November 4, 2010

Justifying Plagiarism

What I’m Reading Today: Haven’t had a chance - too busy. Very sad.

Small presses and litmags are the lifeblood of our literary culture. They really are. All those selfless individuals putting all this energy and time without any hope of reward besides, hopefully, reading some good work. They are the yin to the yang of big presses and established litmags. They shake things up, keep things moving forward, give encouragement and support to us newbies.

And the amount of shit they have to put up with. I can’t imagine. They have the pressure of doing as good as they can with little resources. All I can say is that they must let their personal lives slide sometimes, and those who teach and write also? Gosh, how do they do it!?

But (you knew this was coming) I recently heard two stories that were disheartening. One, I was talking with a friend of mine. A small publisher published her collection of linked short stories. He chose the cover art, did the design, etc.  It was a beautiful edition with beautiful cover art. Now, a couple of years later, she gets an email from the artist who did the art on the cover in very formal language saying, this is my art, you stole it. Of course, my friend is mortified. She immediately contacted everyone involved, explained the situation, and had everyone take down the book, as well as she could. This publisher has also recently been under allegations for plagiarism.

Second story is here. A well-established cooking magazine totally plagiarized someone’s work and included it in their magazine. They used her byline but never contacted her or anything. She found out about it and sent them a letter. The editor or whomever basically chewed her out for being upset and blamed her for it. The editor said, “You should compensate me!” quote unquote. How outrageous!!

With so many people out there working so hard for the common good, for the higher purpose, it’s people like this who just ruin it for everyone. How can anyone who’s in the creative business think these kinds of things are acceptable? What about common decency?

Rant over.

Questions of the Day: Have you had something like this happen to you?

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