October 8, 2009

True Story: An Indian writer who practices Plagiarism

I started my work blog – the one you are currently reading in April 2007 and I have been using these keywords and profile since then.

On October 3, 2009 I was browsing through the net for certain writer related keywords when I found a blog that looked similar to mine. A closer look and I found the blogger & the so-called freelance writer from India had used some of my blog contents – yes, I mean the blog posts. I was familiar with her name as she had mailed me twice earlier asking how to freelance and for contact information of editors / magazines. I never responded.

By then, I had closed my doors to free advices as these newbies never bothered to say a 'thank you' for my valuable time. When I announced my writing consultancy service, I sent her a mail with the information. She was also desperately trying to follow me through various social networking sites. I kept rejecting her request every time.

I found two of my friends; one (whose interviewed she lifted) and another writer was in her friend list in linkedin. I informed both. My writer friend was astonished to note, this plagiarizer had copied her website content too and posted in her (plagiarizer’s) blog! My writer friend immediately sent a note stating copyright issues. The plagiarizer then wrote a note back saying she wasn't aware of the content (her own blog!) and she had got it from those designing her website. Why would a writer who claims to be a professional writer take content from her website designer rather than writing her own content? Seems strange! On receiving my writer friend’s complaint, she removed content from her blog, unfortunately, even before we could get a copy.

Suspicious, I searched for the plagiarizer’s name in search engine and found my interview with an author published in a new website in the plagiarizer’s name. The whole story is not mine; I admit & confess - a part of her story (three-fourth) is copied from mine! The author has confessed she never gave interview to this lady for this particular book. If so, from where did she get this copy??

Meanwhile, I notified all the concerned people with the entire information and since then I have got support from all editors, writers and even PR agencies, as they knew this was a clear case of plagiarism.

Yesterday, I also received eight sample articles she sent to the editor of a leading Indian magazine. This editor was suspicious after I notified her and she wanted to confirm if this plagiarizer had copied more of my content. Alas! She did from two more.

Through a common editor, who tried to clarify, she sent a message stating she has proof for her interview with the author (she confirms and denies giving answers for a particular portion of the story, which belongs to me and the portal I wrote for).

If that’s the case, from where did she get the same words, sentences, paragraphs and quotes for my ‘career change’ story. I have done several one-to-one interviews with authors, celebrities (film, sports etc), CEO’s, Director’s of leading Indian and Multi-national companies. But, this is my first experience of this sort.

Or Do I have to take pride my blog is famous enough to inspire someone and encourage her to copy my words and stories??

Have you seen or read this story?

The original, a career change story I wrote was published at
http://indiwo.in.com/india/features/career-guidance-life/career-change-is-this-a-good-time/49631/0 , a leading Indian portal.

I have no idea if she has sold this story elsewhere or is being forwarded only to editors as samples. If you have ever seen this content anywhere with someone else's byline, please notify me via email at resmi.writer@gmail.com.

Copying this article pains me because I did one or two revisions to meet their editorial requirements. I worked with a friendly editor, who even helped me improve my writing skills and articles in a couple of new styles!

This lady has used half or more content, including one quote and have added more words (hers or again plagiarized?). The interesting part is though she copied this content; she does not even know the people I have interviewed. She changed the name of Shalini to Roshni (Quoted in the interview), however keeps the rest of the information including designation and other details including quotes intact. I know Shalini and her husband, Arun since 2000 and they did this interview with me in 2007!

She has also lifted 4-5 lines from another article and it was also sent to my editor friend as sample. Though this article of her was published, it seems to be edited and doesn't have all the lines & quote I could claim to be mine. I can reject this but what about my exclusive career story?

Blame: Excuse covering wrongdoing

Strangely enough, through a common editor, she sent me a mail saying I never responded to her queries. She even blamed me for offering her a fee-based consultancy. Don't a large people run consultancy services? People write, edit, proofread, work in IT companies, work in banks, industries, or do any kind of work for a living. I too do, apart from my passion for writing. Lawyers, doctors, business consultants and everyone who practices a profession take consultation fee. If that is wrong, how will people survive? What is wrong in offering consultancy for freelance writing?

With several editors, I have worked and maintained a good working relationship for a minimum of four years and a couple of them know me for more than five years.

I receive around three to four mails almost every week from aspiring writers or beginning writers, who want contact information of editors and magazines or want free advices. I was open to giving free advices till early 2009. One reason for stopping this practice is budding writers never sent a thank-you note for spending my time and valuable advice. Moreover, I had spent a lot of resources including money to learn all aspects of freelance writing. And these are the two reasons I was encouraged to start a "fee" based consultancy, if ever someone needs my advice and assistance on freelance writing.

These are lame excuses one can give for stealing content from another writer. If you want to be a writer, you should work hard. Even a degree or diploma in writing / literature or journalism is not essential. If you have the determination, you can work hard to make it big. I never got help from anyone when I started freelancing. I knocked once at the door of a known writer and it was closed. Since then I learnt the tricks of freelance writing, over the past six years, through my own way. I did not even know how to write a query or how to get a quote. Yet, I did everything from scratch for my first article, which was published in a local publication.

Copyright

If you want to use someone else's content, take his/her permission and quote her too. Otherwise, it becomes a copyright issue, which could even land you in legal trouble. If you have copied, at least be kind enough to apologize for your mistake (unfortunately, the lady I mentioned never did).

Till June 2009, when she mailed my writer friends and me, she was introducing herself as a ‘budding writer,’ but now she claims to be a ‘professional writer.’ Professional writers never encourage plagiarism as many who write for the national and international media work for hours and faces sleepless nights too, to complete their work.

Or as a publisher, unknowingly if you have become the victim of a plagiarizer, be kind enough to remove the content from your website / portal or any other medium.

If you are a writer, search for your name in search engines (google, yahoo etc) and for any other keywords, which could help you keep track of your content or where your name or story appears.

Once again, I request my readers to alert me at resmi.writer@gmail.com if you ever find any of my articles published in someone else's name. Thank you so much, for listening.

2 comments:

illusions said...

How do I know that my posts aren't being copied? Is there some software that can check this?

Thanks for the information. Much appreciated.

Resmi Jaimon said...

I am not sure about the software part. But, I assume there should be softwares as I have heard people saying they have ways to check Plagiarism.

As for this case, accidentally while searching Google I saw this writer's blog and later being suspicious, searched for the writer's name in google which landed me in the page.

Even google helps if your content is in the Internet. Use specific keywords, which you use often in your posts or some unique phrases you have used. I hope this could help you in finding out, to a certain extent. That's what I do. But if someone gives it to a print publication, it is not easy to find out unless someone points out.