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View Full Version : Has anyone ever had their work/ideas stolen after AW posting?



Barb D
04-23-2009, 06:16 AM
I recommended AW to someone tonight, and someone else said she wouldn't post work online for fear it would be stolen. I admit I cringed about the idea for about a millisecond before posting my first excerpt, but I got over it.

Has anyone here ever had an experience where an idea or actual verbiage was -er- appropriated after posting it at AW or somewhere else online?

Cyia
04-23-2009, 06:32 AM
Ideas are fair game for anyone. If it's actual words taken and put elsewhere, that's something else entirely. You own your words, they're copyrighted to you (even if not registered).


ETA: since you asked about elsewhere online, yes - but only involving fanfiction.

I had someone cut and paste a fanfiction into their blog without permission, but I don't really care as it's not commercial fiction. I know someone who had one taken from FFn, the thief took the exact text, subbed in characters from a manga, and posted it under their own username with an author's note: For the purposes of this story {character1} is a vampire. (the manga wasn't about vampires, but the fandom from which she snatched the fic was for a defunct vampire TV-series)

Same fandom, different site, a poster was stealing poems from other writers (that had nothing to do with the fandom) and putting them up as her own writings and giving them titles to match the fandom.


So, yes, it happens.

Haggis
04-23-2009, 06:34 AM
Has anyone here ever had an experience where an idea or actual verbiage was -er- appropriated after posting it at AW or somewhere else online?

No.

Gillhoughly
04-23-2009, 07:07 AM
I know someone who had one taken from FFn, the thief took the exact text, subbed in characters from a manga, and posted it under their own username with an author's note: For the purposes of this story {character1} is a vampire. (the manga wasn't about vampires, but the fandom from which she snatched the fic was for a defunct vampire TV-series)

Good grief. It would be less work to write her own stuff.

Some people are...hmm...what's the phrase...?

Ah.

Batshit INSANE.

poetinahat
04-23-2009, 07:13 AM
Yeah - best way to protect that precious idea is never to tell anyone about it, and whatever you do, don't write it!

Judg
04-23-2009, 08:21 AM
I've never had anything stolen.

Enna
04-23-2009, 08:26 AM
Even if someone takes your idea, they'll never write it the way you did.

Barrett
04-23-2009, 08:37 AM
I can see someone being unethical enough to copy n' paste a section of writing from here and claiming it as their own, but ideas?

That's a lot trickier, and it's why ideas can't be covered by copyright law.
A lot of people have written about powerful vampires and their hold on a small region, but no one put quite the imagery, characters and storyline on it as Stephen King in "'Salem's Lot". In fact it was a direct tribute to Dracula by King's own admission, but despite the obvious similarities, the two stories are each distinct and highly regarded in the blood-sucking subgenre.

Epic fantasy has a cozy mold a lot of readers like, wherein an innocent must quest to save the world with a group of companions across a magical landscape. Happens all the time, but each story is unique and oftentimes seen as completely different from it's forefathers.

I don't really worry about it. For one, I'm never gonna post an entire manuscript here, as I'm new and I just wanna be popular.

Two, if I post a sample chapter or an opening, good luck figuring out the totality of the tale. Trust me, you have no idea what my big picture is.

Finally, if I post a query, my manuscript is complete. You don't have a chance in hell of finishing a quality manuscript based on the idea and getting it published before I do. Even if you do, it won't be my story, and if mine is even semi-acceptable, it will read better than yours.

I wouldn't stress it.

Cranky
04-23-2009, 08:45 AM
Heck, no! Ideas are not something that can be stolen, in my opinion. Not strictly speaking. Even if you and someone else have a similiar idea or even premise, the execution is bound to be different.

Now, out and out plagiarism is something else altogether. And I've never had anyone steal my crappy words here or anywhere else. :)

maestrowork
04-23-2009, 09:09 AM
Idea and treatment are two different things. Ideas can't be copyrighted, and believe it or not, they're a dime a dozen. You think Dan Brown was the first person who thought of doing a story on the Knights Templar and the Holy Grail? Do you think Crichton was the first who thought about dinosaurs in a park? Stealing ideas is nothing if you can't deliver -- someone still has to write the damn book.

And we all think we're so brilliant that people will want to steal our work. Then again, if we're so brilliant, why aren't we published yet? Why would anyone want to steal something that is unpublished?

However, TREATMENTS are copyrightable. Treatments are specific outlines and plot points (with characters). So the following treatment:


Tycoon clones dinosaurs with DNA taken from ambers and puts them on an island. He invites some scientists over for a preview, to get their blessings. A rival group tries to steal the embryos via a spy on the island. Then a tropical storm hits the island and everyone is trapped. Dinosaurs run loose and start killing people....

If someone stole that treatment, that would be copyright infringement and plagiarism.


ETA: BTW, I don't mind telling people about my ideas. If they have the ability to pull it off, good for them. But I am protective of my own treatments -- the story and characters, and the way I'm going to plot the thing out.

CACTUSWENDY
04-23-2009, 09:11 AM
Nope...no way.

CarnalPIE
04-23-2009, 10:21 AM
Some people are...hmm...what's the phrase...?

Ah.

Batshit INSANE.

LMFAO! Well said.

Wayne K
04-23-2009, 02:29 PM
Writing no, but I did notice someone borrow one of my titles. I consider it flattery.

Cyia
04-23-2009, 02:31 PM
Good grief. It would be less work to write her own stuff.

Some people are...hmm...what's the phrase...?

Ah.

Batshit INSANE.

Insanity is an actual excuse. Some people are just plain stupid.

smcc360
04-23-2009, 03:45 PM
No, I steal all my ideas from bookstores.

citymouse
04-23-2009, 03:59 PM
Not from anyone here at AW, however, I a few years ago I emailed a writer friend about a novel I was working on. I sent an outline as well as some incomplete chapters. I researched this topic and found that while there are plenty of anthropological works there were no novels. Imagine my surprise when this same author reviewed a new novel with my plot, completed with settings and timeline. I learned then and there not to share any significant work until I had a complete manuscript in hand.
C
"Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you expected."

Calla Lily
04-23-2009, 04:10 PM
Nope.

DragonHeart
04-23-2009, 04:15 PM
If someone's ever stolen my ideas/stories, I've never found out. Even if they did nothing I post is completed or in final form, so they wouldn't get much out of it, other than (hopefully) a good read.

Theft of words/ideas happens offline too so I don't spend time worrying about it either way. If someone did steal one of my stories I'd be flattered that they liked my work that much. Wouldn't stop me from punching them in the face, though. :)

emilycross
04-23-2009, 04:38 PM
I've had FF stuff plagarised before (but not here obviously), but usually your the last to know when someone plagarises your work.

Ideas - well thats a different story. I think everyone borrows from everyone, but the difference is a person's interpetation of that story idea

Phaeal
04-23-2009, 05:29 PM
From what I've read, editors and agents consider paranoia over the theft of submitted material or ideas to be the glaring mark of the neophyte.

Or in the parlance of the gamer, OMG ur such a NOOB!!!!

Meh, as has been said, the amount of work it would take to complete a work based on the short excerpts posted here should discourage any pathetic loser who'd consider stealing it. I suppose pathetic losers might steal shorts or poems, but I've never heard of it happening. As for pathetic losers stealing your ideas, well, they're pathetic losers -- they wouldn't have the viable brain cells to make anything of the ideas anyway. ;)

BarbaraKE
04-23-2009, 06:03 PM
I don't worry about it but I also make sure I don't give away my main idea.

Not all ideas are worth anything - but some are pure gold. Like Crichton's idea of cloning dinosaurs from blood trapped in amber. Absolutely brilliant!! The 'story' was well-written, etc. but nothing really new. But that little twist made it *real* in a way none of the other dinosaur stories I've read did.

If I had a similar idea, I definitely wouldn't post it anywhere.

Kathleen42
04-23-2009, 06:10 PM
Not on AW.

I did have someone copy a (rather lengthy) blog entry and post it on their blog without proper attribution. She didn't claim it as her own but all she had in the way of acknowledgment was a line that said "hey, I found this entry on another blog".

When I emailed her asking her to provide a link back to either my blog or the communal blog where she had taken the entry from she became very offended and ended up taking it down rather than adding the info I asked for.

Maryn
04-23-2009, 06:47 PM
I've had work plagiarized from an online source, but not from AW. The thief passing it off as her own was selling it via email to AOL people who'd participated on boards suggesting they were its target audience.

I contacted an attorney, who told me quite frankly that while he recommended a letter from his firm telling the thief to knock it off, his fees would far exceed my losses if I were to pursue it any further. As far as I can tell, she stopped selling it soon after the letter arrived.

Since that time, I won't do online critique except at AW.

Maryn, who trusts Mac to protect her

Matera the Mad
04-24-2009, 04:51 AM
So far I've only encountered one idea worth stealing, and I don't do that. I won't even talk about it. :Ssh:

colealpaugh
04-24-2009, 05:12 AM
So far I've only encountered one idea worth stealing, and I don't do that. I won't even talk about it. :Ssh:

Sparkly vampires?

Matera the Mad
04-24-2009, 05:29 AM
gag choke puke

colealpaugh
04-24-2009, 05:41 AM
gag choke puke

Hmmm...that only leaves the Vince Shlomi story and the other that starts, "Using a pocket knife, Ralston cut off his own arms."







Or Zombies.

Cyia
04-24-2009, 05:43 AM
A sparkling zombie with a pocket knife name Venus D. Milough.

:D

The Lonely One
04-24-2009, 05:49 AM
Not on AW.

I did have someone copy a (rather lengthy) blog entry and post it on their blog without proper attribution. She didn't claim it as her own but all she had in the way of acknowledgment was a line that said "hey, I found this entry on another blog".

When I emailed her asking her to provide a link back to either my blog or the communal blog where she had taken the entry from she became very offended and ended up taking it down rather than adding the info I asked for.

How dare you. You've certainly offended the entire writing community with your outrageous request. :D

I've never had anything stolen from AW. I feel it's safe to say anyone trying to make money off my work will not be successful. Can you tell I suffer high self-esteem?

CoriSCapnSkip
04-29-2009, 09:39 AM
From what I've read, editors and agents consider paranoia over the theft of submitted material or ideas to be the glaring mark of the neophyte.

Or in the parlance of the gamer, OMG ur such a NOOB!!!!

Meh, as has been said, the amount of work it would take to complete a work based on the short excerpts posted here should discourage any pathetic loser who'd consider stealing it. I suppose pathetic losers might steal shorts or poems, but I've never heard of it happening. As for pathetic losers stealing your ideas, well, they're pathetic losers -- they wouldn't have the viable brain cells to make anything of the ideas anyway. ;)

You make me feel so much better. My main anxieties don't concern theft but someone somehow coming up with something similar only doing it way better. It's one of those things even more unlikely to happen than theft, which amounts to paranoia. I did hear something like that happening to a fantasy author who let fans publish fanfic based on her creations. A fan came up with a similar idea and since the author was in possession of the zine access could be proven even if she hadn't read it--which she obviously hadn't, as she spent months working on a book with a similar plot and the whole thing had to be scrapped.

White-Tean
04-29-2009, 06:42 PM
You make me feel so much better. My main anxieties don't concern theft but someone somehow coming up with something similar only doing it way better. It's one of those things even more unlikely to happen than theft, which amounts to paranoia. I did hear something like that happening to a fantasy author who let fans publish fanfic based on her creations. A fan came up with a similar idea and since the author was in possession of the zine access could be proven even if she hadn't read it--which she obviously hadn't, as she spent months working on a book with a similar plot and the whole thing had to be scrapped.

OUCH.

Although actually the situation you describe is one of the reasons I find myself more comfortable with pursuing standalone plot ideas over series - well, that and I'd have to write the series all the way through to ensure I didn't get distracted by a butterfly and forget to write subsequent books.

I just... I mean, one of the biggest things for me when doing creative things is that I LOVE to hear feedback, because I want to get better and also understand what I do (in my design/illustration, in my writing) from the perspective of others and keeping an eye on any fandom that developed would be a great market research tool for me; and I also belive in people being active participants in their own culture and creating (non-infringing) fanworks. So yeah what you talk about is something that personally does scare the bejeezus out of me (unrealistic a fear though it may be), and it has influenced the ways I plan my writing. I wouldn't publish a series without manuscripts for each installment, not just outlines so that my creation clearly preceded any fanwork.

Momento Mori
04-29-2009, 06:51 PM
Kathleen42:
I did have someone copy a (rather lengthy) blog entry and post it on their blog without proper attribution. She didn't claim it as her own but all she had in the way of acknowledgment was a line that said "hey, I found this entry on another blog".

I can actually go one better (not that I'm overly competitive or anything).

Back in the days when I was in fandom, I found out that someone was copying my blog entries day by day and posting them on a blog that they had created with their own details substituted for mine. It was the weirdest thing I've ever come across on the internet and it only stopped when I put a comment on there asking them to stop it because it was freaky.

The lesson learnt was to stop making my entries public and quit fandom.

MM

Cyia
04-29-2009, 07:41 PM
You make me feel so much better. My main anxieties don't concern theft but someone somehow coming up with something similar only doing it way better. It's one of those things even more unlikely to happen than theft, which amounts to paranoia. I did hear something like that happening to a fantasy author who let fans publish fanfic based on her creations. A fan came up with a similar idea and since the author was in possession of the zine access could be proven even if she hadn't read it--which she obviously hadn't, as she spent months working on a book with a similar plot and the whole thing had to be scrapped.


The author in question didn't just allow fanfic, she actively encouraged input from fans. The fan had submitted the story to her, then the book was announced for publication. The fan expected and asked for shared credit on the title, and was turned down. Rather than deal with the legal issue - which had merit - the publisher scrapped the book.

Judg
04-30-2009, 12:48 AM
That's why most authors studiously ignore fanfic.

MM, something similar happened to my son. He's the lead singer in a band, and one over-zealous fan lifted the life of another girl online and masqueraded as her to attract his attention. It worked. But sooner or later the truth came out, when a couple of his friends discovered the duplication. He actually became friends with the real item and cut off communications with the fake, which was a delicious bit of irony.

JudyC
05-01-2009, 05:18 PM
A few years ago, there was this gal who had a great blog where she would share her work. She had a great ongoing story complete with title and fascinating characters. Her story was truely unique and would have made a great series. A year or two later a barely mid-list author published a book that had not only the same title, but the story was far too similiar. Not word for word, but the basic premise of the story.

That gal is finally getting published but with a completely different story and characters. The mid-list author is still writing that series. No, I don't have concrete evidence. But, I trust my instincts and judgment on this one. I know I'll never read or recommend the mid-list author to anyone.

Edit: Forgot to add that the mid-lister is no longer one. 'Her' series has put her on the best seller's list.

Momento Mori
05-01-2009, 05:31 PM
Judg:
He's the lead singer in a band, and one over-zealous fan lifted the life of another girl online and masqueraded as her to attract his attention. It worked. But sooner or later the truth came out, when a couple of his friends discovered the duplication. He actually became friends with the real item and cut off communications with the fake, which was a delicious bit of irony.

:0

Wow. Some people are seriously scary.

MM

ChaosTitan
05-01-2009, 07:12 PM
A year or two later a barely mid-list author published a book that had not only the same title, but the story was far too similiar. Not word for word, but the basic premise of the story.


Last year a movie came out in which the basic premise revolved around a Repo Man who could repossess designer organs that have financially defaulted. Legalized murder.

I was in B&N yesterday and picked up a new paperback with the same basic premise. The blurb, though, made it clear the story wasn't the same as the one told in the film.

Sucks to realize an original idea isn't really all that original after all.

vrabinec
05-02-2009, 09:28 PM
Nobody's ever stolen my ideas, as far as I know, but a couple days ago, someone here stole my pen, and I want it back.

Topaz044
05-02-2009, 10:08 PM
Sparkly vampires?


Dammit! (tosses manuscript into trash)

In all seriousness, a friend of mine had her non-fiction article stolen on a website. The person then copy and pasted the article onto their website, then called it 'free publicity' (under a different name, of course), and refused to remove it. Eventually it was.

I personally had my essays stolen and copied in school. Even then...:Shrug:

Williebee
05-02-2009, 10:22 PM
My main anxieties don't concern theft but someone somehow coming up with something similar only doing it way better.

Truth be told, that might happen. Here's the thing, though "way better" is entirely subjective. AND it doesn't mean theirs would sell. Stick around SYW and the forum here. You will discover that:

1) There's a lot of writing out there that is "way better" than what's on the bookstore shelves.

2) There are so many elements involved in getting published, -- timing, the market, luck, personalities, luck, perseverance, did I mention luck?, more perseverance.... that "way better" doesn't make the top ten of things to worry about.

Do the work. Write your story. SYW as you see fit, and repeat from step one (Do the work).

But most of all? Personally it is about loving the way that writing makes me feel-- Enjoying the evolution of characters and the tale. Enjoying the ride.

ok, that's enough of that. back to work.

Medievalist
05-02-2009, 10:34 PM
You make me feel so much better. My main anxieties don't concern theft but someone somehow coming up with something similar only doing it way better.

There is nothing new under the sun. Stories can be broken down into constituent elements in ways that reveal underlying ur-stories that go back as story-patterns for thousands of years.

Fagettabouttit.

Inky
05-02-2009, 10:37 PM
No.
That's because in YOUR case, we just simply tuck you under our arm, and make like a linebacker for the nearest exit.

That damned Mac always seems to catch us just before we make off with her precious AW mascot...that is...unless RT gets to us first...

I mean, while steal the work when you can steal the writer, eh?

Ain't that right, Haggis?
Lil' pup?
Lil' Taco Dog?
Lil' sweater-wearin', painted toe-nail yapper?

Kaiser-Kun
05-03-2009, 09:37 PM
I think there's a Gentlemen's Agrement at AW. When you post your ideas, you trust that nobody will take advantage of them. I think none of us here would like the same thing happening to us, so we go with that unwritten rule.

Inky
05-03-2009, 10:31 PM
I think there's a Gentlemen's Agrement at AW. When you post your ideas, you trust that nobody will take advantage of them. I think none of us here would like the same thing happening to us, so we go with that unwritten rule.
Okay, that's nice for you gentlemen, but whadabout us wimenz?
*dons a pair of Mac's jackboots*
Okay.
I'm ready for my copyright battles.
En garde'!
*strikes a pose*

Wait.

One of my ta-ta tassles came loose.
WARDROBE MALFUNCTION!

Kaiser-Kun
05-03-2009, 10:39 PM
Okay, that's nice for you gentlemen, but whadabout us wimenz?
*dons a pair of Mac's jackboots*
Okay.
I'm ready for my copyright battles.
En garde'!
*strikes a pose*

Wait.

One of my ta-ta tassles came loose.
WARDROBE MALFUNCTION!

Now it's my chance!

Ultimate Ataaaaack!!



http://basecampscott.files.wordpress.com/2007/10/nadshot.jpg

Crotch-kicking Supremacy!!



Copyright for farm boy who is an sparkly vampire and takes down an empire is mine! Mwahaha!

Inky
05-03-2009, 10:40 PM
*spews root beer float*

dag nabbit!!!

Tsu Dho Nimh
05-04-2009, 04:52 AM
Not from anyone here at AW, however, I a few years ago I emailed a writer friend about a novel I was working on. I sent an outline as well as some incomplete chapters. I researched this topic and found that while there are plenty of anthropological works there were no novels. Imagine my surprise when this same author reviewed a new novel with my plot, completed with settings and timeline. I learned then and there not to share any significant work until I had a complete manuscript in hand.


Sometimes it's just coincidence, or both saw the same bit of info that kicked off the plot.

Quite a few years ago, two romance writers who didn't know each other and were under contract for different publishers wrote plots based on the same famous royalty who visited the American west in the early 1800s. They were published within a few weeks of each other, leading fans to shriek PLAGIARISM about the second release despite the impossibility of getting a book out that fast.

They had both seen the same bit of news about the royal guy, and both wrote western historical romances.

bkwriter
05-07-2009, 10:20 PM
Look at Dan Brown and the author of the Holy Grail. He tried to sue Dan Brown because it was the Devinc code was the same idea. But that's all it was, it wasn't the same story

Shamisen
05-12-2009, 12:12 PM
Not writing, although I took a photo which is beginning to pick of some fame, strangely - it's appeared on 'thechive' and a few of my friends received it in those funny chain emails with cute/funny pics. So I was flattered that it had gone viral. But then I found someone who had posted it to flickr and claimed it as her own. Fortunately that one picture came from a series of pictures with identifiable features that numbered in well over 150 images (probably nearer 500 actually). So it was easily proved as many of these pictures weren't published online. Within 10 minutes of me contacting them with an informal 'cease and desist' the picture was removed. It's probably happened more than that though.

Although I was really annoyed not to get the credit, must admit I was mightily flattered to think someone thought it was worth stealing :)

KTC
05-12-2009, 01:15 PM
I've never had anything stolen.

I had my bike stolen when I was 11. Broke my heart.

Nobody has ever stolen my writing that I know of. I'm still waiting for that compliment to happen. Sigh.

(-;

EFCollins
05-12-2009, 09:11 PM
I don't know if it counts as stealing, per se, because the girl who did it didn't try to say the work was hers... she credited me as the author. BUT... she did copy/paste my words, printed several copies out and gave it away to her friends without permission. She only told me about it afterward... and what could I really say? Track down all your friends and burn those copies of my story? It was a flash fantasy piece I wrote ages ago. I told her I didn't appreciate it, even if she did credit the tale to me. I asked that, in future, if she wanted to show her friends my stories, to direct them to where they could, at that time, be found. (Which is now a non-issue since I took them down not long after, but that's not the point).

RickN
05-13-2009, 03:40 AM
I rarely post my ideas here anymore after the high quality of my ideas became widely known. People would follow my posting patterns, hoping to grab the 'nugget of gold' that came rolling from my keyboard.

After I had to get a TRO on Stephen King and tell Michael Connelly to 'get the hell off my lawn', I just started keeping them to myself.

Hmmm, gotta go -- time for more meds.

Matera the Mad
05-14-2009, 08:37 AM
:ROFL: :e2point: :ROFL:

Chasing the Horizon
05-16-2009, 06:58 AM
Of course not. I have all my work on a secured computer and never post anything online. How could it possibly get stolen?

I am completely paranoid about my work getting stolen, though (not my ideas; you can have those, I stole them from other places anyway). Of course, I'm paranoid about everything (cell phones, GPS, web cams, the way that guy across the street looks at me when he's walking his dog . . .) Don't you know Big Brother is watching and the Thought Police are everywhere?

Kaiser-Kun
05-16-2009, 08:22 AM
Well, none of my ideas are incredibly original. Or with great twists. Or even good at all.

So nope. I shall not be afraid.

Cybernaught
05-18-2009, 07:34 AM
If someone resorts to stealing my work, I pity them.