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Paranoia: Copyright Infringement & Destroyed Work

PARANOIA: COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT & DESTROYED WORK

So here I am, back talking about crap that no one really cares about. I have issues, you see.  😉

Well, not only am I anal retentive regarding my story titles, but I’m fearful of copyright infringement. So paranoid that I’ve guarded my work with guns and knives over the years. Yes, I’ve said it. I know I’m not the only one. I realize that I’m not the only writer who’s hesitated to put any of their work on the World Wide Web.

It’s not that I’m a great writer, but I feel some things I write are more than okay. They might even be great in and of themselves. Sometimes we create that one wonderful piece of work when the Muse puts forth her best effort…once every decade.

I want to be able to offer my poetry to others and post excerpts or even full chapters of my books beforehand. Today, things are just as safe on the Internet as they are exposed and vulnerable. Meaning, our writing or drawings, etc., are protected by the Web, but they are also dangling in that Web, bared to would-be plagiarists who wish to take our stuff and re-word it in attempts to make it their own. Well, I might add that some don’t even bother to reword it. They just take what they want and hope that we, any member of our posse, or a fan doesn’t spot it.

How is our original work protected then? Well, once we post it…it’s there, for good. Well, for now anyway. If World War III sparks, then all is lost and we’d have little way of knowing if someone on another coast is claiming our work as his own. After we post something under our name on our blog, or Facebook, MySpace, or any other site, it’s embedded there, seemingly burned into the atmosphere forever – indefinitely anyway. So it can be proven, say, if you posted it before the other person posted or published it. That’s good.

Okay, well, I know there are authors who have written an entire book, or most of one, on their blogs or website. I don’t think I’d ever go that far – despite it really engages readers, but I’ve always liked the idea of giving people a look at a work in progress just like I’m doing now with Angel Maker. However, I cannot guarantee how much of Angel Maker will make it to my blog. Maybe only through Chapter Two; then I’ll post excerpts and tidbits from consequent chapters to keep interested peeps up to date on my progress with the story.

I penned my first poem at probably 11-12 years old or so. I’m 43 now. I was stingy with my work even as a kid and was reluctant to let others read it. Even my own mother. Today, however, I read my chapters to her one by one as I proceed with a story. She can’t see and read like she used to so I read it aloud.

I remember when I first broke down and posted something on the Internet. Back in like 98 -99. It was fan-fiction poetry. I put it up on a website I had back then, and it drew a lot of attention. In fact, the owner of the largest fan site of particular wrestling superstar (mind you, it was WWF’s Attitude Era!) asked if she could post it on her fan site – the largest, most popular website on the Web – in the world. The feedback I got from that poem was phenomenal. Yet, ‘til this day…I wonder if it’s somewhere under someone else’s name. The site is closed now and has been for years and I wonder if I saw it somewhere else, how could I prove now that it was my work? Outside of the fact that I have it saved on a disk somewhere.

I write this blog because I once was a victim of creative theft. It wasn’t that big of a deal. Many years back I caught a person who posted something of mine on her website and didn’t give me credit. She gave no name of the author and when others commented on it, they told her how good “her” work was. She never acknowledged the piece wasn’t hers. After numerous emails from me politely asking her to remove it, she finally did. There was a small fight, but not too bad. It was just upsetting that people liked the piece and she wouldn’t give the real author – me – the credit.

I had an acquaintance who once who wanted to learn how to write novellas in a particular genre. So she took a book and rewrote it…sort of…line by line. Is that plagiarism? Of course, she did it as a lesson and research. It was later destroyed and there are no copies in existence. I would’ve never even thought of doing that. I mean what if someone took your book and changed the setting and the character’s names and did that, but decided to publish? Oh, jeepers!

Now do you see what I mean? Paranoid. I could write pages about how I didn’t even like turning in book reports, research and term papers to teachers and professors. No. I kid not.

How do you other writers feel about infringers and breach of copyright?

Next, let’s talk about losing our work. As I mentioned above, for now our unpublished work can be stored on the Web. If you post or store your writing on a blog, your own website or a writer’s group, etc., whatever you post will still be there after your home or office burns down or blows away during Hurricane I’m-Going-To-Destroy-All-Your-Shit rolls through.

But what about that new stuff you’re laboring over nearly every day and you never thought to store it somewhere in the spider web of space? OMG! Tornado I’ma-Destroy-It blew down your house & you forgot to grab your computer or flash drives during evacuation to the basement. Now what?

So? What? What do you do if you’re not saving to the Cloud?

I save mine on three different flash drives. I do this so in case one fails I’ve got two more. Since this bad weather’s been driving us bonkers this last couple of years, I’ve taken to carrying one of those flash drives in my purse & I update it every time I write. So if my house burns down while I’m gone, my stuff is safe. I’m contemplating buying a waterproof/fireproof lockbox for said flash drives and important notes.

The truth is, my work being destroyed by fire or weather is more of an obsession of mine than infringement.

Have I gone insane? What do you all think? How many of you have ever considered that the only copies of anything half written are the copies on your hard drive and that one flash drive that you keep on your writing desk. What if you lose it to thieves or to destruction of your home or office?

Okay…Let me know what’s on your mind. Do you have any suggestions on how to keep things safe?

Again, thanks for reading.

10 thoughts on “Paranoia: Copyright Infringement & Destroyed Work

  1. Thanks for posting this; it is something I think about often and am nonplussed by. I do a lot of my pre-work on paper and then type it up. I’ve taken to Scrivener (with file save in Dropbox so I can access it anywhere should the Storm of the Universe come through or if my laptop gets nabbed by thieves). However, I wonder about my notebooks; I often think of destroying them once I’ve typed the story, published the book, or whatever, but I worry about the copyright thing. Hence the files of notebooks around my home… 😉

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  2. Hi Wanda. L oved your post. I wrote a similar post a few months ago, not as detailed as yours, but the point was there. I am also a paranoid writer for fears of piracy and lost files. I have 2 backups and I found more peace of mind with Dropbox. I think we will always worry about such things as writers. Most say plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery and it helps promote ones work but , no thanks, that’s publicity that would churn at my insides. I suppose these will always be a the forefront of our creative concerns. It is nice to know there is someone as anal as me out there! 🙂

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  3. This is a very interesting post, Wanda. I was going to write something of a similar nature but yours is better, so I will spread the link around the stratosphere.

    I am currently finishing up my fourth online novel. I will not be doing any more. While one of them lead to a possible movie deal, there are definite negative impacts concerning one of the others. Usually, I don’t watch much television, but I happened to catch a TV series that had some striking similarities to one of the novels. I could not believe it. While I realize the same thing could happen from a short story as well, and I have hundreds of them scattered about, it still irks me. This is my creative talent and work, and someone is profiting from it. They were smart enough not to take things word for word, but the deception is quite apparent. The only satisfaction I can get from this is that the show’s writing appears to be going down hill.

    Thank you for this super post, my friend!

    Blaze

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  4. Hi AR. Thanks for reading. I’m glad to see that I’m not alone in worrying. I am currently looking for some place in the sky to store my writing. When I do write stuff in notebooks, I shred things when I’m ready to get rid of it. I used to take some of my old manuscript pages to my last job where there was more of an industrial shredder and shred them. Mine takes forever at 10 pages at a time. Yikes! I don’t know. Maybe our worry is for nothing. But you know…it seems like people will steal anything these days.

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  5. Thanks for reading, Debby. I see that both you & AR mentioned Dropbox. I think I’ll look in to that. You know it would sure break my heart if one day I’m wandering around Barnes & Noble and see my book on the shelf under someone else’s name…when I couldn’t get an agent to look at it. I can see how some would consider plagiarism a flattery. However, for m,e the thought of it turns me inside out.

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  6. Thanks for reading and spreading the link around, Blaze. I appreciate it. I’m glad you found the post interesting. It seems we’re not the only one’s worried about theft, plagiarism and other types of loss. It’s a shame that anyone has so little faith in their own creativity…or are too lazy to attempt to use their own creativity… that they’d even attempt to steal someone else’s.

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  7. So ditto! It’s a scary thought and the more I read on the internet, the more I hear of it. Someone had suggested that if you sign up for google alerts (which I have on certain topics I like to stay on top of), type in your own name for alerts with your book title, that way any activity regarding your book, you will be alerted to, whether it’s from yourself or the dreaded “you know what”, I dare not say. 🙂

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