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Dark Sim
04-20-2006, 12:03 AM
Now I don't want to get on anyone's bad side here or sound like I'm making accusations, but I was wondering as a newbie, if I were to post an excerpt of my work, what's to stop others visiting this forum from plagiarising the work?

I am sure that other authors here would act conscionably (and that would be the argument made in their defence). However, since this is the internet and most, I'm assuming, have not met face to face (and even if one has, that is not necessarily a guarantee of one's integrity), who is to say that one couldn't have come to this forum simply hoping to find some material to plunder? So the trusting member here hoping for some critique could potentially post their work or ideas and find it being used by someone else for their own benefit.

Like I said, I don't want to sound like I'm pointing fingers (I don't even know anyone here yet anyway) but I'm sure it must be a perfectly valid and legitimate question which must surely cross people's minds. Is there anything in place to prevent such actions by posters who could reasonably be seeking to plagiarise, or anything to give some assurance of safety to authors genuinely wanting a critique?

Thanks

scfirenice
04-20-2006, 12:35 AM
It actually never crossed my mind when I began posting in SYW. I also don't think it would cross anyones else's mind here. We are an honorable group where these things are concerned and beyond tha, you own the copyright on your work from the day of conception regardless if you file it or not. The date you opened the file on your computer, you were covered.

MacAllister
04-20-2006, 12:37 AM
Urm--that's generally just not an issue, Marlowesnoopstein, especially with fiction. For one thing, all anyone can do with stolen writing is try to sell it--and if it's saleable, then it's typically already been submitted somewhere, by the original writer. Regardless, this situation would be freakishly rare, especially with fiction.

As far as another writer swiping an idea? Well, you can't copyright an idea, and different writers will do very different things with the same idea. *shrug* In other words, so what if someone does use your idea? It's undoubtably been done before you thought of it, too.

DamaNegra
04-20-2006, 07:27 AM
Plus, it doesn't show up in search engines, which makes it much much safer

Dark Sim
04-20-2006, 07:52 AM
Thanks for the responses.

I'm pretty sure this site does show up in search engines though, as that's how I stumbled across it when looking up particular agents.

I accept that there are definitely honourable members here who would not resort to that sort of behaviour. My concern was (and still is), however, that what if say, I were someone scouting around for ideas/ material to plagiarise, and I came and registered on this forum, pretended to become an "upright" part of the community, while secretly ripping off stories I found in that section. How would anyone here know that their stories aren't being stolen? That's exactly the same concern I have if I were to post excerpts. I might not even know if someone has taken it and had it published, even in another country, unless I read every book in the world. And who has time to do that, or keep their eyes constantly peeled for potential plagiarism?

Sage
04-20-2006, 08:05 AM
You know nobody is stealing your story because nobody wants to steal from an unknown unpublished author. Technically, nobody needs to even sign on to the website to read SYW, but really it's not an issue. You might think that you have the best story idea in the world, & it may truly be. But a) a single chapter won't give away enough of your story to steal, & b) you're unknown & unpublished, so nobody's seeking your work to steal.

This is another FAQ that should be answered in big bold letters in the title of a sticky.

Forbidden Snowflake
04-20-2006, 03:07 PM
Thanks for the responses.

I'm pretty sure this site does show up in search engines though, as that's how I stumbled across it when looking up particular agents.


Of course the site shows up, we need visitors.

The share you work forum is password protected, what is in there doesn't show up on search engines.

Aconite
04-20-2006, 03:53 PM
How would anyone here know that their stories aren't being stolen?When you get right down to it, in an absolute sense, they don't. They also don't know that their stories aren't being ripped off when they submit to publishers and agents.

However, think for a moment about the writer mentality. How many people do you know who think their writing is the best thing since artisan bread with Kalamata olives? Even when it's, er, lacking? What you have is a situation where nearly every writer thinks his work is much better than it actually is. So, on one hand, you have unknown writers convinced someone is going to steal their brilliant work, and on the other hand, you have writers convinced their own work is better than what's available to steal.

The situation you're talking about is, as MacAllister said, freakishly rare. People simply don't cruise around, looking for work to steal. They don't invest time and effort into becoming a part of a community in order to steal other people's writing--particularly unknown authors' work. What would be the point? What's worth the investment? Do you know how pitifully little fiction sells for? What would anyone stand to gain from the plan that would be worth what they have to put out?

Perks
04-20-2006, 06:06 PM
It's one of those things, Marlowe. What MacAllister, Sage, Aconite and the others have told you is true. But don't post your work until you're comfortable.

As soon as you write something, it is protected under copyright law. It's passive and you needn't do anything to benefit from its safeguards. The writers on this board are up to their eyeballs in their own alligators and the sharing of ideas can be a wonderful boost to creativity. (It's really only plagiarism if they steal your words. Everyone manipulates ideas differently. Just look at the writing prompts. Everyone's working off the same ideas and it's all different.)

But AW has more to offer than basic critiques. There is technical and inspirational assistance available and quite a few pros to learn from on the various boards. If you feel uneasy, don't stress yourself by posting your material just yet. Just poke around. You'll be able to see why we're okay sharing our stuff. Have fun!

maestrowork
04-20-2006, 06:37 PM
There is always a chance that someone would plagiarize, but what is the alternative? You don't publish anything at all and just keep all your writing in your desk drawers.

Let's look at a few things:

1. you own the copyright already

2. by posting it on SYW, you've established proof of authorship (unless you plagiarize it yourself). In the case of any dispute, it's actually a good place to be

3. Most writers are honorable people -- they'd rather be known for writing their own work than to be found out as plagiarizers

4. People who come here and plagiarize run a good risk of being found out. The writer's community can be tight-knit

5. People tend to want to steal published or publishable work. Chances are slim that someone would want to steal a WIP. And if the material really is that brilliant, chances are the piece of work would find a home sooner than the plagiarizer could yell "it's mine now!"

6. You can't copyright ideas, but treatments are protected by copyright. As Mac said, just because you thought of an idea, chances are a thousand other people had thought of the same thing already, and a thousand more will. If you're really concerned about a killer idea, by all means, keep it to yourself until you have your writing done. Once the writing is done, it's all yours -- you own the copyright

The fact is, there's absolutely no way to know if your work has been stolen. But like I said, what is the alternative?

Do you think Stephen King worries about how many people steal his work? And how many people you think try to copy JK Rowling and how many end up being miserable?

If it really concerns you, you can enlist a few of your dearest, most trusted friends to critique your work. Even then, can you be truly confident that none of those friends would steal your work?

The writer's ego is a funny thing. We all think, one time or another, our stuff is so brilliant and hot that everyone would steal it. The ironic thing is, most writers think that way, and the last thing they want to do is to steal someone's unpublished work.

Let's face it, if you can't get your own work published, what makes you think another writer could?

So stop worrying about it and start writing.

Dark Sim
04-20-2006, 07:06 PM
Thanks for the responses. I do think though that it is a legitimate concern for any new poster coming here. As for investing time to become part of a community and then stealing others' work, well okay, maybe it might not happen that way. But it is possible that, because we are all human I assume, one could have belonged to a community for a period of time as an outstanding member, but then fall into disrepute and give into temptation.

On another board I post at (a non-writing board) which is quite a close-knit community, one senior mod, who was also the "trade enforcer" (ie he was the one who dealt with people's trades on the board and ensured that everyone who did trade acted honestly etc) ironically conducted a few trades of his own with a number of members (not myself, fortunately) and then one day disappeared without fulfilling his own part of the exchange. These members tried to give him the benefit of the doubt at first, but then, after some initial contact with the other moderators, disappeared completely. Needless to say, after nearly a year of repeated attempts to contact him etc, this senior mod/trade enforcer was banned.

So the point in all this is that, as honorable as people can be, anyone can go astray.

I'm not suggesting my work is the most brilliant thing there is, but suppose I (as some potential plagiariser) wanted to find something I could use, I could take something I like (an idea, maybe even some of the writing) and improve on it, alter it etc to an extent that it might, on the surface, be unrecognisable as someone else's work. However, if you were to dig deeper, you could see the "image" of the original author's hand in it, although proving it in court might be a difficult task for the author (or not worth the expenses incurred). It can be, sometimes, easier to take an existing thing an improve on it, than reinvent it from scratch.

Again, I am not accusing anyone here. But I do think that it is a concern that shouldn't be taken too lightly either.

Perks
04-20-2006, 08:41 PM
but suppose I (as some potential plagiariser) wanted to find something I could use, I could take something I like (an idea, maybe even some of the writing) and improve on it, alter it etc to an extent that it might, on the surface, be unrecognisable as someone else's work. However, if you were to dig deeper, you could see the "image" of the original author's hand in it, although proving it in court might be a difficult task for the author (or not worth the expenses incurred). It can be, sometimes, easier to take an existing thing an improve on it, than reinvent it from scratch.



The thing you probably need to become comfortable with from the start, is that what you've captured in the above quote is very often, the essense of literary progress. If it's unrecognisable as someone else's work, it's not their work.

Your concern is deep though. It may be in the best interest of your enjoyment of these boards that you don't post your work right now. There are no guarantees against what you fear. If the above posts didn't put you at ease, nothing will. But consider this, if you publish something, you may inspire a fledgling writer to create different characters in a different place saying different words to come to the same resolution as the players in yours. It happens all the time.

Take care. Have fun! Happy writing!

maestrowork
04-20-2006, 08:47 PM
I agree with Perks. If your don't have that comfort leve, then you don't. There's no need for you to post anything, and you may only solicit trust friends or family for critiques. What we're addressing, here, is that the concern is legit, but probably not worth worrying about over your writing career.

cuteshoes
04-20-2006, 09:51 PM
(SORRY IN ADVANCE FOR CAPSLOCK - NEED IT ON FOR WORK)

CAN I ASK A BLUNT QUESTION? WHAT IS THE POINT OF HAVING A PASSWORD WHEN IT IS WRITTEN ON THE MAIN PAGE? I UNDERSTAND YOU DON'T WANT THE FORUM VISIBLE IN SEARCH ENGINES, BUT I FOUND THIS PAGE VIA A SEARCH ENGINE (NOT TO STEAL WORK OBVIOUSLY) AND I'M SURE IF SOMEONE WAS ADAMANT ENOUGH TO SURF THE NET LOOKING FOR IDEAS TO STEAL, THEY WOULD BE SMART ENOUGH TO KNOW TO GOOGLE FOR WRITING FORUMS.

I THINK A GOOD WAY TO DETER THOSE SUCH PEOPLE, WHO WOULD OBVIOUSLY BE TOO CHICKEN TO POST HERE, WOULD BE TO REQUIRE ANYONE WHO WANTS TO SHARE WORK OR HAVE ACCESS TO THE FORUM PM AN ADMIN FOR THE PASSWORD. YES THIS IS A NUSIANCE FOR ADMINS, BUT BY REQUIRING THE PM, IT CAN ACT LIKE A "TERMS OF SERVICE", GIVING YOUR CONSENT THAT YOU WILL NOT STEAL ANY WORK.

I BELIEVE THAT ALL THE PEOPLE *POSTING* HERE ARE LEGIT AND WOULD NEVER STEAL ANOTHER PERSON'S IDEAS OR PROSE, IT IS THE SURFING GUESTS THAT I WORRY ABOUT.

MacAllister
04-20-2006, 10:03 PM
Okay, look. One more time. NO ONE cruises around the internet looking for unpublished fiction by complete unknowns to steal and post or sell. It's a ludicrous thing to be afraid of.

We password the forum to prevent there being any question about whether or not by posting the thing you've used your first electronic rights--that is, by posting in a password-protected forum, Google-bots can't crawl the site and identify your story.

Julie Worth
04-20-2006, 10:09 PM
Okay, look. One more time. NO ONE cruises around the internet looking for unpublished fiction by complete unknowns to steal and post or sell. It's a ludicrous thing to be afraid of.


Alas! Too true! We're here becasue no one wants to pay to read us.

Bufty
04-20-2006, 11:44 PM
The concerns posed by the OP don't cause me any problem.

But am I right in thinking the Google-bots can crawl the AW site, but not the Share-Your-Work forum because of a password on that forum, so if one's title or narrative doesn't appear anywhere other than in the Share-Your-Work forum it can't be google-located here?

Okay, look. One more time. NO ONE cruises around the internet looking for unpublished fiction by complete unknowns to steal and post or sell. It's a ludicrous thing to be afraid of.


We password the forum to prevent there being any question about whether or not by posting the thing you've used your first electronic rights--that is, by posting in a password-protected forum, Google-bots can't crawl the site and identify your story.

MacAllister
04-21-2006, 12:52 AM
Bufty, yes. That's it.

Further discussion (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15371)about why not to worry about someone swiping your unpublished stories, and why "poor man's copyright" is a waste of time and money.

Aconite
04-21-2006, 06:32 PM
Yes, Bufty. Put very simply: Search engines do index Absolute Write. They do not index the Share Your Work boards on AW, because those boards are password-protected. The password is not a secret, because we want people to be able to access the boards easily; the point is to keep search engines from indexing the material on the boards, not to keep people out.