Theft Doesn’t Just Happen To Digital Artists

Art isn’t just grueling hours with a drawing tablet, it’s also grueling hours with a keyboard and a blank Word document. Writers are even more underrated artists of the online world and theft happens to them too.

I had a interview with a charming online writer named Bridget, and she told me about her run-in with a plagiariser whose identity will be kept anonymous.

While browsing through Fanfiction.Net, an archive for written works from around the world, Bridget came across a story that was uncannily similar to their own work. Bridget quickly realised that the other writer had copied and pasted her own writing and made minimal edits. These ‘edits’ being a shoddy switcheroo of some characters in order to fit a particular romantic situation.

Naturally, Bridget was angry. “…Seeing such a lazy move just really rubbed me the wrong way… Most of [it was] really out of character, another pet peeve that I simply cannot stand.” And it’s understandable! Bridget put hours of her time into writing and some lazy person copies her work without even asking and pretends it’s their own.

While Fanfiction.Net has taken a few steps toward protecting the work of writers, it’s simply not enough if plagiarism keeps happening. Bridget confronted the thief and she told me that it devolved into them denying that they’d done anything wrong.

“I wanted to scream…” There was absolutely nothing that could have helped in Bridget’s situation so there obviously needs to be more protection from fan fiction websites.

Eventually, Bridget was forced to drop the copyright infringement when it was clear no one would help her.

Should we rally and email the staff of Fanfiction.Net about their lax writer protection policy? I think it’s a good idea as any. Writers should not be forgotten on the road to a world where every artist is protected and has full control over their content.

— VZ

You can see Bridget’s Tumblr blog over here.

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image source from morgueFile user jppi

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8 thoughts on “Theft Doesn’t Just Happen To Digital Artists

  1. These days it’s tricky with all this stuff online. There’s a fine line between wanting to publish your stuff and sharing it, but this also gives people so much opportunity to take it and gain from it. What do you think about remixes/appropriating of the work?

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    1. Remixing, sampling and appropriation are all very murky areas, especially in the music industry. Ideally, artists would obtain permissions from the original artist before using parts of pre-existing artworks under the aim of creating something new. If not, existing works should never be used for personal gain without express permission unless the copyright has expired.

      However, there are many people who disrespect the wishes of artists and appropriate parts of existing works, and make profit without accrediting the original source. Online content is also protected by copyright, not just music or traditional art.

      –VZ

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I think this is what digital media impact on internet users habit, things are just so easy to share, and people want the instant reward without input time and effort to produce quality content. Copying others work are one of the way to gain voices without paying the time it cause to make the production. There’s also same issue happens in academic perspective, student paying others to complete their work to be sure to gain a pass from their degree. People are more focus on the outcome rather than process.

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    1. Yes, but the key difference between this is that both parties were willing to cheat in the academic side of writing. There was an equal tradeoff between each student – money for a passing grade.

      This is more of a case of taking what already exists in the written medium and claiming it as your own. Here, the balance of power is much more uneven: the original writer didn’t even know until they found it by accident, rather than a student willingly offering their writing services for money.

      This article is about stealing, not cheating, though it is cheating on one person’s side.

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      1. I agreed what you said, however I think student who buy assignments also cheating on the academic system by using others effort, the power involved in are strong as well. There’s different types involved when focus on plagiarism, using others’ work/ideas without citing are also counted in it.

        -> Work being stolen/copy: Unfair to the artist that time be spent on originality production
        -> Hiring ghostwriters (plagiarism): Unfair to other student who pays real effort

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