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A Unique Redefinition of… Something 26 July 2013

Posted by Camille Gooderham Campbell in Hall of Shame.

We don’t ban people from submitting stories to Every Day Fiction often. Hardly at all, in fact. I could count them on one hand over the past… well, almost seven years now.

But when someone refuses to see the conflict between unattributed chunks of text quoted without permission (from an online non-fiction article about the story’s subject) and item 6(a) of our contract — “The Author represents and warrants that he/she is the sole author of the Work, that the Work is original and not previously published, and that the Work does not, to the best of his/her knowledge, infringe any third party’s copyright, trademark or other proprietary rights.” — we don’t really have any other choice. How could we ever trust any submission from this person who refuses to see that appropriating someone else’s text is wrong?

The reaction? Apparently a ban is “over the top” and we need to “get rid of what they taught you in school about literature, and start using you own minds.”

The justification we were given as to why it’s okay to use other people’s words? “I did not invent words either, so, according to your logic, whoever uses words is not a fiction writer.”

Also, this: “I do it all the time, it’s my definition of the 21st century writing, which I define, not the century.”

This one goes in the Hall of Shame, for sure.


1. Bryan Thomas Schmidt - 26 July 2013

So I guess in the 21st Century plagiarism, a form of intellectual property theft is okay. Millions of lawyers will beg to differ.

2. Ehtisham Rizvi - 26 July 2013

Some people mistake plagiarism for research.

Camille Gooderham Campbell - 27 July 2013

I could understand an honest mistake, confusion about what needs to be sourced and how, or even a desire to engage in discussion about appropriation and plagiarism and rights and publishing. What truly blows me away is the entitled attitude and the refusal to acknowledge that anyone might consider it a problem.

3. J. Chris Lawrence - 26 July 2013

Plagiarism laws are neither subjective nor vague. I don’t expect this fellow to make it very far in this business given his definition of “21st century writing”.

4. Michelle - 26 July 2013

This practice has precedence in the work of Michael Houellebecq a well respected author. In visual art appropriation is a valid way to work and I believe the same about literature, why do we think the written word is any more sacred than an image.

Camille Gooderham Campbell - 27 July 2013

I would consider Houellebecq to be controversial at best (background can be found here). I don’t deny that interesting and unique art can be created by layering found text into a new story, but the literary world has a long-standing tradition of citing sources and giving credit where credit is due — a simple footnote pointing to the original article would have sufficed.

5. mossfoot - 27 July 2013

Hoo boy… it’s an amazing paradox how human laziness is capable of jumping through such an impressive array of hurdles.

6. nobodysreadingme - 27 July 2013

I despair of some people some of the time, and people like this all of the time.

7. Suzanne Conboy-Hill - 27 July 2013

I’ve heard this kind of argument before in a wide range of contexts. The common theme is the person’s sense of being right and their lack of openness to any kind of dialogue. I’d guess that this is the way the individual functions in the rest of his world. In my experience, saying ;no’ or the equivalent just entrenches them but negotiating towards your goal (if it’s worth doing that) can often achieve a satisfactory outcome.

8. Johne Cook - 27 July 2013

If the author is defiant about this long-standing publication principle, I wonder what else this author is defiant about? Life is too short – there are too many other fish in the sea. Stick to your guns.

9. Roy Gomez - 29 July 2013

Dear, dear, what a waste of time and energy having to explain the basics. My advice to constipated writer: Take two laxatives at bedtime; you’ll feel better in the morning.

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