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Aug. 11th, 2008 @ 05:46 pm So, plagiarism...
 A while back someone commenting on one of my fics warned me that another commentor was a notorious plagiarizer and I should watch out for her.

My response was pretty breezy, something along the lines that all fanfic is a form of plagiarism because we're all playing in someone else's sandbox and isn't  imitation really just  the sincerest form of flattery et cetera.

I actually kind of get a kick out of the ripple effect that a piece of widely read fic can have. I think, for example (though I could be wrong), that I was the first person to mention that House had calluses on his cane hand. And now that tiny detail has become a part of fic canon.  Finding it popping up in other fics is like watching a radioactive isotope make its way through the body fanfic. Like I said, mildly flattering.

But I recently read a highly recced fic that set off all sorts of little deja vu bells. It turns out this fic had lifted (borrowed?) three or four major elements of a short fic I wrote about 18 months ago, a fic I didn't cross post to any comms but just let my flist read. It wasn't verbatim plagiarizing, more like just taking most of my short fic and making it part of their longer fic. The author is someone whose fics I enjoy and who reads me fairly regularly. I think it may well have been one of those subconscious 'borrowings' we do when we read something and then a year later it shows up in our own fic without our realizing where it came from.

So, yeah, that didn't feel so good. Has anyone out there ever had to deal with their work being consciously or unconsciously copied? And how did you deal with it?

 
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From:romeo46
Date:August 11th, 2008 11:33 pm (UTC)
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I have had it happen. In my case it was the person writing the story was using my fic as a guide for a AU they were writing but they ended up lifting parts of the story and putting them in almost verbatim. I called them on it and they fixed it.

I have found that the closer I work or the more familiar I am with something the more things will slide in. I once wrote the start of the story and realized when I sent it to my beta that it was like her story. We talked about ways to rewrite it and it came out better in the end.

I would sned the person a message and let them know that you are on to what is going on and offer them a chance to change it. If they don't or act an ass then I would take it public.

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From:maineac
Date:August 14th, 2008 11:29 pm (UTC)
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I think I'll just let it slide because in the greater scheme of things, it's no big deal. AS you said, it's so easy to do it by accident.
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From:diysheep
Date:August 12th, 2008 12:34 am (UTC)
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There was this historian and he was writing about an event in WW2. He said people had written fictional stories about the event and people somehow remembered them as actually happening..? I think we unconsciously pick up on things - phrases, ideas, clattering canes on capreted floors?, House calling Wilson 'Jimmy'. We are all influenced by each other.

It don't worry me in ff land because I love seeing ideas explored. But I was so pissed when some gitty little writer nicked my entire article structure I sent both copies to her editor - with a subtle note saying I thought mine was better. Oddly enough she doesn't write for that particular paper anymore.

I wouldn't have minded if she had just run with the idea, but she nicked the whole article/story structure and the silly bint even mentioned she'd been reading my magazine - in the article! How thick can you get?
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From:maineac
Date:August 14th, 2008 11:32 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, like I said: we're all playing in the same sandbox and it's hard to remember who brought the Tonka truck and who brought the blue shovel.

But with the writer stealing a whole published article: when someone's that blatant, it needs nipping in the bud.
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From:blackmare
Date:August 12th, 2008 04:04 am (UTC)
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I've seen a couple things that I think were lifted either from stories of mine or stuff I did with the Collective -- nothing recent because I've been so busy writing that I barely read outside my f-list these days.

It felt weird, but in my case there wasn't enough to have made a case for copying; could've been the hive mind.

I've feared that I might subconsciously lift stuff, and if I ever were to do so (good heavens, it wasn't me, was it?) I hope the other author would point it out so I could fix it before I embarrassed myself any further.
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From:maineac
Date:August 14th, 2008 11:34 pm (UTC)
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Hive mind. I like that. It's very apt description of fanfic communities.

Speaking of which it must be even weirder writing as part of the Collective. Do you ever forget whose idea it was to make X happen and have Y do that?
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From:maddoggirl
Date:August 12th, 2008 03:58 pm (UTC)
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I wish ;D

I think after you've written fanfic for a while, you start to feel yourself hitting the walls. Fanfic is a pretty small room when it comes down to it. No matter how outlandishly you set and narrate your story, it becomes increasingly difficult (claustrophobia-inducing, even) to say something new about the characters, when hundreds of other people are relentlessly assessing and describing every aspect of the same small group of fictional people, using the same reference pools. Eventually, the paranoic fear of unconsciously imitating becomes suffocating, and can kill either the desire to read fanfic or the desire to write it.

Sorry, how fucking depressing. Pretend I'm doing a jig here :D
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From:maineac
Date:August 14th, 2008 11:27 pm (UTC)
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"it becomes increasingly difficult (claustrophobia-inducing, even) to say something new about the characters, when hundreds of other people are relentlessly assessing and describing every aspect of the same small group of fictional people, using the same reference pools. Eventually, the paranoic fear of unconsciously imitating becomes suffocating, and can kill either the desire to read fanfic or the desire to write it."

God, I know exactly what you mean. Which is why it is so refreshing nowe and then to read fanfic that is COMPLETELY different, such as, oh, I don't know, let's say...a House/HOlmes crossover fic. Y'know what I mean? Right? Am I right?
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From:maddoggirl
Date:August 15th, 2008 05:10 pm (UTC)
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Oh, bollocks. I'd better knock that one out before I go on holiday on the 28th. Consider it being worked on as of now :D
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From:orange450
Date:September 26th, 2008 09:13 pm (UTC)
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I've only written one fic - first posted almost two years ago on the Fox House forum, and posted here on LJ this past summer. Shortly after my story appeared on the forum, I noticed that not only were specific situations and ideas of mine appearing in other stories - but actual phrases, describing very specific actions and thought processes, etc. Almost all were from people who had never commented on my story, but it was pretty obvious that they had read it.

I also had the reaction that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery - but for goodness sake, if someone's going to lift almost whole sentences from my story, they should at least comment on it to say they liked it!
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From:maineac
Date:September 26th, 2008 11:39 pm (UTC)
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I'm with you there. But what would they say? "I liked this so much I want to make it mine?" KInd of tricky. Anyway, not worth wasting sleep over, but I was just curious how often it occurred.