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Saturday News: No Deals Just Stupidity and Smashwords Concedes to Paypal...

Updated x1:

Ms. Manning has commented and provided an apology:

I’ve gone back and forth on how to address this for several hours. A personal blog post would not be seen by enough people. Nor would a response to Ms. Fielding’s blog. When Dear Author posted this blog, I felt it was the answer I’d been looking for. I couldn’t find a more public place than this.

To all the authors, publishers, and editors I stole from, I am sorry. There is no excuse. All distributors have been notified and those I couldn’t take down/remove myself are being removed by the third party as soon as possible.

To all the authors, publishers, and editors I’ve met and known over the years, I am sorry. I know you will never forgive me and you shouldn’t.

To anyone associated with the Kiss of Death Chapter, you can be assured that all funds relating to the chapter are well managed and controlled by a dedicated President and Board. I have not had access to any accounts where wrongdoing could have occurred without their immediate and swift action.

Finally, so there is no misunderstanding. I am a thief, a plagiarist. I am not an author.

Updated x2:

Kiss of Death is dedicated to promoting and supporting the mystery/suspense genre with romantic elements through the championship of good writing through our educational and awards programs. As such, I have accepted the resignation of our treasurer, per her request, and in the best interest of the organization.

AJ Brower, President
Kiss of Death

So an RWA member, the treasurer of the Kiss of Death RWA chapter no less, is found to be plagiarizing. Name is Kristal Singletary aka Kay Manning | K.S. Manning | Payton Bradshaw. The first signs were revealed by a fan of Liz Fielding who reported to her that “La Maison Romance” by Kay Manning, a free download on Smashwords, appeared to be a copy of Liz Fielding’s story “The Cinderella Fantasy”. Fielding’s story was available for free online. When Fielding blogged about this, Kay Manning’s purported response was as follows:

“Kay ManningFeb 24, 2012 06:17 AM
Smashwords responded to NOTHING. I took down the story because of my mistake. I know no one would believe it but it was an honest mistake. I put this story in the wrong folder on my computer and actually thought it was mine that I started a long time ago. If I really wanted to ‘steal it’ do you honestly think I would have put it up for free? What do I benefit off it?”

This was preserved by a commenter to the Liz Fielding blog post because the original comment by Manning was deleted as are nearly every sign of Kay Manning, K.S. Manning, and Payton Bradshaw, all of which appear to be her pen names according to a now deleted Linked In profile and this google search cache:

Kay Manning screenshot pennames

Because plagiarism is almost never an isolated instance (more on this later), others began using their google powers, primarily Joanna Bourne and Elizabeth Chadwick. Under Payton Bradshaw, Manning had released a book through MuseIt Up Publishing called “An Early Christmas Present”. The book sold for $2.50. According to the now deleted blog, this “debut” book by Payton Bradshaw was released in December 2011. Joanna Bourne found that this was a nearly word for word copy of Julie Kenner’s freebie “Red Hot Holiday” published by Harlequin. Here are the two excerpts side by side:

Payton Bradshaw’s Copy Julie Kenner’s Original
Karen swallowed. “There he is. Over by Santa’s Village.”Melody sucked in a breath, a warm flush enveloping her entire body just from the thought of seeing Jason again. A sudden overwhelming panic washed over her making it almost impossible to look at him, fearing she’d melt right into the floor.“Go on!” Karen gave her a little push on the shoulder.

“I don’t think I can.” At the moment, she was having trouble even forcing the words past the tightness in her chest.

Karen rolled her eyes. “Forget nerves. This is your last chance, sweetie. Jason’s the only guy I’ve ever known you to be truly hot for. You want this. You deserve this. A last fling before you escape this little hole-in-the-wall town and fly off into the sunset.” She grinned. “Go get ‘em, girl.”

Faith swallowed. “Over there. By Santa’s Village. Brent’s here.”Annie sucked in a breath, a warm flush enveloping her entire body just from the thought of seeing Brent again She was almost afraid to turn and actually look at him, for fear she’d melt right into the floor.”Go on!” Faith gave her a little push on the shoulder.

“I don’t think I can.” At the moment, she was having trouble even forcing the words past her lips.

Faith rolled her eyes. “Forget nerves. This is your last chance. Brent’s the only guy I’ve ever known you to be truly hot for. You want this, and you deserve it. A last fling before you fly off into the sunset.” She grinned. “So go get him, girl.”

 

I contacted MuseIt Up and sent them the aforementioned excerpts. My understanding is that the book was then removed from the MuseIt Up site and that third party retailers are being contacted to get the title pulled.

On a fellow Muse It author’s blog, Kay Manning publishes an excerpt of a book called “A Soldier’s Valentine”. This excerpt was originally found in Catherine Mann’s “An Evening to Remember.”

Kay Manning’s Copy Catherine Mann’s Original
“Go! Go! Go!”Captain Shawn “Iceman” Isaacs hurtled out of the military cargo plane, the crew chief’s order to jump from the C-17 echoing in his ears along with the roaring of engines. The silent sky swallowed him. Arms and legs splayed, he soared down, down, down toward Fryar Drop Zone, the part of Fort Benning Military Reservation located in Alabama.Somewhere in the soft fields below Tammy Lowe waited for him.

Of course, she didn’t know he was one of the guys parachuting this afternoon. Although regularly a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot, he needed the jump to stay current on his training. But she thought he was still deployed to the Middle East.

He’d enlisted her co-workers’ aid to ensure Tammy would come for a Valentine’s surprise—even if Valentine’s Day was still a week away. Thank goodness for the help of her three pals, because no way would she have showed if she learned Shawn would be landing at her feet.

Wind battered his body, the quiet void of endless blue sky filling with thoughts of meeting Tammy the day she’d started her job as a civilian engineering contractor on post. The first time he’d laid eyes on her in the conference room, with all her mahogany hair piled up on her head, he’d burned to set it free.

To his surprise, the reserved academic had said yes to dinner. And yes again to another date.

“Go! Go! Go!”Captain Vince “Novocain” Novak hurtled out of the military cargo plane, the crew chief’s order to jump from the C-17 echoing in his ears along with the roaring of engines. Then the silent sky swallowed him. Arms and legs splayed, he soared down, down, down toward the landing zone at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.A speck of grass in Tampa where McKenzie Rowe waited for him.

Of course she didn’t know he was one of the guys parachuting this afternoon. Although regularly an MH-53 Pave Low helicopter pilot, he was also jump qualified and needed to stay current on his training. But she thought he was still deployed to the Middle East.

He’d enlisted her co-workers’ aid to ensure McKenzie would come for a Valentine’s surprise—even if Valentine’s Day was still a week away. Thank goodness for the help of her three pals, because no way would she have showed if she learned Vince would be landing at her feet.

Wind battered his body, the quiet void of endless blue sky filling with thoughts of meeting McKenzie the day she’d started her job as a civilian engineering contractor on base. The first time he’d laid eyes on her in the conference room, with all her chocolate brown hair piled up on her head, he’d burned to set it free.

To his surprise, the reserved academic had said yes to dinner. And yes again to another date.

 

“Fireworks” by Kay Manning was for sale on Amazon, Sony, iTunes, Kobo and Barnes & Noble for $.99. It appears to be lifted from Valerie Hansen’s “Fireworks.” Manning also participated in NaNoWriMo as Kristal Singletary. According to Bourne, nearly every blog post by Manning as Singletary was lifted from others:

Developing Creative Process Copy Developing Creative Process Original by George Shaw
“Your creative process is a series of steps that you repeat every time you need to create. Simple. The trick is to make the steps fluid and flexible enough to allow you the room you need to create well, while still being structured enough to help you through when you’re having a hard time. An effective process should allow for serendipity—happy accidents are responsible for lots of great writing” “Your creative process is a series of steps that you repeat every time you need to create. Simple. The trick is to make the steps fluid and flexible enough to allow you the room you need to create well, while still being structured enough to help you through when you’re having a hard time. An effective process should allow for serendipity—happy accidents are responsible for lots of great design “

 


Updated x1:

We were only made aware of the accusation about Bear Otter and Kid late last night by one of our authors. The posted comment that Dreamspinner was contacted is false. No one contacted us either by email or through the contact form on our website. While I’ve not seen Shelter, I know the story behind Bear Otter and Kid, and it is semi-autobiographical. While it may follow the general plot line of Shelter, I don’t believe it was copied in any way. We take accusations of plagiarism very seriously and have ordered the movie to make a final determination.

You are welcome to quote any of that if you wish.

Elizabeth

Elizabeth North, Executive Director
Dreamspinner Press
Where Dreams Come True

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com

Update x2:  Klune repudiates any suggestions that “Beat, Otter, and the Kid” was even inspired by Shelter let alone a plagiarism.

Update x3: Dreamspinner has responded saying that it has reviewed the movie and believes that there are significant differences.  The book has been sent to the director of the movie and that the book will be removed from circulation if the director believes it to be too close to the movie.

So yeah. What’s next? M/m author T.J. Klune published “Bear, Otter, and the Kid” through Dreamspinner Press. Unfortunately, the book apparently copies the movie “Shelter” plot point by plot point and, according to this reader, uses the entire lyrics from a song (which is a copyright infringement).

I saw the movie a couple of years ago and this book has the same characters, same story development, same guy-gives-up-scholarship-to-take-care-of-small-child plot. Both the movie and this book even start with the same scene — he’s driving to the airport to pick up his wealthy best friend who is coming home from college for the summer. I watched the movie again after reading this book and there is no mistake that complete scenes, situations, etc. were copied — some almost exactly.

As one commenter noted, movie theaters would get into trouble if they produced a movie based on a book without first buying the rights, this suit notwithstanding. However, film rights are clearly a derivative right of fictional work. Why do would an author or publisher think the reverse is not true?  Apparently Klune is amused by this accusation as he deletes a reader’s request about the reported similarities:

Jaime wrote: “Hey, why was my message deleted :(“

lol, didn’t mean too. Just keeping this drama free. I think you’re funny too. =D

Dreamspinner Press gives instructions on how to turn fan fiction into published work. First step, change the names!

So what do you need to do? Let me spell it out. First, come up with a new name for all of your characters. If one of them is named Jack or Will, you can potentially leave it, but don’t leave more than one because someone will probably know that Jack and Will are from “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

I wonder if Kristal Singletary followed that line of reasoning. I’m not opposed to fan fiction being sold, but let’s be up front about this. Dreamspinner wants its writers to change things just enough to fool the reader. Why not admit what these authors are doing?

We probably won’t be reviewing any more Dreamspinner Press titles. Sarah F and Sunita D, our primary M/M readers have asked to be removed from the review submission list.


Finally, Smashwords is following in the footsteps of Bookstrand and All Romance and pulling titles and putting in new policies restricting the type of content it will distribute. I received this email that was sent to Smashwords authors:

 

On Saturday, February 18, PayPal’s enforcement division contacted Smashwords with an ultimatum. As with the other ebook retailers affected by this enforcement, PayPal gave us only a few days to achieve compliance otherwise they threatened to deactivate our PayPal services. I’ve had multiple conversations with PayPal over the last several days to better understand their requirements. Their team has been helpful, forthcoming and supportive of the Smashwords mission. I appreciate their willingness to engage in dialogue. Although they have tried their best to delineate their policies, gray areas remain.

Their hot buttons are bestiality, rape-for-titillation, incest and underage erotica.

The underage erotica is not a problem for us. We already have some of the industry’s strictest policies prohibiting underage characters (we don’t even allow non-participating minors to appear in erotica), and our vetting team is always on the lookout for “barely legal” content where supposed adults are placed in underage situations.

The other three areas of bestiality, rape and incest were less well-defined in our Terms of Service (https://www.smashwords.com/about/tos) before today. I’ll tackle these one-by-one below, and I’ll provide you a summary of the changes that will go into effect immediately.

*Incest:* Until now, we didn’t have a policy prohibiting incest between consenting adults, or its non-biological variation commonly known as “Pseudo-incest.” Neither did our retailer partners. We’ve noticed a surge of PI books over the last few months, and many of them have “Daddy” in the title. I wouldn’t be surprised if the surge in “Daddy” titles prompted PayPal to pursue this purge (I don’t know). PI usually explores sexual relations between consenting adult stepchildren with their step parents, or between step-siblings. Effectively immediately, we no longer allow incest of any variety in erotica.

Like many writers, censorship of any form greatly concerns me. It is with some reluctance that I have made the decision to prohibit incest-themed erotica at Smashwords. Regardless of your opinion on incest, it’s a slippery slope when we allow others to control what we think and write. Fiction is fantasy. It’s not real. It unfolds in our imagination. I’ve always believed fiction writers and readers should have the freedom to explore diverse topics and situations in the privacy of their own mind. From an imagination perspective, erotica is little different from a literary novel that puts us inside the mind of farm animals (1984), or a thriller novel that puts us inside the mind of a terrorist, or a horror novel that puts us inside the mind of an axe-murderer or their victim. All fiction takes us somewhere. We read fiction to be moved, and to feel. Sometimes we want to feel touched, moved, or disturbed. A reader should have the right to feel moved however they desire to be moved.

Incest, however, carries thorny baggage. The legality of incest is murky. It creates a potential legal liability for Smashwords as our business and our books become more present in more jurisdictions around the world. Anything that threatens Smashwords directly threatens our ability to serve the greater interests of all Smashwords authors, publishers, retailers and customers who rely upon us as the world’s leading distributor of indie ebooks. The business considerations compel me to not fall on the sword for incest. I realize this is an imperfect decision. The slippery slope is dangerous, but I believe this imperfect decision is in the best interest of the community we serve.

*Bestiality:* Until now, we didn’t have a stated policy regarding bestiality. I like animals. Call me old fashioned or hypocritical (I’m not a vegetarian), but I don’t want to be a party to anyone enjoying animals for sexual gratification, for the same reason we’ve never allowed pedophilia books. I don’t want to publish it, sell it, or distribute it. The TOS is now modified to reflect this. Note this does not apply to shape-shifters common in paranormal romance provided the were-creature characters are getting it on in their human form. Sorry I need to clarify it that way, but we don’t want to see bestiality erotica masquerading as paranormal romance.

*Rape:* Although our Terms of Service prohibits books that advocate violence against others, we did not specifically identify rape. This was an oversight on our part. Now we have clarified the policy. We do not want books that contain rape for the purpose of titillation. At Smashwords, rape has no longer has a place in erotica. It has no place anywhere else if the purpose is to titillate. Non-consensual BDSM – or any other form of non-consensual violence against another person – is prohibited.

*NEXT STEPS:* If you have titles at Smashwords that are now expressly forbidden, by the end of day Monday (Feb 27), please click to your Dashboard at https://www.smashwords.com/dashboard and click UNPUBLISH then click ARCHIVE. This will also cause our automated systems to remove the titles from retail distribution.

DO NOT try to hide or obfuscate violating content by changing book titles, book descriptions and tags. If we discover such shenanigans, said authors/publishers will risk account deletion and forfeiture of any accrued earnings, per our Terms of Service.

We take violations of the TOS seriously, because such violations jeopardize the opportunities for your fellow authors.

We do not want to see PayPal clamp down further against erotica. We think our authors should be allowed to publish erotica. Erotica, despite the attacks it faces from moralists, is a category worthy of protection. Erotica allows readers to safely explore aspects of sexuality that they might never want to explore in the real world.

The moralists forget that we humans are all sexual creatures, and the biggest sex organ is the brain. If it were not the case, none of us would be here. Erotica authors are facing discrimination, plain and simple. Topics that are perfectly acceptable in mainstream fiction are verboten in erotica. That’s not fair. Our decisions today are imperfect. Please, act responsibly, don’t try to game the system or publish content that pushes the limits of legality. Help us continue to help indie authors around the world to continue to publish and distribute with freedom.

*THINGS TO AVOID:* Avoid using words such as ‘bestiality,’ ‘rape,’ ‘incest,’ ‘underage,’ or ‘barely legal’ in book titles, book descriptions or keyword tags, otherwise Smashwords may conclude you’re violating the Terms of Service, or trying to push the limits. If you’re writing non-erotic works, and any of these words are necessary, then you’re okay.

On Tuesday (Feb 28) we will begin removing content that we deem in violation. When we remove a title, you will receive an email notifying you of such, and that email will append this letter along with instructions on how to notify us if we made an error. I promise you, we will make mistakes, so please work with us, take a deep breath and honor us with your patience.

If you believe we removed something in error, please click “Comments/questions,” mention the title we removed, provide the hyperlink to said title, and provide your *calm* reasoning for why we should reconsider.

Our support team is backlogged, so it may take several days for them to respond. As we mention in the Terms of Service, we reserve the right to remove anything for any reason. That said, we will also try to make our decisions with care and prudence.

You might wonder if Smashwords should simply switch to a different payment provider. It’s not so easy. PayPal is designed into the wiring of the Smashwords platform. They run the credit card processing for our retail store, and they’re how we pay our authors and publishers. PayPal is also an extremely popular, trusted payment option for our customers. It is not feasible for us to simply switch to another provider, should such a suitable provider even exist, especially with so few days notice.

Please note our Terms of Service is subject to additional modifications as we work to bring Smashwords into compliance with PayPal requirements. Let’s hope today’s actions mark the limit of the slippery slope.

Significant gray area remain. Erotica is still permitted, though if authors try to push the limits of what’s permitted, we risk further clamping down. Please be responsible. Don’t go there. If you’re going to push the limits, push the limits of great writing, not the limits of legality.

Thank you for assisting our compliance efforts on such short notice. We know these decisions will be upsetting to some of our authors and publishers, and for that we apologize. We do believe, however, that these decisions will place us on a stronger footing to represent the best interests all indie authors and publishers from here forward.

Best wishes,

Mark Coker Founder Smashwords

P.S. Please contact our support team for inquiries regarding this change in our Terms of Service by clicking the “comments/questions” link at the top of any page at Smashwords. If your inquiry regards a specific title, please include the hyperlink to the book page of that specific title.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

628 Comments

  1. Gwen Hayes
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 21:59:01

    Oh I did see a deal to day: Making Waves by Tawna Fenske is only 1.79 for Kindle. I really enjoyed the book. http://www.amazon.com/Making-Waves-ebook/dp/B0057H75YK

    ReplyReply

  2. Loosheesh
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 22:16:39

    Oh, give a girl a break – I’m sure she mistakenly (honestly!) put all of these in the wrong folder and thought they were hers she had started a long time ago! Hey, it could happen :-P

    These plagiarism incidences have become so common, they no longer shock me, which is really sad in itself :-(

    ReplyReply

  3. L.K. Rigel
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 22:19:46

    The PayPal development is absolutely chilling.

    ReplyReply

  4. Ann Somerville
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 22:29:57

    @L.K. Rigel:

    “The PayPal development is absolutely chilling. ”

    Maybe but their position on explicit erotica and so on is of long standing. I have friends who had their accounts frozen by Paypal for selling erotic art – not photos – and know of others who had their accounts frozen for selling erotic writing. Frankly, I’m surprised it’s taken this long for Paypal to flex its muscle (it’s partly due to credit companies and their higher fees for ‘adult’ services.)

    Selfishly, I’m *delighted* that Smashwords won’t be publishing those horrible Pseudo incest books any more. It’s incredibly off putting to go to the home page and see page after page of the damn things and their icky covers, and it’s just another reason for readers to avoid Smashwords books and its bookstore.

    As for bestiality and rape for titillation, these are restrictions that most sensible publishers impose, even erotica publishers, so this again isn’t ground-breaking.

    My country, Australia, is quite restrictive regarding adult material compared to the USA, so I’m not as bothered as those of you living under the American constitution might be. After all, I can be jailed for just downloading underage Harry Potter erotic fanfiction. This edict from Smashwords is weak sauce in comparison.

    ReplyReply

  5. Kay Manning
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 22:31:43

    I’ve gone back and forth on how to address this for several hours. A personal blog post would not be seen by enough people. Nor would a response to Ms. Fielding’s blog. When Dear Author posted this blog, I felt it was the answer I’d been looking for. I couldn’t find a more public place than this.

    To all the authors, publishers, and editors I stole from, I am sorry. There is no excuse. All distributors have been notified and those I couldn’t take down/remove myself are being removed by the third party as soon as possible.

    To all the authors, publishers, and editors I’ve met and known over the years, I am sorry. I know you will never forgive me and you shouldn’t.

    To anyone associated with the Kiss of Death Chapter, you can be assured that all funds relating to the chapter are well managed and controlled by a dedicated President and Board. I have not had access to any accounts where wrongdoing could have occurred without their immediate and swift action.

    Finally, so there is no misunderstanding. I am a thief, a plagiarist. I am not an author.

    ReplyReply

  6. Emma Petersen
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 22:43:32

    Ms. Manning,

    I am not excusing what you did, but I do feel for you. I wouldn’t be who I am if I didn’t. I’ve been plagiarized and it didn’t feel good. I actually felt violated. Dramatic or not, that’s how I felt. I don’t know why you did what you did but all I can do is hope there is a lesson in this for all of us and that none of the pain any of the parties suffered, including you, was in vain. I wish I could give you a hug. I’ve never been in your shoes but I know this entire situation sucks, whether it was of your own making or not. If you need an ear or a shoulder, please feel free to email me. (emma at emmapetersen dot com)

    ReplyReply

  7. Melissa Stevens
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 22:46:50

    So let me get this straight.

    When a thief and plagiarist is caught the protocol is to deny, deny, deny, make excuses, deny some more, and when and only when confronted with irrefutable proof in a very public manner does the criminal acknowledge their own wrong doing, and apologize.

    And that’s all that happens?

    Seems that if there were more substantial consequences for the crime then it would happen with less frequency.

    ReplyReply

  8. angel Graham
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 22:49:32

    @Kay
    I’m hurt. I trusted you. Yes, a thief. A liar. I don’t know how to trust you about anything anymore.

    I feel so betrayed. I trusted you so much. I looked up to you. I believed in you. I wanted to write like you.

    I do forgive you, however, I am a smart person. I won’t trust you again. I will forgive…I cannot forget.

    *sigh* I wonder if I should trust anyone anymore. Any of the authors we’ve mutually known. I will. I have to. I can’t lose myself. I can’t lose my faith in other people.

    No matter all this…I will say, I’m very worried for you personally. This WILL affect your life, in all aspects, whether you know it or not. You have lost your reputation, many friends, people who loved and trusted and cared for you. I worry that as the stress piles on, as you read what will be some of the most horrible things about you, that you won’t harm yourself in any way…or worse. Even with all this, please…take care of you. Let people say what they will now. You’ve addressed it here….now, step back and sit the whole mess out.

    DO NOT do this again. Please. I’m begging you. Don’t hurt more people. Don’t demean yourself anymore than you have.

    angel out.

    ReplyReply

  9. library addict
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 22:52:26

    I don’t understand how in this day and age people think they won’t get caught.

    Then again, nothing really happens when they do. Janet Dailey is still publishing after admitting she plagiarized Nora Roberts. She even has Aspen Gold one of the books with plagiarized passages up for sale in digital format. There is no mention at Amazon, Sony, etc that the book has been rewritten to remove the plagiarized parts. I’m not sure of this was one of the books already out of print or if it was pulled by the original publisher back when Dailey’s plagiarism first came to light, but it seems wrong she’s still able to profit from it.

    ReplyReply

  10. Shiloh Walker
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 23:03:15

    @Melissa Stevens: Actually, Melissa… most just make more excuses, lie or hide and never address it. :0/

    I know that’s what happened when I was plagiarized over the summer.

    I can’t recall a single time when I’ve seen a plagiarist step up and offer a bluntly stated apology with no excuses or rationalizations.

    It doesn’t excuse anything or make anything right. Still, it took guts to do it.

    ReplyReply

  11. Jane
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 23:03:24

    @Kay Manning Thank you for your real apology. I can see by your apology that you recognize that it will not be enough for some but I do appreciate the seeming sincerity and acceptance of responsibility.

    ReplyReply

  12. Moira Reid
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 23:06:34

    And…what happens next? This apology reminds me of that line from Gone With The Wind:
    Rhett Butler: You’re like the thief who isn’t the least bit sorry he stole, but is terribly, terribly sorry he’s going to jail.

    If she’d come into my house and taken things, she would be headed to jail. Instead, it’s 1′s and 0′s and bits and bytes…so what happens? She apologizes, disappears, and then…

    I fear, shows up somewhere else later under another name.

    I wish I didn’t sound so cold-hearted, but I’m kind of over people who know better, who can’t be confused on what the world is pretty clear on in terms of morality or lack thereof–then intentionally take time and effort–and do it anyway… Oh, and then they feel soooo bad when they get caught. Yeah, well. Do feel bad. You screwed up. Intentionally. And you took money the real writer earned from her own hard work.

    Want to impress me? Do something about it. Turn over the money you stole to the person you stole it from. Then, I’ll see that apology in a new light.

    ReplyReply

  13. Pam
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 23:06:50

    @Kay Manning When I hear about this other places I will remember that you apologized and you seem real. Thank you for accepting responsibility.

    ReplyReply

  14. Jane
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 23:29:44

    @Melissa Stevens: I think everyone has the right to feel angered in this situation and your reaction is perfectly understandable and justifiable. I hope you don’t think that I am diminishing or dismissing someone’s right to be angered over this.

    That said I think tre apologies are rare and I wanted to recognize that as well.

    ReplyReply

  15. library addict
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 23:31:54

    @Moira Reid: I agree she’s sorry because she’s been caught.

    But as other have said, this is the first time I have seen someone apologize without making stupid excuses, accept responsibility and acknowledge she was 100% wrong. I am glad to see it.

    ReplyReply

  16. Sunita
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 23:33:58

    @Kay Manning: It takes guts to make a real apology, pure and unvarnished. I respect you for that.

    I disagree, though, that this is the only place you need to make it. You didn’t steal from DA. You stole from individual authors. Liz Fielding, among others, definitely deserves a public apology at her blog, in my opinion.

    I feel bad for you. But as a reader who didn’t know you existed until Liz Fielding brought you to my attention, you’ve only harmed me indirectly, by harming a community of which I’m a member and which I value. The authors and publishers (and the readers who believed in you) are different.

    This probably sounds harsh. But I’m a big believer in the idea that forgiveness only comes from two sources. The one you have direct access to is the one you directly harmed.

    ReplyReply

  17. L.K. Rigel
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 23:35:30

    @Ann Somerville:

    Ann, I agree with your comment. I don’t like the icky stuff either. What I find chilling is that the money exchanger, not the merchant, can make such a decision. PayPal is, after all, basically a bank. So now a bank gets to decide what customers can buy or merchants can sell?

    The decision is only palatable because they’re cutting off stuff people mostly find abhorrent. What if they next decide they won’t allow stuff that glorifies liberal politics to be sold, or atheists to have accounts?

    Maybe I’m being alarmist. I don’t know.

    ReplyReply

  18. James Buchanan
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 23:35:48

    @Jane:
    that’s an apology? I GOT CAUGHT so NOW I’m sorry? THAT’s not an apology.

    Apologies come before you get called out for things. Once you get caught with your hand in the cookie jar it’s too late to say, “may I please have a cookie?”

    ReplyReply

  19. Gwen Hayes
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 23:35:52

    The whole situation is icky, but the apology helps. She could have just disappeared and never said another word online. There may be more consequences for her, considering her real name has been publicly outed.

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  20. Moriah Jovan
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 23:39:11

    @L.K. Rigel: Actually, Paypal is NOT a bank and they spend a lot of time in Washington lobbying to keep from being defined and thus regulated like a bank. They have far more latitude than banks do.

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  21. Moriah Jovan
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 23:40:47

    @James Buchanan: The admission and apology come before the lawsuits. In 5… 4… 3… 2…

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  22. Fae
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 23:41:02

    Sorry, she had a chance to apologize when it’d mean something but instead made up yet more lies about thinking she wrote it herself. Please, I’ve written over a million words in the last couple of years and I assure you I’ve never forgotten I wrote something. The only reason she’s apologizing now is because there’s no more denying when her lies upon lies have been revealed as well. There’s nothing but the truth now, which is the only reason she’s turning to it.

    If she wants to make this apology mean anything at all, I expect to be hearing about how she sent these authors checks for the full amount of royalties she got (for the books that weren’t free). Maybe then an apology would be believable. Until she gives back what she stole, she’s just a thief who got caught.

    Do we accept the apology of a car thief as he drives around in the car he stole and has no intention of returning?

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  23. Shelly
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 23:46:52

    That Smashwords policy is incredibly offensive. No fantasies of anything illegal now? I bet they still allow glorified crimes of other types in what they sell. So they’re only focusing on the erotic. Because god knows, it’s always better to hide and shun such things rather than have them out where people can talk about them. And thinking about something is as good as doing it. *rolls eyes*

    I’m ashamed that people today are allowing themselves to be bullied into taking such actions. The slippery slope is a real danger, and we’re partway down it.

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  24. L.K. Rigel
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 23:59:19

    @Moriah Jovan:

    That makes sense (that they would do that).

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  25. Merrian
    Feb 24, 2012 @ 23:59:33

    @L.K. Rigel: My understanding is that this is driven by insurance issues and credit card fraud. The rationale lies in the high level of credit card fraud associated with porn on the internet. Rather than deal with the fraud and insurance claims that come with that, PayPal doesn’t provide services to any porn related sites.

    Having noted that, it is how PayPal defines porn that is a really important issue, because the line on which something is porn or is erotica is arbitrary. I am not sure where Cara McKenna’s rape fantasy book would fall or some of Cherise Sinclair’s Shadowlands club books for example and I can think of one of Lynn Lorenz’ that definitely slips over the line under the criteria listed above.

    While Smashwords have attempted to define what this all means for their authors it does seem like PayPal’s definition is along the lines of ‘they know it when they see it’. I am concerned that anything with BDSM in the tags and story is at risk here, missing the point of safe, sane & consensual. In a way I think the biggest impact is on the more mainstream erotica writers who will feel they have to write safer. The porn writers and publishers will have platforms elsewhere.

    edited: just had another thought that these rules will have arisen with visual porn sites – where it is very clear what porn is. The complexity of human sexuality is much more in play in text form where subjectivity rules.

    As to more general censorship we are always at risk of that depending on who/what controls the channels of communication we use. As long as it is in their interests to be hands off they will be. This is a timely reminder that these channels are vulnerable to pressure and to governments.

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  26. James Buchanan
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 00:00:43

    @Gwen Hayes:
    as an author…no, not “after the fact.” It doesn’t help.

    Author’s are magpies, we collect phrases, snippets, bits…they stick in our brains. I could forgive a turn of phrase or a descriptive sentence. The big chunks, that’s not sticking, that’s cut and paste.

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  27. SAO
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 00:01:35

    I don’t know how you separate rape for titillation from the rest. I remember seeing a cheap newspaper in England which appeared to use police and wire reports of rape for titillation. The paper was clearly aimed at men, and the accounts detailed, but dry. In another context, they’d have been news. Sandwiched between ads for escort services, the impression was quite different.

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  28. L.K. Rigel
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 00:03:56

    @Merrian:

    Some would define making children fight each other to the death while an audience looks on for the sheer enjoyment of it all as porn.

    ReplyReply

  29. James Buchanan
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 00:04:01

    @Merrian:
    As an author I will tell you that the US Supreme Court’s definition of Porn is still, “I know it when I see it.”

    It’s all up to the reader to call it as they as they see it…

    Private companies can still do as they want.

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  30. Melissa Blue
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 00:04:51

    I can respect the apology. Rarely have I ever seen someone come forth without any excuses. Never. (Notwithstanding the first “apology” which was complete and utter B.S. “See what happened was I thought I tossed this together and then I tossed it around some more and then slapped it on the ‘Nets.”)

    But when you do something of this magnitude nothing will ever be enough. Apologizing doesn’t change the act. Never will and that’s what the people Manning stole from want. That’s the people who trusted her want, for this to all go away. For this to have never happened in the first damn place.

    This is just a mess and for what?

    As for the PayPal thing…Ok. I get PayPal can’t sell certain things without paying huge amounts of money. I don’t see them as the bad guy. If these companies don’t like the terms and conditions PayPal has set out why don’t they take their business elsewhere? The thing is these companies don’t want to pay the money either for the content.

    They make it clear without weasel words PayPal is making us do it. And then say, well we don’t like this stuff either. Not really. Remember though BLAME PAYPAL. *eyeroll* Well, except for Bookstrand that just lied through its teeth altogether.

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  31. AM Gray
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 00:09:17

    I just recently started publishing with Smashwords and was concerned by the number of weird titles for erotic stories. I write erotica but avoid rape, bestiality and incest myself. As Mark Coker said in his message, the writers have waved red flags with the obvious titles that suggest incest and rape. Society is against these things too, not just Smashwords. But I kind of agree with @LKRigel – at what point do they extend into other things.
    Re: the plagiarism… yeah, you got caught and now you’re sorry. But you made money off someone else’s words and you’ve done it before. I’m betting you’ll do it again under another name…

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  32. Ms T.
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 00:50:16

    @Ann Somerville:

    Ann,

    As abhorent as you may find it, what is icky to you is erotic to someone else. Paypal has made a considerable sum I’m sure from the content that they’ve suddenly decided is “objectionable.” I don’t believe that they’ve suddenly had a breakthrough in content detection that enables them to see what they couldn’t last fiscal quarter.

    A larger concern is that if they can start with someone else’s kink and get away with it, what happens when your thing comes under fire? I would rather support things that I don’t personally find erotic, than to create a precedent for a company to decide what I can or can’t have reasonable access to.

    Yes, their monopoly does take away my reasonable access to erotica of my choosing.

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  33. John
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 00:51:29

    For Smashwords I think Mr. Coker was just looking for an excuse to ban those things. Notice he didn’t protest the move at all, he in fact DEFENDED it and said he was bothered by those things as well. I am sure that Paypal makes thousands of dollars a week (if not day) off of smashwords. Coker could have stood up to them, or he could have taken this incident and used it to start a new competitor to Paypal and enlisted all of the other sites that are being censored.
    Also, anyone find it interesting that Gay erotica and porn is being left completely alone? Paypal fears the gay community, but then again a LOT of gay people work there as they’re in the bay. I also find the excuse of ‘well Visa and MC are forcing this on them’ to be a rather blatant lie. ANYONE who does a lot of business with Paypal has their account tied to their bank account. So I’m fairly certain the majority of their transactions don’t deal with any credit card service.
    So much for our left wing friends being bastions of free speech, isn’t it? You’d think all of the people involved were bible thumping right wing christians – only they’re not.

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  34. Susan
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 00:53:20

    @L.K. Rigel:

    Look, I’m just a reader, so I may not have much standing in this discussion, but I totally agree with you. This has the potential to be just the first step down a scary path. Who gets to be the judge of what’s permissible, and where does it end?

    I said in a previous posting that the kinds of things being targeted are frequently found in more “mainstream” genres without a ripple of concern. Many mysteries/thrillers, for instance, include scenes of horrifically graphic violence, sometimes sexual. Perhaps the only difference is that they’re not the primary focus of the story. But they are employed for maximum shock value and, yes, possibly titillation. (I can’t claim to be well-versed in the kinds of erotica being targeted but the little I’ve seen seems pathetically silly compared to some other stuff out there.) If a powerful business is successful with enforcing their restrictions on one group of books/ideas, what’s to keep them from expanding to others?

    This material is published in books that people have to make a conscious decision to buy. It’s not being distributed on the streetcorner, put on billboards, shown on TV, read out loud over the radio, whatever, where people can be exposed to it without choice. If someone does choose to buy those written words, they go on to live only in the reader’s mind. And people’s minds are like Vegas–whatever happens there stays there. It’s private, and should be safe from governmental, religious, or business control.

    You could say that businesses have a right to sell or not sell whatever they like. But these businesses aren’t making the decision independently; the decision is being forced on them by an online payment processor of all things.

    You could also say that there are other avenues by which the books can be sold. But once doors start being closed, what’s to keep more of them from closing, right up to the point where all of them are closed and the authors/publishers are effectively silenced?

    I know this material is repugnant to many (most?) people, but I just don’t like the idea of censoring words–written or spoken–that aren’t actively endangering people. (Fire!)

    Sorry for being so long-winded. I’m obviously more passionate than articulate (reader, not writer), but this is something I feel strongly about.

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  35. Ms T.
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 01:05:43

    @L.K. Rigel:

    “The decision is only palatable because they’re cutting off stuff people mostly find abhorrent.”

    I don’t believe this statement is as accurate as you may believe. According to this article http://bit.ly/yIEFnA approximately 40% of women have what falls under “rape fantasies”.

    The things that most people find abhorrent, like child rape, were already prohibited.

    I am firmly convinced that if they will start here, they will go on to flex more unchecked power wherever they can.

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  36. Ms T.
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 01:11:45

    @John:

    John, I don’t think that we read the same information at all. I have erotica published at Smashwords and the letter states that once they received notice on the 18th they began contacting Paypal for clarification on its terminology. Their payment platform is built around Paypal so to say they should immediately be able to offer an alternative is a bit unrealistic.

    I’ve been researching non-Paypal options and the truth is in the short term a lot of people are stuck between a rock and a hard place. There are other payment processing companies out there, but they either charge fees that are beyond most indie authors or they built their business model on Paypal’s with those nebulous references to objectionable.

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  37. John
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 01:12:56

    @Ms T.:
    They already are. BDSM is now being banned, spring-fall romances are banned, (but only het, not gay), shifter romances are going to be scrutinized and if they don’t pass they’ll be banned. A lot of erotica is probably going to get banned now too.
    People should go to the smashwords facebook page and let their feelings be known.

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  38. J.S. Wayne
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 01:15:32

    I see a very real and tangible danger in PayPal’s heavy-handed maneuvering here. Yes, today it’s that icky stuff that makes people uncomfortable. Okay. But what about tomorrow, when they go after BDSM? Or YA? Or GLBTQ? Or your favorite genre here? Whatever you think of “that kind” of writing, the next time “that kind” could be YOUR kind.
    There is a petition circulating right now to try to get PayPal and credit card companies to stop this behavior before it gets any more out of hand. You can find it at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/7/stop-internet-censorship/ .
    I hate to sound alarmist, but by allowing them to get away with the uncomfortable stuff, it offers them more power to do with as they wish. What’s next?
    As my friend Renee Vickers said: When you stifle conversation about a given topic, you also stifle conversation AGAINST that topic.

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  39. John
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 01:16:50

    @Ms T.:
    They could put a MasterCard / Visa system into effect within a couple of days. It’s not like it’s rocket science, it’s a simple plug in. Coker has made a LOT of money off of the porn authors, and now he just throws them under the bus. I write hard sci-fi and some romance as a change of pace. Is my paranormal romance now going to get the ax? Because the guys in it are shifters?
    It would be nice if Coker had some Principles, but then who does in the Bay anymore?

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  40. John
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 01:19:56

    scratch going to smashword’s page. they’re deleting any and all comments about the change. Might be time to take my books elsewhere.

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  41. Ann Somerville
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 01:40:43

    @John:

    “BDSM is now being banned”

    Not remotely true.

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  42. Anonny
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 01:45:04

    @ John “Also, anyone find it interesting that Gay erotica and porn is being left completely alone? Paypal fears the gay community, but then again a LOT of gay people work there as they’re in the bay. ”

    and

    “So much for our left wing friends being bastions of free speech, isn’t it? You’d think all of the people involved were bible thumping right wing christians – only they’re not.”

    You are 100 percent right. Don’t have to be thumping on a bible to come off homophobic.

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  43. John
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 01:47:18

    @Ann Somerville:
    from: http://selenakitt.com/blog/index.php/2012/02/19/slippery-slope-erotica-censo
    rship/

    This excerpt is from the author’s conversation with paypal for their ebook site:

    Under the Acceptable Use Policy, PayPal may not be used to send or receive payments for certain sexually oriented materials or services or for items that could be considered obscene.

    When I asked if “pseudo-incest” was included (since that was mostly all we had on the site) the representative confirmed that yes, that would have to be removed. “What about BDSM?” I asked–a category full of dubious consent. “That would have to be removed as well.”

    That’s right–they weren’t just targeting illegal acts between non-consenting adults. Now they were targeting legal sex between consenting adults.

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  44. Ann Somerville
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 01:47:21

    @Ms T.:
    “what is icky to you is erotic to someone else”

    Absolutely, and as I write some BDSM, I’m wary of what Paypal might do next. However, their restrictions are at this moment narrow, and the reason plausible. They’re going to have trouble enforcing a wider restriction, and they know it.

    My concern with the PI content at Smashwords is that it’s oftentimes very dominant in the listing, so it looks like SW is just another porn/erotica publisher. The covers are cheesy, the titles really quite sick-making, and they give a poor impression.

    Look, the hottest story I know is a bestiality fic. Never fails to get me off. I am so not into real life bestiality, and I abhor it as animal cruelty. I am content for people to write whatever fictional fantasies they like, up to and including murdering and raping babies, because better that they write it out than execute it. Though you can be damn sure I don’t want to read it or see it, I think it shouldn’t be easily available to anyone else, and if you write material like that, I’m going to stay very far away from you.

    I don’t want bestiality or incest stories, or worse, on the front page of *my* publisher, whoever they are. People have enough misconceptions and prejudices about self-pubbed authors as it is. I also don’t want to pay more in fees so Mark Coker can afford a different payment gatement which allows explicit adult content, just so SW can publish these kinds of stories. Paypal won’t allow them, regardless of my personal feelings.

    Paypal does in fact suck. . No question. But Coker has a site to run for thousands of authors, and he’s entitled to be skeeved personally by certain topics.

    @John: “They could put a MasterCard / Visa system into effect within a couple of days. ”

    Yes. And it would cost them a lot of money. A *lot* of money. I know because I build websites for a living, and I know how expensive setting up your own payment gateway can be.

    Your perception of Smashwords and Mark Coker is very much at odds with mine, and I’ve been with SW for two years now. I find him tolerant and accomodating, and he really, really doesn’t have a problem with BDSM, gay fiction or erotica.

    “Is my paranormal romance now going to get the ax? Because the guys in it are shifters?”

    Why don’t you ask him instead of throwing around accusations?

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  45. John
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 01:48:54

    @Anonny:
    I’m gay. Just making an observation.

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  46. annabeth albert
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 03:00:03

    How do we know that the *real* Kay Manning wrote the apology? If its her, then I suppose her apology is deserving of respect, but I see it as a ploy to garner sympathy and direct anger & attention away from what she did. If its not illegal or sue-able, it should be. And I don’t think a public apology should deter the affected authors from seeking damages. Should embezzlers who apologize when caught get off? I don’t think so. The apology does *sound* sincere, but how do you trust the sincerty of someone who stole so many works so blatantly? I’m not sure you can. If underlying mental health issues are at work here, I hope she seeks treatment. And I hope she returns the money. That might be proof of sincerty. She does deserve an RWA ban too.

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  47. S.A. Garcia
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 03:18:08

    I am a Dreamspinner author with three original novellas released with them. The news about a certain DSP author reaping in the benefits by creative theft is distressing, especially when his next book is , of course, ringing all the bells and whistles.

    I swear I want to give up.

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  48. Dani Alexander
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 03:26:09

    I’m sorry, did I read right that Sunita and Sarah will no longer be reviewing for this site at all? Or no longer reviewing DSP? Or just no longer reviewing m/m genre?

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  49. S.A. Garcia
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 03:36:44

    @James Buchanan:

    Exactly. How can anyone justify, “whoops, I found this story and thought I wrote it?”

    A writer knows their cadence, their speech patterns, their words, their thoughts.

    Plus a naming convention helps. “SG_11-09_xxxxx. Guess I am too damned organized.

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  50. Jayne
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 03:45:37

    @Dani Alexander: They won’t review any more DSP books.

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  51. Dani Alexander
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 03:57:31

    @Jayne: Whew! Okay, near-heartfailure avoided. Back to your regularly scheduled program.

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  52. Anonny
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 04:00:36

    @John “I’m gay. Just making an observation.”

    This fact just means you didn’t intend to come across in the way I read it.

    ” Paypal fears the gay community, but then again a LOT of gay people work there as they’re in the bay.”

    This still makes my eye twitch. What is the fear? Backlash of being perceived prejudice? If they are coming down hard on people who are giving them money (lots of it) I doubt fear of perception is going to derail this money train.

    Just because the fiction, erotic or not, is gay doesn’t automatically toss it into the incest, rape for titillation and bestiality group. Despite the way some publishers word their no-no, we don’t take not ever guidelines.

    Which is how I read your comment. But, being gay you are fully aware you don’t belong in that same group. So my view of your comment was too just an observation. I’ll admit I was wrong if that’s the case. No biggie.

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  53. Ann Somerville
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 04:18:00

    @John:

    ““What about BDSM?” I asked–a category full of dubious consent. “That would have to be removed as well.””

    If BDSM is occuring in a story *without* consent, then it’s not BDSM. It’s a rape/domination fantasy or some such. “Dubious consent” is a polite term for rape in erotica. You can’t put rape fic under a BDSM banner and expect it to escape this scrutiny.

    Mark Coker explicitly states “Non-consensual BDSM – or any other form of non-consensual violence against another person – is prohibited.”

    [This is of course badly worded as it seems to ban any kind of violence other than that imposed by consent, yet I doubt murder mysteries and actioners are prohibited.]

    ‘Non-consensual’ – not consensual BDSM. Which is what *I* write. I’m sure Sarah Frantz can explain the concept of Safe Sane and Consensual better than I can.

    Mark Coker has spent a week clarifying terms with Paypal, so I’ll take his interpretation of what Paypal want over Selena’s brief interaction. I’ve also written to Smashwords/Mark C for clarification. If indeed all BDSM is banned, well, there’s not a lot I can do about it. Mark is entitled to run his business the way he wants to or needs to. Paypal have thrown their weight around for years and no one has been able to make them back down. Blaming Smashwords for Paypal’s demands is unreasonable. Calling Mark homophobic over this is just nasty.

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  54. Maili
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 04:48:57

    I’m glad that Sunita, SarahF and DA won’t be reviewing Dreamspinner Press books until further notice. At least until DSP revises its submission policy on the reworked fanfic works and the ‘original’ works that heavily borrowed from films and comics.

    It’s not fun or cute to get to the point where I read the blurb of a new DSP book and wonder if it’s another rip-off or a reworked fanfic piece. I mean, many DSP books I read seemed to rip off comics and films, which has me nicknaming DSP ‘Dreamripoffer Press’. This can’t be good for other DSP authors who don’t go down to either route.

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  55. Sue Brown
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 05:03:44

    Many authors come into publishing via fanfiction. It doesn’t mean that every one of their books is a rip off of tv shows/films. Penalising other authors from DSP for one perceived (I haven’t read the book, I cannot judge) plagiarism is an extreme backlash.

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  56. Max
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 05:10:38

    Paypal needs to get a grip. I do sell my fan fiction, but my own fan fiction which is often so far from the original anyway. I’ve never been comfortable doing fan works for Western media anyway. The laws and expectations are different than with Japanese fandoms.

    I wish there were enough of us to really do something about paypal. I really hate the idea that violence is okay, but sex between consenting adults or the fantasies about other adults that adults have are bad somehow. Sex is good and healthy. Reading about sex is good for you, if you feel inclined to read about sex.

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  57. Dani Alexander
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 05:24:04

    Sue,

    Let me state for the record that, although I’m self-published, I love publishing houses. And I support almost every publishing house out there, including e-publishers. I did not self-publish because I have a disdain for traditional publishing. I think it’s important to say I’ve spent nearly $150 in books at DSP over the last year and half before I add:
    I believe that Dreamspinnerpress is sabotaging the m/m market and gay romance. This is not the fault of their authors, who have been creative, original and moving. The authors aren’t the problem. When an author brings a book to a publishing house, they do so in order to make their book better. This is why there are publishing houses. They don’t just wrap it in a beautiful cover, they have editors and proofreaders to make the inside just as gorgeous.

    In an effort to hungrily snarf up as much profits as possible, DSP has used their previously good reputation to begin flooding the market with haphazardly edited (if edited at all) material. In fact, as I recently read (and suspected from the last 4 titles I bought), DSP has not been using editors on every project and has relied on free beta readers.

    Readers should expect quality. Period. And company after company is taking advantage of the niche market in m/m publishing to shove as much out there, as quickly as possible. If it weren’t for companies like Samhain and Riptide Publishing, I would despair that the m/m market was going to lose reader after reader, not because of a disinterest in gay and lesbian romance, but because of poorly crafted stories.

    The saddest part is the beautiful stories out there which aren’t uplifted and crafted into romance art, but which languish in mediocrity. All because DSP no longer cares about quality. I don’t know if that’s true about their bigger authors. I do know it’s true about the last few books I’ve purchased from them. And now I’ve stopped handing them my money. I’d rather give it to Samhain, Carina, MLR and Riptide Publishing.

    -Dani

    PS: I, unfortunately, still buy from DSP because a few of their authors are just aut0-buy from me. Their stories are just too good to boycott the company.

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  58. Sarah Frantz
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 05:57:29

    I’m definitely still reviewing here at Dear Author. :) And with Dreamspinner, it’s not just this. It’s a convergence of terrible editing and editorial choices, the open solicitation of fanfic with the serial numbers filed off, to the extent (as Jane links above) of telling authors how to file off the serial numbers, and the many times I’ve been burned with repurposed fanfic, even if the stories are great. The “novelization” of BEAR, OTTER, AND THE KID, is even more egregious to me than the repurposed fanfic, because the copyright violations are more obviously illegal (to my mind). And just…all of it together and I can’t in all good conscience support them anymore by reviewing their books. And I’ve been recommending to authors for months to go somewhere else besides DSP. I regret all the honest authors we’ll miss from them, but hopefully they’ll eventually move to another house.

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  59. Sue Brown
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 06:16:09

    @Dani

    Thank you for the extended reply.

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  60. Lissa Kasey
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 07:22:06

    Unfortunately, I’ve been seeing a lot of the plagurism thing and it scares the crap out of me as a writer and an author. I agree with Sue about the whole DSP thing. As one of their writers I know they do edit. I get some content editing thought not much, I also have an army of beta readers I use before it goes to the publisher.

    I believe boycotting a publisher because they said something about fan fiction is a bit extreme. I don’t write fan fiction and probably 90% of their authors don’t. They publish a lot of great titles and sure some bad ones. That’s true for every publisher.

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  61. KT Grant
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 07:26:59

    Revised fan fiction is going to increase and sell like gangbusters, especially if a fan fic writer has a big enough fan base. Take Fifty Shades of Gray by EL James as an example. It’s been on the NY Times list for the 3rd week now in paperback fiction in the top 30. This week is made the NY Times ebook list at number 26. Because of this I can promise you writers who write fan fiction will try and sell it, and publishers will accept it because it will sell and sell well.

    The year of 2012 seems to be plagiarizing self-published authors and fan fiction going legit, allowing these fan fic writers to make a profit off of it. I thought it was a well known unwritten rule for writing fan fiction is not to sell it for a profit?

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  62. Sue Brown
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 07:34:07

    If a book openly plagiarises a movie/book/tv programme then I can understand the outrage, but I cannot understand the need to criticise authors of all genres for using their fanfiction stories, mainly of which bear no relation to the original source, as the start of their published career.

    If there is no copyright infringement then there is no issue.

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  63. Emma Petersen
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 07:44:19

    @Moira Reid:
    I caught another student plagiarizing my work. I thought it was just a one-time occurrence but I started snooping and found she had copied a total of 17. I was angry but I didn’t react immediately because even though what she did was f*cked up beyond f*cked up, I am very aware of the consequences in academia for plagiarism.

    I know it’s not anyone’s responsibility to protect plagiarists but…what made me hesitate is the WHY. Why do people plagiarize? Laziness? Avarice? Or self-esteem that’s so incredibly bad they don’t think they are capable of validity. They don’t believe their voice is worthy of being heard because they aren’t intelligent enough, articulate enough…just enough. *That* is why I hesitated, because I had the power to ruin someone’s life over an incredible stupid mistake. Before I turned the student in, I needed to know some things. Once I found out those things, I took a few days and really weighed everything out, then made a decision.

    Maybe it is old age that is making me soft but the world we live in is hard. So every time I have to make a decision about something that will affect someone’s life or livelihood I tread carefully. We’re human beings. We mess up, intentionally and unintentionally. Does that mean we’re not worthy of another chance? I’m not saying that plagiarists shouldn’t be caught and/or punished. I’m just saying that the ramifications and pain extends to both sides. A plagiarist is still a person, still has feelings and in my opinion those feelings aren’t any less real because the person who has them made a horrible mistake.

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  64. Theresa Milstein
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 07:52:24

    It’s interesting how well this was policed by commenters/readers. How many of these plagiarisms occur that aren’t caught?

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  65. Sirius
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 07:56:45

    I was scared myself when I read that Sunita and Sarah won’t be reviewing anymore and I am glad to hear that they won’t be reviewing Dreamspinner stuff anymore. I am quite fed up with this publisher myself,although I am not planning on completely stop buying from them. Sadly several authors I like a lot are still with them and I definitely want to support those authors. I cannot make a judgment on latest plagiarism scandal, but have the book and try to persevere through very soon ( could not manage more than few pages when I bought it). But as to reworking fan fiction – I can state with absolute certainty that a lot more than one of their authors do that. Off the top of my head I can name five or six works that people uncovered as being former fanfictions. And I am actually of more relaxed view about publishing former fanfiction – I think when au story is written in the first place and characters are almost unrecognisable, there was not much of fanfiction there to begin with, but mostly original story. So to me sometimes such stories draw very fine line between being inspired by the work and fanfiction. Having said that, that still should not happen as a rule IMO, as the policy of the publishing house?! Should not your first thought as a writer be that you are going to create original story and not that you will rework tour fanfiction to sell? I am not a writer but i feel that i am missing something very obvious here. I used to read tons of fanfiction when I was in Harry Potter fandom, including slash (no i never wrote it) and I loved it, still do, but unless your characters and story are only vaguely inspired by that world, without original work your story would have never existed, right? I mean that article by their editor giving tips how to lie and make sure that your former fanfiction is unrecognisable by fans just makes my head hurt a lot. And do not get me started on content editing and copy editing of this publisher. Sigh. So yeah totally understand why both Sunita and Sarah are fed up.

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  66. Charles Wells
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 08:02:39

    I’m a suspsene thriller author.. on Amazon and Smashwords and their outlets as well. All of my books are rated PG.. but I will stand by the rights of Romance Writers and Erotic stories.. just because I don’t read them or even like them, doesn’t mean I disagree with the ‘moralist” deciding what can or can’t be published. Let the writers write.. let the moralist complain.. but never let one run over or silence the other.
    Chas Wells Author Whispering Pines

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  67. Sirius
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 08:13:43

    Sue Brown, I confess I do not understand how fanfiction could have no relation to its original source. By definition IMO it always does have such a relation. As I said in my previous post I know of fanfiction stories that originally were just inspired by the source, so those I could forgive being published, those to me were originally bad fanfictions but good original stories, but they are still inspired by the source. I have no problem with inspiration, original works are inspired by something else too all the time IMO. There was another fanfiction scandal last year (or was it in 2010) with loved and popular Dreamspinner work as being a former fanfiction (and it was). I still love that book, I have no problem with it being published, because I have not recognized original characters and to me that’s the key pretty much, but even in that story people found some similarities which IMO make it the work at least influenced by the source a lot.

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  68. Mireya
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 08:41:46

    Selling fan fiction… let the lawsuits begin…

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  69. K. Z. Snow
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 08:44:24

    Well, damn . . . Where and when exactly did Dreamspinner post these “instructions”? I’m sincerely curious. This is the first time I’ve seen the issue come up. I’ve never written or read a word of fanfic — have no interest in it whatsoever — so maybe I’m out of the loop. (Oops, never mind; I just found your link.)

    Two more questions. How many other houses have either intentionally or inadvertently published recycled fanfic? (I’m betting quite a few.) Has anybody looked into that? And, if a writer is changing up his/her own fanfic story, does that still constitute some sort of transgression?

    Believe me, I’m not being disingenuous. I’m not familiar with either the legalities or ethics of fan fiction, so I’m just trying to grasp what the problem is and why DSP is being shunned.

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  70. Cris
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 08:47:30

    I loved Bear, Otter and the Kid and had never heard of Shelter, so I just watched it and while there are a lot of obvious similarities and the movie was probably the inspiration for the book, people saying that there are scene by scene rip-offs are, in my opinion, nuts.

    I honestly do not think that TJ Klune should be in any way painted with the same brush as Janet Daily and Kay Manning. I strongly suggest people read the book then watch the movie (or vice versa) and draw their own conclusions.

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  71. Suleikha Snyder
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 08:52:52

    I think PayPal restrictions forcing sites like Smashwords to crack down is a slippery slope, as is the discussion of what should and shouldn’t be censored. “Well, I write XYZ, and that’s fine, but that thing that other author writes…well, that should be banned!” Consider R. Lee Smith’s works, which have been lauded on this very site and are rife with gratuitous violence against women and graphic sexual humiliation. (I’m actually on a break from Heat while I recover enough to read the rest.) If the DA reviewers and commenters didn’t think Smith was a fantastic author, would it be okay to cut Smith’s works from sites that work with PayPal? Sure, there’s enough consensual sex in Heat for it to be “safely” erotic, but what if someone does get titillated by all the rape in it? Does that suddenly make the book not okay? Do we have to start asking readers what gets them off in order to decide if the content is something you’re “morally allowed” to make money off of?

    Flowers in the Attic and the A Song of Ice and Fire series both have canon incest that no one blinks an eye at. And, sure, there is a wide gulf between those works and something that belongs on Literotica, rather than Smashwords or Amazon’s erotic romance pages, but whose job is it to judge? Should it really be PayPal’s?

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  72. Dani Alexander
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 08:54:40

    @K. Z. Snow:

    so I’m just trying to grasp what the problem is and why DSP is being shunned.

    This is not so easily explained, KZ, as it is not just down to their fanfiction. As I mentioned in my post above, I think DSP might be treating their bigger authors differently, but on the whole, the latest books from DSP have been unedited or poorly edited nightmares. Continuity issues, malapropisms, their/they’re and yes “there” mix-ups. Other than some of my favorite authors, I can’t justify spending money over there.

    It’s not that I expect perfection in writing, it’s that when they put a book up for sale at $6.99+, I expect it to be that cost because they have to pay cover artists, editors or, at the very least, proofreaders. What they are doing is a disservice to the really great writers on DSP, who signed up when the publisher was just growing and not about rushing products out to market.

    DSP is being singled out because it has become a book mill rather than a publisher.

    Much of what they’re buying is stories that were offered for free on ff.net, fp.com and aff.net. They just aren’t giving these stories professional level editing. I know because I’ve spent so much money over there only to be disappointed and disgusted with what could have been a promising new author/story.

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  73. Jane
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 08:55:23

    @K. Z. Snow: The link to the Dreamspinner Editor’s instructional post is in the section re DSP:

    Apparently Klune is amused by this accusation and why not? Dreamspinner Press gives instructions on how to turn fan fiction into published work. First step, change the names!

    It’s Sunita and Sarah F’s call. My understanding is that this is the last straw for them regarding DSP, not just an isolated instance.

    And yes, we have reviewed recycled fan fiction here (some knowingly and some not). There was one by Diann Sylvan which is Vampire Diary fan fiction.

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  74. Sirius
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 08:55:50

    KZ Snow the link to “Ethics of reworking fanfiction” is in the body of the post. It did not open for you?

    Cris, that is why I am reading the book this weekend. I have a friend who is far from being a humongous fan of the book and who loves Shelter ( as I do) but she also disagrees , she feels that while there similarities in the plot, the writer created completely original characters. I have to know now, although when I tried initially – I hated narrator’s voice. We shall see what I think now.

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  75. Jane
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 08:59:20

    If fan fiction is supposed to be an homage, why aren’t fan fic creators up front about the origin of their work?

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  76. Jane
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 09:00:21

    @Cris: Is the song reprinted in its entirety without license? That would be infringement, wouldn’t it? Or is other artist’s work free game for authors?

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  77. Melissa Stevens
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 09:03:45

    @Jane,
    Because it’s illegal to use someone else’s intellectual property in that way. I know of authors who will pursue fan-fiction because it is theft of their characters, their property. Others are not so aggressive.

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  78. Emma Petersen
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 09:07:30

    @Jane:
    Good question. Anyone got an answer?

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  79. Jane
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 09:09:06

    @Melissa Stevens: It isn’t always illegal (and I’m adverse to the word illegal in terms of copyright infringement but nonetheless). As for authors pursuing, I don’t think I’ve seen a lawsuit or even a filing of one against a fan fic author so unless that happens, I don’t see pursuit as very serious. I’d love to see this tested in a court of law.

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  80. Dani Alexander
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 09:19:53

    @Jane: Actually, I researched this very thing when coming up with my book. I removed two lyrics (barely six words each) from my book as well as lines (attributed lines) from Butch Cassidy and ths Sundance Kid.

    There are loads of posts about this on the internet. Suffice to say that using even one line of lyrics from a song can cost $500-$1500, depending on the record label.

    Check out absolutewrite.com for more information (though I found an entire blog post about it where the author racked up $1500 £4,401.75. in fees because of the infringement-I’ll go looking for that post).

    http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=290576&postcount=7
    http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=657721&postcount=9

    edited to add: Here it is : http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/may/01/blake-morrison-lyrics-copyright

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  81. Fae
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 09:53:53

    @Maili: Believe me, Maili, those of us (DSP authors) who don’t go down that route are VERY concerned about the impression this kind of thing casts on us and the original work we spend so much time and effort on. All of my work with them is several years old, but it’s still there and thus I am associated with them.

    I’ve contacted the publisher at DSP about this and am hoping for some kind of resolution or statement from them regarding how they are going to handle the issue and how they plan to keep this from happening in the future. Because I don’t enjoy having my name (and hence my reputation) tied to a publisher that endorses things like this.

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  82. Dreamspinner Press: Reputation Goes From Bad To Worse | The Naughty Bits
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 09:54:02

    [...] From: Dear Author ~ Saturday News: No Deals Just Stupidity and Smashwords Concedes to Paypal Terms [...]

  83. Throwmearope
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 09:56:52

    I’m afraid I read the apology a bit more cynically than other posters. It sounded to me as if she leaped to the apology about plagiarism only after people started jumping to the conclusion that if she steals writers’ words, she might be stealing their RWA dues as well.

    I find her statement that she couldn’t steal the RWA dues because she doesn’t have access to the money to be disingenuous.

    But, still, good that she didn’t say her mother (her bipolar disorder, her multiple personality disorder, the devil or whatever) made her do it.

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  84. Author on Vacation
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 09:56:53

    @Emma Petersen:

    Emma, you present a solid and very well-balanced position concerning this important issue.

    For my part, I have known authors who plagiarize and the sense I have of the situation is they are simply lazy and lacking in ethics. I’ve known authors who are quite talented who still opt to plagiarize.

    In the past I was friends with an author who claimed she never read books because she feared being “influenced” and “accidently plagiarizing” another author’s work. Her concern didn’t trickle down to plagiarizing unpublished work, though.

    Over time I came to realize she surrounded herself with other authors (either unpublished authors or authors less advanced than she in their publishing careers) and participated in all kinds of “brainstorming” type writing exercises. I have numerous mini-manuscripts I coauthored with this person which she alleged we would publish jointly. Later on, she abruptly excused herself from the projects and declined to release the unfinished work to me so I could complete it and publish it individually.

    I discovered she had published numerous ebooks, many of them based on tropes and premises we explored in our jointly authored work. She had co-published them with ANOTHER author I don’t know personally.

    I strongly suspect if I purchased and read her published works I’d find at least some plagiarism and/or paraphrasing from our own collaborative efforts.

    I’ve come to grudgingly respect the diabolical wisdom of this author’s actions. It’s much easier to steal another author’s work if it’s unpublished, particularly when the author has little or no publishing experience. If the plagiarist is a prolific author, s/he can release the work more quickly than his/her victim. S/he’s definitely less likely to be held accountable than a plagiarist who exploits published works by better known authors.

    With all that said, the offending author wasn’t a lousy writer. I considered her quite gifted and I can only assume that she rationalized her actions as not being actual plagiarism because she didn’t lift the plagiarized material out of a published book. The fact that she was exploiting other authors didn’t seem to bother her. When I attempted to discuss it with the author, she demanded I cease all contact with her.

    I don’t do collaborative projects anymore. No exceptions. And I keep a healthy distance away from any author claiming s/he never reads because s/he’s afraid of “being influenced” and “accidental plagiarism.” Nor will I purchase books by authors I’ve heard make similar claims. Reading is one of the ways authors grow, observe various styles, and hone their own talents. It’s one of the ways authors gain new ideas and inspiration. If the author isn’t achieving this process via reading and studying of writing, s/he is probably “borrowing” from others.

    Sorry for a long post.

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  85. Kat
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 09:59:36

    Hey people, don’t feel too sorry for this plagiariser Kay Manning/Payton Bradshaw/Kristal Singletary or whatever else she might be calling herself – she has only apologised because we – me and other writing colleagues – outed her and didn’t believe the pathetic excuse she first offered up, which was –

    ‘I know no one would believe it but it was an honest mistake. I put this story in the wrong folder on my computer and actually thought it was mine that I started a long time ago. If I really wanted to ‘steal it’ do you honestly think I would have put it up for free? What do I benefit off it?’

    Yes you did steal it as you have since admitted, and not just once, but many times over. You are despicable and ought to be thoroughly ashamed of yourself. Thank your lucky stars it isn’t as yet going any further. If it was me you’d done that too, I would sue you.

    Why on earth did you do it? Don’t you have enough of an imagination to make up your own stories? It’s one thing to admire a writer and want to be like them, but another thing entirely to steal their work.

    I think people on here are being very kind to you, much more than you deserve, but then it didn’t happen to them. If you’d done that to me, I wouldn’t forgive you. Our stories are our work, it’s how many of us writers earn our living, so people who steal another writer’s work are – in effect – stealing the food from their table.

    I really hope you are punished for this and that what you have done stays with you. If there’s such a thing as Karma, then you will get what you deserve.

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  86. L.K. Rigel
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 10:07:53

    @Author on Vacation:

    I briefly participated in a challenge room on a pretty popular site where a bunch of authors would do a timed write then share what they’d done. Later in a published book by one of those authors I saw some stuff very close to a unique scenario I’d shared in that group. It felt crappy. Close enough to think, hey, that’s my idea! But she published it first, and I was unpublished at the time. Who’s going to believe me?

    Some people don’t mind stealing – whether it’s pirates stealing the actual books or “authors” stealing the work of real writers and calling it their own.

    I don’t share my unpublished work with anyone but trusted friends, editors, and beta readers now.

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  87. Cris
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 10:08:37

    @Jane: To be honest, I don’t recall the lyrics to a song being in the book (other than the silly songs that the Kid makes up) and I don’t know the name of the song that’s supposed to be used. I even did a search in the book for “song” and nothing like that came up. If someone has a few lines that I can search, I’ll try again and have an opinion on it then.

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  88. Tamara
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 10:08:53

    @Fae:

    I contacted them as well. I would encourage all Dreamspinner Press authors to do so, in the hope Dreamspinner will make the statement they should have made much earlier.

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  89. K. Z. Snow
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 10:18:52

    @Dani Alexander: Since I’m not one of their top-tier authors, I can’t address the issue of preferential treatment. But is this how you interpret the crux of the issue? “DSP is being singled out because it has become a book mill rather than a publisher.”

    A publisher turning into a “book mill” is a valid concern. However, a publisher recycling fanfic is a considerably murkier issue. And I guarantee DSP isn’t the only one who’s done it.

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  90. Dani Alexander
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 10:22:22

    @Cris: My other comment is in moderation but it’s appropos to this. I think the song lyrics aren’t attributed. The lyrics used are from a song that I know: Come Home by One Republic (oddly I used the song title in my book, but no lyrics. I explained why in my post still in moderation).

    “The fight for you is all I’ve ever known” was changed to “The Fight for you was all I ever knew” or something along those lines (I’m not sure I have the quote incorrect). I’d link the review (Lori k is the reviewer who pointed this out), but I’m afraid if I put anymore links I’ll be in moderation again LOL!

    I only know those lyrics exist int he book in some form because it came as a status update on my Goodreads page. I’ve never read the book. I don’t know if more than that line is used in the story. I’ve neither read it, nor the reviews for it. I have no idea if more than that was used in the book directly or indirectly.

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  91. Roslyn Holcomb
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 10:24:47

    Plagiarism baffles me. I have so many ideas of my own that I don’t have time to write them all. I don’t have the time to write other people’s ideas. (not that I would anyway, but still). My writing partner and I are discovering that we bounce ideas off each ither so much that it’s almost impossible to tell who originated it. We’ll probably have to be more careful with documentation, though it hasn’t really presented a problem yet.

    As for Paypal and the slippery slope. See, here’s the thing. Paypal is a corporation, they probably wouldn’t care if opened a bookstore called Scat is Us, as long as they don’t have to pay higher rates for it. My guess is thatvthey either didn’t know or care what the vendors sold until the chargebacks started costing them money. The insurance companies use actuarial tables to calculate the number of chargebacks a vendor should have. When you exceed that, your rates go up. Period. Presumably, if the profits to be made exceeded the costs they would go along with it. If not, cut it off.

    I also suspect this is tied to the piracy issue as well. We all know that erotica is heavily pirated. We also know that the sites pay their “affiliates” for traffic. It would make good sense to see rhat the uploaders are using stolen credit cards numbers (which I understand boosters sell by the hundred on underground sites) to buy the books they then upload. It’s roughly a month before the card owner finds out that someone has bought thousands of dollars worth if books on their dime. And of course, they demand a refund of everything over $50 in accordance with the law. The card company demands their money back from Paypal who files an insurance claim. Enough of this activity and Paypal is left holding the bag for a helluva lot if money.

    Will this trickle down to effect erotica outside the proscribed categories? My guess is it probably already has. Because of the high fraud/piracy rate erotica probably already costs Paypal more. Fortunately for us, thus for the profit to be made has apparently made it worth it. This is why they’re trying to oarse it rather than eliminate it altogether.

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  92. Fae
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 10:28:10

    @Tamara: I was told the publisher was getting her hands on the movie to watch and compare to the book herself. I do think the more authors contact them about this, the better.

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  93. Dani Alexander
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 10:29:34

    @K. Z. Snow: KZ, for me the problem was not recycled fanfic. I think that’s perfectly acceptable as long as when they mean “recycled’”, they mean it was an AU story int eh first place or it would be unrecognizable as fanfic when altered. That’s a difficult thing to accomplish, imo. But it is possible.

    For me the problem with DSP is the subpar editing that has been shoved out there onto us. And paying that much for a book is frustrating to say the least.

    With what’s happening at DSP, I’m so worried that the next thing to happen is that it ends up the way AMP did with the publishers taking their money and running. I fear for the authors there. WHen publishers stop caring about their product, they stop caring about their authors and readers and that’s when greediness becomes desperation.

    I’m not generally an alarmist. That’s so not my bailiwick. But with the growing concern over this, the number of people that I see promising not to review/spend money at DSP, it’s something I fear is bound to happen.

    I hope I’m wrong. I hope what happens is that they see the error of their ways and begin thinking less about gross profits and more about long-term profitability. GLBTQ romance deserves better than to be treated how it’s being treated. We’re already a marginalized class of citizens. Being taken advantage of is even lower in my estimation.

    It’s a sad situation because some of the authors at DSP are such beautiful writers.

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  94. CourtneyLee
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 10:30:51

    SarahF and Sunita no longer reviewing DSP works saddens me, but I understand completely. I’ve loved many novels from DSP and the idea that they have step-by-step instructions for “hiding” the fanfic origins of a book makes me feel like they want to dupe me because I have positive associations with them. That does not make me want to go browse their catalogue the next time I have some book money.

    I agree with those who said that if people familiar with both the source material and the fanfic can’t identify the connection without being told, there isn’t enough of the original in the fanfic to really count it as fanfic. If no one had told me that Zero at the Bone by Jane Seville was based on characters from Brokeback Mountain, I never would have guessed and that book remains one of my favorite MM novels.

    Here’s to hoping that the people at DSP get back on track. It’d be really sad if they can’t or won’t get back to what made them popular in the first place.

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  95. ~mouse
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 10:32:55

    @Tamara: & @fae, there are a handful of authors at Dreamspinner that if one was around LotR RPS a few years back you can point and go vigorli, vigbean, orlibean, urbana, banabloom, & so on. (And one such I bought knowingly because a computer crash wiped out my saved copy of the fanfic, had the same damned typo that irked me in the fanfic in the reworked pro version) Needless to say when it comes to Dreamspinner all I’ve ever bought has been knowingly revamped LotR RPS because I lost the story and had loved it as fanfic. I have never touched Dreamspinner otherwise for the same reasons, and their editor giving instructions on how to make sure your J2 doesn’t read like J2 just reinforces that.

    There are plenty of fic authors that are as good or better than pro authors in ability to tell a story. There are a lot of RPS stories that are only a half step off original writing all together with nothing more than a recognizable name and hair/eye color in characters, but damn it. Encourage them to write the next thing wholly their own instead of reworking an insta-backlist, dreamspinner.

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  96. Cris
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 10:38:23

    @Dani Alexander: I just did a search, and yes, those words come up several times as statements, not as song lyrics. That doesn’t strike me as plagiaristic, it’s not like he quoted the entire song – or even a stanza – and claimed Bear wrote it. I don’t know about everyone else, but when I hear a song, sometimes a good line will stick in my head and become part of my every day vernacular.

    It’s certainly up to you if you think of that as egregious, but I don’t.

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  97. Moira Reid
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 10:38:59

    @Emma Petersen and @library addict.

    You ladies are very kind. If I ever commit a crime, I sincerely hope you’re both on my jury. I, however, am not ready to be as understanding. I will keep the rest of my opinions about this woman and her stealing/apology to myself though. We’ll agree to disagree on this one. :-)

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  98. Kat
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 10:46:03

    Moira, I think you are being too kind. Maybe the thieving plagiariser ought to know how us real writers feel about her and what’s she’s done!

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  99. Tamara
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 10:47:01

    @K. Z. Snow:

    I know NYC-published authors who are selling recycled fan fic. Some of it contains just the germ of the fanfic with a whole new story written around it. Some basically the same story with the names changed. There are enough shades of gray (so to speak) to make this a complicated issue.

    I’m more bothered by the author who takes (allegedly) a movie script and rewrites it scene by scene to pass it off as his own original work. And since the author apparently admitted doing so, it’s not even in contention whether he did, but simply a fact that the book was taken almost wholesale from a movie. If I were the screenwriter, I don’t think I’d be too happy about it.

    As an author at the same publisher, I’m disheartened, to say the least. I think the majority of authors work damned hard to produce good original fiction. Meanwhile, authors who trade pride of accomplishment for expediency (or whatever it is that leads someone to steal other work) win a whole lot of bad publicity that seems, these days, merely to improve sales. How you fight that, besides standing your own ground and applauding those reviewers, writers, and readers who stand theirs, I don’t know.

    Really disheartening.

    I expect grown-up professionalism from people. Why am I always so disappointed?

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  100. Dani Alexander
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 10:49:17

    @Cris: Aye, Cris, I think it’s subjective. I have no idea what’s in the book. I just saw the one tiny quote on my status updates page. And it caught my eye because I love that song and that particular lyric as well =).

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  101. Jami Gold
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 10:51:01

    I agree with the statements by some of the commenters here. Yes, an apology was offered, but what now? If actual profits were made, shouldn’t those be forfeit?

    Besides, I think many (not all, but many) plagiarists are liars on the pathological scale. Think about how much you’d have to lie to yourself to justify your actions.

    Several months back, I wrote about another exposed plagiarist: Terrell Mims (http://jamigold.com/2011/10/how-bad-is-plagiarism/). He eventually apologized to his mentor and disappeared for a few months. However, he never deleted his Twitter account (just set it to private), never apologized on his Facebook page (where his friends from outside the writing world would hear of his crime), and he waited for the storm to blow over.

    Now, he’s re-imagined himself as a “real” author simply by changing his name. His same old Twitter account now has the name AUTHOR Chris DeLaune (@AuthorCDeLaune – http://www.twitter.com/AuthorCDeLaune), and he talks about working on his new novel.

    Plagiarists think they can get away with this crap because they can–and do. And that’s what’s so sad about this situation. The victims get nothing but victimized, and the criminal only has to cry “my bad” for a brief time and wait for people’s attention to wander. Then when they think no one is watching, they start over again.

    Well, to Terrell/Chris, Manning, and all the other plagiarists out there, let me tell you one thing:

    The internet has a short attention span but a *very* long memory.
    –We will always be watching you.
    —-And we will never trust you again.

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  102. Jane
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 10:51:36

    @Dani Alexander I’m aware of this. My point was that authors are very protective of their own intellectual property but often seem careless about others.

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  103. Weirdmage
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 10:54:18

    @Jane: As far as I know, fan-fiction is always illegal to distribute. I have seen some authors talk about it, and they seem to not mind when it is distributed for free. I have seen some say they strongly object to people charging for their fan-fiction.
    Legally, the characters are also copyrighted, not only the text. So if you sell fan-fiction and someone sues you for it, I doubt you have any legal defense at all.

    Since it seems that selling fan-fiction is starting to become common, I wouldn’t be surprised if an author or a publisher will sue someone that is high-profile/has earned a lot of money in/from fan-fiction to get that message out. I would not take the chance of charging for fan-fiction.

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  104. Tamara
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 10:59:50

    @Fae:

    Good. That’s a start. Thank you.

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  105. Jane
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 11:10:27

    @Weirdmage: No fan fictions not per we illegal to distribute. It depends on how close to the canon it adheres. There is no special copyright rule for fan fiction. It falls under derivative works rule.

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  106. Dani Alexander
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 11:16:02

    This is one area where I don’t think that the legal issues should be as important as the moral ones. I know I won’t get a consensus on this, but it seems to me that an author can and should be able to tell when they cross the line from stealing someone else’s work and when they just gained inspiration from it.

    Fanfic is tricky because, unless it’s AU and the characters are nothing like the originals in personality, back story and there is no similarity to the world-building, it’s not publishable for profit imo. In that case, it’s just inspiration. The moment you borrow settings, character traits, back history, you infringe on copyright.

    For the record, I have never read BOATK and I probably never will (because I just don’t have time to read while writing these days, unless it’s research), so I have no dog in this fight. I don’t know if it was inspired by or actually copied the storyline.

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  107. Kate R
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 11:19:45

    So about that paypal thing. Will some of Georgette Heyer’s books get pulled? Because she has a bunch featuring cousins marrying cousins and that seems to qualify as incest in many places. And as someone else pointed out–there goes Game Of Thrones.

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  108. Robin/Janet
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 11:24:01

    For those who have been told that fan fiction is “illegal” or illegitimate, I suggest checking out the Organization for Transformative Works (http://transformativeworks.org/). One of its founders is Naomi Novik.

    Re. the PayPal thing, what I don’t understand is why sexual content is always targeted, while extreme, graphic violence is barely noted or questioned.

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  109. K. Z. Snow
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 11:24:08

    @Tamara: “I’m more bothered by the author who takes (allegedly) a movie script and rewrites it scene by scene to pass it off as his own original work.”

    I agree, Mara. That’s far and away the most troubling allegation. But since I’ve neither seen the movie nor read the book, I’m in no position to judge.

    Equally disturbing, though, are the accusations (not by you, hon) of DSP churning out crap. Yet, nobody seems willing to provide examples of the crap. Show me the crap, damn it! Ditch the vague allusions and call it by its name! I don’t care if it’s my own crap or somebody else’s crap. I just want to know what, exactly, is perceived as crap — and I especially want to know if my crap is crap (even though I don’t know fanfic from Florence Henderson)!

    Uh, gee . . . I just realized y’all might think I’m a tad vexed by this. So I’ll take my exclamation points and go home now. ;-)

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  110. KT Grant
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 11:25:41

    If Pay Pal is against incestuous books, do they allow their services to be used to buy such books as VC Andrews’ Flowers in the Attic? How about Lolita that features pedophilia with a 50 something year old man and a 13 year old girl where oral sex is involved? What about the recent young adult brother and sister incest book, Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma?

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  111. LG
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 11:26:13

    @Fae: I’m glad to hear that DSP authors who are actually writing wholly original work are concerned about this. As a past purchaser of DSP books, I’m now wondering about everything I’ve read and still have sitting in my TBR pile. I think this it the third case of repackaged fanfic I’ve heard about coming out of DSP. I purposefully avoided the other ones I had heard about, no matter how many people raved about them, and wondered why DSP was continuing to sell them. I guess now I know.

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  112. Shiloh Walker
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 11:27:39

    @Throwmearope: hey….long time no see!!!

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  113. Maili
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 11:29:20

    @Weirdmage:

    Legally, the characters are also copyrighted

    Not always true. The best form of protecting a fictional character is trademark, but even then it’s still pretty difficult to prove it’s not a generic character, e.g. a devil, even if it has a specific look, personality and name. When registering or trademarking a fictional character, a creator has to prove that his or her expression of that devil is distinctive enough for any reader to assume any piece of work featuring a character that resembles the creator’s devil character was done by the creator.

    For example, when one sees a comic featuring Mickey Mouse, one might assume it’s a Disney work when it isn’t, which could affect the reputation of the Disney brand. This is pretty much a basis the Disney people used to trademark Mickey Mouse and such, so that – among other reasons – no one can use Mickey Mouse in a non-Disney work without written permission.

    I believe it’s much more complicated and tougher for text-based fictional characters, though. I won’t go there because I don’t know much about it. In fact, I can’t quite go further than what I’ve said so far :D because my knowledge is pretty much limited to Japan’s IP laws. As far as I know, the fact that copyrighting fictional characters isn’t that easy or straightforward is usually the case for most countries. It’s really a good idea for one to double check with a proper IP solicitor or lawyer about this sort of thing if one’s that serious.

    As a whole, though, readers usually are the best form of protection for most creators as it’s usually the readers who spot the dodgy ones. Nora Roberts/Janet Dailey was due to a reader recognising Roberts’s passages in Dailey’s works, for example.

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  114. Weirdmage
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 11:31:54

    @Jane:
    “There is no special copyright rule for fan fiction. It falls under derivative works rule. ”
    That is kind of my point. If I write a story with Gandalf from LotR set in the modern day I can guarantee you I will be sued. If I write the same story about a wizard who is not like Gandalf and not named Gandalf I am safe, but then it would not be fan-fiction.

    If you use characters that someone else creates you are infringing on their copyright. And if you are writing fan-fiction you are doing that, or am I mistaken? If you look at a films copyright notice, you’ll see that it explicitly states that includes the characters.

    I am 99.9% certain that distributing fan-fiction is illegal. But if there is a copyright lawyer reading this who knows I am wrong, please weigh in, and I’ll admit I am.
    As I said above, I have seen authors say they approve of/tolerate fan-fiction. I have not seen an author say they are fine with people making money off fan-fiction. -But again, I have no problem with being proved wrong should I be.

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  115. Maili
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 11:33:04

    @Fae: I do feel for many DSP authors in this case. I hope it’ll be sorted out soon enough. Best of luck! Thanks.

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  116. Throwmearope
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 11:35:05

    Sends hugs and waves HI! to Shiloh. Been stuck in a big project at work, so mostly I just lurk.

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  117. Dani Alexander
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 11:36:03

    @K. Z. Snow: KZ, I’m reluctant to name and shame with authors who I think had a chance at a story but who were let down. I’m just not ready to do that.

    Can I suggest you read some of the reviewers (the professional reviewers I mean) on Goodreads who have pointed out these editing errors? Hopefully they’ll chime in here and point it out. TeddyPig also points it out in his blog, though he’s sometimes a little too… acerbic for me =D, I do agree with his comments about DSP.

    I know the last book I bought there was Again by Mary Calmes and your book, Visible Friend, and nothing jumped out at me editorial-wise. But it took me weeks to buy them because the three books before that were riddled with errors.

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  118. Author on Vacation
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 11:36:32

    @Jami Gold:

    Besides, I think many (not all, but many) plagiarists are liars on the pathological scale. Think about how much you’d have to lie to yourself to justify your actions.

    I think it really boils down to dishonesty/lying coupled with disrespect for boundaries.

    Motive also plays an important role in someone’s decision to plagiarize. I don’t plagiarize because I understand it’s an illegal, unethical action, BUT … as an artist, I harbor ambitions to produce the best quality work I can and to produce art that reflects my unique understanding and experiences of the world. I write fiction because I enjoy it, I’m good at it, and it means something to me. To me, the creative process is the major component of my happiness with the writing craft.

    Not every author feels this way. Some authors crave profit. Some authors are attention whores. They are not so concerned with their work’s quality as they are with publishing X books a year, earning $X a year, and receiving praise and public recogition for their work.

    It isn’t that someone wanting to succeed as a professional author shouldn’t be concerned with these things, but if they outweigh artistic evolution and the author lacks ethics and doesn’t respect appropriate boundaries, it’s easy to see how the author (and even the author’s publishing team/s) might not have a problem with plagiarism if it helps the author achieve more releases and higher sales figures.

    Furthermore, as other contributors have already pointed out, authors guilty of plagiarism don’t face significant consequences. Unless they’ve produced a runaway bestseller and millions of dollars are at stake, it’s unlikely the author will be sued. Even if s/he is sued, s/he can usually pay a settlement amount AND continue reaping profits off the work. Publishers don’t automatically remove plagiarized works (especially if they sell well or at least consistently.)

    Even attention-whore plagiarist authors won’t suffer because … HELLO! … scandal = attention = gratified attention-whore. True, there might be half an hour of sheepish embarrassment, but they still have attention, profits, and fans.

    In fact, the ONLY authors who MIGHT experience mortification are those who recognize plagiarism is wrong and who care about doing the right thing. These authors probably would not plagiarize in the first place.

    So … At the end of the day, authors willing to dirty their hands stand to gain more than lose.

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  119. LG
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 11:40:08

    @~mouse: “There are a lot of RPS stories that are only a half step off original writing all together with nothing more than a recognizable name and hair/eye color in characters, but damn it. Encourage them to write the next thing wholly their own instead of reworking an insta-backlist, dreamspinner.”

    Yes, this exactly.

    I’m sure writing good, book-length fanfic takes a long time, but that time just needs to be looked at as valuable practice time. I figure that, if anyone writing fanfic starts to think their work is good enough to sell, they need to take the time they were using to write fanfic and move onto writing original fiction. If they don’t think they can do that…then maybe they aren’t as good as they think they are.

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  120. Liz Mc2
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 11:41:42

    @Cris: It’s true that many of us go around with song lyrics in our heads and think/say things like “hope I die before I get old.” But if someone publishes a novel that quotes song lyrics, whether or not they are presented as song lyrics or as something original to the character, that is infringement on the lyricist’s rights. The fact that it’s realistic for a character to have those lyrics in his/her head or to quote them doesn’t make it less infringing.

    I have seen plenty of published works that do quote lyrics. There are credits on the copyright page and typically the publisher has paid a (sometimes hefty) licensing fee. Just as an arena or other venue that plays music pays a licensing fee for the right to do so.

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  121. willaful
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 11:42:06

    @Cris: Thanks for pointing this out. Disclaimer: I have neither read the book nor seen the movie. But it’s seemed that people are taking one book review as gospel truth without further investigation.

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  122. LVLMLeah
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 11:42:36

    What I don’t understand about PayPal’s policy is how do they make the decision that a book fits in their banned category.

    Will they have people reading each and every book that contains a rape to decide whether it’s for titillation or not? And what is the criteria for deciding that it’s for that?

    Are they just basing it on the cover, blurb or tags? Or do they scan the books for particular words or phrases? Or are they taking the word of the book sellers like SW that they are not offering those unacceptable books? And if so, how does SW decide as well? Are they having people reading those books?

    Really, how are those unacceptable books actually filtered out from those that contain consensual sex or relationships that contain questionable ( to them) acts? And who decides that in practical terms?

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  123. Weirdmage
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 11:44:54

    @Robin/Janet:
    I did, this is from their FAQ:

    “If fanfiction is legitimate, doesn’t that mean publishers or studios can produce derivative works without compensating original authors?

    No. Profit matters, and the degree of transformative quality matters: telling stories around a campfire, freely sharing nonprofit fanfiction, summarizing plot in a book review, or making a documentary film about fans is not the same as a major commercial derivative enterprise like making a major TV miniseries out of a novel.”

    and

    “Does the OTW support the commercialization of fanfic?

    The mission of the OTW is first and foremost to protect the fan creators who work purely for love and share their works for free within the fannish gift economy, who are looking to be part of a community and connect to other fans and to celebrate and to respond to the media works that they enjoy.”

    It seems that they too are saying that profiting from fan-fiction is illegal. And from what I know from copyright law, money doesn’t really matter. It’s just that no-one sues people if there’s no money to be gotten.

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  124. Shiloh Walker
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 11:47:35

    One thing about an apology-a real one is taking responsibility for your actions. Too often, the apologies we see are doled out like, ‘Well, I did it, but I thought… or, it was because…’

    Somebody mentioned lawsuits, and I think it’s worth mentioning that the apology she offered would probably make things harder on her. It strikes me as a bluntly stated admission of guilt-isn’t that something lawyers despise? If she’s trying to legally CYA with this, it wasn’t smart on that front.

    However, it was a mature move, IMO.

    Most ‘apologies’ we see aren’t real apologies-. We see “I’m sorry I upset you.” “I’m sorry you feel that way.” “I did it because of…” They are heaped with excuses, and too often, the people who give them are the very same people who turn around and do the same crap over again.

    When somebody offers a real apology, even if it was because s/he got caught, it shows some sign they’ve accepted responsibility and that’s the first step needed to make a change. Change is what is needed to keep prevent it from happening again.

    I think we need to give her a chance and see if that happens. It has nothing to do with ‘kindness’, exactly, on my part. I am not ‘kind’. But I do believe people can change-the people who are most successful with it are usually the ones who are given a chance, IMO, though.

    If we’re not willing, as people, to give others a chance to learn and grow when they’ve messed up, then we’re, in a way, holding ourselves back, as a whole…again, my opinion. *I do see this as an honest apology, yes, it was after the fact, but she made no excuses, acknowledge she lied and stole*

    By not acknowledging an honest apology, we’re not allowing for a chance for somebody to grow and learn.

    Up front, now, I wasn’t one of the authors she plagiarized nor was I one of her readers, so I can’t say I was in anyway affected by her, other than the way the reading/writing community is in general when this happens.

    However, I have been plagiarized and I can say the woman who did it to me didn’t have the decency to offer a simple apology.

    I got… “I thought I was fanficcing. I didn’t realize it was wrong…I’m sorry.” and… “I didn’t know I couldn’t do it and people are yelling at me now and I’m sorry” and… “I know you’re mad but I’ve got two kids and one is special needs and their dad is a deadbeat so if you try to sue me, you’ll only be hurting them.”

    What I wanted was for her to stop, and to remove my works, and she did. But she also handed me every excuse under the sun and attempted to lay a guilt trip at my feet. It is something I’m trying to let go, and even though she didn’t offer a sincere apology, I’ve mostly forgiven it-not because she deserves it, but because I function better if I’m not hung up on it.

    However, it would have made a very big difference on my part had the woman attempted to offer a sincere, simple apology. Yes, it would have been because she was caught. I get that.

    But that’s usually why an apology is offered anyway. Very few people decide to apologize simply because they realized they did something wrong.

    It doesn’t mean an apology can’t be sincere, though.

    *edited.

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  125. DS
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 11:48:31

    @Jane: I think that most fan fiction web sites take down material if contacted by the content owner. It seems to have developed into an uneasy relationship in other cases– the writer doesn’t make a profit and the content owners/creastors leave it alone.

    I can remember Fox taking down a bunch of fan sites for the X-files, but I don’t know if fanfiction was involved. Star Trek sites got hit also. Seemed short sighted even at the time because the fan sites were essentially recruiting new viewers. But still, no one can claim that big Media has ever understood their customers any more than big Publishers.

    Both fandoms came to the uneasy relationship I mentioned above.

    If you want to learn about fan fiction prior to the www check out Camille Bacon-Smith’s 1991 published study about media fandom called Enterprising Women: Television Fandom and the Creation of Popular Myth (Contemporary Ethnography) . It’s not as dry as the title and I’m not sure her conclusion about hurt/comfort storeis has held up, but it does give a picture of what fanfiction was like before vhs tapes of popular shows were widely available and when fanfiction was mostly distributed by purple mimeograph.

    I don’t know if the theory about people being able to steal credit card numbers and buying thousands of dollars of porn is possible, but I can say that I have had my credit card number leak into the wrong hands 3 times– none connected to use on the internet though. The first time I caught it when I got the bill and found the charges. 1993 or so. The other two times (within the past 3 years) my credit card company loss prevention called me within hours or in the last case, minutes of the purchases being made and asked me if I had made the purchase.

    I don’t like PayPal. I really only used it on eBay and after it was shut down and they wanted me to jump through a bunch of hoops to get it back, I decided my financial well being (although not the financial well being of eBay vintage item sellers) lay in not bothering. But honestly this doesn’t surprise me, I just wonder why now? I think it may have more to do with politics than chargebacks although chargebacks was the original excuse. But that is for another board.

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  126. Shiloh Walker
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 11:49:25

    @Throwmearope: I was thinking about you a few weeks ago. I’m not on blogs as much lately but got thinking…dang, it’s been AGES.

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  127. Jane
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 11:50:33

    There is no per se re regarding fan fiction. Every work had to be measured against the law. Using the characters’ names, for example, but reworking the entire plot, setting, world, and characterizations wouldn’t necessarily be infringement. Just changing the names but keeping it exactly the same is likely going to be infringing.

    So you cannot say that distributing fan fiction is illegal. It is not a bright line rule but determined on a case by case basis.

    Further the JD Sallinger case in which the protag was determined to be copyright able was very act specific and depended, in large part, on how well known Caufield had become. Plus it wasnt a Supreme Court decision but rather IIRC a ruling on an injunction.

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  128. Lori Green
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 11:53:27

    I’m having a huge problem with the book banning on smashwords. Whether or not the books have the ick factor or whatever, the idea of letting PayPal determine obscenity gives me the creepy crawlies.

    What happens when PayPal determines that fetish is wrong? Or anything that doesn’t involve just one man and one woman? It might cost more for smashwords to put another payment system in place but isn’t the choice to say no to censorship worth it?

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  129. Anne Tenino
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 11:55:32

    Hi All-

    My name’s Anne Tenino and I’m the blog mistress of Chicks & Dicks, a blog about M/M romance. The reason I’m commenting today is because it was brought to my attention that Dear Author had a news item regarding Bear, Otter & the Kid, and in the item a quote from an opinion piece posted on our blog was used.

    I would like to invite everyone to visit our blog and read the opinion piece—by Dreamspinner acquiring editor Julianne Bentley—in it’s entirety. Her piece specifically discusses fan fiction and is titled “The Ethics of Reworking Fanfiction: An editor’s opinion”. I would provide you with a blog address, but I am unable to post one in this comment. I can tell you the opinion piece was posted on January 17, 2012.

    For the record, Chicks & Dicks does not condone plagiarism, and we don’t believe Dreamspinner or Julianne were giving instructions on how to plagiarize in the post. Julianne’s opinions were her own, and she was not representing Dreamspinner’s opinions in any way, as stated at the end of her piece.

    Chicks & Dicks is not aware of Dreamspinner’s opinion on TJ Klune’s work.

    I hope you will stop by and form your own opinion. One hint; if you simply google “Chicks & Dicks” you’ll end up with about a hundred porn site. I recommend googling “Chicks and Dicks, Anne Tenino” or “Taylor V. Donovan”.

    Thanks!

    Julianne’s

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  130. Weirdmage
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 12:06:13

    @Liz Mc2:
    The US edition of Stephen King novels always have credits for any song he quotes even a line from. For some reason the UK editions don’t, I think it has to do with how easy it is to sue someone in the US (, and King has lots of money sso he’s a huge target). But I seem to recall that more than a line or two of lyrics from a song is over the fair use limit.

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  131. Robin/Janet
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 12:11:30

    @Weirdmage: Check out the FAQ page under “legal.” As Jane said, there is no bright line for fan fiction, and some authors have used this ambiguity to threaten their readers, claiming it’s “illegal.” This is, at the very, very least, a gross overstatement.

    Moreover, there is a wealth of confusion regarding the difference between plagiarism and copyright infringement. Plagiarism is not a legal wrong, although if one plagiarizes a copyrighted work, then it can violate copyright law. However, if one plagiarizes a work in the public domain, that is an ethical violation. If one writes fan fiction of a work in the public domain, it’s likely neither, assuming it has not been plagiarized (thus the proliferation of works like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies). And in regard to copyright infringement, the field is extremely complex, because not all infringement is created equal, Some can be justified with the Fair Use defense, while other types may not, in the end, be considered infringement, at all, depending on the level of transformation in the new work. Intertextual references are also important, because if something is so well-known as to be commonplace, alluding or referring to it directly in a text is not generally treated as plagiarism or infringement outside Fair Use, since the reader is likely to know that the source is not the referencing author. Copying word for word and passing it off as your own is, however, at least plagiarism, and possibly infringement depending on the copyright status of the work.

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  132. Jane
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 12:11:50

    @WeirdMage. Your claim that fan fiction distribution is completely inaccurate. I suggest you read some
    Copyright law before you o about making those legal distinctions. You are wrong.

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  133. LG
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 12:13:44

    @Anne Tenino: I have read the blog post. While I agree that it doesn’t condone plagiarism, she *is* condoning repackaging fanfic, getting it published, and getting paid for it. She says this is okay. If she actually thought it were 100% okay, she wouldn’t need to give anyone instructions on how to hide their work’s fanfic roots.

    “Julianne’s opinions were her own, and she was not representing Dreamspinner’s opinions in any way, as stated at the end of her piece.”

    In the first paragraph, she implies that Dreamspinner Press editors won’t dismiss out of hand even a work they have been able to identify as fanfic. In the final paragraph, she reassures fanfic writers by telling them that “several of Dreamspinner Press’s stories started out their lives as fanfiction. Some even by our best-selling authors.” So, Ms. Bentley knows which stories they are, but Dreamspinner Press as a whole doesn’t and would never condone publishing repackaged fanfic? Really?

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  134. library addict
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 12:13:51

    @Moira Reid: #97 Just to be clear, I don’t feel her apology is a get out of trouble free card. It’s just usually in these cases the “author” makes excuses and never acknowledges what s/he did was wrong. So it’s refreshing to see someone not offer excuses for what she did.

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  135. Gwen Hayes
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 12:15:28

    @Robin/Janet: So…what could possibly happen to Ms. Manning now? What are the legal ramifications of what she did? Can the authors she plagiarized sue her? I am guessing they can, but probably wouldn’t justify the expense on their part.

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  136. Wahoo Suze
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 12:17:22

    Re. the PayPal thing, what I don’t understand is why sexual content is always targeted, while extreme, graphic violence is barely noted or questioned.

    This aggravates me in the extreme. People DO get desensitized to violence. You can be blowing shit up in video games from an early age and that’s just fine, because there certainly isn’t any real violence being perpetrated out in the real world, but heaven forfend that teenagers be aware that sex happens.

    So in the US right now, you’ve got crazy unemployment which is only going to get worse if you bring all your soldiers home, which should totally happen, there’s rampant fraud happening in the financial industry and there is absolutely no sign of anyone putting the brakes on that, and in general bad shit is happening. And yet all the legislation getting worked on seems to be about outlawing abortion, birth control, and even sex education (in Utah).

    WTF, USA?

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  137. Liz Mc2
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 12:19:51

    @Weirdmage: I think it has to do with different copyright laws in different countries. Definitions of “fair use” differ–and not all copyright law even has such a provision/term (Canada does not). I don’t claim to be an expert. I’m just pointing out that quoting a line from a song in your novel is not necessarily OK.

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  138. Robin/Janet
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 12:21:54

    @Shiloh Walker: I feel the same way. Manning’s was the first unqualified apology I’ve seen, well, maybe ever? And having seen droves of support for qualified apologies regarding a variety of deceptions, I find the unvarnished apology here even more refreshing. That it came after disclosure and some prevarication doesn’t eclipse that, for me, because I think it’s very, very, very, very, very few who will voluntarily throw themselves on the hot coals without a vigorous push.

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  139. L.K. Rigel
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 12:25:40

    legal schmegal

    Stealing another author’s world, characters, or story is crappy. The person who does it is a thief.

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  140. Plagiarism rears its ugly head again ~ Sela Carsen ~ Author ~ Have Coffee Will Write
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 12:26:12

    [...] BS anyway. She later wrote an apology and posted it to Dear Author, basically stating that yes, she’s a thief and she’s [...]

  141. Weirdmage
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 12:34:33

    @Jane:
    “There is no per se re regarding fan fiction. Every work had to be measured against the law. Using the characters’ names, for example, but reworking the entire plot, setting, world, and characterizations wouldn’t necessarily be infringement. Just changing the names but keeping it exactly the same is likely going to be infringing. ”

    But works are only measured against the law if there’s a lawsuit. I have yet to hear of anyone winning a lawsuit since MAD magazine won a lawsuit in the 1950′s that made it legal to do parody, where evrything is the same in setting, names, and characterisation. But I am sure there are instances.

    Just because you haven’t been brought before a court doesn’t mean you are not doing anything illegal. -I hope a copyright/IP lawyer can comment on the legality of fan-fiction. I’m sure it is illegal to distribute, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will get sued for doing so. I know a fan-fiction sequel to LotR was stopped, it is mentioned in “The Letters of Tolkien”. Does anyone know if the books about Harry Potter’s son that I saw online are still available?

    I don’t read fan-fiction, but I would like to know how it can be fan-fiction if you only keep the names.
    “Using the characters’ names, for example, but reworking the entire plot, setting, world, and characterizations wouldn’t necessarily be infringement.”
    If I use the names Leia and Luke for a brother and sister who grows up in ’80s Norway, (I’m Norwegian and grew up in the ’80s) I’m not writing Star Wars fan-fiction. If I use Skywalker as their last name, I would not be surprised if I was sued. Unless my characters were named after the film characters, and that was a par of their story.

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  142. Tasha
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 12:35:01

    @Anne Tenino: I’m not saying this as an attack, merely an observation: I saw no discussion of the ethics of reworking of fanfiction in that post. All I saw was instructions on how to do it.

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  143. Robin/Janet
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 12:35:06

    @Gwen Hayes: The rights holders (author and/or pub) will have to decide what to do, and I have no idea what that will be. In Cassie Edwards’s case, Signet dropped her, while her other pubs did not, IIRC. Also, I do not know of any litigation arising from her copying, despite the fact that she used the work of researchers for the purpose of commercial profit. OTOH, JK Rowling, Penguin, and Warner Brothers have been extremely litigious in cases where I personally think they’ve overstepped (like this incident, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7040191.stm, in which they lost, IIRC).

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  144. Sarah Frantz
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 12:35:58

    @K. Z. Snow: Here you go!. Honestly, when a well-written blurb and excerpt intrigue me, it’s about 75% certain the actual story will be crap — badly written, badly edited if at all, and terribly formatted.

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  145. Robin/Janet
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 12:43:55

    Also, FYI, here is an interesting story regarding the Cure’s use of Penelope Farmer’s book Charlotte Sometimes: http://www.lkrigel.com/2012/02/a-story-about-charlotte-sometimes/. I also noted that a contestant on the NBC show “The Voice” recently introduced herself as “Charlotte Sometimes,” and no one blinked an eye over it.

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  146. K. Z. Snow
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 12:48:01

    @Dani Alexander: I appreciate your position, Dani.

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  147. Weirdmage
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 12:48:16

    @Liz Mc2:
    I am not disagreeing with you. I was just using the difference between King’s copyright pages in US and UK editions as an example. There is the Berne Copyright Convention that most countries has joined/accepted.
    I read, and I think that was for the US, that quoting more than 500 words from a novel is considered copyright infringement.
    I should have been more specific in that “fair use” is more defined in the US, but it is also one of the countries that allow lawsuits easiest. Although I know there has been laws made to make people move copyright-infringment lawsuits to countries with stricter laws on copyright illegal in.

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  148. jayhjay
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 12:50:11

    Seriously, this BOATK things makes me crazy. Taking a movie and changing a few small things and claiming authorship is total BS! I know the line with fan fic may be fuzzy at times, but I don’t even think this falls into that category. This appears to be plagiarism, not fan fic. And if Dreamspinner condones this type of thing than shame on them.

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  149. Pinterest, Productivty, and Plagiarism « Ribbons of Romance
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 12:52:30

    [...] Dear Author [...]

  150. AvidReader
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 12:53:06

    @willaful:
    I completely agree. First off, I was able to read the comment the author had posted regarding copying elements from the movie, and what was written was with sarcasm in response to someone else poking fun at a reviewers allegation. He did not in fact say, “Yes, I copied from the movie.” This was taken out of context and then twisted to support the rumor flying around that the author copied. Unfortunately those comments were deleted for just this reason- it was taken out of context and then passed along as fact.

    I personally find nothing wrong with a person taking the time to review a book and write how they felt about it whether they liked it or not but, when someone moves from reviewing the book to slandering the author, I think we’ve moved into an entirely different place. People have the right to say what they want about a book. I think its crossing a line when its made about a persons character.

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  151. Courtney Milan
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 12:54:54

    @Weirdmage: Rebecca Tushnet writes (or wrote, earlier in her career) about the legal issues surrounding fan fiction.

    Versions of her articles are online here: http://www.tushnet.com/law/law.html

    Part III of this article (http://www.tushnet.com/legalfictions.pdf) collects cases that claim copyright in characters, and there are a handful that have arisen since Mad.

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  152. Lyn Cote
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 12:56:21

    Something is wrong with this woman’s mind. No sane person would do this and bring this kind of public disgrace down on oneself.

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  153. Weirdmage
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 12:57:04

    @Jane:
    I have already said I might be wrong, but from what I have read about copyright law I doubt I am. -But again, I am not saying I am right, just that from all I’ve read about copyright I can’t see how distribution of fan-fiction can be legal.
    I have already stated that I don’t know the boundaries of fan fiction, and don’t undertand how something that is not using the same characters, setting etc can be fan-fiction. For me fan-fiction has to be set in the “universe” the original creator made, and contain the same characters. It could be we are disagreeing because of definitiond of fan-fiction.
    But I would like to know if anyone knows of an instance where using my definition of fan-fiction, someone has been taken to court by the original author and have won? (Not counting parody and works out of copyright.)

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  154. Joy
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 13:01:56

    Charlie Stross’s blog has a bit on fanfic, which reads (excerpted) in part:

    File off the serial numbers, rename the characters, and try to sell it as All Your Own Work. This is, believe it or not, neither illegal nor immoral and I have no problem with it as long as you don’t try to market it on the back of my name and reputation.

    This presumes that the work is an original story butis using Stross’s characters or setting.

    I see a big difference between fanfic-as-original-story that might ( with some tweaks) be turned into a completely independent story from the original, and a story that follows another art work plot point by plot point. It seems to me (having read Bear, Otter, and the Kind and not having seen Shelter), that Klune was not writing fanfic, but was drawing a number of plot points (though not all–there were significant differences as well mentioned in the review) from the movie. As such it’s a remake, such as the relationship between _Emma_ and _Clueless_. I have no idea what the legal/copyright implications of that, but calling it fanfic or plagiarism seems inaccurate.

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  155. K. Z. Snow
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 13:02:12

    @Sarah Frantz: Thanks, Sarah. The specificity in your reviews is helpful.

    I hope people understand that many Dreamspinner authors who aren’t part of the pantheon (and several of them spoke up here) nevertheless manage to put out good work.

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  156. Jami Gold
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 13:03:05

    @Author on Vacation:

    Motive also plays an important role in someone’s decision to plagiarize. … Some authors crave profit. Some authors are attention whores. They are not so concerned with their work’s quality as they are with publishing X books a year, earning $X a year, and receiving praise and public recogition for their work.

    I agree. Which is why those of us who do value the respectability of our chosen careers want to call out those who don’t. :)

    This issue makes readers distrust authors in general (as proven by the comments of those saying they won’t buy DSP books again). The rest of us are powerless to prevent this attitude, and the best we can do is try some internal policing within the writing community by posting articles like this one. Unfortunately, that’s not enough for any of us.

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  157. Mark Coker
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 13:06:42

    @john, you’re talking a lot of smack about that which you don’t know. If all this is so easy, I encourage you to open up your own online retail operation and give it a go.

    I think the folks at PayPal are honest, honorable people, and I take what they tell me in that spirit. It doesn’t mean I agree with their policies. This is what they told me, in their words, unedited: “We work with a number of acquiring banks and credit card associations as part of our business. Many of the items contained in our AUP are restricted by our banking partners, particularly rape, bestiality and incest related content. Our banking partners and credit card associations have taken a very strict stance on this subject matter. Our relationships with the banking partners are absolutely critical in order to provide the online and mobile services we do to our customers. Therefore, we have to remain in compliance with their rules, which prohibit content involving rape, bestiality or incest.”

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  158. AvidReader
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 13:11:14

    @K. Z. Snow:
    It’s really sad that some readers feel that boycotting DSP is the right response. You aren’t just punishing the “guilty” (if you will..) but authors who do put out good work. I don’t believe in punishing everyone for what amounts to a problem with the publishing house, not necessarily the authors.

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  159. Jami Gold
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 13:11:41

    @LG:

    I’m sure writing good, book-length fanfic takes a long time, but that time just needs to be looked at as valuable practice time.

    Yes! Exactly! My first novel-length story was fanfic, and this is exactly how I looked at it. I learned how to develop a plot over 60K+ words, I learned how to word things for the most impact, etc., etc. Most importantly, I learned I could write a book.

    I even told my family, “If I ever come up with a story idea of my own characters and my own world, watch out–I’ll take up writing full(ish) time.” A few months later, I came up with my first novel-worthy idea. And it had nothing in common with the fanfic I’d written (from Harry Potter YA to paranormal women’s fiction…Ha! Yeah, nothing in common there.). And the rest is history.

    My time with fanfic was practice and learning experience, nothing more.

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  160. Jackie Barbosa
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 13:12:13

    @Ann Somerville: I strongly disagree with the premise that “dubious consent” is the same as rape. Sometimes, yes, it is. Other times, perhaps not. It’s all about context.

    But even if it were, I have real problems with the notion that people who enjoy dubious consent stories are somehow less entitled to their fantasy than those who enjoy pony play or floggings or what have you. Fiction exists to allow us to express and explore the human experience, an experience which should not, in my opinion, be bowdlerized. When we are prohibited from exploring any aspect of the human condition in a fictional context where NO REAL PEOPLE can possibly be harmed in any way, I think we are on the road to hell that’s paved with good intentions.

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  161. Jami Gold
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 13:25:53

    @Shiloh Walker:

    I think we need to give her a chance … I do believe people can change

    I hope she has learned her lesson and chooses to change. Most of my stories have themes of redemption, so I’m big into giving people the chance to prove themselves. :)

    I think it will come down to what her reasons and motivations for plagiarizing in the first place were. Some reasons (like thinking they could get away with it) would be null and void after this exposure. Other reasons (like being an attention whore) would not. I hope she falls into the former category and can grow from this.

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  162. Fran
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 13:27:09

    I am shocked and saddened to hear this about Mr. Klune. My respect for him as an author is gone.

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  163. Jane
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 13:28:03

    @Jackie Barbosa No one is preventing these authors from writing these stories, processing payments themselves. I would think that it is easier to do that than ever given that there are free or low cost epub creation tools and as someone down thread said, easy plugins to turn a site like a wordpress blog into a commerce site.

    Obviously Smashwords would rather use paypal because of the customer demand for it than lose paypal and deal with the credit card processing problems. If Smashwords loses a significant amount of revenue to another distributor, say Amazon, because it doesn’t have ease of payment anymore (aka Paypal) then how do other authors feel about the lowered revenue traffic.

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  164. Jessa Slade
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 13:29:42

    @Jami Gold: The internet has a short attention span but a *very* long memory.

    Good line.

    To me, the most interesting part of these recent scandals has been hearing how regular non-cybersleuth people followed the digital tracks. I don’t write romantic suspense but storylines are popping into my head. Which makes me wonder how many “borrowing” writers start with just the intention of using a general idea (since ideas can’t be copyrighted) and wander too far down the path into lifting chunks of text.

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  165. Fran
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 13:29:47

    @S.A. Garcia: Don’t you dare give up!

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  166. K. Z. Snow
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 13:31:01

    @AvidReader: Yes. And I find it particularly annoying that “upstanding” authors are all expected to pack their bags in a huff and move elsewhere at the first hint, however specious, of a scandal.

    Readers and reader-reviewers don’t seem to realize that many of the publishers they revere aren’t all that dandy from a writer’s standpoint. I could go into a whole lot more detail here, but even I, outspoken biddy that I am, know better than that. Suffice it to say, you can’t fully and accurately judge a publisher unless and until you’ve submitted work to them, read their contract, and/or had a professional relationship with them. That’s when the truth comes out — and some of it ain’t too pretty.

    So I, for one, am in wait-and-see mode. It’s far too early to leap to any conclusions.

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  167. Lori Green
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 13:34:04

    @Jackie Barbosa: Brilliantly stated!

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  168. Dani Alexander
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 13:40:20

    @K. Z. Snow: I understand how you must be feeling, KZ and it’s a sad day for me as well because I do enjoy a lot of the authors on DSP, but this isn’t a suddenly come up thing for me from the BOATK thing. I have no judgement on that case. I haven’t read the book and I will not judge whether there was infringement because it’s not my place.

    As you can see from Sarah’s post way back in sept, this isn’t a new thing. This is a recurring problem. For me it started back in jun/july of last year and has slowly become too perturbing to continue shopping there without it being an author I really can’t wait for.

    I don’t believe this is a recent thing for people. This is just a final straw.

    @AvidReader: I’m sorry you feel that way Avidreader, but most people have a small book budget and spending their money on unedited products isn’t fair at all. It’s just not. Especially given the economy and the size of a lot of the stories for the price.

    To you both: I know it’s painful to watch your publishing house be criticized, but let’s have a look at the situation with BOATK and what’s happening right now. What are DSP doing for their author? Where is their defense of TJ? Why are they not handling this problem? Instead they ignored it and it’s blowing up to extremes. They should be treating their author better. They should be treating their readers better. They should be issuing statements or something, but they aren’t.

    Take a look at how the Cassie Edwards case played out (and I am by NO means comparing these books to plagiarism, just the handling of a scandal that involved it). The publishing house responded. There’s crickets chirping in DSP thread about this very thing. That’s not how a publisher treats its authors or its readers.

    Imagine for a second that was you being accused, KZ and DSP did nothing. Nothing.

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  169. Shiloh Walker
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 13:52:41

    @robin, I’ve been trying to think of a similar instance & I can’t. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it. So it matters, in my eyes, at least

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  170. Lasha
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 13:53:25

    @Sirius
    Most of the “recycled” fanfic I have read from DSP has been Jared/Jensen (J2) RPS. For those who don’t know what that is, it’s Real Person Slash. I am not sure I consider RPS fanfiction exactly.

    RPS is a grey area. Since the author are projecting character traits onto their characters (I seriously doubt any J2 authors personally know Jensen Ackles enough to write about his likes, dislikes, favorite books, childhood experiences, etc.) then authors are only guessing and making up a character *based* on their knowledge of that celebrity, based on articles or interviews. So, I am not sure I consider that fanfiction, in it’s truest sense. RPS is a murky area IMO.

    The two main publishers I have personally seen that have recycled J2 stories are: Silver Publishing and DSP. I know about 12 authors who started out writing in that genre and have now gone pro. Most reworked their first couple of J2 fics into original works for publication (meaning you could see the J2 serial numbers were filed off), but then went on to write totally original m/m fiction, no RPS/J2/Kradam in sight.

    Personally, I have no issue with recycled RPS, as long as the story is HEAVILY rewritten prior to publication to remove any characteristics of the original format.

    Have I bought recycled J2 fanfiction from DSP and Silver? Yes. In some instances I did not know until I started reading it was former RPS; in others, I liked the story so much when it was RPS, I wanted to have a copy of that story in an edited format with a beautiful cover. But I bought it knowing it was recycled, so no wool was pulled over my eyes. I would prefer if publisher would put a disclaimer on the book for other readers who are not involved in fandom, so buyers are aware what they are purchasing was previously available on the Internet. But that’s just me.

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  171. a sometime online adult worker
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 13:53:45

    The reason for singling out adult content isn’t a prudery thing, it’s a money thing. Online payment processors and credit card companies long ago discovered that adult content (read: traditional internet porn, aimed at men) has a notoriously high chargeback rate. That is, dude spends a Saturday night working himself into a frenzy over some webcam performer or plowing through “Big Boobied Redheads” after paying for a membership. Then, dude gets found out by wife, or just sobers up from his boner hangover and says to the credit card company, “My word, a year’s membership to Big Boobied Redheads you say? Why I never. Someone must have stolen my credit card information.”

    Rather than go through a lengthy battle over it, most of the time, the credit card companies are like, “Okay, fine,” and reverse the charges.

    Now, this happens in all industries, but for adult purchases the rate has just always been a huge pain in the ass.

    So, if you want to take credit card payments for just plain tech services or your etsy crap or whatever, you can get those payments processed for a reasonable fee. To do the same transaction for *legal* adult services (ranging from pics to audio to video) your fees are WAAYYY higher. And many companies just don’t want to deal with the hassel.

    Paypal, in particular, decided to get out of the adult game a long time ago. And it’s a mark of someone who’s reckless, shady, or a newbie to try to get clients to pay through Paypal, because one whiff of trying to get around their rules and they suspend your account and freeze your cash. So fine, don’t use paypal for adult, right?

    But Paypal is also notorious in my circles for moving the goal posts, saying something is okay then changing their mind and refusing to give an answer, and generally not worth the effort if you’ve got a whiff of adult near your product. (ETA: That is, if some guy wants to buy photos of my feet from the knees down, that’s not explicit content in the traditional sense, but I’m taking a big risk by using paypal if, on a connected site, I also sell explicit content through other processors. )

    And whether there’s prudery mixed in there, I can’t say. But the origin of them being so picky about sexual content versus violent/otherwise objectionable content is an epidemic of buyer’s remorse from post-orgasmic men stretching back to the beginning of internet porn (and probably before).

    EATA: And before you say, “But this isn’t *that* kind of adult content, where’s the line, who’s to say what’s steamy explicit romance and what’s the sort of pornography that Paypal will say breaks its rules,” … that’s exactly the problem. You get one Paypal person (or several over time) saying the content is okay, and then you get another Paypal person who decides it’s over the line and flags you, and you’re in trouble. You may go a long time – or forever – selling your stuff that’s on the edge. But it’s a big risk, especially for small operators.

    A place like ARe or Ellora’s has enough clout to get a firmer “this is okay, this is not, as long as you abide these rules, we’re all good.” But if you want to go and try to get a processor on your own, and want to label your books as adult/erotica… you’re going to either have to pay out the ass, or cross your fingers and hope paypal doesn’t one day decide that My Step Uncle’s Marmoset Orgy is a bridge too far and freeze your account.

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  172. AvidReader
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 14:00:46

    @Dani Alexander:

    People are obviously able to buy where and how they want. I was speaking to people who are boycotting all authors who are with DSP. Obviously those authors have contracts/obligations and must fufill those. I was speaking about people essentially punishing authors for something that is a publishing house problem. Do I think things need to change at DSP. Absolutely!! But should it come at the detriment of people who are trying to make a living doing something they love?? In my opinion no. If people feel that strongly, they could write emails/letters to let DSP know how they feel. There are some authors published there that do their own editing, etc and I enjoy reading those books. Do we as readers deserve a well edited book? Yes. But I dont think its as simple as drawing a line in the sand and asking people to walk it.

    I can’t speak about what they are doing or not doing about BOATK bc I haven’t been following it that closely. I do think a publishing house should support their writers but in this particular instance I dont feel confident speaking on it as I’ve not looked/followed it that closely in respect to what DSP is doing or not doing.

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  173. Liz
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 14:04:00

    @Susan:

    @Susan, I absolutely agree with you. I too am only a reader, but I think you’re wrong in saying that we might not have a place in this discussion. As a reader, I don’t like being told what I can and cannot read. Personally, I have never read any erotica nor have I ever read anything that includes rape, incest, or bestiality. However, I know there are people that choose to read about those things and I firmly believe that they have a right to decide to do so. No one should be allowed to tell anyone else what is wrong. Unfortunately, that is the slippery slope that this country seems to be going down.

    I do believe that this is based solely on the fact that these stories are erotica and in this country sex (unless it is heterosexual missionary) is considered to be a dirty, sinful thing, something that should only be spoken of behind closed doors. I recently found out that there is an underage orgy in Stephen King’s It, but from what I can tell nobody has ever banned that book for being offensive. Why is it okay to ban erotica for doing something that Stephen King was allowed to do in a horror novel?

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  174. Monique Martin
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 14:09:16

    @Mark Coker:

    Thank you. I know this has been incredibly stressful and difficult for you and I deeply appreciate your transparency and honest communication. You’ve shown yourself to be an honorable man facing difficult choices. You’ve comported yourself with class unlike some *coughbookstrandcough*. Thank you for that.

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  175. Annabeth Albert
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 14:11:23

    @Jami Gold: “Besides, I think many (not all, but many) plagiarists are liars on the pathological scale. Think about how much you’d have to lie to yourself to justify your actions.”

    Something that’s being missed here is that many apologies are also lies. I work in academia. I have seen tearful, sincere apologies that made me well up too at the student’s contriteness. And I have seen those same students cheat again. We have all seen the serial adulterers apologize on national TV, talking about how wrong they were, and seen them cheat again a few years later. For pathological liars, apologies are often another tool in their arsenal, another way to deflect attention. Action is where real apologies lie–returning funds, getting mental health help and committing to counseling, etc. Given the absolute breadth of the plagerizing here, I think there are probably very serious mental health issues at work here. And there is help for that–gamblers, shoplifters, adulterers and others where pathological lying is a big part of their issue all benefit from different types of treatment. But in terms of re-earning trust? Sometimes you just can’t. And sometimes, an apology just isn’t enough.

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  176. Jackie Barbosa
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 14:12:25

    @Jane: Yes, an author could certainly sell his/her work through his/her own website. Realistically, however, that’s not likely to be a sustainable proposition, economically-speaking, for most authors. And this isn’t just about the freedom of authors to write and publish what they want; it’s about the freedom of readers to be able to find and purchase the content they want. If you have to search for dozens of different author sites to find the books that interest you, you might just give up altogether.

    There is also, IMO, a very real potential for abuse. I don’t see how Smashwords and/or PayPal can enforce these content restrictions EXCEPT by relying on readers to report books for violations. But clearly, what one person sees as a violation, another might not (e.g., I don’t think dubious consent always equals rape; Ann appears to).

    Moreover, what is to stop PayPal from identifying and banning OTHER categories of content associated with a high number of chargebacks (consensual BDSM, for example, or GLBTQ erotic romances)? Nothing, clearly. And while it’s all well and good to say “Authors of that sort of content don’t HAVE to go through PayPal,” how far does it have to go before we condemn the practice?

    ETA: Also, if it is the credit card companies/banks that are placing these restrictions on PayPal, why would those same companies not place similar restrictions on individual authors?

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  177. Jane
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 14:14:14

    @Jackie Barbosa Lines are drawn in the law all the time. Obscenity, pornography and the like have always been difficult to define. There is always potential for abuse.

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  178. Dani Alexander
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 14:14:32

    @AvidReader: I can answer that question for you, Avid, they are doing nothing. The thread in which readers have complained about has gone unanswered. Either they are hoping this will blow over and go away or they have no response. Either way, they are doing nothing.

    And for too long they have done nothing. I can’t justify spending my money there and supporting a company like that, Avid. Not when my money doesn’t go to the authors or their work, it goes to the pockets of those running the company. Readers have complained. Reviewers have complained. It’s fallen on deaf ears.

    As I mentioned above, this has been an ongoing problem since last year. Last year! It will continue to be a problem as long as DSP reaps profits despite their worst efforts on behalf of their authors. And, btw, continuing to feed them money on behalf of writers I love, while they treat newer authors with disrespect, is also not something I wish to do. I may do it anyway, because I do love some of the authors there, but I will do it reluctantly and hope that I never have to again.

    Profits shouldn’t be such a bottom line that a company is willing to do anything to reap as much a percentage as possible. That’s my 2cents.

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  179. Author on Vacation
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 14:17:06

    @library addict:

    It’s just usually in these cases the “author” makes excuses and never acknowledges what s/he did was wrong. So it’s refreshing to see someone not offer excuses for what she did…

    I completely agree acknowledgment of fault and sincere, public expressions of remorse are not the norm. I disagree the plagiarist deserves snaps for doing the right thing.

    I don’t wish to sound hard-nosed about the matter, but I don’t believe people deserve praise for doing what they should do. Even if people doing the right thing are in the minority, doing right shouldn’t merit exceptional praise.

    Furthermore, as has already been covered in the discussion, plagiarists stand to lose little by confessing to plagiarism once their guilt is identified beyond credible denial. As others have pointed out, it is usually not financially expedient to sue the offender. Some publishers will pull the plagiarized book, but in the case of bestsellers, they won’t. The publisher and the plagiarist continue profiting off another author’s hard work and creativity. Worse, if the author is a well-known and well-liked entity, s/he will continue to get published.

    The only bad to come out of it is the plagiarist’s shame/embarrassment upon the discovery. Even this consequence is questionnable because (again, as others already pointed out) plagiarists don’t appear to comprehend they’re doing something wrong. They have a deluge of excuses and justifications, but little, if any, genuine remorse.

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  180. Annabeth Albert
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 14:20:35

    RE: DSP, I’m sad because I discovered LGBT romance through Dreamspinner. I have several auto-buy authors who publish with them. But, like others I’ve seen the quality drop off over the last year. I’m not buying them anymore because of the fan fic issue, but it’s not just that–the editing quality is just dismal on a lot of their titles. They (and some other small presses) are relying too heavily on volunteer copy editors who are paid only in copies of the book they work on. If you don’t pay for or allow for enough time for quality editing, you aren’t always going to get it (not that there aren’t absolutely stellar volunteer and low paid copy editors out there turning in amazing work time after time. Kudos to them. They deserve more money. But you can’t count on that quality). Is it unfair to the authors? Perhaps. And I feel bad for them. A lot of the authors I most love at DSP have already left for other publishers. For my few remaining auto-buy authors, I’ll be looking very closely at quality of the sample before clicking buy and even then, I think I’ll pass in favor of publishers with better ethics until DSP addresses this better.

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  181. KT Grant
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 14:20:40

    @Liz: Established authors like King who makes a great deal of money for his publishers can get away with questionable acts in his book, like the underage cave orgy scene, or should I say gang bang of 6 boys with one girl under the age of eighteen in IT. Why does VC Andrews did a pass with Flowers in the Attic that has incest or Lolita that’s about pedophilia with a 50 year old something man and a 13 year old girl where oral sex is acted on between them?

    There’s an audience for everything, even incest or fetish books. I know some who love twincest and can’t stop raving about it. Even the step-daddy/step-daughter books are extremely popular. But if Pay Pal can decide against incest, bestiality or other questionable subjects, what’s stopping them from banning payment on retailers who sell erotica, LGBT or other subjects they might find offensive? Next might be the banning of shape-shifting paranormals because someone might be uncomfortable with a character who shifts into a werewolf half way during sex or a YA with a teenage girl sexually involved with an older vampire aged 100 years like Edward and Bella from Twilight. Who decides what are considered grey areas when it comes to these subjects published by the higher authority Pay Pal answers to?

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  182. Jackie Barbosa
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 14:21:27

    @Jane: And it’s never abuse until they’re coming for you…

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  183. Monique Martin
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 14:22:12

    As far as the plagiarist goes, an apology and even a public flogging is insufficient. Lawsuits and punitive damages are desperately needed. There have to be *real* consequences. I hope this person becomes the poster child for what can happen to you…

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  184. Deerhart
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 14:22:27

    @Weirdmage:
    Fan Fiction can fall into the fair use catagory of copyright. A better example maybe a photographer who takes pictures at a sporting event. They do not violate the teams copyright, because it is a fair use of the protected item. Parady is another (think SNL, Weird Al etc) they are not violations because it is fair use. Fan Fiction can fall into the fair use catagory and it cannot. It’s decided on a case by case basis.

    Also remember the author doesn’t always own copyright (sometimes publishers do)
    Cases where holder has won (per wiki because not doing legal research today LOL) a Judge ruled in 2009 for the copyright holder of Catcher in the Rye from a Swedish fan fiction book. See http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/01/judge-rules-for-salinger-in-copyright-suit/?hp

    There is also now some push back on works that are no longer copyrighted (due to passage of time in the public domain) now coming back under copyright

    See the VERY recent Supreme Court ruling http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/01/scotus-re-copyright-decision/ last month. This ruling essentially takes foreign works out of public domain for about 100 years. I have also heard of some pushes to re-issue copyrights due to the massive amounts of derivative works (think Jane Austin) after this ruling

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  185. Jackie Barbosa
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 14:25:00

    @a sometime online adult worker: hope paypal doesn’t one day decide that My Step Uncle’s Marmoset Orgy is a bridge too far and freeze your account.

    Thanks. I just snorted my tea.

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  186. K. Z. Snow
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 14:27:15

    @Dani Alexander: “The thread in which readers have complained about has gone unanswered. “

    Dani, do you have a link to that thread?

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  187. Ridley
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 14:27:42

    All this Paypal stuff leaves me clinging desperately to my dubcon/noncon erotica collection. Please don’t send me back to the days where sifting through Literotica is my only option.

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  188. Fae
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 14:34:32

    @K. Z. Snow: I know of this thread on Goodreads where a reader asked about it: http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/630436-bear-otter-and-the-kid-by-tj-klune

    DSP is aware of that thread and the reader’s concerns in it. I know because I pointed it out to them. To be fair, however, I doubt the publisher knew of it before last night, there are countless threads in the Dreamspinner Goodreads group and I’m sure no one spends time monitoring them all, they’re there for reader discussion, not to broach concerns with the publisher.

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  189. Taylor V. Donovan
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 14:40:48

    I’m Taylor V. Donovan and I’m the owner of Chicks & Dicks.

    As an author I put a lot of time and effort into creating unique stories. It troubles me to know how easily somebody could appropriate my work if they chose to do so. As a blog owner I provide a platform for authors, editors, publishers, writers and readers of M/M romance to express their opinions on different subjects in a respectful way.

    As our blog mistress (Anne Tenino) stated before, Chicks & Dicks does not condone plagiarism nor do we believe Julianne Bentley was encouraging writers to steal other writers’ work. Personally, I believe she was saying that if someone is considering submitting a fanfiction piece, at the very least they need to change names and re-build the world. The way we understand fanfiction, they are stories inspired by characters and worlds already created/established, but with original situations, development, reactions, etc. The article published by Chicks & Dicks discussed how to re-work fanfiction into original fiction, meaning not using already established characters and worlds. There’s a big difference between writing a story inspired by say, “Supernatural” and taking an episode word by word and get it published as original work. That is not what we were discussing on our blog. That is plagiarism. Again, a matter of opinion and interpretation.

    We can’t comment on DSP’s position or respond on their behalf, but we did contact Elizabeth North about this issue and here, with her permission to quote, is her response:

    We were only made aware of the accusation about Bear Otter and Kid late last night by one of our authors. The posted comment that Dreamspinner was contacted is false. No one contacted us either by email or through the contact form on our website. While I’ve not seen Shelter, I know the story behind Bear Otter and Kid, and it is semi-autobiographical. While it may follow the general plot line of Shelter, I don’t believe it was copied in any way. We take accusations of plagiarism very seriously and have ordered the movie to make a final determination.

    You are welcome to quote any of that if you wish.

    Elizabeth

    Elizabeth North, Executive Director
    Dreamspinner Press
    Where Dreams Come True
    http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com

    Thank you all.

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  190. Michelle McCleod
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 14:52:17

    @Ann Somerville:

    Look, I don’t much care for the Pseudo Incest books either, but, clearly, they were wildly popular and most were written to conform to the law, same as Woody Allen didn’t go to prison for marrying his adopted daughter.

    I think it’s sad that books with characters –who could not be charged or convicted in a court of law if they were real people–were banned and people are dancing on their graves.

    Your reading selection is now dictated by corporate interests, why is that a cause for celebration?

    M

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  191. Aileen
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 14:53:20

    I would like to point out that this blog is making very serious (potentially slanderous) claims against TJ Klune based on the opinion of two (yes, TWO) reviews of individual readers on Goodreads. Those of you willing to crucify Mr. Klune should first ensure you have both read BOATK, watched Shelter, and are VERY clear on what legally constitutes plagiarism and copyright infringement. If you do not, you are participating in something that could ruin this man’s career, reputation, and life. Please have some decency.

    I would especially hope that the authors who have posted here would be extra careful of leveling any accusations since it would be just as easy for the same to happen to you. Since apparently all it takes to ignite a firestorm is two bad reviews on Goodreads.

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  192. Jane
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 14:55:09

    @Aileen I have not made accusations against Mr/Ms. Klune. I have pointed out what two reviews say and what Dreamspinner’s position is on repurposed fan fiction along with the decision of two reviewers here to not continue to review Dreamspinner books based on a series of events beginning last year and continuing forward.

    Edited to add, I did say that Klune was amused by this accusation and unfortunately I no longer have access to the comment as it has been deleted.

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  193. K. Z. Snow
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 14:59:55

    @Fae: Thank you, Fae.

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  194. SouthernWriter
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 15:02:16

    I hate to say it but I know for a fact that there are several current and former Torchwood fanfiction writers who not only published their fanfiction with DSP but have bragged about it on their fanfiction accounts, even mentioning which stories were published. Another Torchwood author was recently published with Ellora’s Cave. And all they did was “file the serial numbers off” mostly just changing the character names before submitting to the publishers.

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  195. Weirdmage
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 15:06:16

    @Deerhart:
    Not sure what you mean. Both case you cite show the original copyright holder winning.
    Still not saying I am right. but can someone give me an instance where someone writing fan-fiction has been protected by a court when sued by the original copyright holder?

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  196. Fae
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 15:07:23

    @Aileen: As the author who brought this to Dreamspinner’s attention, I am very concerned about whether or not it’s true, but nowhere did I say anything about whether it is or isn’t or level any accusation. My concern is, frankly, less about whether TJ Klune copied Shelter and more about the fact that a good number of readers clearly think he did and, by association, think DSP and other DSP authors condone or participate in the same thing. That’s where it begins to concern me personally and that’s why I contacted the publisher.

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  197. Jane
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 15:08:32

    @Weirdmage Did you read any of the content at the pages that Courtney Milan provided to you because there are several court cases cited and discussed.

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  198. Aileen
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 15:14:00

    @Jane: I respect that you have not made a formal accusation, however you are walking a very fine line here. It takes very little to ignite a witch hunt and for internet bullies to take over. “Pointing” this out in the same post with a confirmed and very clear case of plagiarism does a great disservice to an author who may otherwise be completely innocent. As a blogger you know well that readers can make these logic leaps with even less than what you have posted here.

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  199. Kat
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 15:20:36

    @Robin/Janet: @Jami Gold: Great comments and I fully agree! We do have long memories and will be even more vigilant now.

    What you are all missing, is that she only apologized because she’d been caught out by us. We left numerous posts on her blog telling her we knew what she’d done etc, which she deleted. So we added more – each time she deleted one, we just added it again. We also reported her to Smashwords and other sites she was on. Then she went about deleting everything she could, all the evidence etc.

    If we hadn’t outed her, she would have carried on plagiarising work. The apology was not sincere, it was because she got caught and there was nothing else she could do.

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  200. “I Know It When I See It” and Other Random Thoughts | Something More
    Feb 25, 2012 @ 15:21:07

    [...] of credit card chargebacks, and thus is costly for PayPal) and how much of it is moral judgment; this comment from someone describing him/herself as "a sometime online adult worker" on the latest Dear Author [...]

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