Plagiarism Sucks: It's More Than Just Drama is an idea created by myself and two of my fellow bloggers, Jessi/Geo at Auntie Spinelli Reads and Hannah/Inky at Book Haven Extraordinaire. They, along with many of my blogging friends were furious when they found about about this plagiarism issue and immediately backed me along with many others. But the three of us decided to create a trio of posts regarding plagiarism, specifically highlighting this situation.
I can't believe I have to deal with this subject again. I tried to avoid getting dragged into the drama the last time plagiarism occurred in the blogosphere, but I was dragged into it anyway. This time, I am unfortunately at the center of it.
I also want to apologize for this post being somewhat disorganized. I tried to make it neat as much as I could.
So, almost a week ago now, I was hanging out on twitter, because that's what I do. Then, strangely, by complete accident, I came across a review that was being promoted by a blogger as part of the Release blog tour. And, strangely, the text sounded exactly like something I had written linking to a blog that was not mine.
Before I go on, I want to be clear that this blogger was not involved in this. It is simply her tweet that led me to discover this plagiarism, and I am grateful for that, because without me seeing that this blog might still be getting away with this. She has been incredibly supportive throughout this horrible situation and I am not implicating her in any way.
So, moving on. I looked at the review and I knew right away that it was my work. So I compared it against mine, and sure enough, entire paragraphs of my review had been plagiarized. Oh, they had some paragraphs in their review that weren't mine (which I later discovered were also plagiarized–read on and I explain). But that doesn't change the fact that they stole my original review, claiming it as their own.
The first thing I did was contact Matt, the author of Release, who in turn contacted Valerie, the tour host, and they immediately backed me, because they're awesome and that's what they do. I then wrote an email to the owners of the plagiarist blog, Up-To-Date Reviewing. So please, don't look them up. I am not linking to them because I don't want them to gain traffic from this. I also spoke to several of my trusted friends on twitter through direct messaging, because I truly wanted to keep this a private situation as much as possible.
As we worked through this situation together, we discovered a horrible truth.
I was not the only blogger Up-To-Date-Reviewing had plagiarized reviews from.
I was absolutely horrified to discover this. If it was just me that they stole from, we could've resolved this privately and therefore avoided a public confrontation. I asked the bloggers in a private email to remove the content they had stolen from me and that they privately apologize to me. Before emailing them, however, I took screenshots of my stolen content on my blog as evidence and check the statistics websites I use to screenshot evidence of their visits to my blog.
Up-To-Date Reviewing has stolen content from at least six blogs at last count, and I'm not sure what the count is up to now. They obviously thought they wouldn't get caught, or they wouldn't have done it. But if there's one thing I know it's that you can't hide forever. When you make your bed, you gotta lay in it.
Once we discovered this, it seemed like all hopes of resolving this privately were lost. Up-To-Date Reviewing began to remove all the plagiarized content from their blog, but they did not contact or apologize to the owners of the blogs they stole from. They were clearly trying to sweep it under the rug and pretend it never happened. And that is absolutely not okay. They made their decision when they plagiarized and they have to deal with the consequences.
If they had apologized right away and seemed remorseful, maybe things would have been different. But I guess we'll never know.
I did later receive a non-apology email from the blogger who did not plagiarize, and I hear that others did as well. In this email, she not only played the victim but went so far as to actually threaten everyone to leave her alone. Ordinarily, I respect the privacy of email correspondence. However, I am not the only one who agrees that in this case, she deserves none of that. As such, I have provided a breakdown of the email here.
Just as a warning, I alternate between talking to her and talking about her. I thought about changing it, but ended up leaving it as is.
Please Read, Mega Imp.First off, the subject line. Bad form. Unprofessional. "Mega Imp." Are you kidding me? This isn't a joke.
Dear Fellow Bloggers,Okay, I can deal with that that. It's respectful, despite the bad start from the subject line. However, she also should have apologized to each blogger individually.
I’ve been staring at my laptop screen for quite a while contemplating what to write.And I finally decided to come out honestly.
Now we know that it seems like she tried to think rationally before writing this email, as opposed to just shooting off a reply. Okay.
What would you do if you start receiving emails saying your blog contains plagiarized content?Nothing. Because you are probably lucky without a co-worker.
But Me?No, I’m too jinxed for that. I must suffer through this process.
And what did I do to solve this?At first, I did nothing. I mean, if one individual says my co-worker‘s review contains plagiarized content, that doesn’t mean I have to believe him and ruin a perfect blogging partnership.
But… there’s always a but?But more emails continued to show in my inbox. And it finally got my full attention.
Due to this unforgiving act of plagiarism, I had all K.K’s reviews deleted, and I also removed them from the blog.
You no longer need to fret about having your reviews’ contents plagiarized by this blog.
My reviews are 100% Original and you can test them for yourself. I don’t win my ticket to be Annie’s favorite for being anything less than awesome.
LOL, I seriously need an ego-deflating-comment as Dean Holder says.
Grrr… Must have bored you with this rampage.
Anyway, I thank you profusely for making me aware of this issue even if you wanted to strangle me for this inconvenience at a time.
Don’t worry; I’ve forgiven you in advance ;) Though, I just hope that you will forgive me too in return.
For as I brought to your attention, I’m not responsible for this mess and I immediately took hold of the situation as soon as possible.
I’m just a wannabe author girl who wanted to build some solid ground before introducing her work.
I’m at loss for words.
Please guys show some sympathy and be considerate enough to delete any posts or tweets concerning my blog’s plagiarism. *puppy eyes*
You’ve already ruined my first five months of ‘working up my ass’ blog effort to maintain an excellent face before introducing my work. *pouts*
P.S. Go ahead and check my blog if you want to make sure of the arrangements.
And I’m trying TheFreeCopyright thingie from now on. So lay off because if I even hear the word ‘Plagiarized’ in the next century, I’m going to punch someone.
Note: I found you through Twitter. I hope I emailed everyone.Feel free to send me any complaint or comment; I’d love to hear from you.
With A Lot of Bookish Love,Zee
The day after I received this email, I found yet another email from her in my inbox, this one directly replying to one of the emails I had sent her. It contained some new text as well as the original message above word-for-word and obviously copy pasted. I can tell because she left the message about finding everyone through twitter. Classy.
Dear Anna,Well, at least this time it is to me individually. That's something.
I just found this email in my junk. I've already sent you an email yesterday but considering this email went automatically to junk, I fear it might have happened to my email too and you haven't read it yet.In my experience emails from other people as opposed to companies rarely end up in junk, but I'll accept this anyway. I can understand her re-sending this email but I am appalled that she left the original message exactly as it is, insulting and threatening.
I sincerely apologize for the harm my blog caused you.Okay. I'm impressed. I admit it. This is an actual apology. However, seeing as she left the original message attached, I'm not inclined to believe her fully. It also took three days. Too little, too late.
Please read along to analyze my situation:I'm busy dealing with my own situation, thanks. And I don't want to read that email again. I've read it countless times already and each time it just makes me angrier.
And one thing I want to know: why hasn't the actual plagiarizer apologized? I know that he left the blog. However, I sincerely doubt he is dead or that his internet access suddenly got zapped by aliens. However, it seems as if no one has heard from him at all. That is not okay. We all deserve apologizes from the person who stole our work.
As it turns out, the review was entirely plagiarized from six different blogs. I will be detailing that more below.
The review was changed early on in this situation, the plagiarized review deleted and replaced with their own content. But screenshots had already been taken, and evidence collected. Then the review was taken down entirely. I find this very, very suspicious of both bloggers. I'm not saying it's impossible that Zee is totally innocent, but it seems highly unlikely.
And if I was in Zee's situation, I would have been horrified and issued a public apology immediately. Then I would have quit that blog and started a new one to remove the taint. There's something incredibly suspicious about all of this.
Blogger or not, I'm sure you all know what it's like to work very hard at something, whether it be a blog post or an English paper. Though I cannot speak for other plagiarized bloggers, I expect their experience was similar to mine. I spent a good few hours on the review they plagiarized from me. And yet they, in a matter of minutes, grabbed my content, copy-pasted it onto their blog, and acted like my original thoughts were theirs.
Those were my agonizing hours of hard work. And they stole them from me. I refuse to let them taint my work. They stole it, but it's still always been mine. We are the sum total of our actions. They are plagiarists, and they'll have to live with that.
Yes, I'm being a bit harsh. But try to understand. Just take one moment. Take a moment and think about how you would feel if someone stole your hard work and tried to make it into theirs.
I honestly don't have words to describe how horrible I felt when I first discovered this. I know I'm sensitive, but there was actual crying. It's like your home being robbed–you hear about it all the time, but you never expect it to happen to you. I never thought that I would be plagiarized. But it can happen to anyone. There was so much betrayal in the feeling. I write my reviews to help people. I love when people read them. I never imagined someone would be so cruel as to steal them for their own selfish ends.
The two screenshots in the following explanation were provided to me by Valerie and marked up by me. You can tell what's been plagiarized from which blogger from the markings I have made.
To save myself some time I did not screenshot each of the five reviews that this so-called "review" consists of and highlight each plagiarism. However, I did link to all five, including mine, below, so you can see the plagiarism for yourself. It's so obvious and not hard to find.
After I sent an email accusing the blog of plagiarism, the review was changed to this:
Which is quite obviously different. And incredibly suspicious, especially as Zee claimed my email went straight to junk. I know for a fact that until recently I was the only one who thought I'd been plagiarized in this review and therefore was the only person to contact them regarding this particular review. So, this makes things look very, very bad for Zee. How could it have been changed before my second email had been sent if my first email was sitting in spam when no one else had sent an email?
I'm sorry, but that looks like a lie to me. It doesn't make any sense. If my email was sitting pretty in junk, then how would they have known to change the review? This looks like a very, very bad attempt at a cover-up to me. I just don't believe that Zee is completely innocent in this. I'm not dismissing the possibility, but I personally doubt it very much.
Eventually, this review was removed completely. I was only able to access it because it had been cached.
(The stuff in between these brackets was added later on. I didn't want to have to edit the entire post to fit it in.)
Then I received yet another email from Zee.
I've been told my previous email was pretty intense, so if I offended anyone, please accept my apology.I've been pondering the situation and decided that a public apology is most needed, please check out my post: [link removed by me because I really don't want people to visit her]
Lots of Hopeful Feelings,
I've included a screenshot of the apology below so that you don't have to go and give her traffic.
The email says it all, really. Not only does this apology ring falsely, she essentially states that she only apologized publicly because people were giving her so much grief about it. A meaningless apology is just as bad as no apology at all.
I'm positive that some of you won't like the fact that I have continued to pursue this situation after Zee publicly apologized. However, I am not the only one who found that apology too little too late. She tried to dismiss this situation and only added the apology once it became clear that it wasn't going to go away on its own. It is also bizarrely phrased and feels rather arrogant and insincere.
Even if I didn't feel this way (which is irrelevant because I do) I would still believe that this topic needs to be brought to light.
So, after I received this email, I replied to her briefly, asking after KK and why she hadn't apologized personally to each of us since I'm sure she still has internet access, like I mentioned before.
This was the response I received.
As much as I hate to say this, but I'm not responsible for K.K. anymore. I'm doing my part of apology here because I own the blog and I would really appreciate it if you understand my current position. I have a lot going on right now and I have to catch up with the books I requested and also review the books K.K. requested in the name of the blog.
I'm really sorry for the harm my blog caused you, I really am. And I'm trying my best to make it up to you guys. I've apologized to all the bloggers via email and I also posted a public apology. But that's everything I can do.I just hope you don't hold a grudge against me or my blog,*blowing you a fabulous kiss*
Lots of Love,
The Blogger Ninja,
I understand that she's not responsible for KK, but I'm sure she knows a way to contact her via email. It wouldn't kill her to share it.
She says she's "trying her best to make it up." No, she isn't. She's been sending insulting emails and she posted that ridiculous public apology. All she seems to be doing is making me angrier. This is not everything she can do. She didn't even name a single one of the bloggers plagiarized in her public apology. The least she could do is name them individually.
And the way she praises herself is insulting.
I know it's really petty of me, but I so hate it when people I don't like call me nicknames. However, I try not to hold this against people.
It might be a bit immature, but I'll hold a grudge if I want to. I'll never be able to respect that blog. Which is why, as I was saying before, she should end this blog and start over with a new URL and name.
And she's got a lot of nerve, blowing me a kiss.
I'm sure that some of you out there will be upset with me for continuing to pursue this after her apology. However, I truly don't believe it to be genuine. You're welcome to your opinion, but I'm keeping mine.
I went immediately to screenshot evidence of the plagiarist's visits to my blog for posterity's sake, by the way. Always, always screenshot. My first ones were horrible and taken in a rush, though, so try to be careful. I needed to have a firm record of that.
Below is a list of plagiarized review and plagiarized bloggers and the last count and check. With the way this is going, there could be more. This list was consolidated by Jessi and I take no credit.
Anna and the French Kiss Review
with content stolen from: Book Geek (on Goodreads), Winter Haven Books, and Reading After Midnight
*This post has now been removed and I can't get the cache to work.
Clockwork Angel Review (cached)
with content stolen from Valerie's review on Goodreads, I Dare You to Say It, Joyzi's review on Goodreads, and Amy's review on Goodreads
Close Your Eyes Review (cached)
with content stolen from For Books' Sake, Jenny's review on Goodreads, and Gina's review on Goodreads
Entangled Review (cached)
with content stolen from Imagine a World and Dianne's review on Goodreads
Exiled Review (cached)
with content stolen from Fiktshun, Ashley's review on Goodreads, Into the Hall of Books, and Smash Attack Reads
Firelight Review (cached)
with content stolen from Mundie Moms and Read Me Bookmark Me Love Me (on Goodreads)
Release Review (cached)
But it was changed before it was deleted?
with content stolen from Sparkles and Lightning, Confessions of a Vi3t Babe, Book Loving Mom, Crazy Book Chicks, and City of Books (on Goodreads)
Shift Review (cached)
with content stolen from Book Loving Mom, Smash Attack Reads, The Bookish Brunette, and Tea and Text
If any of you are on this list and were not aware that you've been plagiarized, shoot me an email and I'll tell you the whole story. We tried to contact as many of you as possible but the list continued to grow and grow and eventually it got so out of control that we decided to let everyone who'd like more of what happened to come to us.
When the hurt subsided, anger was left. When that cooled, I was left with a firm resolve. I cannot eradicate plagiarism, perhaps, but that doesn't mean I won't try.
Plagiarism isn't just wrong, it's illegal.
So right now, you might have a few questions. I'm going to try to answer the ones I can imagine you'll ask first.
Just what is plagiarism?
Plagiarism is taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as your own. This includes, obviously, copying and pasting someone else's work and inserting it in your own. It also includes changing a few words here and there so that it isn't exactly the same.
What exactly can I do to protect my blog?
I hold a legal copyright over my blog that I obtained through My Free Copyright, a website that allows you to register your blog. Once you do so, it keeps track of your daily blog posts and copyrights each individual one. It then sends you an email with official copyright information. I highly recommend registering your blog with them if you haven't already.
I also hold a free Creative Commons license. Many artists, including myself, use it to protect their artwork. It can also be used as protection for written works.
So then what should I do if I think my work has been plagiarized?
First, grab evidence. Take screenshots of your stolen work in case they try to remove it and pretend it never happened. Take lots of screenshots. Get witnesses. Find people who you know will support you.
I also recommend signing up for statistics websites that can tell you when people have visited specific posts on your blog. I have evidence that the plagiarist of Up-To-Date Reviewing did visit my review of Release the day before and the day of posting it on their blog. I use Google Analytics, Statcounter, and PMetrics. Between these three analytics websites, there is always a way I can track who has visited what on my blog.
Then, confront the suspected plagiarist in private. Try to resolve in that way, like I did. But sometimes things unfortunately have to go public.
I don't believe in public humiliation, not really. But I do believe that when you don't own up to what you did you end up with what you deserve.
They refuse to take the stolen content down! What do I do now?
Well, you could always try asking again, but if they refuse once chances are they'll refuse again. So gather your evidence: all your screenshots of the stolen content, times the thief has visited, etc. Everything that can help prove that your content has indeed been plagiarized. Then, know that you are within your rights to sue. Obviously, this isn't exactly ideal, and hopefully it doesn't need to come to that. If it gets to that, don't be afraid to fight for your work. Plagiarism is illegal.
As much as I love to joke about things only being illegal if you get caught, this is not a laughing matter.
Bottom line: plagiarism is not okay, ever.
That said, I think those are the most basic questions regarding this topic. However, they are certainly more questions that could be asked. So what I've done is put together a form that allows you to ask me questions regarding this topic. This is an issue that I believe you should have full knowledge of. I can't promise I'll have the answer, but there are ways to find them. Depending on the number of questions and such, I may do a follow-up post with them.
I wish this had never happened. Of course I wish that. But I can't change that it did, and so I may as well accept that a few good things did come of it.
Because of this situation, I received enormous support from the blogosphere and made some new friends. That doesn't sound exactly the way I hoped it would, but it is true. My fellow book bloggers were quick to support me and all the others who were plagiarized in this incident. All of you are awesome, and I cannot thank you enough. I was crushed and upset when I first discovered this. I suppose I still am upset. But thanks to you, I'm not crying by myself in a corner somewhere. I am doing something about this.
At the moment, I think this post will cover what I mean to say. I know it was extremely long-winded, but this is an important issue. This is probably the most controversial post I've ever written, but I would also argue that it is the most important.
Below I have included grab code for both the banner at the top of this post and a square button. So if you'd like to share them, that's awesome. If not, that's also completely fine. They should scale well if you need to resize them.
I'd love to discuss this topic with any and all of you. If you'd like, you can tweet me (@AnnabelleMarieV) on twitter and I'd love to chat with you. This is a topic that needs to be talked about but not glorified. This will undoubtedly be controversial.
I think that's it. I may come back and add to or edit this post later but for now I'm going to call it a wrap. And as aforementioned, a follow-up is likely. So stay tuned.
Want me to be a part of your blog tour? Contact me and let me know.
Want to swap blog rolls? Fill out a form and let me know!
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