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Janitor On Duty

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May 20th, 2009

2:18 PM

So, what shall we do about plagiarism?

Says a Smart Bitch, "But the reaction never changes. Within the community of writers, some bring up the issue as a matter of educational opportunity; others wish we’d stop talking about it already ... the lack of an effective reaction to the plagiarism itself is frustrating."

Okay, since I hate to see a fellow sister working herself into an unhappy mood, I wonder what we can actually do about this situation, other than to post comments in the relevant SBTB blog entries yet again about how awesome and courageous Sarah and Candy and their amazing Superfriends of the Justice League are. Since those ladies leave few clues to as to how we should react, that doesn't mean we shouldn't do something, should we?

But what can do we do, people, to make this "effective reaction" happen?

Should we appoint a super secret ninja squad to arrest authors who plagiarize to ensure that they will never be allowed to write again?


Write to Mr Obama asking that he bestows a Distinguished Service Medal to those courageous ladies?


Make it mandatory for all authors to attend an ethics seminar run by the Smart Bitches?


Decapitate heads of authors who plagiarize and send them in a lovely gift box to these ladies?


Erect a monument to Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Books?


Hide all of Cassie Edwards' books in the bookstore and replace them with THE BOOK?

The Book!

Suggestions are welcome. After all, we should all demonstrate what moral and true romance readers we all are to those ladies.

39 comment(s).

Posted by meh:

as long as IP pirates get quid pro quo treatment ;-)
May 20th, 2009 @ 2:30 PM

Posted by Mireya:

The main issue I have with this issue is that anyone that doesn't know much about romance, probably is thinking "wow, romance authors plagiarize a lot don't they".
May 20th, 2009 @ 7:30 PM

Posted by Mireya:

Sorry, I realize I didn't make much sense. What I mean is that the constant droning on this is not a bad thing, but the way it is being talked about could give the wrong impression to outsiders. And no, I am not saying the issue shouldn't be talked about.

Romance authors that plagiarize are a minority. I don't think the issue is a matter of authors not knowing, but rather the few that know but don't care and still do it. And frankly, the SBs are preaching to the choir.
May 20th, 2009 @ 7:43 PM

Posted by LKCampbell:

Writers have been dealing with plagiarism since the beginning of the written word, and I don't believe that crusading bloggers are going to solve the problem. Prisons and even executions haven't done away with crime, have they? People will always have moral issues to deal with and making an example of Edwards won't stop plagiarism from happening in the romance community or elsewhere.
May 20th, 2009 @ 8:27 PM

Posted by Kelly Bishop:

So, is your solution to ignore the problem or snipe at those who take the issue seriously?

Janet Dailey made a lot of money stealing from Nora Roberts.

If you had a business & someone stole from it - would you just shrug your shoulders & say it was no big deal?

Theft is not a victimless crime.
May 21st, 2009 @ 12:40 AM

Posted by Maili:

I struggle to understand what your point you were making. Are you saying that plagiarism is part of the industry package, or that SBs should shut up?

If the former, it's debatable because the idea of paying for something has already been used by someone else would piss me off. It's a selfish thing to say as it clearly has nothing to do with ethics and such, but that's how I feel. Anyroad,

If the latter, why not stop visiting their site? The simplest solution, surely? :D

"And frankly, the SBs are preaching to the choir."

I don't think they are. There is still a lot of people in the rom community that refuse to recognise the problem.

Authors and readers -- including Mrs G if I remember her commentary about Cassie Edwards right (correct me if I'm wrong, Mrs G) -- either say: "OK, we got it, so-so got caught. We get it, we get it, please let it die, so we can move on" or "she was ill/old/confused/depressed, let's forget it and move on." There was an AA romance author (outed by AAR and Mrs G, incidentally) whom some defended to death, even when the AA author's publisher recalled all copies of her book.

When it happens, what should we do or say that will bring about a closure of it? An official apology? A blanket recognition that there is a need for better awareness and that an action will be taken? The fact that so far, nothing (if ever) came out of it shows there is a problem and that it'll happen again. And it did.

You know, it exists within the online romance community as well.

For example, I once found one of Mrs G's old essays at one site under someone else's name. I also found one of my old blog entries used as an information sheet at one Scottish historical romance author's site. (I emailed her about it and while she proclaimed innocence, she immediately removed it from her site. Unlucky for her, Google cache and Web Archive still have a cached copy.) Some book reviews were recycled throughout different review sites under d
May 21st, 2009 @ 1:31 AM

Posted by Not using my name:

How about sending all plagiarists down to Guantanamo for a little perfectly "legal" waterboarding?

The SBs (who have a book to sell) have cynically resurrected a proven attention-getting issue. Side benefits are that the usual gang of bobbleheads gets to reaffirm their earnest belief in the SBs brilliance(!), audacity, and integrity; authors (who always have books to sell) get to be smug and morally superior; and Shiloh gets another opportunity to suck up to Nora. It's a win win!
May 21st, 2009 @ 1:32 AM

Posted by Maili:

(That proves I'm a long-winded bag, I suppose.)

The missing bit:

different names, too.
May 21st, 2009 @ 1:33 AM

Posted by Maili:

@Not using my name
"The SBs (who have a book to sell) have cynically resurrected a proven attention-getting issue."

As much as I love Mrs G, she isn't immune to resurrecting proven attention-getting issues as well, let's be fair.
May 21st, 2009 @ 1:47 AM

Posted by Louise van Hine:

I would have thought this was simple. Maybe it isn't. The SB's sent the evidence of the "amazing and eerie similarities" off to the offending publishers and the original publishers holding the copyrights. It's a business/ethical decision from there on. If the publishers who are printing plagiarized materials don't retract them, then everybody knows it and authors will be forewarned that such and such a publisher does not withdraw plagiarized materials. On the other side of the coin, who would want to publish their work with a company that will not protect its copyright? End of story. Right? It's between publishers and their authors, and between publishers who hold copyrights and those who violate them.
May 21st, 2009 @ 2:00 AM

Posted by Louise van Hine:

oh forgot to mention Mrs. G, love the Ninja squad. But I think it's overkill.
May 21st, 2009 @ 2:15 AM

Posted by mandym:

Head on a platter with Sarah, Candy, Robin, Jane and of course, Nora proudly displaying it to the world. But hey, your ideas are good too.
May 21st, 2009 @ 5:05 AM

Posted by vein:

No, the point is most of us do in fact take the situation seriously. But what should we all be doing that the heroes of the revolution are so upset at us for not doing? Can we have a hint?
May 21st, 2009 @ 5:41 AM

Posted by K. Z. Snow:

I got a kick out of the last option. :)

Am I the only person who's ready to chew a hole in her monitor if she sees that book pimped one more time in one more place?
May 21st, 2009 @ 5:53 AM

Posted by meh:

@not using my name -- I think I love you, at least on this issue.

Me, I just get sick of the attitude in certain circles that if you are an author and are not in attendance at certain seminars, etc., you aren't interested or concerned about plagiarism. Seems to me, there's at least an equally good chance that the people who can afford to attend the conferences have an active dislike of the presenters or the audience those presenters are known to attract.

Plagiarism is an issue, concern, what have you. I'm about 80x more concerned with piracy though. Which, best as I can recall, hasn't had a seminar at RT or RWA or elsewhere.
May 21st, 2009 @ 6:08 AM

Posted by Louise van Hine:

@meh: piracy, in the burgeoning market of e-books, has a huge potential for destructive impact on the most vulnerable members of the publishing world, the small presses and small press authors with limited specialized audiences.
May 21st, 2009 @ 6:18 AM

Posted by Mrs G:

Maili, my point is this: I don't care if SB wants to bring up plagiarism again. But why must every time - EVERY TIME - this issue comes up, there will always be moaning and groaning about how not many people take the issue seriously or how there is never "enough" affirmative reaction to please the SB? What do they want people to do? WHAT IS IT? They never say. It's always vague allusions about how not enough people are doing this mysterious thing that will prove to SB that people care.

It's like a "LOOK AT ME!!!! I CARE MORE THAN SOME PEOPLE!!!!" cry for attention, and that is what I am making fun of here. If that makes me an attention hog, well, so be it.
May 21st, 2009 @ 7:32 AM

Posted by kirsten saell:

I have to admit, my eyes glaze over when this topic is raised. There's only so much impotent gnashing of teeth I can stand.

There's a warranty in (I would imagine) every publishing contract where the author warrants the work is entirely their creation and not someone else's. Publishers already have every legal right to rip that contract in two if the author plagiarizes.

But publishers are corporations, enjoying the same rights as individuals with none of the corresponding moral obligations. Their primary legal responsibility is to the financial wellbeing of their shareholders, and if they can fulfill that responsibility by continuing to make buckets of cash off of Cassie Edwards and Janet Dailey--even off of the very works in question--they're not going to do anything. It's not a moral decision to them, it's business. As long as it costs more to drop an author than it does to keep them, they'll keep them every time.

It's either going to take a push to make plagiarism a criminally punishable act of theft, or enough pressure from readers and their wallets, to change that attitude.
May 21st, 2009 @ 8:17 AM

Posted by Louise van Hine:

exactly. These are contractual issues, not BIG MORAL ISSUES at this point, regardless of how they are painted. Copyright is a civil grant to authors or their assigns, and if they assign to a company that couldn't care less, then they have only their pocketbooks with which to punish the guilty. I really don't know where all of the poutrage comes from when it is a business and contractual issue.
May 21st, 2009 @ 9:38 AM

Posted by Not using my name:

It's Ye Olde Internet LOOK AT ME! If it ain't Amazon failing or evil plagiarists, there will always be some trauma/drama to cause desk head-banging or spewing of beverages on keyboards.

Fair warning: I'm going to steal the word poutrage for my own personal use.
May 21st, 2009 @ 10:30 AM

Posted by Louise van Hine:

Then you've stolen from the same guy I stole it from: Al Giordano, one of the sharpest political minds I have ever seen in the blogosphere, and founder of the Fund for Authentic Journalism.

May 21st, 2009 @ 10:35 AM

Posted by Mrs G:

Shouldn't you guys be celebrating/crying over American Idol? The "Kris"tians have won, haha.
May 21st, 2009 @ 11:06 AM

Posted by kirsten saell:

exactly. These are contractual issues, not BIG MORAL ISSUES at this point,

Not exactly, lol.

Plagiarism is, IMO, a moral and ethical issue, but I'm also aware that Corporate America's (or Corporate Anywhere's) treatment of moral/ethical issues is usually pretty damn lame. If it's cheaper to dump toxic waste in a salmon stream and pay the fine than to dispose of it properly, many corporations will do it, even in this enlightened age. If outsourcing manufacturing to third world sweatshops increases profit margins sufficiently to offset the 10% of customers who're disgusted enough to stop buying, they'll do it. The only thing stopping them is public outrage--and even that can't work without accompanying boycotts/bad press/tanking stock prices, etc. Or the threat of criminal prosecution.

And sadly, with issues like plagiarism, there's no way to punish publishers financially in any meaningful way without also punishing other authors who don't deserve to have their careers ruined because of the actions of one author and the inaction of publishing executives.

Which is why I think the industry can't be counted on to police itself on issues like this. If copyright infringement/intellectual property theft were a criminal matter rather than a civil one, it would take the onus off the industry and put it where it belongs. If fines were imposed, you'd see offending authors dropped much faster, and publishers being much more mindful of dealing with the problem before it happens.

Not sure how feasible it would be to criminalize plagiarism, but shame won't work unless it's accompanied by a blow to corporate coffers significant enough to offset the benefits to publishers when the let authors get away with this.
May 21st, 2009 @ 1:17 PM

Posted by Lee:

I wasn't aware that the SBs were so powerful that they could convince Maureen Dowd to plagiarize just to promote their book!!!
May 21st, 2009 @ 3:03 PM

Posted by Maili:

@Mrs G

Thanks for the clarification. So it's like, "If you're going to bring it up that oft, the least thing you could do is be pro-active, otherwise shut up"? If so, I think it's a fair point.

Then again, I view it as one of recycleable blog topics. Either a specific topic interests you or it doesn't. When it doesn't interest one of us and it constantly crops up, it can easily irritate us (especially when it's clear that nothing will come out of it, anyway). It's a way of life on the net, isn't it?

Take me and Scottish historical romances, for example. Mention a SHR in my presence, I would react like a dog racing closely after a car. (Some might view SHR as a trivial topic unlike the plagiarism issue, but I felt authors and readers were practically raping my country for extremely dodgy reasons.)

How do people feel about my rants? There's no doubt that some wished my fingers could shivel up and die, so I wouldn't type any more rants.

I could be pro-active by writing one of my own to show how it should be done, but I can't and won't do it because, like you, I'm not interested in becoming an author (let's ignore the fact I haven't an atom of writing talent). So what should I do? Shut up for good or rant whenever I like, regardless of whether it interests people or not?

To be honest, it didn't even occur to me until now that it might me look as if I was an attention seeker. Not in a way you put it, anyway. Calling attention to address something that bothers me, yes, but calling attention for the sake of attention? I'm not so sure. I think this applies to everyone including the SBs, you and me.
May 21st, 2009 @ 3:34 PM

Posted by Mrs G:

Maili, it's not "pro-active". Those workshops are pro-active, and despite my objection with the way Cassiegate was handled, I won't deny that SB and DA did a lot to raise awareness of the issue.

But it's the constant defensiveness that gets to me. In the book and in every time the issue gets raised, there is always this "People aren't doing enough! People need to do more!" element in their articles. And yet, what aren't people doing enough? I have asked this before, and I am asking this now. What exactly are we supposed to do so that Sarah and her friends will stop acting as if there are a large group of people out there who are out to dog them?

"The lack of an effective reaction to the plagiarism itself is frustrating". What is this "effective reaction"? That's what I'd like to know, because we've talked about it, some people have attended the seminar and talked well of it, and Cassie Edwards had lost her contract with Signet. What more can the crowd do in this case to make Sarah and Company happy? That is my question here.
May 21st, 2009 @ 4:20 PM

Posted by Maili:

Ah, now the fog has cleared. Thanks for keeping your finger on the fog siren button until I got it. :D (I'm sorry for being so dense.)

With your clarification in mind, it's a valid question. Why didn't you ask them directly when it cropped up, though?

It could at least give them an opportunity to clarify their definition of "effective reaction" - or at least, outline their expectations - in black and white, surely?

Otherwise, it'll become an ongoing cycle with them bringing up the same topic and you asking the same question.

I'm thinking of interviewing the SBs to clarify their expectations because I'm now curious to know as well. Actually, I have other questions for them (I'm doing a review of Beyond Heaving Bosoms), so it would be a good idea to include your question. Is that OK with you? Nicking your question?
May 21st, 2009 @ 5:11 PM

Posted by Mrs G:

Actually, no, I'd rather stay out of this. Ask the question, but don't mention me. It's not them I worry about, it's a section of the groupies that lurk in their comment sections, willing to slay all dissenters, that get to me... :)
May 21st, 2009 @ 5:58 PM

Posted by Maili:

Heh! No problem. Thanks for letting me steal your question and for clearing away the fog in my skull. Cheers. :D
May 21st, 2009 @ 6:05 PM

Posted by Karen Scott:

Am I the only person who's ready to chew a hole in her monitor if she sees that book pimped one more time in one more place?

Would it make you feel better if it was your book being pimped endlessly K.Z?

This is the second time, I've 'seen' you gnash your teeth at the endless promotion of BHB. The thing is, because you're an author yourself, it tends to come across as jealousy.

Just sayin'.

The SBs (who have a book to sell) have cynically resurrected a proven attention-getting issue.

Ahhh, I see, this is all a crafty way to publicize their book. Silly me.

Get a grip love. You may not agree with their stance on the issue, but suggesting that their intent in bringing up this subject again, is purely to help sell their book is beyond paranoid, and a tad stupid.

Listen, I haven't seen a BHB promotion in ages, you know why? Because I'm avoiding all BHB related sites until it all blows over. You and K.Z should try that sometime.
May 21st, 2009 @ 8:25 PM

Posted by Kirsten Saell:

Kirsten Saell - you took the words right out of my mouth. Thanks, now I don't have to write all that out. :)
May 22nd, 2009 @ 4:57 AM

Posted by Katie Mack:

Whoops! That last comment agreeing with Kirsten Saell was by me, Katie Mack, NOT Kirsten. I was trying to remember how to spell her name in my comment and made a mistake. Sorry!
May 22nd, 2009 @ 4:58 AM

Posted by kirsten saell:

LOL, when I saw that comment I thought maybe it was time for me to swear off the muscle relaxants. :P
May 22nd, 2009 @ 5:08 AM

Posted by mandym:

Jealousy? For that book? Have you read it? Just sayin':)
May 22nd, 2009 @ 5:15 AM

Posted by Karen Scott:

Jealousy? For that book? Have you read it? Just sayin'

Now you know as well as I do that authorial jealousy happens over books getting lots of attention, so whether or not the book is a pile of shit in this case, probably isn't so relevant.

By the way, does this mean that you actually bought and paid for BHB?
May 23rd, 2009 @ 3:54 AM

Posted by meh:

Doesn't mean it was bought and paid for. Give "Beyond Heaving Bosoms" and demonoid a search in google and look at the cache. Doesn't meant the request was fulfilled, but maybe now piracy will get as much air time as Cassie Edwards.

Is that a fresh boxcar of horses I hear?
May 23rd, 2009 @ 7:33 AM

Posted by Mrs G:

Quit sniping at each other, guys.
May 23rd, 2009 @ 7:37 AM

Posted by mandym:

nah, not bought and paid for. Library. Actually, I couldn't find it in 3 books stores. Wanted to page through it out of curiosity. Library copy, I got to spend some time with it. It is a copy of their blog, like it or not, and that is it. "just sayin' " :)
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