And the story goes on - The lighter side of plagiarism

on Posted by Rajesh J Advani
Oh, ah! New post within four days? You ok? Everything fine and dandy, I hope? No emergencies or anything announced, were there?
:P

With lots of stuff being written about plagiarism in the blog world these days, I tend to keep my eye open for stuff about anything to do with it. So I guess it was natural for me to notice the Page protected by Copyscape button on Amit Varma's India Uncut blog. Needless to say, I thought I might want one for myself too.

So, I followed the link to the Copyscape site and found out that automatically protecting my page was a paid service (I'm a Sindhi *). I could use the site, however, to find up to ten "plagiarised" copies of any of my online work for free.

Masochist that I am, I tried the URL of Just Another Love Story. (Hey, found another one! Damn. Gimme a sec. There! Cribbed.) Most of the results I had already pulled up using google, but there were a couple I hadn't noticed before.

So, having nothing else more interesting to do, I tried the URL of my first article published online - Rants Of A Single Guy

Of the two hits it pulled up, one of the websites was an online version of Mid-Day, the Bombay afternoon tabloid. For a second, I thought "Damn! An offline version of my first article!"
Taking a look at the actual contents of the page, though, I almost burst out laughing! Maybe I've developed a sense of humour about this kind of thing, but seriously, I think it's quite funny :)

See: the link that Copyscape found



* Apparently, Sindhi's are this breed of extremely miserly Indians who try to scrounge on every paisa or cent (or other smallest denomination of the currency for the country they live in) that they can lay their hands on. My mom always says there must have been a mix up when I was born... *shrug* (Back to rant)

11 comments:

thelearner said...

Can understand your feelings about your two stories having been copied and not being attributed to you.

Since it's already been done and it looks like there's very little you can do about it (except maybe tell as many people as you can that you were the original author of those two very good essays), maybe you could take it as a sign that you are indeed a good writer and start writing a new piece. And be careful about how you distribute it this time.

hemlyn said...

Glad you're taking it so calmly. I'd have been tearing my hair out and screaming blue murder.

Looks to me that someone at Sunday Mid Day was too darn lazy to actually interview people. Ah, the joys of laziness and ineptitude... Are you going to complain?

hemlyn said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
gvenum said...

I hear it man....I hear it. Glad you see some humor in it.

Rajesh J Advani said...

thelearner: Thanks for the sentiment. I think I have learnt to deal with copyright infringement over time. The first time I saw saw an example of someone printing my story as their own, was almost a year ago. I was very much the "p***ed off writer* then. :) Since then I've learnt to see the lighter side, which is what this post was supposed to be about.
Talking about distribution, I am looking at analysing various licenses to pick one that works for me. I've seen many bloggers go with the Creative Commons license though most of them are not comfortable with the "free to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work" clause that is so integral to the license. Mostly because "it's better than having no terms at all". I hope to write about that soon.

a-hem: I've done enough of the "tearing hair out" and "screaming murder" thing. Now, I'm being a little kinder to the follicles :D
I never thought it was Sunday Mid-day who stole my words. I really thought it was some bored reader of the tabloid that posed the question. But maybe it was the columnist. Hmmm.
No, I don't think I'll complain. Don't expect them to do anything anyway. The column is a year and a half old. They wouldn't care.

gvenum: Sometimes you get mad, and sometimes you just decide to laugh. :)

thelearner said...

Check out: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

"... most of them are not comfortable with the "free to copy, distribute, display, and perform the work" clause..."

Well once the text is up on the internet, I hardly think you can prevent it from being copied and published elsewhere. What Creative Commons does is to make sure you know when it is being copied. I do think this can be used in a court of Law (or at least that's what the CC site suggests) if you find an unauthorized copy of your work elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

thelearner: While I agree that it is not possible to have complete control over what happens to your work once you publish it on the internet, the same is also true of stuff published offline. I believe it was in 1938 that Chester Carlson invented what we now call the "Photocopy machine" :)

I guess expressly giving everyone permission to copy your work because the unethical ones would do that anyway even if you forbid it, is an option. It's just not an option I'm comfortable with. At least to me, it feels like getting rid of the front door to your house just because lock-picking is not that difficult.

As a publisher of original content, you have a lot more rights than you might be aware of. You are covered by international treaties. (I think I'm making it sound way more cool than it really is). But more on that subject in an upcoming post. :)
Watch this space. (Oh, alright, not this space in particular :P )

Rajesh J Advani said...

thelearner: While I agree that it is not possible to have complete control over what happens to your work once you publish it on the internet, the same is also true of stuff published offline. I believe it was in 1938 that Chester Carlson invented what we now call the "Photocopy machine" :)

I guess expressly giving everyone permission to copy your work because the unethical ones would do that anyway even if you forbid it, is an option. It's just not an option I'm comfortable with. At least to me, it feels like getting rid of the front door to your house just because lock-picking is not that difficult.

As a publisher of original content, you have a lot more rights than you might be aware of. You are covered by international treaties. (I think I'm making it sound way more cool than it really is). But more on that subject in an upcoming post. :)
Watch this space. (Oh, alright, not this space in particular :P )

thelearner said...

Then perhaps you could have a login-password based 'subscription audience' as a door to your house. At the cost of a reader base... for example I found your blog purely by chance, and if you had asked me to sign up (even free) I wouldn't have bothered any further. Is that what you want?

Rajesh J Advani said...

Maybe I missed the point, but what exactly was the rationale behind a subscription-based service?

Kiran Mayee said...

Hi Rajesh,

First, I am sorry for being one of those people who copied your article, but then, I dont know who the author is and Once I know the author, I always give the credits to him / her.

I know that most of the entries in my blogs are not my own, I get them in mails and when I feel that there is a good one that could be shared with others, I share it.

some of them are very commonly seen on internet with different versions, and some, seen without author.

Now, I will be taking more care while posting such things.

Coming to your work, its really great. I am not a writer, but I do attempt, and I know the pain it takes to write a beautifu story.

Sorry once again.