WB: Copy and Paste

Cross-posted to LiveJournal

I’m still wicked behind in my LJ inbox, and I have so much stuff to write that I’ve finally created a write list and am organizing some of this stuff.  So without further ado, here’s one of the more recent Writer’s Block questions and my answer to it.

Question:

How would you react if you found out someone plagiarized your work and published it?

I suppose it would depend on the case and the level of plagiarism.

Since ideas and themes and traits can be stolen as well as straight out writing/drawing/whatever, some of these things would affect me in different ways.  Also, “publishing” comes in a lot of different forms.  Some include money, some don’t.  Since I write (mostly) I’ll use that as an example.

For example, if a person used my likeness or the likeness of a personality I had created (online or not,) I would feel flattered and want acknowledgment as the influence/inspiration for the work and perhaps a one-time monetary compensation if the work was done for monetary purposes.  If not, then just the acknowledgment would suffice.

If a person directly used a character I had created in their own work, my response would go one of two ways.

  1. If the work was done simply as a work of fiction that they acknowledged they had no copyrights to and they made no profit off of it (so fanfiction mosly) I would feel flattered and leave it be under the Fair Use law.
  2. If they did not acknowledge that I was the creator, if they claimed it was their own, and they were attempting to make a profit off it (I really don’t care much if they’re not trying to make money off of it) I would issue a cease-and-desist order and if that didn’t work, sue the pants off them.  Even if the plot was an original idea.

If the person has directly used my character(s), plot, and/or actual writing then there would not only be a cease-and-desist order but ALSO suing the pants off them and hanging them out to dry legally.  Even if it wasn’t for monetary gain.

I think total plagiarism like that is reprehensible and uncalled for.  I have no problem with borrowing my likeness for something, so long as you give me credit.  And I think fanfiction is a great introduction to the world of writing and is flattering.  I like that fans of things will expand upon failed plot threads or fix something in someone’s world that they don’t like.  I DON’T like people trying to make money and a living off of someone else’s hard work.

This goes too for things NOT in the realm of writing.  I don’t think that artists should have “ghost artists” that do half their painting or sculpting and get none of the credit.  I don’t like that some authors have “ghostwriters” to do the writing that they get the credit for.  I don’t like the idea of someone appearing to be singing but you’re hearing some uncredited person’s voice.

I believe everyone has the right to claim their own work and that they should.  If they VOLUNTARILY give this up (like a lot of ghostwriters do or old ghost artists and singers, etc) then congratulations, you’re the epitome of unselfishness.  I, however, would like to get paid for my work and would not appreciate someone trying to take that away from me.

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