Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Today I am happy to share a guest post with you. Nick Baron has written of the concerns with plagiarism that independent authors have: both of their own work being pirated and plagiarized, or with being accused of plagiarism because something they have written echoes the writing of others. He offers valuable, supportive links. Here's what Nick has to say:
The thing about plagiarism is that no one is safe from being labeled as a plagiarist. And let’s face it, once a writer is under that category, no matter how famous of a writer he or she is, readers will still cluck their tongues, point their fingers, and assume it was all-intentional.
What non-writers don’t understand is that in today’s society, unless a person lives under a rock, it is impossible not to be influenced by what we read, discuss with friends, see or listen to in the media. When Stephenie Meyer, author of the best-selling trilogy Twilight, published the last book of the trilogy, “Breaking Dawn”, she, too, was accused of plagiarizing from a book posted on the Internet. Clearly, plagiarism doesn't discriminate by popularity. What are some methods writers can use to ensure a piracy-free manuscript, without busting their pockets? What things can writers do to protect their writing from future piracy? Here are some tips I’d like to share with you.
Thank God for tools available on the web that allow writers to double check if any of their passages or sentences seem to parallel another existing source.
One such program is Small SEO Tools. Simply cut and paste your text into the yellow box, and the software will plant red flags where content appears to be similar to another source. These simple websites are perfect for quick and free plagiarism checks. Marketers and students frequent Small SEO Tools because it’s completely fuss-free, and really user friendly.
If you’re looking for a more advanced program, try Grammarly. Grammarly not only has a free plagiarism checker, matching content on the web to that of your text, it also acts as a proofreader, detecting more than 150 text errors, beating the rate of normal word processors by more than 10 times. The best part about Grammarly is that if an idea or phrase is flagged for potential plagiarism, the source website is suggested along with a prompt to either include a citation in your text or modify your work. This intuitive program is user-friendly and will redefine the ease in which authors publish their books.
Google, Google, Google. It’ll be a good idea to randomly search for your book title or your name on various platforms to see if a pirate managed to land their hands on your intellectual copy. If you’ve written a few books and catch one on a website, go into that website and hunt down the rest of your books. Chances are, if they managed to get one of it on, they wouldn’t have stopped there. Report these websites to protect your book from being passed around further.
Though some authors don’t mind the free distribution of their books since it helps them get the word out faster, if you lie on the other side of the spectrum and really consider it a misfortune instead, what you can do is to acquaint yourself with article 17 USC 512(c)(3)(A)[ii], which is the “Limitations on liability relating to material online”. In a polite letter, request for your book to be removed. Under legal terms, the site is obliged to comply. Do maintain your professionalism at all times. You are representing yourself after all.
It is very difficult to eliminate piracy altogether. Once a consumer grabs a hold of the book, the possibilities of what they could do to it are endless. Take piracy in your stride; see it as the highest form of compliment. On your part as a writer, check and recheck your document for any plagiarism issues using online tools available. Plagiarism will cease to take such a toll with the current market offerings.
By Nikolas Baron
- Online Partnerships Team -
Grammarly Inc. 548 Market Street, #35410, San Francisco, CA 94104