Plagiarism Sucks: It’s More Than Just Drama

Posted by Jessi (Geo) on January 19, 2013 | 0 Comments



Direct from dictionary.com:

pla·gia·rism [pley-juh-riz-uh m]
noun
1. an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorization and the representation of that author’s work as one’s own, as by not crediting the original author.
Synonyms: appropriation, infringement, piracy, counterfeiting; theft, borrowing, cribbing, passing off.
2. a piece of writing or other work reflecting such unauthorized use or imitation.

Plagiarism is NEVER okay. Not under any circumstance. Nor is there any such thing as ‘accidental’ plagiarism. It makes me sick to see wonderful blogs have their words and ideas stolen, and it’s time to speak up. I usually don’t bother to say anything when something big goes down in the blogoverse (except for the OTHER mind-blowing case of plagiarism, you know the one…), but I just can’t keep quiet about this. Because yet another blogger whom I like and respect has been plagiarized. (I say another because Giselle @ Xpresso Reads had her tour page content stolen not too long ago…the situation was fixed promptly, though, so there’s no need to mention the guilty blog.)

How it started…
Annabelle @ Sparkles and Lightning found the first post last Sunday through a retweet (the person that retweeted had no idea). She thought it sounded like hers, because, well….it was. Hannah, Nikki, and I saw her outraged tweet and checked out the post. After further searching, together we found that there were many, many other reviews that were stolen from other bloggers. Not just a sentence or two, but full paragraphs, copied and pasted. No. No, no, no. I am simply horrified. As each post was discovered, I became more and more angry. Sure, they’re not mine. But I can imagine how awful it would feel, and no one deserves that. I took the liberty of emailing several of the bloggers to let them know, although there’s so many now that I couldn’t keep up.

In the case of one plagiarized post, I believe it should be handled discreetly  Give them the chance to take down their stolen content; if they don’t, then go public. But this instance is on such a mass scale that we couldn’t keep quiet. We think it’s fair that you know the whole story.

Up-to-Date Reviewing is run by two girls. (I am no longer linking to their blog, because as Anna pointed out, it would just bring them more traffic.) The perpetrator is Ethereal K.K, Zee’s co-blogger.
K is shameless, stealing from very well-known blogs that have thousands of followers, such as: Sparkles and Lightning, Fiktshun, Smash Attack Reads, The Bookish Brunette, For Books’ Sake, and Mundie Moms. And many, many more.
All you bloggers may want to search the content, because the more we look, the more we find. I’ve listed all the ones found so far, but I’m sure I’m missing many.

Anna and the French Kiss Review
with content stolen from: Book Geek (on Goodreads), Winter Haven Books, and Reading After Midnight
*This post has now been removed and I can’t get the cache to work.

Clockwork Angel Review (cached)
with content stolen from Valerie’s review on GoodreadsI Dare You to Say ItJoyzi’s review on Goodreads, and Amy’s review on Goodreads

Close Your Eyes Review (cached)
with content stolen from For Books’ SakeJenny’s review on Goodreads, and Gina’s review on Goodreads

Entangled Review (cached)
with content stolen from Imagine a World and Dianne’s review on Goodreads

Exiled Review (cached)
with content stolen from FiktshunAshley’s review on Goodreads, Into the Hall of Books, and Smash Attack Reads

Firelight Review (cached)
with content stolen from Mundie Moms and Read Me Bookmark Me Love Me (on Goodreads)

Release Review (cached)
But it was changed before it was deleted?
with content stolen from Sparkles and Lightning, Confessions of a Vi3t Babe, Book Loving Mom, Crazy Book Chicks, and City of Books (on Goodreads)

Shift Review (cached)
with content stolen from Book Loving MomSmash Attack ReadsThe Bookish Brunette, and Tea and Text

*All plagiarized posts have now been deleted.

….I think you get the point. My question is: If you are so unoriginal that you have to steal from other people to have quality material, why, WHY, are you even blogging? You are totally missing the concept, and are putting the book blogging world to shame. There is no excuse for this laziness.

Thus far, K has been conveniently MIA. I’d say the victims deserve an apology, because they do…but this girl is not sorry. There is no such thing as ‘accidental plagiarism.’ She knew exactly what she was doing. She knew it was wrong, and she did it anyway. An apology would be a joke. She was young? So are many other YA book bloggers. Plenty are 16 and 17. Some as young as 13. She’s old enough to know better, that’s my point.
This is not okay. This is a serious issue that should not be downplayed. This girl needs to realize the severity of her actions.
People like this do not deserve any support. Not from readers, not from authors. I personally think this blog should be totally shut down  – it may sound cruel, but 75% of the content was stolen from other bloggers. (Which makes me wonder…did this girl even read these books?) If I were the co-blogger, I would start fresh with a clean slate. But I personally would be embarrassed if I were in her position, and wouldn’t want to be associated with the blog anymore.

So we ask you, fellow bloggers, to take a stand. Give us your thoughts, and give the victims of theft your support. We encourage you to join the discussion and spread awareness.

However, I do ask that we keep it professional. No bashing these girls, even though they are clearly wrong (and yes, I admit have some choice words I would ideally like to say, but the internet is not the place for that). We don’t need terms like ‘bullying’ and ‘drama’ flying around. Annabelle, Hannah, Nikki, and I are simply trying to raise awareness on the subject.
Rather than nasty comments, I believe that the proper course of action is to revoke all support for this blog. In my opinion, it does not deserve pageviews, it does not deserve followers, and it most certainly does not deserve to receive any author attention.

I’m sure many of you are thinking: But what if the co-blogger had no hand in this? Perhaps Zee was ignorant to what her co-blogger was doing. Perhaps not. But I think the reaction was horribly handled. Here was her response to the email from one of the blogs:

The whole review of Close Your Eyes was immediately deleted. Thank you for informing me about my blog partner’s tactics. I appreciate your complaint and I will test all the blog’s reviews for plagiarism. I won’t let anything damage my blog if I can fix it diplomatically.
See, I’m a wannabe author who wants to give herself some solid ground before attempting anything. Some of my reviews are featured on Edelweiss and others won their way to be indie authors’ favorites.
I will hopefully keep this up and nothing will let me down again.
P.S. Up-To-Date Reviewing is still a newbie blog but it is successful so far. I’ve confronted my blog partner and she said that she might have used some of your ideas. You know when someone reads another’s review and some words just stick in their minds and those single words express their feelings toward the book perfectly. Uh-huh! That was one of the cases. I’m not trying to justify her work but I don’t want you to hold a grudge either.
Sorry for this inconvenience!

This response was NOT an apology, but an excuse.  ‘Might have used some of your ideas?’ ‘Words just stick in your minds?’ There is a monumental difference between getting inspiration and straight up COPYING AND PASTING. Let’s demonstrate, shall we?

Here’s the Anna and the French Kiss review from Up-to-Date:

Click to enlarge.
 
Now, let’s look at these highlights. 
 
 
 
 
Does that look like a ‘might’ to you? And as if that wasn’t bad enough, she goes on to say:

Dear Fellow Bloggers,
I’ve been staring at my laptop screen for quite a while contemplating what to write. And I finally decided to come out honestly.
What would you do if you start receiving emails saying your blog contains plagiarized content? Nothing. Because you are probably lucky without a co-worker.
But Me? No, I’m too jinxed for that. I must suffer through this process. And what did I do to solve this?
At first, I did nothing. I mean, if one individual says my co-worker‘s review contains plagiarized content, that doesn’t mean I have to believe him and ruin a perfect blogging partnership.
But… there’s always a but?
But more emails continued to show in my inbox. And it finally got my full attention.
Due to this unforgiving act of plagiarism, I had all K.K’s reviews deleted, and I also removed them from the blog. You no longer need to fret about having your reviews’ contents plagiarized by this blog.
My reviews are 100% original and you can test them for yourself. I don’t win my ticket to be Annie’s favorite for being anything less than awesome.
LOL, I seriously need an ego-deflating-comment as Dean Holder says.
Grrr… Must have bored you with this rampage.
Anyway, I thank you profusely for making me aware of this issue even if you wanted to strangle me for this inconvenience at a time. Don’t worry; I’ve forgiven you in advance ;) Though, I just hope that you will forgive me too in return.
For as I brought to your attention, I’m not responsible for this mess and I immediately took hold of the situation as soon as possible. I’m just a wannabe author girl who wanted to build some solid ground before introducing her work.
I’m at loss for words.
Please guys show some sympathy and be considerate enough to delete any posts or tweets concerning my blog’s plagiarism. *puppy eyes*
You’ve already ruined my first five months of ‘working up my ass’ blog effort to maintain an excellent face before introducing my work. *pouts*
P.S. Go ahead and check my blog if you want to make sure of the arrangements.
And I’m trying TheFreeCopyright thingie from now on. So lay off because if I even hear the word ‘Plagiarized’ in the next century, I’m going to punch someone.
Note: I found you through Twitter. I hope I emailed everyone.
Feel free to send me any complaint or comment; I’d love to hear from you.
With A Lot of Bookish Love,
Zee

 
OH HELL TO THE NO. I tried extremely hard to be professional in this post – because I wanted it to be more of speaking out against plagiarism in general (while informing everyone to steer clear of this blog). But this…respect flew right out the window. So now it’s time for a rant. 
I have to make a numbered list here. There are just WAY too many things in there that pissed me off to the point of wanting to break something.
1) First of all, she makes this about herself. No, no, no. THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU. THIS IS ABOUT THE PEOPLE YOUR ‘PARTNER’ VIOLATED.
2) What would you do if you start receiving emails saying your blog contains plagiarized content? Nothing. Actually, no I wouldn’t. I’d do everything in my power to fix it, and immediately. And why was the first email originally claimed to have ‘gone to junk,’ when it is stated here that she ignored it purposely? Why lie? 
3) If one individual says my co-worker‘s review contains plagiarized content, that doesn’t mean I have to believe him and ruin a perfect blogging partnership. ‘Have’ to believe them? It’s not something you can lie about. The evidence is plain for everyone to see. You have eyeballs, right?
4) I don’t win my ticket to be Annie’s favorite for being anything less than awesome.

LOL, I seriously need an ego-deflating-comment as Dean Holder says. Really? Someone is in love with themself.

And you just made yourself look like an asshole.
 
5) And this…THIS: Don’t worry; I’ve forgiven you in advance ;) WHAT IN GOD’S NAME DO YOU HAVE TO FORGIVE THEM FOR? You were not the victim. They were. No. Just no.
6) Please guys show some sympathy and be considerate enough to delete any posts or tweets concerning my blog’s plagiarism. *puppy eyes* You’ve already ruined my first five months of ‘working up my ass’ blog effort to maintain an excellent face before introducing my work. *pouts* Everything about this is insulting, infuriating, and downright rude. No amount of puppy eyes will keep us quiet now, and you are clearly striving for a cover-up. And WE’VE already ruined your ‘working up your ass?’ No. We did nothing. Your partner ruined your so called hard work. Perhaps more thought should be put into where the blame is placed.
7) So lay off because if I even hear the word ‘Plagiarized’ in the next century, I’m going to punch someone. YOU DID NOT JUST SAY THAT. I can’t even. 
Well, Zee, prepare to punch someone. Because plagiarism will not be brushed under the rug. And if there’s anyone who should be punching someone, it’s the bloggers who had their content stolen. 
 
Could she be more patronizing and ignorant? I find it hard to believe that she was innocent in all this. Because instead of posting a public apology, she posted this page.

HEY GUYS,
WELL, I HAVE TO INFORM YOU ALL THAT I MADE SOME NEW ARRANGEMENTS THAT WOULD CONCERN YOU.
SO K.K, MY EX-COWORKER IN THIS BLOG, IS NOT A MEMBER IN THIS BLOG ANYMORE BECAUSE OF SOME PERSONAL ISSUES.
THANK YOU ALL,
WITH LOTS OF BOOKISH LOVE,
ZEE

 
‘Personal issues?’ Seriously? My question now is: What, Zee, do you have to hide? Why not just go public with the truth? You should be just as outraged as everyone else. You should have sent a REAL apology to these ladies (immediately), then posted on your blog the REAL reason your partner is no longer blogging with you, giving a public apology as well. Hiding the truth just makes you look guilty.
And what I want to know is….Where is K in all of this? Funny, we’ve yet to hear a single peep from her.

*Update: Zee did, eventually, issue an apology. She posted this public apology – which, by the way, did not even bother to name any of the blogs plagiarized (again, not linking to avoid traffic):

click to enlarge

Then she emailed some of the people involved in the tweeting:

I’ve been told my previous email was pretty intense, so if I offended anyone, please accept my apology.
I’ve been pondering the situation and decided that a public apology is most needed, please check out my post.

It might have been a nice thought… if she’d done it on her own, rather than after seeing everyone’s complaints about it (after realizing that this was not going to just blow over).

For many of you, this ‘apology’ may be enough. For me? I’m not convinced.

That is all.

————————————————————————————–

Avoid plagiarism.

  • When writing your reviews, never look at anyone else’s reviews before writing your own. The opinions in your reviews should be coming straight from YOU. Even if your intent is not to copy their opinion; by reading someone else’s thoughts, you are filling your head with their ideas instead of your own. My rule – for myself, anyway – is this: I don’t look at anyone’s review of a book if I think I’ll read said book anytime in the next month. (Because by then I’ll have forgotten, my memory span is probably about 2 days long >.<)
  • If for any reason you need to use someone else’s work – whether it be words, a graphic (i.e. memes and buttons), or ideas – always, always link back to the blog you got the idea/content from. Give them the credit for THEIR work. Don’t pass it off as yours. Even if it’s only an idea, give them the credit for the inspiration (i.e. You start a meme with the same name that someone else already has, and don’t mention the original at all…not cool). It isn’t fair to copy someone and make it look like you came up with the idea. It’s ignorant and lazy.
  • At the same time (pointing this out at the suggestion of Mindy @ Magical Urban Fantasy Reads), it is also not okay to use an entire post of someone else’s without permission, even if you link back to them. An excerpt is one thing (although you should still ask permission), but a whole post is another. Unless, of course, the two of you worked together and planned it out. But that’s different. My best advice? If you’re not sure, ask permission.
  • If you see something you think may be plagiarized, notify the person with the original content. It is their right to know that their hard work is being passed of as someone else’s. 
  • Don’t support a known offender. Don’t visit their blog and leave hateful comments; instead, boycott that blog altogether. They don’t deserve the pageviews.

Some of you may think that we’re blowing this out of proportion. But just ask yourself: How would YOU feel if someone took something that belonged to you without asking? You would feel hurt. Violated.
The lovely Kelly at Radiant Shadows recently posted a very wonderful discussion about this topic.

“Regardless of what the plagiarist stood to gain – or not gain – by stealing someone else’s words, at the end of the day, plagiarism is not about the plagiarist. It’s about the person who’s work was plagiarized. And I think that’s what is often forgotten when people try to excuse a plagiarists’ behaviour.”

She makes a very valid point, well stated in a thoughtful and professional manner. I think you should all check it out!

Anti-Plagiarists

Annabelle and I have both made a button for you to use on your blog if you so wish, to spread awareness of plagiarism and to show that you stand against it.
We would love to hear your opinions on this matter!

Grab a button!

 

Here are the banners Annabelle and Inky came up with:

 
Please take the time to visit these other ladies’ posts as well!
 
 
Jessi (Geo)

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