Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Plagiarism and the Law

This is making me angry, so I have to get it off my chest. Here is a blog about one author’s struggle with a plagiarist and the part I find hard to take is this statement by New York Times bestselling author David Farland, “The legal system considers plagiarism to be a civil matter rather than criminal.”

Why isn’t it a criminal offense?

We’re not talking about some lazy kid slapping their name on someone else’s term paper or essay for an easy A, we’re essentially talking about a forger stealing someone else’s hard-earned paycheck and cashing it. How is that not criminal?

I mean honestly, if a man took a log in one hand and knife in the other and spent hours, days, weeks, months, maybe even years little by little turning that log into a sculpture then once it’s in its final form the man sands all the rough places. After that he takes a palette of paints, adding color to his creation, and finally he takes the time to add a layer or two of varnish to make it shine, only to have someone else come along, take the piece, change the paint job a little, claim it’s his creation and sell it.

Would anyone argue that wasn’t a crime? Of course not! It is a crime.

So how is that different from a man sitting in front of a computer and spending hours, days, weeks, months, maybe even years word by word filling the screen with a story of thousands of words. Then after all that, he goes through the whole manuscript several times, first fixing the grammatical errors, next tweaking the details, and other times to fix problems with the characters, and another time to work on the story flow, and on and on for up to a dozen or more revisions.

Only to have some unscrupulous cretin take all that work and effort, make a few minor changes, slap his name on it, and sell it! How is that not the same crime as stealing a sculpture and selling it as your own work? 

Do you honestly think authors don’t go through all those steps to create a novel?

Think again!

And I’d like to see any creative person have their creation stolen by someone else, and that someone then sells said work as their own and not cry foul. It is wrong. It is stealing. I mean, really, just look at the words the Thesaurus says you can use instead of plagiarism.
And finally:
Illegal use

Those are all crimes! Why isn’t plagiarism?

I think every artist in the world will agree with me that this is not right and needs to be changed. Do you?

I would also hope everyone who agrees would help Rachel Ann Nunes pay her legal fees. This just isn’t right.


  1. Besides crying Foul I think authors, photographers, everyone should learn basic internet safety. We need to know when something we post or save or pass around for critique is at risk. Easy pickings for a less ambitious person. Don't leave your creations laying about for anyone to take. The person who suddenly publishes your work might be 3 or more people away from the person who originally stole it or found it laying around the internet.

  2. Rachel's book is a published e-book. The thief got a hold of her published book, added sex scenes and changed the names, then sold the results as her own work. How do we protect against that?