Friday, April 16, 2010

Let's talk about Plagiarism today

From the Oxford Dictionary online

/playj riz/ (also plagiarise)
• verb take (the work or idea of someone else) and pass it off as one’s own.
— DERIVATIVES plagiarism noun plagiarist noun plagiarizer noun.
— ORIGIN from Latin plagiarius ‘kidnapper’, from Greek plagion ‘a kidnapping’.

Isn’t it a horrendously ugly word? In any way you look at it – take the work of someone else and pass it off as one’s own...kidnapping – kidnapping another person’s work. That’s stealing. And stealing is wrong and can’t be justified, ever.

I never use MFB to grandstand about matters but something dire has recently happened to several bloggers whom I know and respect greatly.

That something is that their reviews, their hard work, their voices, have been stolen by another blogger, who by changing a word here and there, is passing off entire reviews as her own. That is reprehensible.

Not only is it bad news for my blogging chum who has been ripped off, but it is also a slap in the face of the publishers who had been sending review copies out to the cheating little scoundrel who has been doing it. They are being taken for a ride – their trust has been thrown back in their face, and the reviewer in question, gets to brag how many books she gets, how much she is trusted in the industry, when to be honest, she’s no better than a thief. And you know what, you're giving me and my fellow bloggers who work our butts off because we love what we do a very bad name.

And what makes matters worse is that although this girl has been confronted by various bloggers about this, she’s explained it away by saying: oh, I read your reviews on the book and probably, inadvertently, “borrowed” some terms from your review / or I studied your review as part of a thesis I’m writing. Let me say: what complete and utter shitty rubbish. Unless you are someone who has photographic memory / or you are a trained actor in memorising monologues, you cannot, no matter how hard you try, remember phrases that well, unless you are sitting there, copy-typing it, with a thesaurus to hand, to change one or two words to make it appear your own.

No one will believe it. Especially if your reviews go from pretty superficial to incredibly in-depth and verbose seemingly overnight. And how your reviews don’t actually correspond in tone, depth and voice.

Plagiarism is something everyone is worried about. Authors, students and professors, in fact, most professionals across a variety of industries are deeply concerned by this. Having your hard work ripped off, in any shape or form, is a violation. It undermines your integrity, you start doubting yourself – can it be, perhaps they didn’t mean to, should I be flattered that someone thought I wrote that well that it could be ripped off? No, it’s a crime. And someone, probably several someones have been getting away with it.

This is the link to my friend Adele from Persnickety Snark’s website - - where she raises the question of plagiarism. She’s the blogger who has been wronged by this. There are other bloggers who will be participating in this discussion about the silent crime of plagiarism in the next few days. Several of them are in the same boat as Adele. They have recognised their reviews lifted almost word for word and used elsewhere. What a cop-out, hey? What a slap in the face. What a disgustingly pointless and sneaky thing to do! Why lie? If you can’t cope with the review load, fess up, tell the publishers and take the time to read and review the books you have got teetering next to the computer. Where is your pride in your own work? Your morals and your ethics? Don’t steal – you’ll be caught out and your name will be mud. In fact, you have been caught out and your name is mud. Steps are being taken and legal counsel will be sought.

It may not seem much to you guys. I mean, a review is a review. How bad can it be? We bloggers don’t have much we can call our own – no matter how much I kid about “owning” my authors I review, they really don’t belong to me. All I own on this blog, and all my friends who review with me on here, is our voice and our love for reading and reviewing. If someone in our community – who although big, is actually quite small – can take our hard work and put it out there as their own, where do we stand? If we say nothing, we condone the theft. If we kick up a fuss, hopefully a larger audience will realise it is taking place and start paying closer attention to what they are reading online and reconsider where they are placing their trust.

Plagiarism is theft. It sucks. It sucks for me as a blogger. I can only imagine how awful it must be for writers who have gone through this in the past, where their work has been lifted and others have profited. But fortunately there are people out there, fans and friends, who pick up on these things and they are quick to point it out. Please, pop along to some of the other blogs I’m linking to below, and support this drive we’re initiating, the whole book bloggers against plagiarism thing – it’s worthwhile.

Steph Su


Jared said...

Well said!

I can't even understand the long-term motivation of plagiarizing a review. I get all the rational arguments about bigging-up one's own profile, but really, all they're doing is cheating him/herself out of reading the damn book.

If reading a book is such a chore, they shouldn't be in the reviewing business (or hobby) in the first place...

Rachel Green said...

I heartily concur. I constantly find other blogs (Russian, Chinese) that steal Jasfoup posts and pass them off as their own.

Mundie Moms said...

I totally agree! It's becoming more and more of a problem.

To the individual who is doing this, does she not realize that she has now lost all support from the publishers, authors and many bloggers!!?! I mean, apparently she really didn't think this through.

Liars and thieves are always caught. If she thought it was a great review, she could have quoted a sentence and linked back to the actual quote.

Great post! Thank you for drawing attention to it.

KT Grant said...

I find it interesting that the victims will talk about their experience, but not name names. Why not make these plagiarizers look pathetic and sad instead of keeping them anonymous?

Miriam Halahmy said...

Well said Liz! Yes, to reach into a writer's work and take out a precious element and pass it off as your own is a violation. Coincidence is one thing but if you know the writer and their work, its simply not acceptable.

Kat Hooper said...

At FanLit, we have been wronged by plagiarism from both sides. Our reviews have been stolen and we have had to fire a reviewer who we discovered had plagiarized some reviews.

We did it quietly: we approached her, she said she didn’t know what she was thinking, we asked her to send back the ARCs she’d received in our name, removed all of her reviews from our site and then emailed and apologized to the publicists and authors whose books she reviewed for us (how embarrassing).

A couple of our reviewers are lawyers, so they drafted a statement about plagiarism that the rest of us signed.

Reading these posts have made me angry all over again and now I have a throbbing headache. We took the high road and kept it quiet, thinking she'd expose herself. If it is the same person...

BTW, I'm a college professor and I deal with this with students (had a case just this week -- student got a zero). But when it affects you personally, it is much more upsetting. It feels like a personal violation.

Tina said...

Katiebabs raises an interesting question.

I was about to suggest to send all the publishers examples of the original review (with date) and the copied review to show that the blogger is undeserving of their attention.

Like piracy, copying is selfish and mean! As always, Liz, well said!

If you are reading this, Guilty Blogger, stop it now!

Liz said...

Guys - thanks all of you for commenting here.

It is such a stupid and pointless thing to do - plagiarism will get you caught out, it will destroy any credibility you ever attempted to get for yourself and this will follow you around for a long time, especially if you are keen to make the publishing industry somewhere you want to work.

The reason why no one has named the offending blogger is because she's young and the bloggers who have been wronged, have been speaking to her privately about this. But if they don't get satisfaction, I am sure they will be naming her.

I know that they have already approached various publishers who have been sending ARCs out to her, to inform them of her thievery and action will no doubt be taken.

Kat, I admire your stance you've taken - it's just really bad for business, isn't it? Our credibility is steadily on the rise as bloggers and reviewers and now someone goes and undermines the integrity of something we all love and work so hard to prove is a worthwhile and necessary cog in the publishing industry - you know, it just makes you sick. And angry. Mostly angry.

Adele, who is the one who broke the news to all of us, over at Persnickety Snark is also a teacher and she was explaining how difficult it is to instil in students how to remain honest when doing their homework and how plagiarism is actually stealing. I suppose some people just don't get it.

But, with the support of so many people behind those who have been wronged, it's really raised awareness of plagiarism. Hopefully it's enough to actually give those who do this some serious hibbijibbies, enough that they would stop and just bloody read the books and form their own voice and opinions.

Liz @ Cleverly Inked said...

I hope she removed the reviews. I wonder who it is. I hope she hasn't done this to anyone else.
New follower here

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