Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Have You Been Plagarised?

I was sent a link from one of my fellow members of the Hoydens and Firebrands Blog this morning saying she looked up a blog post I wrote on the subject of 17th Century Funeral Practices. While comparing it with others, she came across one as almost exactly the same as mine.

On reading it I discovered she was right, in that the style, phraseology, and even the order in which the information was laid out looked eerily similar. Curious, I went looking for other sources, and within minutes found a second one which was again virtually the same as mine.

I am more bemused about this than annoyed - I mean the historical information wasn’t mine to begin with, compiled from various sources such as Maureen Waller's 1700 - Scenes of London Life, which is a fantastic reference book, and Liza Picard's Restoration London, but I did spend the time to compile it from different sources and write it in my own words.

I wanted to kill off one of my main characters and became fascinated with the rituals and beliefs of the time, especially things like 'woolen shrouds' being instigated by Charles II to promote the wool trade, but everyone paid the fine for a linen one as 'no one was buried in flannel' Then there was the belief that keeping the nose and mouth of a sick person closed to stop the spirit escaping - which struck me as an excuse for euthanasia!

What qualifies these days as research as opposed to plagiarism? There are hundreds of online history reference books, essays, articles and blogs out there on every subject imaginable, information that is limited until the boffins discover more, so the posts are bound to resemble each other.

Maybe I should be pragmatic and treat it as a compliment, but one thing it has taught me, is always acknowledge your original source as part of the article, or it could come back to haunt you.
Or is this a sign that we are all growing lazy and the ease of the ‘cut and paste’ facility makes word thieves of us all as it doesn’t seem like wrongdoing? It is reassuring that my post was dated July 2009 while the other two are 2012 and 2013, so I can relax in that the accusations won’t be directed my way.

Has anyone else been plagarised? Or has someone simply paid you a compliment by using your words?

Cute Seagull taken from KayKayKit at Deviant Art


Kim Murphy said...

I have been plagiarized and pirated on several occasions. Like yours, I found out about it indirectly. When they give attribution, I thank them, but say that it's common courtesy to ask an author first. I gladly give reprint rights to most of my articles with appropriate attribution and links. When there is no attribution, I will contact them if I can. If they don't respond, I will report it to the site's provider and get the article removed.

Anita Davison said...

Thanks Kim that's good advice, and giving credit to someone else doesn't take anything from your own post-the reader may never see the original as it the blog could be a genre they do not follow.

Petrea Burchard said...

I don't mind if someone quotes me. As long as they acknowledge it's a quote and link to me I don't require them to ask.

Plagiarizing is a different story. They don't ask, acknowledge or link because they know they're stealing.

Anita Davison said...

I agree, Petrea, and maybe I wouldn't be so magnanimous if it was one of my novels!

Petrea Burchard said...

As you know, I was blogging daily for over 5 years. This was hard work and I was very proud of it. Twice, someone hacked into my blog feed and stole the whole blog, so it automatically posted on their site. They point, for them, was to get people to click on ads.

There was no contact information in either case, so I informed my readers, gave them the link, and asked them to comment on the "fake" blogs if they chose to. On my blog, I posted funny rhymes and--well--snark! about the plagiarizers. All my readers had a good time with it and within a few days, the fake blogs ceased to steal my material.

Unfortunately, they probably went on to steal from others.

Inge Van Loco said...

Personally I think that stealing, since that's what it is, someone else's words is wrong. I'm a history student at the University of Antwerp so I learned to respect the work of a researcher. I believe that's what it comes down to, showing some respect and acknowledging the fact that you used someone else's work! And then, hopefully, come to your own conclusions!

Maggi Andersen said...

Annoying. How lazy they are, Anita. I can't believe they'll prosper by it.