Oy vey. What a spectacular, disturbing last two days it’s been. Never in a million years did I think I’d be at the epicenter of a plagiarism scandal apparently involving the darling of the young adult (YA) book world. Never in a million years did I think I’d have to defend myself as the victim. But as they say, truth is stranger than fiction.
By now most of you have read my post, B*tch stole my content! Plagiarism: How to Deal with a Thief, and B of Beautifully Invisible’s post, I Think We’ve Been Plagiarized… Sort of: The Story of the Content Thief. And many of you have read (and I’m finally, and only just now actually mentioning the name of the plagiarist here), the “apology” and “clarification” posts by Kristi of The Story Siren that are so vague people in the YA blogging world have had to tweet each other to find out exactly what the hey happened.
What did happen?
Let’s clear that up right now: PLAGIARISM happened.
She lifted content from our sites, reworked it, and passed it off as her own. She didn’t just “borrow” the format of a page, but reworked more than six articles on blogging, not books (the telltale sign). There was no “inspired by,” no link back, no permission asked, no nothing. SHE stole from US. That’s the clarification she omitted that you all are looking for.
Note: B and I would never make this most unholy accusation if we weren’t positive of it. If all the evidence offered in our original posts isn’t sufficient, you should read B’s latest post, where she breaks it down even more: A Tale of Plagiarism Continued: Clarification of The Story Siren’s Clarification.
To the people who are defending Kristi and skewering, us, the victims…
Beautifully Invisible and I did not name her on Twitter—or at all. Your book blogging community did. They put the situation out there three months after it actually happened.
We did not create any hashtags related to her. Your book blogging community did. We do not condone bullying (I have blogged about that very topic) and we would never take such a petulant approach toward a very serious matter. Neither of us needs an army to legitimize our claims.
We had no idea she was this big deal book blogger since our realm is fashion blogging. Comments I’ve seen about us wanting traffic and views out of this is ridiculous. If that were the case WE would have blown the lid off when it happened in January. All we knew is that she was someone who had stolen our work.
Along the same lines, saying that we cooked this up because we are jealous of someone we never even knew is absolute idiocy of the highest order. Now that Kristi is intimately familiar with the concept of IP addresses, I would defy her to find an instance where either of us ever visited her site before we made the discovery in January. We never have.
And in my world, jealousy is a wasted emotion. People who are jealous are usually unhappy with their lives. I am neither jealous nor unhappy.
To all of you who have commented: What’s the big deal? Why are they taking this so seriously? Let’s see your reaction when the posts you have worked on for hours are stolen, altered, and someone else is getting credit, traffic, and ad dollars for your work. Shame on all of you who think that protecting intellectual property isn’t serious or worthwhile. Why do you think you can’t download from iTunes once and share the song with the world for free? Because those melodies and lyrics are the livelihood of artists. Of course, any of you who want to spin your wheels and build up someone else’s reputation or line someone else’s pockets as a result…be my guest.
To all of you who have commented: She just made a mistake. It’s OK. Yes, she did make a mistake—a glaring, horrendous error in judgment when she decided to come over to our blogs, study them, then rework the content and publish it on hers. BIG MISTAKE. HUGE. Which is why we had no choice but to confront her about it.
What has been particularly galling is her inability to actually 100% own this “mistake.” As you can see from her first non-apology posted April 23, 2012, we were never mentioned. She supposedly apologized to her readers, but not us, the bloggers she plagiarized. In her “clarification” posted April 24, 2012, she wrote:
“To Grit and Glamour and Beautifully Invisible, I extend my deepest apologies. Please do not judge the book blogging community by my mistakes.”
Please do not judge the book blogging community? Does she really think that’s what I’m thinking about? No offense, but why would we even care about the book blogging community? It’s a weak apology at best. But to tell you the truth, I didn’t expect anything better than that.
To all of you who have commented: They just regurgitated how-to’s from the Internet. We are well aware that there are all kinds of how-to-blog-better articles out there. Let me set the record straight on this: ours were not regurgitations, but our own, authentic, original (and apparently covetable) posts. We spent hours on them.
To have people discredit our time, energy and original work as an excuse in defending her is highly offensive. No matter how you slice it, the work was ours, not hers—or anybody else’s.
To all of you who have commented: It’s one-sided. It’s a witch hunt. Uh, no and no—or at least, B and I are not the ones on the witch hunt. It has never been one-sided. We didn’t just arbitrarily make a claim. We confronted her about it. And she responded to us and to you all with every I was subliminally inspired/it was an accident/unintentional excuse in the book. And then she had the audacity to lie about her actions, and we showed you the proof.
We have never been on a witch hunt—just a hunt for the truth and a genuine and sincere apology. You should note that she’s never denied the accusations (uh, wouldn’t YOU if you were INNOCENT?), but still dances around the truth in her “clarification” on April 24:
“When I first received the allegations of plagiarism, I was presented with the information and could not deny the facts. While the content was not identical the subject matter was. It was a confusion of inspiration and plagiarism on my part. I am not denying my actions. I was in the wrong.”
Some commenters on other blogs have indicated that she should be reported to publishers, and some also said that we should be the ones to do it. Now THAT is a witch hunt. I have no intention of reporting anyone. I could care less if she keeps blogging or not, whether she’s blacklisted by the book blogging community or publishers. I only care if she steals my content. Clearly, that’s not going to happen again.
To all of you who think we don’t fully understand copyrights and plagiarism: I want you to know that I am a hobby blogger. This is not my full-time job. You know what my “real” job is? I’m a Web writer and editor, a content developer—not a “wanna-be writer,” not someone with aspirations—but a bonafide, paid writer.
Tweeting with someone yesterday, I noted that the ultimate insult is that people think I do not know how all this plagiarism stuff works because—gasp!—I’m just a fashion blogger.
I’m not just a fashion blogger. I have a Master’s Degree in English/Technical and Professional Writing, and I have published in magazines, papers, and online. I KNOW THE RULES OF WRITING. I KNOW WHAT PLAGIARISM IS.
I would never, ever pass someone’s work off as my own, because my voice and integrity are not only all I have as a writer, to do something like that would end my career, and my income. I resent having my name dragged through the mud because of a situation I did not bring upon myself.
To all of you who thought I was calling Kristi names because of my “B*tch stole my content…” title: You obviously didn’t read all the way through and see that at the bottom of that post, I properly attributed the “B*tch stole my” saying to the tongue-in-cheek E! Fashion Police segment, B*tch Stole My Look! No one is actually calling anyone any names, on the show or in my post. It’s an expression used in fashion and entertainment.
So you made a “mistake” and apologized. We know you will never write: To Grit and Glamour and Beautifully Invisible, I am truly sorry for plagiarizing your content. It’s pretty clear in your statement on April 24 that the only person you are sorry for is you, because you’ve tarnished your reputation as a “leader”:
“I am truly sorry for all the trouble that this has caused the book blogging community. That’s my biggest regret. You gave me your respect and I let you down. I took a role as a leader and I didn’t take my actions into account as it would reflect on the community as a whole. For that I am truly sorry.
…I know that I have disappointed many of you. That is heartbreaking to me. I am still the same person that you have come to know through the years. I just really screwed up.”
Not “truly sorry” for plagiarism, but “truly sorry…for all the trouble that this has caused.” Fine. Extend us your “deepest apologies.” Whatever. The damage, as you well know, is done.
You know what would have been refreshing? For you to tell your followers that slandering us, that hurling wild accusations at us because they are hurt and disappointed is not the way this should be handled. I hope you know that when all this hit Twitter and beyond, B and I were the ones who let people know that cyber-bullying—via hashtag or any other way—is wrong. Uh, that’s a defense on your behalf. We never started it or participated in any name calling or spread any unfounded accusations.
It would have been nice if instead of only doing your own reputation damage control, you had extended us the same courtesy and communicated to your followers that WE are not the ones at fault here, and we do not deserve to be attacked any more than you do.
Would have been nice. But again, the damage—to all parties involved—is done.
Being that you’re bookish, I’ll close with an all-time favorite quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet: