Friday 17 July 2009

Mine, all Mine!!

Today is Anti-Plagiarism Day, a wonderful initiative fromm Jane Smith of How Publishing Really Works. Throughout the day, literary bloggers are going to be giving their own perspectives on why PLAGIARISM SUCKS. So here's mine.

I give much of my work away. You can download my entire novel for free here. My writers' collective gives away its anthology for free here. I even organise Free-e-day, an Indie festival based around celebrating Indie culture through free downloads. I actively encourage everyone to whom I give the anthology, and the novel, to pass it on again. And I have absolutely no problem with anyone "illegal file sharing" either of them.

So I shouldn't care about plagiarism. I should think it's just another gripe of a tired industry for which I have no time. Right?

Er, wrong. I care about it very much. I choose to give my work away, and let people do the same. And those two words are the key to the whole thing. "I choose". Some day I might choose not to. And there are plenty of people who don't choose to do so, which is entirely up to them and no one else.

But file-sharing isn't the real problem with plagiarism. Nor, for me, is the thought that someone might steal my book and pass it off as their own. Yesterday, I cam across the wonderful query worksop site The Pitch Parlour. Writers are advised to submit their query, their synopsis, and the first 2000 words of their ms for scrutiny and comment. The site does a fantastic ob of reassuring writers their synopsis will only be posted with explicit consent in case of fears over plagiarism, which is a thoroughness I really admire. But my approach to this kind of plagiarism has always been that if someone gets a publishing deal for my book, they've simply done the hard work for me!

What I really object to is people stealing my blog content. Not problems with them using it - if people ask, I am almost always amenable to their request. My particular concern is my reputation. I have some controversial views about writing and publishing but I try very very hard always to frame them in ways that are helpful and constructive, and I always try to be respectful and courteous to my harshest critics - some of my best friends in the business are people I disagree with most strongly. All it would take is one person to lift my content and use it inappropriately, and soemone to trace that content back to me to ruin that (well, not ruin it, but create a lot of work smoothing things over).

Plus, the reason I give my stuff away is that I believe in collaboration and bringing culture to the widest possible audience, for free. If someone took my content and used it for gain, I'd be sincerely dischuffed.

So that's my piece. The point isn't how I DO use my material. The point is, it's up to me how I use it.

Soemthing lighter on Monday :-)


  1. A great post, Dan: thank you for joining in.

  2. Thank you. A pleasure to support a great cause. Thank you for coordinating it!

  3. The cat has prowled in Dan. I am impressed.