I recently received a letter from a reader, informing me of a writer who had plagiarised some of my work. Here is the response I gave said reader:
Thank you for pointing this out to me!
Fortunately, this is only fanfiction, which means that I own no part of the story. Although it’s unfortunate that this individual felt the need to copy the story without any credit to the original author, the story was only an exercise for me (a sort of mental challenge), and I am a little flattered that the author of the plagiarised story found my work good enough to pass as his or her own. I would have been more devastated if an original piece of my work which I had already copyrighted were plagiarised in this manner; however, all writing is a form of plagiarism, I suppose, isn’t it? We call this ‘inspiration’, I think.
The ‘story thief’ you speak of is promoting my work with his name. Strangely, this doesn’t offend me. I find it a little sad that this writer feels that his own work is so inferior that he has to use the words of others, rather than his own. This way, he is stifling his own creativity to the point where he will not learn to improve his craft. Unfortunately, there is little I can do about this, other than sympathise with this writer and wish him better luck in the future.
Those of us who write for pleasure write because we have to. We have a story we need to share with the world. There are words inside us we need to share. After those words are written on a page, they are for the public to do with what they will. It is unfortunate that our name will not always be associated with our work. But we are really writing for the sake of writing. So, you see, the only one who is losing out here is your so-called ‘story thief’. He is losing the valuable chance to improve his own craft, while really only denying us a few minutes in the limelight.
But thank you, dear reader, for bringing this to my attention. I think plagiarism is a very real threat we need to be aware of. Not so much to the artist as to the perpetrator. Because we are not the ones who are losing the most.
And, as a further note to anyone out there who has ever plagiarised or will plagiarise in the future…yes, it’s easy. Yes, it might make you look better. No, you may not care that you are hurting a writer out there, with no face or recognisable name. But you are hurting yourself. It is easy to see through poorly-built walls, constructed from leftovers at the scrapyard. Don’t forsake the chance to make something of yourselves. Believe in yourselves, and the power of your words.