejudice with Cuss Words or Pride and Profanity.  I’d still give Jane Austen top billing on the book cover.

Even though plagiarizing the classics is allowed, it still seems like it’s breaking the rules, and I’m a rule follower.  Sometimes I get tired of being the rule follower, though.  Maybe I should become the plagiarist after all.

A few years ago I thought about being the sock puppet, an author who writes fake reviews for his/her own books.  I thought about creating a bunch of fake accounts and giving myself undeservedly high praise for my own books.  I was even going to plagiarize other reviews so that all of my favorable reviews to myself would sound different.  Some authors pay for book reviews or have their friends write 5-star reviews.  I figured that if I was going to cheat, I’d rather do it myself and not involve others.  Even when I was in school, I preferred working by myself, and I haven’t gotten much more sociable as I’ve gotten older.

I decided not to use any fake reviews (as far as I know).  Now my books have only a few reviews, but they’re all real (and sincere, I think).  Writing my own fake reviews wouldn’t be as bad as plagiarism, but it’s still dishonest.

I think I could have gotten away with it, though.  I think I could be a great diabolical mastermind if only I would put my bad ideas into practice.  It’s not conscience or lack of guts that keeps me from following through.  I just know that if I plagiarized books and wrote fake reviews and STILL couldn’t make a lot of money off my writing, I’d really feel like a failure.

*****

What do you think?  If you could plagiarize any book, what would it be?  Which public domain book would you like to change around?  Has anybody ever plagiarized your work?  Have you ever plagiarized?

*****

When I was a kid, I got my mouth washed out with soap for saying the word crap.

Looking back, it ticks me off because now I know….

Now available on the Amazon Kindle!

Now available on Amazon!

 

11 Comments
  1. I found out a few weeks ago that my pride and joy, my debut novel which I spent ten years creating was available as an illegal download on a torrent website. It has been downloaded a few hundred times. You can look at it two ways – ‘why me? Why couldn’t they have spent 3 bucks!’ or ‘people are showing an interest in my story – perhaps it will lead them to buying future books or at least spread the word’. I’m TRYING to think in the latter rather than the former! 🙂

    • I believe it’s possible to be pissed off and think positively at the same time. Being illegally downloaded might be one of those situations, but I’d still lean toward being pissed off.

      Are you going to do anything about the illegal download? If so (or even if not), good luck!

      • No. Probably karma for my teenage years when I wasted many evenings ripping music off torrent sites 🙂 C’est la vie!

  2. Why would people write their own reviews? That’s biased and lame. They’re obviously not marketing very well.

    • Ha! There was an author a few years ago who wrote positive reviews for his own books and then wrote negative reviews for his competitors’ books. Then he got busted. That probably wasn’t very good marketing either.

      I guess the sock puppets think a fake review is better than no review. I’d rather have no reviews than get busted for writing fake reviews.

  3. Have you read Pride and Promiscuity? LOL

  4. If I could plagiarize any book I think I’d choose Lord of the Flies and turn it into Lord of the Fries. The kids would eat too much and become obese, and so they won’t be able to fight. It will probably have a happy ending, unless the kids die of diabetes or something.

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