Hepburnettes Presents: THE ART OF DEALING WITH PLAGIARISM
(Massive love for KellyAnneBlount for hosting the Wattpad Block Party. Thank you for believing in me enough to invite me for the fifth consecutive time. And thank you for your tireless and unwavering support towards Wattpad authors.)
For the past few Wattpad Block Parties, I've been talking about fun and positive things, like how to genre hop or sink ships. And that much is true, Wattpad is a place to share your work, interact with people across the globe and have fun. But here's the deal—it's not always rainbows and unicorns around here. So this time round, I'm going to be a major party pooper and talk about one of the most frightening things that can happen to you as an author on the internet:
What is plagiarism?
Merriam Webster defines it as the act of using another person's words or ideas without giving credit to that person. Blah-blah-blah, basic stuff, you should know this, right? So let me give you a quick test.
Scenario #1: Author A does a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Is that plagiarism?
Scenario #2: Author B finds a fanfiction on another site and re-uploads it here under their username, while still giving credit to the original author. Is that plagiarism?
Scenario #3: Author C copies every single one of Author D's ideas—including the plot, characters, twists, and each progression within the story—but paraphrases everything. Is that plagiarism?
The answers (and feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) are no, no and yes respectively. And here's why:
In Scenario #1—a retelling of a fairytale is not plagiarism, nor are fanfictions plagiarism if you add a proper disclaimer. I cannot tell you how many times some readers have looked at my fanfiction, Draconian (which had a disclaimer), and still asked, "Noelle, are you sure you're not plagiarising J. K. Rowling's work by using Draco Malfoy's name?" Going by that warped logic, please sue all the authors under the fanfiction genre.
In Scenario #2—it's not plagiarism, but it is illegal sharing of work, especially if the author has said outright that they do not allow it. One of the reasons I took down a few of works was because people were circulating PDF copies on social media sites. When I tried to take them down, the responses I received were that—ad verbatim—"you put it on the internet, and everything on the internet should be shared." Now that one was a tough pill to swallow, but more on that later.
In Scenario #3—it is plagiarism. In fact, it is the #1 nightmare of every author because these plagiarists are almost clever enough to write their own book, but with every single one of your ideas. Notwithstanding actually hiring a lawyer, you are going to have a hellish time trying to reclaim what you originally owned.
So what do you do when something as terrible as this happens? Welcome to my Wattpad Block Party post:
THE ART OF DEALING WITH PLAGIARISM
Do note—if you're looking for legal advice when it comes to dealing with plagiarism, I'm afraid you'll have to go to someone else more qualified than me. I have, however, been dealing with plagiarism across three sites since 2010, and over the 4–5 years spent on my current account, I've had my works plagiarised or illegally shared over fifty times. The worst case of plagiarism that I've ever dealt with was when someone made a PDF version of my book and tried to publish it.
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