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Writing Tip: Stolen Stories! Blast From An Angry Author


Cia

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Yep, I'm pre-empting Blast From the Past this week to inform members of a story that's been stolen from GA then put up for sale on Amazon. The story stolen was Chasing the Shadows by K.C. Grim and it was posted under Embraced by Shadows by K.J. Fleur back in May. We only found this out when a concerned reader emailed the admin account to find out if the story was stolen and posted on GA. That proved to have happened in the reverse, and KC had his story ripped off.

 

All this author did was change the names in the story and the title. They even used the same description!

 

Earlier this year, I was alerted to the fact that several authors on Amazon had copied multiple stories from authors on Literotica. Of course, I checked to see if this K.J. Fleur had copied other stories from GA. but they don't appear to have any other stories in their author account. That doesn't mean your stories are safe online though!

 

Now, I'm not a techie, so I might not be going about this the right way but I performed a search on a part of the description that didn't have any names. I found that you need to type in the phrase you search on Google, not copy it from any site online. When I did it with copied text from GA, I found GA results to KC's story. When I copied the phrase from Amazon, I found results on the story on Amazon. When I typed in the description by hand, I found both.

 

The problem also lies in the fact that thieves might not be quite a stupid as this 'K.J. Fleur' and write up their own description. So how do you look to see if your story has been stolen? I couldn't find any simple way to search by a phrase from the story to search for other plagiarized content stolen from GA. If any readers of this blog are better at this than me, please let us know how to do it.

 

If for some reason you do discover your story on Amazon, there is recourse. KC has already contacted Amazon and has been told that they would have a resolution quickly, within a few days. I found this page, Kindle Direct Publishing Terms and Conditions, with the exact language for anyone who feels their story has been stolen and the steps to take to correct it. The relevant paragraph is # 5.7:


5.7 Rights Clearances and Rights Dispute Resolution. You will obtain and pay for any and all necessary clearances and licenses for the Digital Books to permit our exercise of the rights granted under this Agreement without any further payment obligation by us, including, without limitation, all royalties and other income due to any copyright owner. If you notify us through the procedure we provide on the applicable Amazon Property for making claims of copyright infringement that a third party has made a Digital Book available for distribution through the Program (or for distribution in a particular territory through the Program) that you have the exclusive right to make available under the Program, then, upon your request and after verification of your claim, we will pay you the Royalties due in connection with any sales of the Digital Book through the Program, and will remove the Digital Book from future sale through the Program, as your sole and exclusive remedy.

 


I also found this:


Notice and Procedure for Making Claims of Copyright Infringement

 

If you believe that your work has been copied in a way that constitutes copyright infringement, please provide Amazon.com's copyright agent the written information specified below. Please note that this procedure is exclusively for notifying Amazon that your copyrighted material has been infringed.

  • An electronic or physical signature of the person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the copyright interest;
  • A description of the copyrighted work that you claim has been infringed upon;
  • A description of where the material that you claim is infringing is located on the site, including the auction ID number, if applicable;
  • Your address, telephone number, and e-mail address;
  • A statement by you that you have a good-faith belief that the disputed use is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law;
  • A statement by you, made under penalty of perjury, that the above information in your notice is accurate and that you are the copyright owner or authorized to act on the copyright owner's behalf.

Amazon.com's Copyright Agent for notice of claims of copyright infringement on its site can be reached as follows: Copyright Agent Amazon.com Legal Department P.O. Box 81226 Seattle, WA 98108 phone: (206) 266-4064 fax: (206) 266-7010 e-mail: copyright@amazon.com Courier address: Copyright Agent Amazon.com Legal Department 410 Terry Avenue North Seattle, WA 98109-5210 USA

 


 


I'm sure every author on GA would be horrified to discover their story had been stolen, especially those who are attempting to break into the publishing world. I truly hope this has not happened to anyone else from GA. A big thank you goes to the concerned reader who contacted us. Without that information, this might have gone unnoticed.

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What's disappointing is that Amazon didn't block book sales until the situation is cleared up.

 

I'm no techie either, so the part about typing in vs. copying search is an excellent tip.

 

Thanks!

  • Like 1
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This is disgusting, and I hope this is the first (and only) time this has happened.

 

I know that Charles Colton said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but to try and pass someone else's work off as your own is going too far.

 

I not only hope that KC gets this sorted quickly, but that this event doesn't put him or anybody else off from posting their stories here.

  • Like 2
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I've done two book reviews on the book's page on Amazon to let people know the story was stolen, and they're deleted within hours. So the author is obviously watching that.

 

However, he's not watching this: http://www.goodreads...s#other_reviews

 

So at least there is a place to notify people that it's plagiarized. Hopefully it helps drop some book sales (and KC has been there today, putting the word out).

  • Like 1
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While this is the first time I've heard of it happening where the person was selling it on Amazon, we did have other cases in the past, most notably someone reposting DomLuka's Desert Dropping as a Harry Potter fanfic (the whole story was the same, just the characters changed to Harry, Ron, etc). But when you have such a memorable opening line of "Arizona. Ari-fri-kin-zona." - well, it was easy to figure out. The mistake that person made was only posting part of it, and readers trying to find the rest by searching, and instead finding the original Dom story.

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It is disheartening to hear of stuff like this happening. Even though this doesn't happen often, this sort of thing still makes some writers, including myself, leery of posting anything on line..I hope that the situation is corrected soon.

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  • Site Administrator

I wish that Amazon would institute a policy of removing a story from sale/view when they get accusations. Granted, I don't know how common this is, or how often people would do it just to get to an author/story they might not like removed, but it seems like that would be the right thing to do. When I got the email forwarded to me, the first thing I did was to put KC's story under review so that it was off the public viewing area of the site. Not because I assumed that he'd done anything wrong, but because it only makes sense to have the story out of public purview until more investigation is completed.

 

I was considering putting some of my ebooks on Amazon for free, but more and more I'm getting leery of the site's policies.

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Hate to say, I can see them not pulling a story - imagine the damage that unscrupulous people could pull on an author by constantly reporting their story as piracy. Now if Amazon drags and takes more than, say 3-5 days, I could see the lingering damage, but as long as they act quickly, it's more of a case of avoiding unintended consequences from acting too fast.

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That's a true shame that people would resort to this type of thing. My thoughts go out to KC in having to go through this. I only had it happen once and it wasn't Amazon but it got resolved quite quickly.

 

Hopefully yours will as well.

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I send out a warning e-mail earlier on today and I have just heard back from a friend who sadly bought this book a few weeks ago :(

 

He has been told by Amazon, sorry but no refund - refunds for Kindle e-books must be received within seven days. He is so not happy, but hopefully once all of this is sorted, Amazon will make an exception to their refund policy.

 

He is not concerned about the cost (which wasn't much), but he is not happy about it seeming that he is supporting copyright violation. I can imagine there being a lot of people clamouring for a refund once this all becomes known.

 

He sends big hugs to KC and hopes that this gets sorted quickly :hug:

  • Like 1
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The last thing I want is for people to be scared to post their stories here on GA. As soon as the Admins were notified of the situation they got in touch with me to inform me of what was going on. GA has been so helpful and has given me advice and support during this ordeal.

 

Whomever the person(s) are that committed this thief, trolls GA, since they stole the story here. I hope that this person knows that I/we are on to them and that they don't try this again. The tips that Cia has given are good. Also document your work. I have documentation on my story dated before I even posted it here on GA.

 

Thanks for all of your support. I will keep writing and posting here on GA and I hope all of you do the same. As shocking as it is, I believe that these stories are the heart and soul of Gay Authors.

 

Thanks!

 

KC hug.gif

  • Like 5
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seriously, they freaken sold it as their own?... Now i want to track everything on amazon. Hope Kc Grim is fine.

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Crumbs. Not a good thought.

 

Erm I really don't know if this will be of any help at all, but the Blogging world use a Company called DMCA (www.dmca.com) Which is an organisation that protect digital content, and will undertake legal proceedings on behalf of content that they find to be plagiarised. They also specialise in detection of plagiarism and copyright infringement on everything from written works to photographs and other digital information.

 

I know that in the music world, proof of ownership/copyright is achieve when the completed work is singed by the writer, and sealed in an envelope, posted to your home address on the day of completion and kept unopened until it becomes needed. The proof of ownership lies in the signature within a sealed envelope and date stamped by the post office, and is accepted as indisputable proof in a court of law of your rights to the work in question.

 

I am not sure if this is the same for books or stories, but it'd seem logical that it follows the same procedure.

 

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act in the US is fairly robust and quite ruthless about the protection of Intellectual Property, and I wouldn't be at all surprised is a Lawyer/Solicitor couldn't do something with this kind of thing, if you choose to go down that road. I know a mate who used DMCA to do a Takedown on his behalf for infringement of his Companies Logo, and was given a damages award by a US Court despite the fact his company was based in the UK.

 

Just as a suggestion is it not worth having a chat with a company like DMCA and seeing if something can't be set up to protect our stuff?

  • Like 1
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Well, I didn’t know that there would be so much involved trying to prove that my story is actually mine! I’m exhausted! Gonna take sleeping pills and start working on this mess again tomorrow! Thanks guys for all your support!

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Aww. I'm so sorry to hear you are going through this KC. IF there is anything that can be done to help let me know.

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Sorry someone is profiting off ya, KC, but at least you know one thing, your book would make a profit, lol. Take it as both a compliment and an insult that someone would do this to you.

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KC, it was really nice to see all the things people have commented about on the places you could buy the book. You have quite a following, and people went out in full support of you. Amazon can't keep it for long, when they are getting so many complaints, and no doubt, you will get information on who is doing it.

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I've been informed that Amazon will give a refund to anyone who purchased "Embraced by Shadows" by KJ Fleur but you have to make the request. It should be a quick process through the Kindle Customer Service Support Chat and will only take about 5 minutes.

 

However, they will not remove the story or block it from purchase until they get my information with proof that I own the story. It was shipped out today. I paid extra to have it there tomorrow. So, hopefully this will be resolved quickly.

 

Thanks so much for having my back. All of the comments and reviews were great!!!!

  • Like 1
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So, I'm trolling through the blogs out of boredom, and because I'm stalling going to bed, and I came across this. Stealing somebody's story is vile enough, but to then go and claim it as your own and sell it? It makes me sick.

 

Sorry you had to go through that, Grimmie. I know this is late, but better late than never. :hug:

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      The first and most important thing in the development of “Chronicles” was having a good support network. In those early days, there were two people who really coached me along. The first was Sharon. I’d known Sharon for quite a while, since we all made the big pilgrimage to GA back in 2005, following that gay writing genius, Domluka, to his new home. I was lucky to have the premiere editor as a friend, so I could impose upon her to read my efforts. Anyway, I had this idea for a story, knocked out a few chapters, and sent them to her for her feedback. She told me they didn’t suck, fixed my grammar and spelling errors, gave me some pointed advice, and suggested that I post them on e-fiction.
      The other player here was Adam Phillips. Adam and I have been e-friends for an e-ternity, having first met at John Walsh’s Fraternity Memoirs group. Adam is one of the smartest guys I know, and I knew that I couldn’t post a story until I got his feedback. He wasn’t nearly as pleasant as Sharon; he didn’t pull any punches, because, as he said it, we’d been friends too long. He pointed out that my characters weren’t resonating, that I wasn’t making them live, that they weren’t really all that likable. It was wonderful advice, and I learned something about myself as a writer. I learned that if I was going to write realistic characters, I had to find them attractive in some way, and I had to really be willing to dive into their brains. Without his candid feedback, “Chronicles” would have been crap.
      While I was lucky to have that kind of support to start out with, as I started writing I got a lot more feedback, and developed a team of people to help me out. How did that happen? It was actually pretty easy. I’d be writing about a place, or an era, that was interesting to someone, and if I needed their help and they were willing to volunteer the time, I pulled them into the team. So in addition to Sharon and Adam, I’ve got a guy on the team that’s a medical doctor (for all those soap-opera illnesses I use), a guy who’s great at details and keeps my stories consistent, a guy who knows about damn near every kind of kinky sex trick out there (no, that’s not Jeremy), a guy who handles the music and makes sure my language isn’t anachronistic (that’s Jeremy), and a man of the cloth, among others. There are also other people who are willing to devote some time and energy to helping me with specific topics. For example, there’s one lady who’s a figure skating expert, and has been helping me timeline a career for one of my characters, and another young man who recently graduated from the private school I sent some of my characters to. I’ve even got a couple of guys who are Hollywood insiders who can give me pointers on that world. It’s been an awesome experience!
      While it’s vital to have those kinds of people around, before I gave them anything to do, I had to have an idea, an inspiration, and I actually had to write something. When I think about my inspiration for “Chronicles”, I just about laugh my ass off. It was the movie “Hairspray”. A gay/bi story inspired by a musical: how cliché is that? Maybe it is, but I watched that movie a few times, and was really stunned at how far the United States had come as a nation regarding race relations. It wasn’t so long ago that African-Americans were being referred to as “Negroes” or “Coloreds” (or worse), and segregation was the norm. I liked the era, especially the cars and the music, so it seemed like an ideal setting for a story.
      Then I had to decide on a main character, and that’s when I started to develop JP Crampton. My inspiration for JP was actually at GA. I loved Quinn in Domluka’s “The Ordinary Us”, and decided that I wanted someone who was more introverted and quirky. I don’t think JP ended up being much like Quinn, but he is definitely quirky. Where did I get the last name: Crampton? I got that from a type of railroad engine (The Crampton locomotive). Any of you who have ever played Sid Meier’s Railroad games on the computer should recognize that one. Another big question was what kind of background he should come from, and more specifically, should he be rich or poor? That was actually pretty easy for me to decide. I needed to have a point of reference with him, so I tapped into a line on my family tree for a model, and decided that he should come from an upstanding family in a small Midwestern city. There were several advantages for me to take that approach. First of all, while I didn’t live that life I was close enough to it to be able to accurately describe it. More importantly, though, by having him be a wealthy man, it gave me a lot more flexibility to bring in historical references, especially fashions, trends, and cars. I mean, it’s hard to write a story about a poor guy and talk about the engine options for a ’63 Corvette Stingray. And finally, I wanted to be able to write more about him and his internal struggles with his homosexuality, and less about his external struggles, trying to make ends meet.
      Another consideration was point of view: I had to decide on whether to write the story in first or third person. Some people advocate third person as really the only real format, and that first person is somehow of a lower quality. I disagree with them. I think that if you really want to dive into a mind, and to try to effectively show how a character is thinking and feeling, then first person is a great way to go. And since that’s what I was planning to do, that’s what I went with.
      The final piece of the puzzle was the story itself. That actually turned out to be the easiest part of all. I started writing the story, and after the first few chapters, it really wrote itself. It was originally supposed to be this rather twisted story of a college professor who uses his position to seduce unsuspecting but subsequently willing college guys. That idea lasted for about two chapters. After that, the character (JP) took over. I found that I just had to jump into his mind and let him take me for a ride in his world. The challenge for me was finding and throwing interesting challenges at him, and then figuring out how he’d handle them. Since I was writing an historical story, that dovetailed perfectly with my strategy. I could pick period events and tailor them to happen to JP, and thus bring them into the story. Civil rights, the Vietnam War, the Kennedy assassination, all of those historical events make for a great story line.
      From that ill-planned beginning, the story spawned sequels, and has become GA’s longest serial, and currently comprises 11 completed and one current story with a total of almost 2,500,000 words.
      Thank you Mark!
      So, as usual, if you have an idea for a writing tip please feel free to send it in and we will see what comes up.
      Happy reading, writing, and reviewing!
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