Jan 15 2008
Newsweek ran a web special edition written by author Paul Tolme. Mr. Tolme penned a copyrighted article “Toughing It Out in the Badlands” that ran in the Defenders Magazine. Cassie Edwards copied some language from the article in her most recent Penguin release, Shadow Bear.
In the Internet age, every freelance writer fears that his or her words will be appropriated without compensation. First I was angry. Then I had to laugh. To see my textbook descriptions of ferrets in a bodice-ripper, as dialogue between a hunky American Indian and a lustful pioneer woman who several pages later have sex on a mossy riverbank, is the height of absurdity
I think Mr. Tolme’s article is worth reading because he obviously has a passion for his topic and has worked hard to make a life as a writer about wildlife. (Despite his obvious disdain for the genre)
I’m no longer angry with Edwards. In fact, I feel sorry for her. The blogosphere is buzzing with irate calls to boycott Edwards’s books and appearances. According to an interview she did with the Associated Press, she did not know she was supposed to quote source materials. Ignorance of law and ethics is no excuse, however. Plagiarism victimizes writers. It betrays the trust of readers. It tarnishes the craft of writing.
Some emails I’ve seen suggest that people think that plagiarism is victimless. It is not.
Thanks to all those who sent me this article in my inbox.