Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

RWA Panel on Plagiarism

Oh Noes I can explain

One of the search terms that brought a reader to the site in the past week was why plagiarism bothers authors. Given the size of the recent panel on plagiarism at RWA, it appears that it doesn’t bother some authors. Or is that the wrong assumption to draw? Needless to say, the panel was not well attended. The room seated about 200 and it appeared that there were 40-60 people there. I did see editors from a couple of different houses which was encouraging. I will admit that I never thought a panel that I sat on at RWA would fill a room of 200 but I did believe that Nora, who hasn’t spoken in room that wasn’t standing room only, would be greeted with a full crowd.

I know that Nora was disappointed and she voiced her disappointment from the podium. The room should have been full. The reason I say that is because I think that not everyone understands the difference between Plagiarism and Copyright. And I don’t know that everyone understands the reason why plagiarism isn’t such a good thing. After all, plagiarism is everywhere. Cindy McCain did it with recipes copying Rachel Ray. John McCain did it with his speech on Georgia, copying out of Wikipedia. Obama may have done it with one of his speeches (having borrowed a motif and pattern from friend Governor Duval). Reporters from the best broadsheets in the world do it. Bestselling novelists do it. Newbie novelists do it. Aspiring novelists as well.

For those that didn’t attend the panel, I thought I would sum it up and then at the end, I wonder if people wouldn’t be so kind as to let us know whether this is a panel (not necessarily with me but with Nora and others) that would be useful in the future, what information should be imparted in such panels/workshops and what RWA should do to instruct individuals on this issue. Maybe because we’ve only seen a couple of incidences of plagiarism, we think it isn’t pervasive, but I think that it is more pervasive than we know or like.

Before we started, SB Sarah introduced us. Nora had her prepared notes. I had my prepared notes and Dr. Barrie looked at me askance and whispered, “You have prepared notes.” And then we were off. Nora was up first. Essentially she had this to say. If you steal from her, she will hunt you down like a “rabid dog” and bring the “freaking wrath of god down on you” and she’ll do the same for any other author who suffered the same experience.

Some might deem Nora’s words harsh but it is likely because the story of her personal violation isn’t as commonly known as we think. Still today Nora gets questions from readers and booksellers about whether she was the one who did the plagiarizing or whether she was the one who was plagiarized. (Janet Daily copied from Nora).

All About Romance had good summary of the case including the horrible news coverage that Nora’s case was subjected to.

On Tuesday, July 29, the AP ran a story over the wire indicating that Janet Dailey had admitted to plagiarism. The two-paragraph story stated that Aspen Gold and Notorious contained “ideas and passages” from several of Roberts’ books. The story closed with this quote from purported Roberts’ fan, Janice Johnson: “It’s hard to steal ideas for those things. All the story lines are the same. Only the names are different.”

Those of us who read that initial story wondered why it was necessary to include that last sentence. By Wednesday morning, we were rolling our eyes up to heaven as we read AP’s expanded story by Jeff Wilson which led with, “There is a reason romance novels all seem to read alike.”

Then The Washington Post and Good Morning America got into the act. The headline of the Post’s story by David Streitfeld read: Stolen Kisses! Romance Writer Lifts Another’s Bodice of Work and the lead for the story was as follows: “Heaving bosoms and throbbing loins are all very well, but if you really want to make a romance writer breathe heavily, try pinching her prose.” And, on Thursday morning’s edition of ABC’s Good Morning America, love scenes were read aloud by the male anchors of the show.

Nora was also subjected to many people arguing that she shouldn’t have gone public with the copying (although it was a fan who had made the case publicly in the first place); that she, Nora, was being petty and vindictive. When the Cassie Edwards’ copying charges broke into the mainstream press, Nora was contacted by the Times and the AP for quotes. Nora gave her statement and it was upfront and forthright and fans at Amazon and other places began to call her classless for contacting the papers and trying to grab more of the limelight for herself. I think it is safe to say that if Nora never got another call from the Times or the AP about plagiarism, about romance, she would be just fine.

During my part of the panel, I covered essentially the same issues that we covered here at Dear Author. Essentially plagiarism and copyright are two distinct concepts. One is ethical (plagiarism) and another is legal (copyright infringement). As an aside, I was very nervous. For one thing, I was sitting next to Nora Roberts. For another thing, I was sitting next to Dr. Barrie who “completed his undergraduate studies in Rhetoric and Neurobiology and a Ph.D in Biophysics, both at the University of California, Berkeley.” (I don’t even begin to understand what that is but it has to do with brain waves). I started out my speech and then stopped and had to restart it because I was messing up. I felt far more comfortable in the question and answer period.

  • Copyright Infringement would be if I took Nora’s book, Tribute, and made five copies and sold it outside the conference hotel. I’m not passing off the work as mine but I am selling unauthorized copies of it.
  • Plagiarism would be if I took Pride and Prejudice, a book that is in the public domain and is not copyrighted any longer, and reprinted it with my name on it.
  • When Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism overlap is when a person takes work that is copyrighted and tries to pass it off as her own. For example, one former editor at a NY publishing house, who also published a few romance books, shared with us that she had a proposal (first three chapters and query letter) submitted to her for proposal. The first chapter was a complete copy of one of the editor’s published books only made worse with additions. That is an example of copyright infringement (the author’s work was copyrighted) and plagiarism (coopting the work and placing your name on it)

The problem with plagiarism and copyright infringement is enforceability. It’s wicked expensive to bring a lawsuit. (One reason why shady publishers get away with so much, in my opinion). You can write a letter to someone telling them to stop copying you, but unless you bring a lawsuit that letter has no teeth.

As we can see by the continued success of both Janet Dailey and Cassie Edwards, the price of plagiarism is virtually nothing. Edwards did get dropped by Signet, but both Dorchester and Kensington continue to publish her unabated and without revision.

In order for plagiarism to stop within the writing community, the attitude of the writing community must change. I don’t mean for the online community, but the writing community. Authors must stand up for other authors. You cannot rely on Nora alone to shoulder the burden. I daresay, her shouldering it with just a few friends may have been part of the reason that her tone was strong. All of the writing community must make the environment hostile to plagiarism so that legal remedy isn’t the only recourse for a victimized author.

I wrote in my notes as Nora was speaking that genre fiction’s success relies upon individual expression. If that is not true, then we might as well replace authors with computer programs.

Speaking of computer programs, Dr. Barrie spoke about the TurnItIn program. Essentially it is a device used primarily by academicians to spot plagiarism amongst the student body. It is used worldwide in major institutions all over the world. Someday, there might be a TurnItIn for fiction writers, but the software isn’t there yet. Instead, we rely on readers and google. It would be nice, though, if we didn’t have to worry about the issue of plagiarism at all.

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

84 Comments

  1. Ann Somerville
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 04:38:42

    Authors must stand up for other authors. You cannot rely on Nora alone to shoulder the burden…. All of the writing community must make the environment hostile to plagiarism so that legal remedy isn't the only recourse for a victimized author.

    Just commenting to say this is the problem in a nutshell. The ignorance and apathy about these issues is so vast, and it always comes down to personalities – we like this author, so we forgive her sins, we like the other author so we hate her plagiarist.

    Plagiarism and theft are wrong, wrong, wrong, no matter who does it and why. That should be branded on every author’s head.

    Also, your picture is cute as the dickens :)

    Well said, Jane, and I wish I could have been at the panel.

    ReplyReply

  2. Nora Roberts
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 07:00:08

    Nicely summed up, Jane. I’d like to see a panel on this in D.C. next summer for RWA. I’d like to see more seats filled.

    What I did feel this year was those who did attend were actively interested not only in the topic, but the solutions. That’s a positive thing.

    ReplyReply

  3. Lynne
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 07:26:17

    I wish I could’ve been there. Was this panel recorded? I’m no longer a member of RWA, so I’ll have to check and see if non-members can get the tapes.

    ReplyReply

  4. Evecho
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 07:27:34

    Thanks for the summary, Jane. The rules and limits of plagiarism and copyright cannot be repeated often enough to the fiction community, I don’t think. Sadly, many writers and editors just aren’t bothered until they are caught, and even then enforcement is, as you said, rarely worthwhile. The backlash against the whistleblower on the other hand is cheap and plentiful.

    ReplyReply

  5. Jennifer Estep
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 07:40:47

    If you steal from her, she will hunt you down like a “rabid dog” and bring the “freaking wrath of god down on you” and she'll do the same for any other author who suffered the same experience.

    I agree with Nora. If somebody ever took my work and passed it off as her own, I would get all Hulk angry, to use a metaphor. And then some. Because they are my words. My thoughts, my ideas, my creation which comes from sitting in front of the computer hour after hour day after day. Is everything I write golden or worth plagiarizing? No. But it’s mine.

    I just don’t understand why people plagiarize in the first place. Especially people who are writers. Sure, it might be easy, but doesn’t it also eat away at your soul? Whenever I read a really great book, it always gets my creative juices flowing. I want to write something that good someday. Not take the easy way out and copy someone else. It’s just wrong and bad karma to steal, especially when it comes to others words/thoughts/ideas.

    In order for plagiarism to stop within the writing community, the attitude of the writing community must change. I don't mean for the online community, but the writing community. Authors must stand up for other authors.

    I agree with this too. If somebody does you wrong, you need to stand up for yourself, especially when it comes to something like plagiarism. Because if someone copies one author and gets away with it, what’s to keep them from copying a dozen more?

    I’m surprised there weren’t more people at the panel. I heard Nora speak in Dallas (or maybe it was Atlanta?) and it was standing room only.

    ReplyReply

  6. Keishon
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 07:41:37

    I guess I’m just surprised as hell that more authors are NOT speaking out about it and are not actively trying to do something about it. One can only assume that the reason why plagiarism isn’t taken so seriously is that probably others have done it one time or another and are ashamed about it OR view it as something trivial, not a big deal. Just guessing and I could be wrong so please don’t attack me. However, plagiarism is treated as some type of dirty secret in the writing community.

    I mean, hell, this is your career we’re talking about here. Also, until publisher’s take a stand against it – you really won’t deter the practice unless the author themselves have ethics and morals about stealing someone else’s work.

    OTOH – what punishment would suffice for someone caught stealing? A fine? Dropping them from their publisher? Community service? The last time we had this discussion here the “punishment” for this type of ethical question was severe and ridiculous in most cases ie, jail time.

    I’ve rambled enough. Jane, Nora- sorry more didn’t attend to see you guys. Thanks for the sum up. I would have filled a seat as this sounds really interesting [from a reader's viewpoint] and it is an important topic of discussion within the writing community.

    ReplyReply

  7. roslynholcomb
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 07:42:01

    I probably would’ve attended had I gone to RWA, but I wonder if perhaps for some this isn’t simply redundant. Call me crazy, but I learned about plagiarism back in high school, actually before then because I was taught by my mama that lying and stealing are wrong. Certainly, I understood the basic concepts by kindergarten. My four year old already understands it, though he still has slip-ups on the lying part.

    I don’t believe for one moment that people don’t understand what plagiarism is or why it’s wrong. They just choose to do it anyway. I definitely agree that we must be more vigilant. Unfortunately, for some people it comes down to a costs/benefits analysis. The Smart Bitches notwithstanding, they’re unlikely to be caught and if you are, there is no penalty. Those are odds any criminal is willing to roll with. Unless and until the cost befits the crime, most people will continue to ignore it.

    ReplyReply

  8. jmc
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 07:42:08

    The lack of turn out perplexes me. At the very least, plagiarism got enough headlines last year for authors and conference attendees to at least be aware of the problem. This is an issue that affects (effects?) their income stream and their intellectual property. Doesn’t it matter to them?

    I'd like to see a panel on this in D.C. next summer for RWA. I'd like to see more seats filled.

    I’m tentatively planning on attending RWA next year, since the location is convenient for me. I’d be interested in seeing this panel, if it’s repeated.

    ReplyReply

  9. Shiloh Walker
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 07:56:28

    If I’d attended RWA, this would have been on my list.

    Sorry it wasn’t better attended.

    In order for plagiarism to stop within the writing community, the attitude of the writing community must change. I don't mean for the online community, but the writing community. Authors must stand up for other authors.

    This sums it up perfectly. If we shrug and say oh, well, when it happens, it makes it that much easier for it to keep happening.

    Should it happen to us, unless we’ve understood the gravity when it happens to others, we have no right getting upset when it happens to us.

    Writers work hard to put those words to paper and that needs to be respected. That’s all there is to it.

    edited…very much missing the ‘preview’ feature

    ReplyReply

  10. Shiloh Walker
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 07:58:40

    BTW, the pic? Too cute.

    ReplyReply

  11. Mireya
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 08:01:30

    The issue with plagiarism is that the romance industry in general, has not made any sort of effort to make the case across that it is WRONG. Janet Daily got away with it easy and even got more contracts. Cassie Edwards may have lost her contracts with Penguin, but her other publisher is still quite happy to have her. This also applies to the readership. Loyal fans find justification in the actions of their beloved authors. This sends the message that plagiarim is not such a big issue at all… unless you are the individual wronged, in which case it is nobody’s problem except for the person wronged. It is sad, but that is the message that we get, and your report on the lack of attendance to that panel just comes to prove it. At least imho. The funny thing is that RWA is supposed to be attended by authors published and yet to be published, and ANY of them could be victimized at any time by a plagiarist … and that plagiarist may be even someone they’ve met in those conferences.

    As to the media, they go for the angle that sells, and let’s face it TROLLING (which is what they mostly do) sells, because of the reactions they get. We’ve had it with romance, we’ve had it with politics, we’ve had it even with online relationships (as someone who met her husband in an online RPG, it enrages me that they often choose to talk about the horror cases, instead of the MANY cases in which a relationship actually blossomed).

    I don’t think that many authors have been plagiarized, but that doesn’t make the issue less important or for it to have less impact, but I guess that until stronger statements come from the big publishing houses in the form of literally blacklisting someone caught plagiarizing, it’s going to barely make a dent… and since publishing houses care more about making money than anything else … well, I doubt we’ll ever see that happen. Cassie Edwards books are still selling like hotcakes …

    ReplyReply

  12. JulieLeto
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 08:10:48

    I would have been there, but it was on Saturday morning. I know the worst attended workshop I ever gave was on a Saturday morning…followed by one that was in the last slot on Saturday afternoon before the RITAs. I have no idea if that contributed to your attendance, I really don’t.

    But talking to me would have been preaching to the choir.

    I did want to say, though, that I appreciate Nora taking on this fight for us and I’ll be a foot soldier whenever she needs me. I was plagiarized too and was soundly attacked for being offended by it. On a much smaller scale, of course, but I still understand.

    Still, thanks so much for doing this recap.

    ReplyReply

  13. Michelle Monkou
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 08:16:03

    To be honest, I attended because it was Nora speaking and I wanted to show my support with my presence. I know what plaigerism is and I don’t like it.

    I also think that people don’t believe that it will happen to them (meaning that the odds are against it happening to them because who would want to steal from them). Nora is popular and successful, therefore her works are worth stealing. I think that’s the theory.

    If I can put it another way, you know when someone is attacked in a good neighborhood and everyone is in a daze that it could happen to them. Then they get mad and start an activist group or support group. And that’s how MADD started and now it’s petered out or evolved. I think people may be treating it as the next soapbox moment.

    And the solution for that is to continue putting out articles, continue having workshops, continue having experts and authors share their stories and their fight. I also think that the local chapters are equally capable of working at the grassroots level. If all the chapters agreed to have at least one workshop and one article in the newsletters in 2009, members can’t help but be aware. You can’t force them to come to the national workshop, but the point isn’t to fill up seats. The point is to stir a measure of responsibility.

    Michelle

    ReplyReply

  14. Jane
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 08:20:59

    You can't force them to come to the national workshop, but the point isn't to fill up seats. The point is to stir a measure of responsibility.

    Michelle, that is such a good point. It may be that chapters are best suited to handle this issue more than nationals.

    ReplyReply

  15. Robin Bayne
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 08:48:43

    Have to agree with Roslyn–I suspect many writers assume they know what it is and not to do it.

    ReplyReply

  16. veinglory
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 08:52:43

    I think plagiarism clearly does bother authors. Maybe the panel was just not well targeted or described.

    Because if it was to explain what plagiarism was, I wouldn’t go–I know what plagiarism is and don’t feel a deep need to be preached to about the evils of something I am acutely aware of (as a writer and former university lecturer). If it was to tell people they should care, I wouldn’t go–I already care and would be irritated by an address that assumed I didn’t. If it was to complain that it was happening, I wouldn’t go–I know it is happening.

    If it was to *do* something about it, well you were at RWA, otherwise I would be there. If you want proactive authors, a conservative organisation may not be the best, first place to look.

    Just my 2c.

    ReplyReply

  17. Toddson
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 08:53:16

    I think part of the problem may be that romance writers, falling in with the general perception, aren’t taking their work as seriously as would writers in other fields. People wave off romances with “they’re all the same”, dismissing the time and effort the writers put into their work to get it right. They aren’t all the same – as in any genre there are the good, the bad, and the mediocre. But I expect that each is one where the author has done the work; even if it’s a bad book, the author will have put in the time and effort to come up with something of their own. I know several writers and I’m aware of the work they put into their books. They write, and research, and draft, and revise, and edit, and polish until they have a book they feel is worth reading.

    Romance novels sell – they’re what, 25 percent of all book sales? By economics alone – leaving aside pride in your work and ethics – shouldn’t plagiarism in this field be taken as seriously as in any other?

    ReplyReply

  18. Jaci Burton
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 08:54:24

    That room should have been packed. People–especially writers–can’t bury their heads in the sand and pretend this matter doesn’t affect them, or that it’s someone else’s burden to carry. It’s everyone’s burden and we all have to be aware and knowledgeable.

    I’ve been plagiarized before. It sucks.

    I’m sorry I missed RWA this year. I’ll be in DC next year and if you have a panel,my butt will be in the front row. And let’s hope they give you a better day and time.

    Thanks for the summary Jane.

    ReplyReply

  19. cecilia
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 09:04:44

    Plagiarism would be if I took Pride and Prejudice, a book that is in the public domain and is not copyrighted any longer, and reprinted it with my name on it.

    I think it should be added that plagiarism is also if you take Pride and Prejudice and paraphrase it and claim it as your own.

    ReplyReply

  20. Gina
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 09:07:08

    Here’s how it appeared in the conference program:

    Theft of Creative Property

    Speakers: Dr. John Barrie, Jane Little, and Nora Roberts
    Join Dr. John Barrie, the creator of the architecture and technology behind iThenticate and Turnitin, and best-selling author Nora Roberts and attorney and dearauthor.com blogger Jane Little for a Q&A session on plagiarism. Special moderator: Sarah from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.

    That’s not a call to arms. It sounds more like a panel to discuss what plagiarism is (Q&A). I didn’t go because I know what plagiarism is and I’m foursquare against it. I didn’t see a compelling reason to attend from the writeup when I had a reason to attend a YA panel that was at the same time.

    In retrospect I’m sorry I missed it, especially if my attending would have done anything to prevent plagiarism, although to be honest, I’m not sure how it would.

    ReplyReply

  21. Nora Roberts
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 09:09:49

    On the time slot, I asked for the panel very late, as the idea it was needed came to me after the Edwards’ business. RWA did what they could to fit it in, and I’m grateful there.

    I also felt, frankly, that so many of the comments during the Edwards’ thing demonstrated just how many writers (and readers) have no clear idea what constitutes plagiarism and infringement. And that too many feel it’s not an important issue.

    Jane’s statement regarding a change in community attitude about the issue was, I felt, an imperative. Nothing changes here unless we in the community change it.

    A measure of responsibility–Michelle, that’s perfectly said.

    ReplyReply

  22. DS
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 09:11:28

    Sort of OT but related to the perils of plagiarism for the author.

    I would like to offer this URL http://www.kgglaub.com/ which contains a time line for an ongoing battle with– someone very odd, It could be one person, it could be more, it could be a group, e.g., the Meowers. (You’ll just have to wiki Meow Wars if you want more information on that because I don’t feel adequate to explain what happened on Usenet at that time.)

    Anyway the villain in this piece picked up a Romance by Catherine Creel called Wildsong and republished it using POD after changing the location from Medieval Ireland to Ancient Greece without bothering to change much else. The link under the heading “Is ‘The Fates’ Really ‘Wildsong’ by Catherine Creel” takes you to a very long thread on Amazon UK about the discovery and detective work that helped them arrive at that conclusion.

    Although The Fates was apparently taken down from the UK Amazon site, it is still up on the US site with even a Kindle edition available and it has 18 five star reviews.

    ReplyReply

  23. Kalen Hughes
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 09:48:14

    There were only 2 workshops that were “must attend” for me and one of them conflicted with this panel (which otherwise I would have attended). I did discuss attending with several friends, but it would have been more as a show of support since we all understand the issue (we'd have been part of the choir to which you preached). I do know people who went and they said it was great.

    Sadly, it seems to me that-’like so many other issues-’those who most need to be educated in this area are the least likely to attend. I know for a fact that the one friend I have who adamantly puts Jane/Sarah/Candy in the “mean girls” club over their “persecution” of Cassie Edwards stated emphatically that she'd never attend something like this. *sigh*

    ReplyReply

  24. Kathryn Smith
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 10:05:04

    I feel quite ashamed but I must admit to not knowing about this panel. I can only assume it fell at a time when I had something else scheduled. Jane, did they record it?

    ReplyReply

  25. katiebabs
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 10:15:52

    Plagiarism disgusts me and anyone else who thinks it is not an issue needs to have their head checked.
    This was the one panel I really wanted to go to, but had to leave to catch a plane home :(
    I really think writers’ conferences should have this type of panel each year to educate the public.

    ReplyReply

  26. Linda I.
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 10:23:39

    I wasn’t at National this year, but I would have loved to have heard this panel. Was plagiarism or copyright infringement from Internet sources discussed? I’ve found this can be an issue, and some authors don’t understand that you can’t lift information from websites and insert it randomly into their stories. I’m curious if this topic came up.

    ReplyReply

  27. Jane
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 10:33:47

    It was recorded. As Nora said, it was scheduled late and I didn’t get my paper in until late and so its not on the CD (although its available for download for convention goers).

    We talked a bit about online stuff. There were alot of questions about fan fiction and piracy. We talked about legal remedies and how that isn’t the most effective remedy because of costs and copyright registration issues. Dr. Barrie fielded questions about his program.

    ReplyReply

  28. Jessica
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 10:42:46

    Other than the time, I was napping before a night out, I didn’t attend the panel because I’m an attorney who feels fairly well versed in the topics at hand.

    I have been disappointed (Nora R. notwithstanding) with victim authors’ unwillingness to go after the offending author/publisher. Though I understand the cost, remedies can include attorneys’ fees and disgorging profits – which can help an victimized author recoup. But as a lawyer, I’m probably fairly ruthless.

    A better sense of what the panel hoped to impart, accomplish would be helpful, I think. I would encourage you to try the presentation a second time in D.C.

    ReplyReply

  29. azteclady
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 10:47:15

    I keep thinking that those who most need to be educated on the topic are the most resistant to be educated–Kalen Hugues’ comment about her friend, after the many discussions about the facts of the case, just reinforces this impression.

    ReplyReply

  30. Melissa McClone
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 11:10:05

    hanks for summing up the workshop, Jane! I do think authors need to educate themselves about copyright and plagiarism. Some of us, myself included, don’t know as much as we think we know.

    Nora had mentioned the panel at her Chat with session I attended, but since it said Q & A session in the description (which in my experience are the audience asking questions with not a lot else) I went to the one on Saturday afternoon called: Issues for Writers: an Author's Guide to Protecting Your Rights and Avoiding Liability by author and lawyer Teresa Bodwell.

    I’m sorry I missed the panel. Definitely sounds like one to buy when they offer the downloads.

    ReplyReply

  31. Sarai
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 11:12:23

    If this was in DC next year I would attend. I think the information is needed and useful.

    ReplyReply

  32. Jackie Barbosa
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 11:18:56

    I think part of the problem may be that romance writers, falling in with the general perception, aren't taking their work as seriously as would writers in other fields.

    With all due respect, I don’t think THAT’S the problem. Authors in other “serious” fields have plagiarized with little or no fall-out (Doris Kearns Goodwin, anyone?).

    Honestly, my hide is more than a little chapped by the implication here…that romance authors are less devoted to their craft than authors in other genres. The 2,000+ attendees at the RWA conference argues pretty strongly, IMO, against the theory that romance writers aren’t “serious” about what they do.

    Unless and until PUBLISHERS take plagiarism seriously, however, I suspect there will be little change in the current climate, no matter how many people attend panels on the subject. Because, while it’s the author’s intellectual property that’s being violated by plagiarism, the publisher’s exclusive right to SELL that intellectual property on the author’s behalf is also infringed. And if publishers saw it that way–that plagiarism of their authors’ work is stealing money out of THEIR pockets–I suspect we’d see a lot more plagiarists suffering real, monetary consequences for their transgressions. But as long as it’s up to the authors to pursue these suits, they’ll be few and far between. Authors’ pockets are, frankly, not usually that deep.

    ReplyReply

  33. Kalen Hughes
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 11:37:34

    I keep thinking that those who most need to be educated on the topic are the most resistant to be educated-Kalen Hugues' comment about her friend, after the many discussions about the facts of the case, just reinforces this impression.

    The friend in question perfectly understands the issue (and believe you me, if she was the one being plagiarized the lawsuit would be nasty), she just thinks that the blogs in question are mean-spirited and doesn’t want anything to do with them. We have agreed to disagree.

    I keep thinking that those who most need to be educated on the topic are the most resistant to be educated-Kalen Hugues' comment about her friend, after the many discussions about the facts of the case, just reinforces this impression.

    The friend in question perfectly understands the issue (and believe you me, if she was the one being plagiarized the lawsuit would be nasty), she just thinks that the blogs in question are mean-spirited and doesn’t want anything to do with them. We have agreed to disagree.

    I guess I'm just surprised as hell that more authors are NOT speaking out about it and are not actively trying to do something about it. One can only assume that the reason why plagiarism isn't taken so seriously is that probably others have done it one time or another and are ashamed about it OR view it as something trivial, not a big deal. Just guessing and I could be wrong so please don't attack me. However, plagiarism is treated as some type of dirty secret in the writing community.

    I think this is a VERY big assumption (and this is not the first or only timed I've seen this opinion expressed). I don't know any actual published authors who think plagiarism (or copyright violation) is ok. It would have to be endemic for it to be a “dirty secret in the writing community” IMO, and I haven't seen any proof that plagiarism is anything other than an anomaly (thank god).
    Given the lack of any real penalty for plagiarism (and the expense of bring suit for copyright violation), I'm not sure what you expect authors to do about it? Aside from condemning it when it happens (and I think the vast majority of us do so quite vocally), the remedy for this plague belongs to the publishers. If they chose not to take action, all we can do is complain as loudly as possible and attempt to shame them into acting. If that doesn't work, then we appear to be SOL. And if the profits for publishing the like of Janet Daily and Cassie Edwards outweigh the potential liability (and clearly they do), we're likely to be ignored. It's like pointing out that the star quarterback cheated on an exam. No one with the power to do anything about it wants to listen.

    ReplyReply

  34. Kalen Hughes
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 11:39:38

    My copy/past skills are clearly lacking today . . . and as usual I can’t get the damn edit function to work. *sigh*

    ReplyReply

  35. bettie
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 11:54:33

    I enjoyed the panel. The low turnout was surprising, especially given the standing-room-only crowd at the “Q&A with Nora Roberts” session Friday night, and the many impassioned internet responses from both sides over the Cassie Edwards scandal.

    Dr. Barrie’s discussion of his software was fascinating, but the more he talked about academia’s response to plagiarism the more I wanted to hear from the publishing side. If you have another plagiarism panel at the D.C. conference (I hope you do), I would love to see editors, agents and maybe even a bookseller on the panel.

    I am certain Nora’s description of her experience struck a nerve with every writer in the room, and it also left me thinking, “If it’s this difficult for Nora Roberts to get a crime against her taken seriously, how much hope do the rest of us have?”

    For me, that really drove home a point that was made in the discussion: The romance community must take collective hard line against plagiarism and copyright crimes because (as was made painfully clear by the Edwards incident) a strong community response is the only protection most writers will get.

    ReplyReply

  36. Rebecca
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 12:24:56

    Some possibilities for next year at National.

    A presentation as part of Chapters Leadership Retreat. ( Used to be called Chap Presidents Retreat.)

    A workshop/online discussion as part of Chaplink.

    A presentation as part of the pro retreat.

    A presentation at the pan retreat.

    A task force on this issue appointed by the Board and given a mission and a charge to fulfill regarding this issue.

    ReplyReply

  37. Robin
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 12:27:50

    The lack of turn out perplexes me. At the very least, plagiarism got enough headlines last year for authors and conference attendees to at least be aware of the problem. This is an issue that affects (effects?) their income stream and their intellectual property. Doesn't it matter to them?

    It doesn’t perplex me, because what came across to me during Savage-Gate (TM Seressia Glass) was that there were several distinct groups of responses: 1) how dare those bitches take on Cassie Edwards, 2) I know what plagiarism is and I’m against it, 3) Yeah, well, I know it’s wrong but I can’t get too worked up about it, 4) Holy crapola, we’ve got to do something about this! I think that the turn-out reflects those proportions, as well.

    First of all, I believe that RWA should send, unsolicited, a recording of that panel to every one of it’s members. IMO RWA would benefit hugely by being proactive here, and that’s a way they could do so. Plus, I know there are authors who are embarrassed to come forward and say they don’t really understand all the terms here, and that would be a way for them to get some clarification privately.

    Also, I would make a small plea to those authors who do not believe they need to attend a presentation like this one because they already know what’s what with plagiarism and copyright to attend in support of the topic itself and in support of authors who have been plagiarized and cannot get anyone else to stand up for them. IMO this issue comes down to community awareness and support more than anything else. Not just in saying, ‘yes, plagiarism is wrong,’ but in creating tangible support for that position by standing strong *as a group* and showing that strength in numerical terms. I understand that every author who didn’t go had a reason, and that they figured their presence there wouldn’t matter, but the accumulation of those decisions makes it appear that the topic isn’t important to the community. Not, I understand, that every author will be able to go, or can be forced into going, but if even half (or even a third) of the authors who did not attend for whatever reason simply made the opposite decision, I bet that room would have been overflowing with people. And what an incredible community stand against intellectual dishonesty that would have been. I don’t know; I guess I just see this as one of those ‘take one for the team’ moments.

    ReplyReply

  38. Nathalie
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 12:32:14

    “enforcement is, as you said, rarely worthwhile. The backlash against the whistleblower on the other hand is cheap and plentiful”

    Yes! Absolutely. As with any other industry, the messenger seems to be the preferred target.

    I wonder why the workshop wasn’t more popular attendance-wise. Was it because of something else concurrent? Free stuff offered somewhere? Was it well publicised?

    It’s a shame really, that people don’t seem to care all that much. There should be a scarlet letter attached to plagiarism. Maybe public humiliation would work better than trying to go the legal route (but that’s just the cynic in me talking).

    ReplyReply

  39. Maya Reynolds
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 12:39:29

    I agree with Jackie that this is NOT an issue of romance writers not taking their craft seriously enough.

    I do believe that the give-and-take world of the Internet complicates the subjects of both plagiarism and copyright.

    There was a very interesting segment on “On the Media” this week on NPR. Essentially a writer from the on-line zine Slate discovered a reporter from a small Texas weekly alternative paper was blatantly plagiarizing him and other writers. Here’s a link to the transcript of the show.

    I’ll confess I was both stunned and disappointed by the story.

    ReplyReply

  40. Lisa Hendrix
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 12:50:52

    FWIW, I spoke to several people afterward who were shocked to hear the workshop wasn’t full and said they hadn’t come specifically because they figured they wouldn’t get in — because everything Nora does is packed to the gills. Don’t know how much of that was excuse making, but I’ve been turned away from Nora workshops before, so it may reflect at least part of the reason why attendance was low.

    All I really know is that I learned a lot. Thank, Jane (and SmartBitch Sara) for pushing for this workshop. It should be repeated in some for or other every year.

    ReplyReply

  41. Jane
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 12:53:18

    It was Nora who asked for the panel. The rest of us were grateful to be included though.

    ReplyReply

  42. Chicklet
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 13:02:11

    Like bettie, I think that if the panel happens at RWA 2009, it should include a publisher’s perspective. IMHO, the publishers are the ones who need to take a strong, industry-wide stand against plagiarism and help ensure there are actual consequences when someone is found to have committed plagiarism. Sure, Signet dropped Cassie Edwards, but as far as Dorchester and Kensington are concerned, she got off scot-free.

    Of course, I’m not a writer, let alone a member of RWA, so I couldn’t attend the panel, anyway. :-)

    ReplyReply

  43. HelenKay Dimon
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 13:12:45

    Please repeat the panel, or one similar, in DC. The timing was bad this year. No question about that. I actually was on a panel at the same time, so I couldn’t even get there. But the topic is so necessary. From the ongoing problems it’s clear it’s timely as well.

    The negative part of me does wonder if this is one of those times where the people who really need the information are the least likely to attend. It’s like the workshops during the business day on sexual harassment or some other topic where those who need to be educated find something else to do. Just wondering…

    ReplyReply

  44. SonomaLass
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 13:36:35

    As an academic, I have a lot of first-hand experience with plagiarism. I teach writing and public speaking, and I have several experiences each semester with one form or another of plagiarism. I have used the TurnItIn software, and it is a great tool.

    Among teachers, I notice similar attitudes to those I’m hearing about here. Some of us don’t want to be bothered. It’s a difficult process: identifying plagiarism, confronting the student(s), assembling the evidence to support whatever consequences we are meting out, going through the various levels of appeals, all in addition to our regular workload and taking time and energy away from our good students.

    In my experience, institutional attitude makes a world of difference. When the college or university has a strong policy against plagiarism, expecting professors to deal harshly with it and supporting them while they do, it changes the culture of the institution. Schools that don’t have a unified policy, where faculty are on their own for how to deal with the problem, tend to have a culture that says it’s okay if you can get away with it.

    If publishers don’t take this seriously, as well as professional organizations and anyone else who helps set the institutional and cultural tone for the industry, authors like Nora Roberts will still be on their own and feel the heat of trying to defend their work. I know all too well how it feels to have people questioning your motives for pursuing those accusations — you’re working hard to point out that something WRONG (even illegal) has happened, and others are wondering what you have against the wrong-doer or why you are such a bitch that you would make a big deal out of this. It’s about the overall institutional attitude, and that’s what needs to change.

    ReplyReply

  45. Seressia
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 16:36:16

    Hhm, new title maybe?

    “To Copy or Not to Copy?”
    “When Imitation is NOT Flattery”
    “Rewrite Research or Regret It”
    “My Words Ain’t Your Words”
    “The P Word”
    “Be a Smart Bitch About Plagiarism”

    And give away t-shirts emblazoned with the title to attendees.

    I wasn’t able to attend SF, but I’m thinking seriously about DC. I do hope you consider revisiting the panel. An article in the RWR would be nice to.

    And Chicklet, you don’t have to be a member of RWA to attend the convention–you just pay a higher rate.

    ReplyReply

  46. Miki
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 17:55:28

    JulieLeto said:

    I was plagiarized too and was soundly attacked for being offended by it. On a much smaller scale, of course, but I still understand.

    This reader’s mind is boggling. I’m stunned to think someone could attack you for actually caring that someone claimed your words as their own!

    ReplyReply

  47. Tasha
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 18:38:29

    About a year ago I attended an editing workshop, and the presenter later told me that almost everyone who filled out the feedback survey said they thought the section on plagiarism/copyright infringement was “irrelevant” to editors and writers. I about fell off my chair.

    ReplyReply

  48. Jessica Barksdale Inclan
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 18:47:01

    I bailed after Friday due to fatigue and didn’t manage any RWA anything on Saturday.

    And–I felt that the coverage here and on SB and in the media in terms of Cassie Edwards answered most of my questions and concerns–we wrote a great deal about the whole thing. My interest is there, and if the same panel is offered in DC and I am there, I will go. It is not irrelevant to me at all, and as a writer of novels and blogs and a person whose classes are posted online, I have many, many concerns.

    Jessica

    ReplyReply

  49. Mrs Giggles
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 19:18:01

    Chiming in late, but one reason why authors like Cassie Edwards and Janet Dailey continue to sell, as a poster remarked a while ago, is because most of their fans do not know of what these authors did. The non-community coverage of the Cassie Edwards saga make me cringe in some ways because, just like the coverage of the Janet Dailey plagiarism a few years ago, some of the coverage mostly settled for cheap shots at the expense of the genre. Even the person who was plagiarized by Cassie Edwards did a pretty good job dismissing the genre, although in his case I’ll give him a pass since I wouldn’t be feeling so sanguine as well were I in his shoes. The gravity of the situation is therefore lost in the coverage.

    But… I also feel that most fans do not care whether, say, Cassie Edwards did a bad thing as long as they keep getting the stories they enjoy from her. It’s quite an unfortunate situation, but I suspect that many readers view the issue of plagiarism as something that does not concern them – it’s the author’s battle to fight.

    The workshop is important to combat the apathy displayed towards the issue, but perhaps a workshop alone is not enough.

    ReplyReply

  50. Jana Oliver
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 19:30:50

    This was the one panel I wanted to attend at National and missed it. Why? I have no freakin’ clue. I had it marked in the program book. Please repeat the panel at DC and I’ll be there. I’ll try to bring a few others, as well.

    There isn’t a gray area for me. I have a “hunt ‘em down and stake ‘em” philosophy about those who plagiarize my works. I’m forgiving about a lot of stuff, but this isn’t one of them.

    ReplyReply

  51. Lorelie
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 21:16:56

    If this was in DC next year I would attend.

    if the same panel is offered in DC and I am there, I will go

    Please repeat the panel at DC and I'll be there.

    No offense y’all, but I’m getting a preaching to the choir flavor coming off this comment thread. Other than those who pop up now and then to defend certain authors, I usually get the impression that most people who haunt this site agree that plagiarism/copy-write infringement is bad. Don’t get me wrong, I went, I enjoyed the panel (other than Nora and her scary hammer), and I think it’s a very worthwhile subject. But to get a real idea of how many RWAers would attend, maybe feelers should be put out elsewhere?

    ReplyReply

  52. Robin
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 21:44:24

    No offense y'all, but I'm getting a preaching to the choir flavor coming off this comment thread. Other than those who pop up now and then to defend certain authors, I usually get the impression that most people who haunt this site agree that plagiarism/copy-write infringement is bad. Don't get me wrong, I went, I enjoyed the panel (other than Nora and her scary hammer), and I think it's a very worthwhile subject. But to get a real idea of how many RWAers would attend, maybe feelers should be put out elsewhere?

    It may be that it’s primarily going to be the choir who attends at first, though. And I think that’s okay if it creates an aura around this issue that it DOES matter and it IS important for authors, whether they know the rules or not. ITA with you that broader advertising might bring in more folks who haven’t yet joined the choir, and I really hope that RWA holds this panel again, puts it at a better time, and hypes the crap out of it. But even if the room was full of choir members, I think that would send a really powerful message within the Romance writing community that this is something to take seriously, making it less likely that people will respond the way they did in the workshop Tasha describes and the way some did during the Edwards incident (and toward other plagiarized authors who have described their experiences here and elsewhere, the lack of support they got from their own community, etc.).

    A big part of this issue, IMO, is making a strong community stand that intellectual honesty matters. And if a lot of people attend these panels, more people will want to. And as time goes one, there are so many issues that could be addressed, from what penalties for plagiarism should and should not be implemented, whether plagiarism and copyright infringement should be a mandatory topic in local chapters, how authors who have been infringed have responded/should respond, what role editors and publishers should play, etc.

    And I completely agree with the comments that at least one person from the publishing arm of the industry should present if the panel is repeated.

    ReplyReply

  53. Shiloh Walker
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 22:20:54

    It may be that it's primarily going to be the choir who attends at first, though. And I think that's okay if it creates an aura around this issue that it DOES matter and it IS important for authors, whether they know the rules or not

    I’ll second that.

    It’s those who care about it the most that are going to be talking to others, and probably educating.

    ReplyReply

  54. Kaetrin
    Aug 12, 2008 @ 23:23:35

    Wow – am having a fangirl moment. Yay Nora! I have recently discovered Eve Dallas and Roarke and I love them! Thank you!.

    I have also only recently discovered DA and SB so am only just now learning about this issue (naive me, didn’t realise it had been happening..) I don’t have any problem with an author defending their ownership of his/her work – this is what they do, this is his/her talent. I’d be pissed off about it too. And, if nobody does anything, then it won’t stop.

    Stealing isn’t flattery, it’s just stealing.

    (BTW Nora, if you do hunt anyone down like a “rabid dog” and bring the “freakin’ wrath of God” on them – can I watch??? I’d like to see it. Maybe it would be more of a deterrent…!!) :)

    ReplyReply

  55. Kylie Creel
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 01:09:44

    Nora and Jane, I can tell you that I wanted to go to that panel, but I honestly thought it’d be packed. Other workshops I went to were standing room only, so I thought for sure this one would be too. Now that I know it wasn’t, I’m kicking myself! Please, please, please consider doing this again for DC next year. I am very much still interested in it! And Nora, good for you for talking about it. I don’t see that as petty and crass at all, it’s standing up for YOUR work!

    ReplyReply

  56. Kylie Creel
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 01:37:39

    Question…is there a chapter/website/organization/blog/SOMETHING that is targeted for writers AND readers against plagiarism? Like should something called, well, uh, Writer’s Against Plagiarism be formed to help educate the public and the internet community about this growing problem? Of course, if there is something out there, please point me in the right direction!

    ReplyReply

  57. Jana Oliver
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 09:10:22

    A good website for reference purposes is Plagiarism.org

    If you want to get the word out, talk to interested groups. I did a presentation on plagiarism at a state university last spring. It was right after the C.E. issue raised its ugly head, so it was timely. The “P” problem is just as prevalent in the schools as it in the publishing industry. Teach ‘em young and maybe they won’t take the easy way out.

    ReplyReply

  58. Diana Castilleja
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 09:22:42

    I’ll have to come back and read the posts. My son is clamoring for his toast.

    But my heartfelt opinion is that room should have been filled. (I wasn’t able to attend SF this year) There is a very strong distinction between the two that has to be understood. It might be that some authors don’t care, or expect it won’t happen to them.

    The thing that bothers me the most is that the industry on a whole can’t be united about plagiarism. Seeing books on the shelf with nothing more then a new cover, a new title, makes me want to cry.

    I don’t think I’ll be in DC, but if if this panel is offered when I can attend, I’ll go.

    ReplyReply

  59. Sandra McDonald
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 09:35:37

    This sounds like just the kind of panel I would have loved to attend! Thanks for the recap.

    Two quick points —

    1. As a college instructor, I deal with student plagiarism every term. Often it is caused by laziness, other times by panic. Rarely does it tie into a conscious disregard for other people’s intellectual property rights. For many students it’s like the speed limit — breaking it only matters if you get caught. Mind you, I don’t agree with any of this, but that’s what I see.

    2. At Readercon last month I sat on a panel with the brilliant Jonathan Lethem as we discussed his essay “The Ecstasy of Influence,” a fascinating look at the gift economy of stories and how we pass them from one to another in a world of increasingly stringent intellectual property claims. (The article is available online – google the title).

    Also, I think you meant Governor Deval Patrick not Governor Duval.

    ReplyReply

  60. Catherine
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 10:02:22

    Plagiarism is an issue I deal with often at my part-time instructor job. I am appalled at the administrators in our schools that brush off plagiarism, sometimes with statements like: “You really need to think about whether you want to punish so-and-so for plagiarism. I mean, if they have this on their record, they won’t be able to get into the Honor Society next year.” (I could only respond with, “Duh.”)
    Or the classic, “THIS student’s parents will be up here within 5 minutes of me calling so-and-so into my office for this. Let’s just let it go this time.”

    Needless to say, I now have the reputation as an instructor who has “nothing better to do” than to google random phrases in writing assignments to see if students plagiarized. I say GOOD.

    ReplyReply

  61. Gail Dayton
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 10:26:42

    I have been disappointed (Nora R. notwithstanding) with victim authors' unwillingness to go after the offending author/publisher. Though I understand the cost, remedies can include attorneys' fees and disgorging profits – which can help an victimized author recoup. But as a lawyer, I'm probably fairly ruthless.

    It’s expensive, but as the woman sitting in front of me in the panel pointed out–if you DON’T go after the offender–as she did not, in the case of a former employee taking her meditation CDs and marketing them in Mexico as her own work in a case of both copyright infringement and plagiarism–the person who has stolen your work can then turn around and claim that You were the one who stole from Them. It can be necessary to act.

    This needs to be a “metastasizing” movement, to borrow a medical metaphor. We need to build up the choir and move out to “infect” the rest of the world. I like the idea of having workshops at all of the various segments of the RWA population. And articles in chapter newsletters. One article, with permission to go on the newsletter editor’s loop, can be published in every chapter newsletter in RWA. (Jane, want to write one?)

    I do think that it needs to be clarified that Ideas (like titles) can neither be copyrighted nor plagiarized. Probably a good thing, given how many vampire, cowboy, marriage of convenience, secret baby, virgin, sheikh books have been written. But if someone takes the actual words I’ve written–even if they tinker with them slightly–and sticks them in their own book… Yeah. I got a hammer too.

    ReplyReply

  62. Leslie Dicken
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 13:31:58

    I attended this and was quite surprised at the low turn-out, as well. I learned a lot more than I expected to. Thanks to all involved for putting together such an informative topic and presenting it at the conference.

    See you in DC (just 20 mins from home!) !!!

    ReplyReply

  63. Publishing potpourri for 100, Alex | Moriah Jovan
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 13:39:25

    [...] the copyright and plagiarism issue, which seems to be thought of in PublishingVille as the crazy aunt in the attic of intellectual property law. What, publishers, you don’t have enough stake in seeing that your property is stolen that [...]

  64. Deb Kinnard
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 14:32:17

    What has RWA done about this topic as an organization? Supported authors in any way with their attempts to fight individual cases? Filed amicus briefs with the respective courts? Published articles explaining the topics and citing the authors who commit this crime?

    I’m no longer a member of RWA, but am curious to know what they are doing as a body to advocate for authors.

    ReplyReply

  65. Chrissy
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 14:43:45

    The fact that so few attended speaks volumes.

    And depresses me.

    A lot.

    ReplyReply

  66. Keishon
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 17:11:01

    But… I also feel that most fans do not care whether, say, Cassie Edwards did a bad thing as long as they keep getting the stories they enjoy from her.

    You are right about that. We as a online community have friends offline too and meet other readers so (a lack of knowledge is there and b) some readers really don’t care

    ReplyReply

  67. stephanie feagan
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 17:32:39

    Wow, guilt is eating my lunch. I intended to be front and center. Then I had a conflict and didn’t make the panel. I’m so sorry, Nora and Jane! I do want to offer a humongous thank-you for your time and effort, and will do all I can to promote a similar workshop next year, so that turnout is better.

    Stef

    ReplyReply

  68. Kalen Hughes
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 17:47:01

    What has RWA done about this topic as an organization? I'm no longer a member of RWA, but am curious to know what they are doing as a body to advocate for authors.

    They have addressed the issue in multiple forams (online, in our monthly newsletter, and at the conference). Beyond that, I don't think there have been any recent cases that have had legs (so to speak).

    In the Kaavya Viswanathan case, the book was withdrawn by the publisher.

    Hidden Passion (the “ode” to Jane Eyre that finaled in the EPPIE) was withdrawn by the publisher.

    The Cassie Edwards case is another beast altogether, since she can't be sued for plagiarizing sources in the public domain (as many of hers are) and it's not finically feasible for academics to sue her for use of their copyrighted materials, as they would be hard-pressed to demonstrate monetary damages. The only real punishment possible is the distain of her peers and the loss of her publishing contracts (and has already been pointed out, if she's still earning $ for them, she'll always have a home). CE is not a member of RWA, so she can't even be booted out for her behavior.

    I do, however, find it beyond shocking that Janet Daily is still shown on the RWA website as being the recipient/holder of the 1993 RWA Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. That seems really tacky.

    ReplyReply

  69. Keishon
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 20:20:15

    I do, however, find it beyond shocking that Janet Daily is still shown on the RWA website as being the recipient/holder of the 1993 RWA Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. That seems really tacky

    Shut UP. Are you for real? Wow. I’ve tarried around this blog almost all day. I am gone now.

    ReplyReply

  70. Jane
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 20:21:16

    I agree. That is astonishing. I think the award was renamed this year, but . . . it doesn’t look good.

    ReplyReply

  71. azteclady
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 22:24:30

    Seriously?

    ouch

    ReplyReply

  72. Nora Roberts
    Aug 14, 2008 @ 06:14:17

    Stef, no guilt please! You helped make the panel possible. I’m more than willing to repeat my part of it next year, or help in any way to encourage a similar panel on the slate in D.C.

    As to Dailey being listed as a recipient for the award now carrying my name, yeah, huge ouch. I hope that can be rectified, and quickly.

    ReplyReply

  73. Kalen Hughes
    Aug 14, 2008 @ 09:09:21

    As to Dailey being listed as a recipient for the award now carrying my name, yeah, huge ouch. I hope that can be rectified, and quickly.

    I’m sooooo thinking there need to be some letters sent . . . a whole lot of letters.

    ReplyReply

  74. Satin Puzzle
    Aug 14, 2008 @ 14:32:18

    Nora,

    A friend called me in 1998 to tell me she’d just watched a scene from my (unpublished, first draft, workshopped) short story enacted word for word on a soap. The scene was unusual and came from my own personal experience. That same year poem of mine was made into a song without my knowledge. Another poem of mine was claimed by another, and I was accused of being the thief. I did nothing about the first two incidents, I had no idea how to go about it and was new to writing, but with the last one I tromped on the so-called poet with all I had.

    I tell you this to let you know someone understands the deep outrage from the personal level.

    Doug Clegg wrote me that a woman had stolen his whole novel. You’ll be glad to know he went after her and won.

    Plagiarism and copyright infringement are good, accurate words, but don’t seem to carry the weight of what they’ve done. To me it’s simple–they’re thieves. They’ve stolen something that came from inside you.

    I hope many more attend your next dip into this subject.

    Jo

    ReplyReply

  75. Robin
    Aug 14, 2008 @ 14:57:07

    I guess I’m at a loss to understand why RWA didn’t rescind the award to Dailey. I mean, they’re the primary professional organization for Romance writers, and what they do or don’t do carries some weight.

    It’s too bad that this is the kind of situation that tends to engender a certain tolerance until someone experiences it personally. Everyone seems at a loss for what to do, what to do, when so much of what can be done is in small gestures — like rescinding an award given to the author who plagiarized the award’s namesake and delivering the message that no matter what anyone else thinks, the RWA doesn’t find plagiarism the least little bit acceptable.

    ReplyReply

  76. AndreaTwo
    Aug 14, 2008 @ 18:05:39

    I think readers should be made more aware of plagerism and need to take the time to speak out about the issue. As a consumer, I don’t want to read the same story or passage twice in different books. I certainly don’t want “my authors” to be hurt, both personally and professionally, by plagerism. Since there are only so many books published I don’t want “my authors” to be denied a contract because one of the publishing slots was taken by a dishonest author. I also don’t know how well authors can police this by themselves since they are presumably writing most of the time, not reading.

    I agree that the publishing industry needs to get more serious about punishing transgressors; if more readers sent letters to editors about plagerism it might help the problem.

    ReplyReply

  77. Michelle Monkou
    Aug 14, 2008 @ 18:43:36

    Re: RWA Workshops for Conference.

    Workshop proposals can be submitted as early as NOW. In the RWR magazine, there is the workshop application for 2009 on page 29. The magazine is also online at http://rwanational.org.

    ReplyReply

  78. mia madwyn
    Aug 14, 2008 @ 19:58:15

    Kalen Hughes says:

    Sadly, it seems to me that-’like so many other issues-’those who most need to be educated in this area are the least likely to attend. I know for a fact that the one friend I have who adamantly puts Jane/Sarah/Candy in the “mean girls” club over their “persecution” of Cassie Edwards stated emphatically that she'd never attend something like this. *sigh*

    But the atmosphere in RWA and amongst writers should be so strongly against the very idea of plagiarism that someone like the friend wouldn’t dare voice that opinion without fearing looking like an idiot.

    I haven’t been an RWA member in a number of years, but were I still a member I might not have attended the workshop because its description (as quoted above) sounds deadly dull and doesn’t imply any kind of “call to action” (as someone else noted). If it were more action-oriented rather than scholarly, I wonder if the attendance might not have been higher.

    If it had been more about Nora Roberts wanting to rescue the soul of the industry and teach everyone else how to fight the good fight, I’d have been there with colours flying.

    ReplyReply

  79. Mary Stella
    Aug 14, 2008 @ 22:53:05

    I attended the panel. Jane and Nora, your information was excellent. (Okay, I’ll admit it. Some of the professor’s material flew a bit over my head at the end of the day.

    I think the panel should be repeated at every National Conference, and written up in the RWR so that all members have access to the information. I shared that opinion with a friend of mine on the RWA Board.

    In addition to the solid information, one more thing I took out of that panel was the need for a united community effort against plagiarism. Yes, people can, and should, speak out against it, but I want to think of ways to raise awareness of the issue. It’s a small thing, and largely symbolic, but I suggested to SB Sarah that we need a web widget/button that we can display on our websites and blogs that shows we are writers against plagiarism. Sarah’s web-talented and could create something like this. I made a similar suggestion to my Bo-Mem friend that RWA could also design such a widget.

    Sometimes a simple button gets someone’s attention which leads to conversation, which further creates awareness.

    ReplyReply

  80. Bernadette Marie
    Aug 15, 2008 @ 12:42:39

    I did attend this panel and I learned a lot!!! I admit I gave up reading for almost 20 years just so I wouldn’t accidently pick something up from someone else! I will admit I was freaked out by the chance I'd do this, because I certainly wouldn't ever do this intentionally. I did myself a great injustice! Now after reading 38 books this year alone, I've never borrowed anything. I guess I have a conscience. So it surprises me others don't!
    The panel did a great job of specifying what plagiarism was and what happens to those who can’t seem to be creative in their own right. I took this information home and started conversations with my 10 and 8 year old. Education starts now! You do your own work, take your own credit and give credit where it’s due if you “quote” correctly someone's work. Thanks to Nora for asking for the panel. The education was priceless! I’ll be there next year to support the cause!!!

    ReplyReply

  81. Beverly
    Aug 15, 2008 @ 14:36:21

    Dailey is no longer listed on the RWA website as the winner of the award (http://www.rwanational.org/cs/lifetime_achievement/past_recipients). 1993 is simply left off. It doesn’t say whether that’s because they are considering/have rescinded it, or because they are just sticking their head in the sand. The optimist in me hopes that they realized that it’s a bit of a conflict to have an award given to Janet Dailey be named after Nora Roberts and they will rescind it. I think all RWA members should demand an explanation. I would.

    ReplyReply

  82. Kalen Hughes
    Aug 15, 2008 @ 15:37:31

    Dailey is no longer listed on the RWA website as the winner of the award. 1993 is simply left off.

    That’s interesting, she was there on Wed when looked and posted here.

    ReplyReply

  83. Sara Dennis
    Aug 15, 2008 @ 22:40:51

    As I said over on Karen Scott’s site, I was at the panel, despite having read a lot about it online while the Edwards issue was happening, despite it being Saturday and after Friday parties, and despite the fact that I was sick as a dog.

    I didn’t go because I don’t know what plagiarism is, but because, as some others have suggested, I wanted to show my support for the panel in the first place. Discussion about what should/can be done in the future can’t happen if people are suggesting that the discussion be hushed or shouldn’t be held in public.

    If the panel is held in D.C., yes, editor/publisher response to this would be great. It would be *really* nice to have someone from Dailey and Edwards’s publishers there to explain why they *haven’t* taken more action against these women.

    But if it’s held again, I’ll be there. Hopefully the room will be standing room only this time around.

    ReplyReply

  84. Angie
    Aug 16, 2008 @ 19:26:44

    About repeating this every year, I agree that there should be a panel on plagiarism each year, and at every similar industry event, but I disagree that this particular panel should be repeated. First, if the same panel is just repeated over and over, you’re likely to get fewer attendees each year, not more. Second, if the point is to have people come to show mass condemnation of plagiarism, I think the write-up needs to be redone to express that, because what was given really didn’t get that across.

    If this panel was put in at the last minute, then that’s cool and it’s great that there was anything at all. But the data from the low attendance this time should be used to plan ahead for next year, and adjustments made so the result is closer to what folks are looking for.

    Angie

    ReplyReply

Leave a Reply

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

%d bloggers like this: