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Plagarism and Protecting Your Stories

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As a few authors might have noted, there was some cause for concern earlier this week in regards to unsolicited commercial interest in some GA authors' stories. We have shut that down, hopefully for good as the so-called author/eBook producer has pulled their content from sale as well, but I will be continuing to monitor content for a while to see if they pop back up again with any stories that have GA content in them stolen from the site. Which is what I'm here to talk about today... We don't just have the mod queue to protect from plagiarism happening when authors post new content on the site. I also help authors whose content has been stolen and posted elsewhere, either for free or for profit. I've issued takedown notices on behalf of the site and, unfortunately, a whopping 5 different times for my own content. 


And while sometimes that alert comes from fans who are reading on alternate sites, other times I've been able to find my content stolen, for sale, or just posted on websites that I do not want my name or content to be associated with or 'hosted' on and hadn't given permission to do so. How did I know? I checked, and I continue to check, as often as I can. I'm not talking about Torrent sites, or free downloads, though those are a nightmare, but mostly about sites where authors are either flat out stealing your work as their own or trying to make a fast buck by ripping it off with a cheap cover and gathering royalties. 


How to check your stories for plagiarism:

1. Pick a distinctive phrase such as: Nyle looked up nervously as he rode under the portcullis.
2. Search the phrase within quotation marks "Nyle looked up nervously as he rode under the portcullis.".
3. Repeat search with a distinctive phrase without names: "The austere chapel and rigorous training had been a sharp contrast to his youth".


Tips: Search on multiple search engines (Bing, Google, etc...). Search phrases from the first chapter and later chapters. Search distinctive phrases both with and without names in case those have been changed. DO ALL OF THIS OFTEN.


How do I get the story removed if I find one or more that's been stolen?


How to report plagiarism:


1. Look for a report button or a contact us link.
2. Copy the story link to the stolen story.
3. Share the stolen story title, author name, and links to your original. Haven't posted online? Keep copies of all sent mail to beta readers/fans with advanced reader copies of your work to prove when the content was written and sent. Offer to provide a forwarded copy of said email. If you really want to protect your work, purchase an official copyright, especially if you might publish later. If the site requires it, fill out an official DCMA notice. 
4. Follow up. Most sites will work with you to remove the content. Sometimes you have to take it further to the ISP.

If you suspect a story or other content on site has been stolen, please report it! This not only protects the site, but protects the authors, and the original artists.


How to issue a DMCA notice:


1. Contact the site owners/ISP with the following information: Your signature, links to your copyrighted work, links to the plagiarized work, your physical and online contact information, a statement in good faith that the plagiarized work is unauthorized, and a statement that your information is accurate under penalty of perjury....


There's a lot more to DMCA notices I don't want to outline here, but there is a great website which explains the process: The DMCA Takedown Notice DeMystified by Ken Liu


Sample notice:


VIA eMail at ISPHosting[at]isp.com
Re: Copyright Claim


To the ISP Hosting Company:
I am the copyright owner of the eBooks being infringed at:
(stolen work URL)


Original copyrighted material:
(your work URL)


This letter is official notification under the provisions of Section 512© of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA") to effect removal of the above-reported infringements. I request that you immediately issue a cancellation message as specified in RFC 1036 for the specified postings and prevent the infringer, who is identified by its Web address, from posting the infringing material to your servers in the future. Please be advised that law requires you, as a service provider, to "expeditiously remove or disable access to" the infringing material upon receiving this notice. Noncompliance may result in a loss of immunity for liability under the DMCA.


I have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of here is not authorized by me, the copyright holder, or the law. The information provided here is accurate to the best of my knowledge. I swear under penalty of perjury that I am the copyright holder.


Please send me at the address noted below a prompt response indicating the actions you have taken to resolve this matter.




Author/Real Name


Email: Your email
Physical address


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Thanks for this ... again ... Cia.  Always good to be looking to see what is going on out there.

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Much appreciated, Cia. Because of a previous posting on this subject, by you, I found out one of my works had been stolen. As silly as it may sound, I felt violated. It sent me into a tailspin of sorts, and I felt powerless. But, knowing GA has my back allows me to accept this harsh reality of online writing and move on. Still, I dread having it happen again. Thanks, Cia, and thanks, GA.

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This is a case where Imitation is the NOT the sincerest form of flattery.

Edited by jamessavik
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As someone who has had their work plagiarized, I appreciate the vigilance of those who work on the site.  Whenever I see an article like this pop up, it reminds me to go to Google and check on my stuff.   

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