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Plagiarism: Theft vs inspiration (Important reminder)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by DarthBreezy, Aug 2, 2003.

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  1. DarthBreezy

    DarthBreezy Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 4, 2002
    a REMINDER

    If you suspect/have definate knowlege of/proof of plagersim, before you do anything else, contact your freindly neighborhood moderater/managers FIRST

    [link=http://boards.theforce.net/user.asp?usr=432614]Amidala_Skywalker[/link]

    [link=http://boards.theforce.net/user.asp?usr=236201]KIT[/link]

    or

    [link=http://boards.theforce.net/user.asp?usr=264093]Mistress_Renata[/link]

    For the sake of all people involved.

    End PSA


    It's an ugly topic that needs to be addressed.
    There is a MASSIVE differance between 'plot bunnies'/charaters that are borrowed from other authors (with their permission) and Stealing someone else's work and claining it as your own... Not only is it reprehensible, but will earn you a 3 month ban on the first offense.

    I know that sometimes authors think along the same lines a lot of the time... there are only so many ways to do something... but have you ever had an issue with this happening before? (Yes Anakin girl I want you to relay YOUR experiance when YOU were a victem... after all, it was one of the things that helped us get to know eachother ;) )

    Anyone else?

    Adendum Please refrain from mentioning names of the accused, even if they are 'found guilty'. If you violate this rule, expect a sharp PM requesting that your post be edited.

    Kit's edit: Spelling
     
  2. JediGaladriel

    JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 3, 1999
    Well, someone flat-out stole the prologue of "By the Grace of Lady Vader" once; I had an older archived version that I used to prove it to the webmaster. Someone else changed a few names and stole "Extreme Action" on fanfiction.net, but that person was enough of an idiot to plagiarize many stories including Vader's death scene from the RotJ novel, which is widely available and has been around since 1983. Needless to say, there was a ban involved.

    But during "Family Portrait," someone wrote to me saying that she was also doing a story where Siri, Obi-Wan, and Anakin were posing as a family on a hostile world... the note was careful not to accuse, but there was a definite sense of, "Hey... that was mine!" about it. I hadn't read the story before (or heard of the author), and the ideas had come separately. We ended up having an interesting conversation and I linked to her story from the FP thread, and the stories were sufficiently different--but it is one weird, icky feeling. It's like coming to a fashionable party wearing the same dress as someone else. Very embarrassing and it feels like a violation, even though there's no real reason for it.

    I admit that one of the reasons I write fanfic outright is that if I'm inspired by someone else's plot bunny, it seems weird and sneaky to go off and pretend I wasn't--to write a story of my own because, for instance, I was inspired by Leia and Anakin's similarities, dealing with an OC father and daughter who don't know each other's identities and live in a universe of my choosing. I would know all along that I was talking about Leia and Vader, so I write the story about Leia and Vader. I would feel like I was plagiarizing if I took it out of the SW universe.
     
  3. Jane Jinn

    Jane Jinn Jedi Knight star 5

    Registered:
    Jan 12, 2000
    I haven't actually had anybody steal an entire story or even a developed idea from me, but once, when I was surfing the boards, I clicked on a story and found a familiar sounding name. The author had 'borrowed' one of my original characters without my knowledge or permission, and was writing about her further adventures. I was a bit annoyed, but I could see that she was not only a newbie and an inexperienced writer, but also very young. I'm sure my post came across as a bit testy, though, when I pointed out that it was good manners to ask for permission to use an original character, then give the author credit for the creation, and maybe even provide a link to the story in question. If the author had done so from the beginning, I would probably have been flattered that she thought so much of that particular character that she wanted to see more of her.

    I'm not so tolerant, however, when I see people posting stolen stories under their own name. :mad: I really wonder why people do it; I'm sure they could not enjoy any feedback that came their way, knowing that they didn't slave over that writing to make it perfect.
     
  4. anakin_girl

    anakin_girl Jedi Knight star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 8, 2000
    (Yes Anakin girl I want you to relay YOUR experiance when YOU were a victem... after all, it was one of the things that helped us get to know eachother ;) )

    Challenge accepted my West Coast half...

    What was funny about my plagiarizer is that she didn't even bother covering her tracks. "The Anakin Skywalker Diaries" was copied and pasted almost verbatim (she added a couple of swear words, which was hilarious considering that I've gotten complaints about that story having too much swearing as it is) onto fanfiction.net under the story "The Diary of Anakin Skywalker". The author was a user called "sexyJediJordan"--I have since referred to her as "sexyJediPlagiarist". Not sure if she took it from here or from the Moons of Iego site or from the list that Breezy runs on Yahoo, the Mrs. Robinsons of Star Wars. Right after it happened, Breezy posted a message indicating that she was not amused about the story being lifted and that if she found out it was lifted from the files of the Mrs. Robinson group, action would be taken immediately. That night the Mrs. Robinson group lost a member...um-hmm...um-hmm... Breezy and I had talked before but we then got to be even better friends over her strong defense of my story. She is now practically the co-author of that story, considering I bounce my ideas off her before I ever post.

    What I ended up doing was copying and pasting my Ani Diaries off this forum and sending it to the ff.n staff, along with the dates written, and they removed the fake Ani Diaries and banned that user immediately. I also wrote the user an e-mail telling her that I did not appreciate what happened (gave her addy to a few friends too, and evidently she got more than one letter)--she wrote me back and said "Who is sexyJediJordan and what is fan fiction? I don't know what you're talking about. And could you not write me here anymore because this is my private account and I am very busy." I wrote her back and said that if it was really her "private account", she should check and see who hacked into it to set up an account at ff.n. I got another response that she didn't know what I was talking about and could I please "ask the others to stop writing" her because it was her "private account" and she was "very busy".

    Sounds like a personal problem to me, chica--one you should have resolved before you started copying and pasting other people's stories.

    What is and is not considered plagiarism?

    I was told in school that if you copy more than four words in a row, it's plagiarizing. One thing about fan fiction is that several people will have the same plot bunnies--example, many people might have the same idea about how Anakin proposes to Padme--and the way it is written can show a lot about whether it was an original work or a copy of someone else's. I have written a proposal story and I tried to make sure I had not read anyone else's in awhile to make sure that I did not even inadvertently steal a plot bunny or a line.

    Fan fiction due to its nature--you're using someone else's characters anyway--requires that you be forthright and honest and give credit where credit is due more so than other types of fiction, because it's not as enforceable or determinable when something is stolen--unless it's copied and pasted--as it is other places.
     
  5. CYNICAL21

    CYNICAL21 Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 2001
    Having been victimized myself - several times and from a very young age - I can assure you that it DOES indeed, feel like a personal violation - and that there is no regaining trust lost over something like that. I might forgive you if you stole a boyfriend - even a husband - or a material possession; those, after all, tend to be fleeting anyway. But to steal the creation that was born in my mind, is to steal a part of me. There is NO violation more personal or less forgivable.

    CYN

     
  6. Angel_of_Sith

    Angel_of_Sith Jedi Knight star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 10, 2002
    I've never had any of my worked plagurised, though I've only had one poem published. I'd like to get some more stuff published, but I need to finish it first.

    I'm currently working on Link edited but I can't finish it. I need some inspiration, but I cn't find any anywhere. If you want to read it, please do. Quick warning though, yaoi features in it, but in a tasteful way.

    Sometimes though, I come up with ideas, I churn these ideas around and around, and then I find it's allready been done. Does anyone else have this problem?

    Edit: I've just remembered I'm linking to geocities and that they hate us all, you'll have to cut and paste the link.



    [hl=pink] . . gay fanfic forever . . [/hl]


    Kit's note: Links to stories like that are not allowed. If you want the story link, PM Angel of the Sith, and he'll might provide it for you
     
  7. Sabe126

    Sabe126 Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 18, 2002
    I have only had positive experiences when I have asked to use ideas from people's fics. One of these was Cyn (thanks again! :) ), when she very generously let me refer to her 'catch of the Temple fanclub' from her fic, A Little Night Musing. The other was a description of the handmaiden's suite which I was allowed to quote (as I knew I couldn't think of anything better). In both cases I credited the original author.

    I was very flattered to be asked if a place I had created could be used in another fic. The author sent me the paragraph before it was posted to check that I agreed with the description.

    Ok, am wandering off topic slightly!
     
  8. anakin_girl

    anakin_girl Jedi Knight star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 8, 2000
    I'm always afraid to borrow an OC from another fanfic author because I'm afraid I'd mess up that OC's character. However, I have seen it done and done well (in Breezy's fic, "While You Were Out", for one thing), and I think it's perfectly OK as long as credit is given to the character's originator.

    I don't understand taking a character and then not giving credit, but I guess I don't understand theft, period.
     
  9. AlrikFassbauer

    AlrikFassbauer Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 2, 2003
    In non - Star Wars areas , I did something very different :

    I once took lines from Genesis and made them into a different path - exploring different areas with these lines.

    For example parts of the text of "Dreaming while you sleep" by Genesis was heavily rewritten by me to became one "Dreaming while I sleep" - the story of one not being able to take his life into his own hands - he remains too passive throughout his own life - being haunted by psychical (right spelled ?) injuries of the past.
     
  10. Spike2002

    Spike2002 Former FF-UK RSA and Arena Manager star 6 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Feb 4, 2002
    I've made many successful stories out of borrowing other peoples characters, but this is always with their permission and their assistance. We call this the Fan Fic Alliance, and we all adhere to our own continuity. If you do with to use characters from other ppl's stories, its always best with their approval and their input.
     
  11. Happy_Hobbit_Padawan

    Happy_Hobbit_Padawan Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 3, 2003
    I know these boards have strict rules against plagiarism, but do most other sites have them as well? I found a story on fanfiction.net that looks oddly similar to one posted in the TFN archive.

    I suppose with the number of writers and the numbers of sites and number of years fan fiction has been written, it's probable that nearly every plot bunny has been explored, and it would be simple coincidence if two stories plots' were similar. Even in movies you see that; I think a few years ago there were two asteroid and two volcano movies that came out at roughly the same time. What I don't understand is like the examples above, and the one I saw, where the authors simply did a version of 'cut and paste.' I suppose with the easy access of the web, that's a problem that will always exist for people who want to share their creations online.
     
  12. Herman Snerd

    Herman Snerd Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 31, 1999
    The TFN Archive has a zero tolerance policy for plagiarism. If at any time anybody believes that a story in the archive contains work stolen from somebody else, simply inform any archive staffer and the matter will be investigated.


    That said, the difference between inspiration and theft can be a bit murky. While it's not unlikely that two people could independently come up with the same idea for a story, it's probably natural for the person who began writing his/her story first to assume the other person might have stolen the idea.

    Now when it comes to copying all or part of a story verbatim or using original characters without permission, that's entirely different.
     
  13. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    What about character names?

    I had an incident about six months ago, where I was reading through an old round robin I was part of. It suddenly occured to me that I had used exactly the same first name for one of my newer OC characters, as one of the established characters in that round robin. In panic I PM'd the author with an apology. Luckily (and more kudos to her I think :) ) she thought it was alright, with the simple explanation that there really are only so many workable names in the galaxy.

    To me that was entirely unintentional. When I created the character I didn't intentionally steal the name, it just popped into my head. Also, the actual characters themselves were vastly different.


    As someone who loathes plagerism and frankly thinks that people who do it intentionally are just asking to get themselves in trouble, it was a scary experiance.

    Recently there was an incident where people where comming into a person's thread and saying that she was plagerising because the basic premise of her story and another one was the same. Again, to me that was just two people who had the same good idea (as the story was significantly different anyway).

    However, taking someone's stuff word for word (or close to word for word) will not be tolerated.

    Kithera
     
  14. Arriss

    Arriss Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 1, 2002
    a_g

    I remember well when that happened to you! :mad: It was completely insane for that person to believe they would get away w/doing that! :mad:

    There are so many stories out there, so many ideas but the difference lies on where those ideas are developed from...or whom.
     
  15. CYNICAL21

    CYNICAL21 Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 8, 2001
    What I always wonder is how these people think they're going to get away with this crap - especially in a community as close-knit as one like this. I mean, granted there are a lot of people that visit on this site - and other fan fic sites - but they tend to talk to each other a lot, and everybody browses around from time to time. Yet it continues to happen.

    It happened here a while back, as I recall, and I think, if I remember rightly, it was Jane Jinn who caught it, and reported it - and God (and the Force) bless her for it. I can't reiterate it enough; anyone who will steal the fruit of another's intellectual labors is - IMHO - literally the scum of the earth.

    In addition to having the actual, provable, unmistakable act happen to me in the past, I recently questioned a story that happened to duplicate a certain condition that I had written in one of my stories - and I was very disturbed. But - there was no word for word copying, and no way of determining if my work had simply served to inspire someone else's imagination - or - if someone had simply taken my scenario and changed the language while preserving the spirit of the scene. I elected to give the person the benefit of the doubt - and to accentuate the positive - but it's not an easy thing to do, I can tell you that.

    And I can guarantee one thing; if I ever see it - or suspect it - in regards to someone else's work, I will run - not walk - to the nearest mod, demanding an investigation. That's what Jane did - I think - and I think she deserves a medal.

    CYN
     
  16. Darth_Lex

    Darth_Lex Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 17, 2002
    What I always wonder is how these people think they're going to get away with this crap
    I couldn't agree more, Cyn. But then again, I can't really understand what motivates any theft or other criminal conduct. What makes a bank robber or drug dealer or drunk driver or whatever think they can get away with it? Or maybe they don't think they will? Who knows?

    Of course, I felt that way about Napster from the beginning too -- what were they thinking?!?!?!?!?

    On our main point here, I just wanted to add a thought about crediting others for ideas. The vast majority of the time, in my view, "ideas" can't really be owned -- but of course the words you use to express the idea are yours. (The law of copyright makes the distinction between "ideas" and "expression" -- although I'm far from an expert on the distinction's nuances.)

    If you think about it there are very few original "ideas" in GL's Star Wars films. What's original is the way he pulled so many mythical and real themes together in his story -- and of course the way he expressed them (Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, the Force, Tatooine, etc.).

    That said, as a matter of professional courtesy -- and simple good behavior in society -- one should credit the person whose idea one uses. If someone shares a plot bunny with me and I use it, I always publicly thank them. I wouldn't have to -- but it's the right thing to do.

    Another related issue is the originality of the idea. For example, at some point someone was the first to put into a written fanfic the "idea" that Anakin Skywalker would call Padme "angel" instead of "dear" or "honey" or "sweetheart." I have no idea who that might be -- if it could even be determined. But it's not a particularly original idea -- it derives, obviously, from the first words he speaks to her in TPM. For that matter, if I wrote a story in which Anakin called Padme "babe", I probably ought to credit a_g for the inspiration -- but it would not, I think, be plagiarism if I didn't.

    The more original the idea [of someone else's that]* one uses in one's own work, the more imperative it is (as a matter of courtesy) to credit the person from whom one takes one's inspiration. But barring verbatim copying of text or wholesale adoption of another person's original character, it's mostly just a question of rudeness -- not plagiarism.

    And most of all I'm glad to know that we have such a self-policing community that acts upon suspicious (or obvious :p) plagiarism of works of others. That, I think, is a great statement about the community we have.

    Eep! That turned out to be longer than I intended. :eek: ;) Oh well. :cool:



    [* added bracketed text for clarity ;)]
     
  17. JediGaladriel

    JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 3, 1999
    Cyn, that's exactly what Jane did. Total zero tolerance policy. It was an insta-ban for the person as well (I think the ban has run out now, but it was not one of the slap-on-the-wrist bans handed out for bad language, and a second offense is a perma-ban, last I knew).

    Most sites have a zero tolerance policy for it; the problem is enforcing it. Someone sends you a file, you just don't know until you get an outraged author on the other end saying it was stolen. That's why it's good to put it in a permanent place with a date attached the first time you post it. If the site owner can't tell who had it first, it's a headache. With "Grace," I found the original message in the Yahoo group archive for skywalking, where it was posted almost six months before it was posted here (the plagiarist, I guess figuring the mailing list was small, hit in between). Xing at FFN has a zero tolerance policy, and doesn't care how young the person is or what excuses s/he makes--the person loses the FFN account and everything is deleted.

    But with a site the size of FFN, how in the world would you find a plagiarized work? It's a needle in a haystack. I sometimes run my original character names through google to see if they're turning up where I'm not expecting them.

    But I do want to stress the difference between theft and coincidence. A lot of authors are oversensitive to the idea that someone is stealing their materials, when nothing of the sort is happening. People just get the same idea sometimes. It feels awful by itself to find out that your mind isn't as unique as you thought, and another author starting a screeching drama fest over "plagiarism" just makes it worse.
     
  18. Kit'

    Kit' Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 1999
    That I think is the big difference here JG. People often have the same idea...it's not uncommon.

    If someone started a story with the same premise as one of mine (say the son of two jedi without a midi-chlorian to call his own), I'd probably be quizzical and curious. However, it's not like I own the idea or anything. If that person then went and used the same senarios for everything, the same plot line and some of the same paragraphs then I'd know...

    There is a Zero tolerance policy. However, on this website its establishing the facts first too. In the one that Jane reported it was pretty straightforward.

    And it's something that I agree with Cynical about. Jane really does deserve a medal for reporting it and spotting it in the first place. Like JG said, finding this things first can be a needle in a haystack.

    One rambling moderator at your service.

    Kithera
     
  19. JediGaladriel

    JediGaladriel Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Sep 3, 1999
    That I think is the big difference here JG. People often have the same idea...it's not uncommon.

    It is a big difference. Unfortunately, I'm sure we've all at one point or another heard, "I hate so and so! She stole my idea!" (Heck, it's one of the reasons there's fairly tight control on who may or may not read fanfic... if legal departments put up a wall between a creator and fans, it makes it a lot more difficult to file a nuisance suit. And that wall, I must admit, drives me batty. :))
     
  20. anakin_girl

    anakin_girl Jedi Knight star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 8, 2000
    For that matter, if I wrote a story in which Anakin called Padme "babe", I probably ought to credit a_g for the inspiration -- but it would not, I think, be plagiarism if I didn't.

    I didn't think twice about that, Lex. :p I only get upset when people steal whole lines from me. :p
     
  21. Arriss

    Arriss Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 1, 2002
    Unfortunately, I'm sure we've all at one point or another heard, "I hate so and so! She stole my idea!"

    Sometimes this is a groundless accusation and sometimes it's not. It's hard to tell the difference but not impossible. (not even for a computer - sorry the Wedge line in ANH just came to mind as I typed that 8-} )
     
  22. anakin_girl

    anakin_girl Jedi Knight star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 8, 2000
    It's especially hard to determine in fanfic, when, like I said earlier, a lot of people might have the same idea about, say, how Anakin proposed to Padme.

    I was very careful to make sure I had not read any proposal fics in quite awhile before I wrote mine. I was afraid I would inadvertently steal something.
     
  23. PatttyB0123

    PatttyB0123 RSA Latin America star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Apr 2, 2003
    Hum one day somebody else used a phrase or sentence from one of my stories. The person did not change anything.

    Ah! yeah was a sentence from my own native language. The only person that knew that phrase was me.

    I got little upset,but I let it go. I think that I lost track that story.

    I think that stealing ideas is not good, because you spend your own time thinking your own story. Sometimes you spend days or weeks. Yes,sometimes it is sad that you found that somebody else got your idea and posted without making his/her own story.

    I think that it was a movie about that.

    Does anybody else have steal his/her own lines to used in his/her own story?

    I am refering about your own writen. When you find using the same phrases or moves in your own stories.

    Sorry if you find grammatical errors.
    thanks
     
  24. PatttyB0123

    PatttyB0123 RSA Latin America star 6 Staff Member Manager

    Registered:
    Apr 2, 2003
    Hum I was working in a story about Anakin is dealing with Padme's pregancy. Anakin is a Jedi Knight, but now about ideas I am not so sure.
    I made that story in my mind, and wrote it

    I hope that I am not stealing nobody else ideas.
    Please let me know that I am not stealing nobody else ideas. The story is a humor one.
    Sorry for the question.
    Thanks.
     
  25. Arriss

    Arriss Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 1, 2002
    I haven?t used lines repeatedly from one story to another? :confused: I don?t think so anyway? :)

    But stealing ideas and/or text from someone is not only rude, it shows a lack of tact and respect. IMHO. Especially if the person manages to post said idea before the original author can.
     
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