Monday, April 22, 2013

On Plagiarism

After everything that happened across the country last week, I contemplated not even writing this post. I didn't want to be the blogger whining about something small and unimportant in comparison to these national tragedies. I almost didn't write this post at all. I almost let it go. However, after talking it over with my husband and several close blogging friends, I decided that I just can't let it go and that I need to  at least blog about this situation, even if nothing comes out of it at all. 

I had my work stolen. 

I had a blogger that I've known for years...someone I've followed on Twitter and subscribed to her blog, someone I've chatted with about books many times -- STEAL MY WORK. Word-for-word, posted on her blog for all to see, with no credit given. And I'm not the only one she did it to. There are others who have become victim of her blatant disregard for honesty and integrity within the blogging world and they probably don't even know it. If your reviews are posted on Goodreads or Amazon, you aren't safe either.

I emailed this person who, surprisingly enough, didn't deny a thing. In fact, she responded back in less than 90 minutes, with an apology and her "answer" to correcting the issue. To tell you the truth I was actually satisfied at that point. She apologized, didn't attempt to make excuses, and then changed the specific post I had been referring to. She even posted a public apology on her own blog the next day. I was content with these actions, mainly because I didn't want a big deal to come of it. I don't like making waves and I definitely don't like drama. We want to talk about books, not someone's ridiculous act of dishonesty.

But, then I started really thinking about it. 

I re-read her "apology" and started really understanding the way she danced around what she did. I remembered what she does in her professional life, where she probably preaches about the act of plagiarism being the ultimate act of dishonesty on a regular basis, and then it was brought to my attention how many other people she has done this to, as well as the fact that she's posting to at least two other blogs, using plagiarized reviews, and I just kept getting angrier and angrier. It is not ok. Downplaying the severity of the issue is not going to make it go away. 

Before removing her apology post, I had a chance to read through the comments and since she deleted all the critical ones shortly after they were posted, the only ones left went somewhat like this: if people are upset about someone forgetting to credit a source, they need to get over it. Excuse me, what?? She didn't "forget" to credit a source. She copy-and-pasted work from multiple bloggers on a regular basis. Not ok. 

Now, I'm not a "big-time" blogger. No one pays me to write reviews and my writing about books is certainly not considered amazing or worthy of publication in any other forum than my little blog. That being said, I work hard on my reviews. I take a lot of time to read books and then attempt to eloquently express my thoughts about them in order to give feedback to publishers and authors and, most importantly, to let the readers of my blog know what books I think they'd like. This person decided to just copy-and-paste the work of others and call it her own -- and in doing all of this stealing, has managed to gain over 2500 followers on Twitter and had amassed quite the blog following, as well. 

No one has the right to take my words,  no matter how "small" my blog is. You didn't steal my car -- something that can be replaced. You stole my thoughts. My words. My experience with a book. You are a thief of something incredibly personal. 

After this woman's public "apology," she blocked the public from seeing her blog unless invited, therefore, not allowing this act of attempting to make up for her transgressions to be seen. How do we know she isn't still stealing our work, as we can no longer access her blog? She has also made her Goodreads profile private, but I made sure to make note of all the friends we had in common, so I can at least attempt to warn a few of them. 

I have proof of a lot of it. I have a copy of the posted apology, along with many of the examples of stolen work, even though they're no longer accessible to most of the public now. I'm just not entirely sure what to else to do with it. Maybe nothing. I'm sure she'll never grasp the magnitude of her actions. I will, however, be watching to see if her blog becomes public again. I've blocked her on both Twitter and Goodreads and will be emailing as many blogger friends that I know we had in common, to notify them that their work may have been stolen too. 

My lesson in this? Pay attention. There are people out that that can be sneaky, dishonest, and lack integrity. Even teachers. I really hope this is both the first and the last case of plagiarism involving my blog... this is supposed to be a fun method to share books with each other, not some drama-filled process!


Well-Read Reviews said...

Wow. That is really crappy. If she put her blog on private then maybe that is for the better. She won't get the views that she is probably wanting.

I know Wordpress has a plagiarism plugin that scans the internet for your words copied elsewhere. Does blogger have something like it that may help?

book reviews

Samantha Abreu said...

I can imagine how hard is this situation. It's not as simple as get over it, it's your work, your words and feelings, and coming from a "friend" hurts more than ever.
But unfortunately we have good and bad people all over the world and we have to pay attention to every single detail. :(

Nicole M said...

Hi Amanda,

I applaud you for speaking the truth. This entire issue is mind blowing. I don't like when people play the victim for a wrong they have done, and we have a clear case of that here. The blogger that stole your work and many others' work is playing herself off as a victim in being exposed. The lesson here, if you have something you're hiding you can't be surprised when it is found out. And, why she thinks she is beyond repercussions of those repeated actions is a mystery. Time to be adults.
I will share your honest reflection with those that are interested.

Susan said...

Wow, I'm so sorry this happened to you! I think you did right in warning others about the issue without totally ragging on the blogger who plagiarized you (or even identifying her). Hopefully, we can all be on our guards now to make sure this doesn't happen again!

Annette said...

I've had this happen. I never could get the other person to understand it was in very poor taste to cut and paste.

Sarah said...

That's just so awful Amanda. I'm so sorry this had to happen to you but I'm glad you didn't stay quiet about it. No word or post is small. It takes time and effort and for someone to just steal it, well, that's as awful as it gets.

Jes Hindley said...

Oh my! To quote the first commenter, "That is really crappy!"

I had someone steal one of my assignments word for word in an online class once (at a Bible college no less!!) and I was utterly mortified and felt betrayed. While it wasn't a major assignment, the simple fact that someone that that taking something that was my own idea and thought and using it as their own was more important that spending the few minutes to do it themselves devastated me.

So sorry you had to experience this :(

ZacharyBelgium said...

So if you are for total honesty, perhaps you should let everyone know that you had TWO SENTENCES copy and pasted from a Goodreads review. . .
I'm not saying that this is still not wrong, but the way your blog post reads, the reader would assume that you had an entire review cut and pasted and passed off as this other blogger's.
If you are for full disclosure, perhaps you should put all the cards on the table.
And did you ever think that maybe you don't know the full story behind this? That maybe you are a pawn in a game that you don't even know you are a player in - and that you have been played? Didn't you think it a bit strange that someone you didn't even know combed through reviews so thoroughly that they found two of your sentences that weren't even together in a review and then contacted you - someone they didn't even know, to tell you about it? Could this person have a hidden agenda that you aren't even aware of and you are playing right into this person's hand without all the information? I'm not condoning this but I am telling you that you should think long and hard about how you came about this information and exactly how much was stolen from you and then think about WHY this was done? Was it truly all for justice or do you think perhaps there could have been another agenda happening here? Hmmm . . .

Nicole M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tif Sweeney said...

Plagiarism in all its forms is horrible! To have your thoughts and words stolen and passed off as someone else's is a violation that is beyond difficult. I simply do not understand why someone would do that. I am so sorry that you have been yet another one affected by this.

Abby said...

UGH. This is horrible and I'm so sorry that it happened. It strikes me as ridiculous that plagiarism is still happening in the book blogging community, a community that seems to be continually screaming at publishers to take them seriously. If a professional reviewer was found guilty of plagiarism, do you think she's still be working for that journal?

And I don't care if it was an entire post or one sentence. It's wrong. It keeps happening. And if someone notices plagiarism happening, I'm glad they reported it, no matter what their motives might be.

Juju at Tales of said...

That's crazy! Someone you connects with? Wow. So awful and disrespectful.