It Happened Here

Most writers today who publish eventually have to come to terms with plagiarism and the low-down rip-off artists who practice it. It’s everywhere now, to be sure, and no place is it more common and flagrant than online.

The motives for this theft of the products of someone else’s mind and imagination are many. Someone wanting to sound smarter than he/she is by passing off well-wrought prose as one’s own, the urgent need of a harried sub-par journalist writing under deadline, and finally, some jerk who does it just for the heck of it because it’s so easy and the chances of being caught and punished are slim.

Yet to me, none of these  malefactors even approaches the really odious types who steal another’s written work,  presenting it as if it were their own and then sell it to this gullible individual (usually a clueless student) for use as a term paper or some other faux academic exercise as a specimen of his/her own intellectual achievement.

The online “paper mills”  that supply the lame-brained of academia are everywhere and do a lively trade selling “papers” of every kind (term papers, theses, dissertations, white papers), in every style and length.  Some of them are original, some are scribbled out hastily with minimal research, some are dashed off by the minions of the paper mills “customized” to fulfill a particular order to satisfy a particular assignment, while others are ripped wholesale from the internet and marketed on the thieves’ own websites as brilliant “one of a kind” works guaranteed to blow the socks off any instructor or professor.

The fact is plagiarism is illegal, it is stealing, and punishable in all countries that are members of the International Copyright Convention.  The law itself, and its many provisions is a subject too grand for this little burp in the wind post.  Another time, maybe.

But, the (additional!) fact is, recently I too was an unwitting victim of these nitwits. Yeah. Remember all those posts on Flannery O’Connor I wrote a few years ago? Posted here? On her letters as well? Well, low and behold, they are now also stuffed into several “papers” on a certain website and being marketed/sold as original work (they sure were, mine) guaranteed to get an A.

The irony is Google caught this.  But I caught it when Google coughed it up when I did a search on O’Connor. It’s like a cat chasing its tail. On and on. Crazy! And there is not much I can do but MAKE A FRIGGIN INTERNATIONAL INCIDENT OF THIS! Which I WILL DO once I’ve regained my composure.


About Margaret Jean Langstaff

A lifelong critical reader with literary tastes, a novelist, short story writer, essayist, book critic, and professional book editor for many years. A consultant to publishers and authors, providing manuscript critiques and a full range of editorial services. A friend and supporter of all other readers and writers. A collector of signed modern first editions. Animal lover and tree hugger. Follow me on Twitter @LangstaffEditor
This entry was posted in journalism, Literature, Plagiarism, publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to It Happened Here

  1. lahowlett says:

    So sorry to hear this, Margaret. There’s never a shortage of pond scum willing to steal another person’s hard work. Good luck in your quest for justice.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, I was a little frightened at you by this post! I will never cross you!
    My blogs are picked up pretty regularly and republished on Chinese sites, but I don’t know why. I have had them legitimately reblogged and translated, but somehow this other thing is different.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. dgkaye says:

    It’s truly a cruel world with the easily accessed work of so many authors. I sure hope you’re filing a formal complaint. Copyright law should be effective to protect us. Please keep us posted! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. AshiAkira says:

    Not only prose, I wonder if it doesn’t infringe the law to use my short haiku poems by someone without my permission as their own. It’s really happened a few times and I came to know of it as some other Blog friends drew my attention to it. And I also found that AshiAkira, which is my pseudonym composed in tribute to Japanese and American WW2 fighter pilots who died in action, is used by someone as his/her own account name on some other websites. Should I be proud of writing something good enough for someone else to wish it were their own?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ashi, I believe your haiku and your name AshiAkira have protection afforded to them by international copyright and trademark laws (two different types of law) provided you designate your intention to protect them with 1) a copyright notice (such as “Copyright (c) 2017 by AshiAkira, All rights reserved”) or 2) a trademark notice (“AshiAkira is a registered trademark of AshiAkira in Japan and certain other countries”), but it is up to you to register copyright and trademark with the appropriate agencies in the country in which you are seeking copyright or trademark protection. In the case of copyright, I believe in the US, and in most other countries party to the International Copyright Convention, a simple notice at the beginning of a copyrighted text is sufficient to obtain copyright protection. But–and here is the real kicker–I think it is up to you to enforce the law by reporting instances of infringement to governing bodies(which vary by country). PLEASE NOTE: I am NOT an authority on copyright or trademark law or an attorney (it’s very complex) and what I say should NOT be relied upon as legal advice about copyright and trademark law or protection. The best thing to do is to seek professional legal advice, particularly if the infringement resulted in financial loss to you or compromised your reputation as the creator of a work in question. Do not rely on my observations or opinions here. Research it yourself and seek professional advice. Good luck, my friend!

      Liked by 1 person

      • AshiAkira says:

        Thank you for the very kind advice. I have sent you my PDF eBook by attaching to an e-mail in which I found it said “Copyright (c) 2017 AshiAkira”. But I don’t know about trade mark for my name. Either case I wouldn’t bother to do anything for now because I haven’t experience any serious damage except a minor inconvenience like having to change my name to realAshiAkira to access Facebook.
        I really appreciated not only the advice in the current case but comments you gave me in the past on my haiku poems. They encouraged me a great deal and pushed me to keep writing the stuff in English and finally to decide to publish them in the US. I know of no other Japanese who did a similar thing.


        • Happy to be of help! Yes, I believe I received an email from you wth the ms. of your haiku selection attached. I have not had a chance to read it yet, but hope to have some quiet time to do so this weekend. I am looking forward to it! I will pass along my impressions to you (such as they are and for what they are worth) when I am finished. Good to hear from you, Ashi.

          Liked by 1 person

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