on stealing

Pamie:

I’ve been reading Julia’s web-site: tequilamockingbird and it seems she has become a victim of plagiarism. To quote Julia, this moron sounds like a complete “asshat.” I read his site and I wonder if he’s really that moronic, or if it’s all just an act.

In any case, he has stolen from her, and I was just wondering what you think about this. I’d love to know what Stee thinks as well. Has this ever happened to you?

You have a large audience out there. Have any of your readers been in this situation, and what did they do? If there’s any advice you can give Julia, I know she’d really appreciate it. I think at this point she’s feeling like she’s up against the wall and has to fight back against ignorant white boy.

Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

Love,

Vicki Tennant
Overland Park, Kansas

I was sent this letter a couple of days ago and meant to address this issue (but Wendy has already done it way better), as this has happened to me more than once, and continues to happen to me, so I’ll share what I’ve done to scare off the stealers in the past.

I once found a website in Hong Kong where the girl had taken entire entries (the death of my cat being one), ran them through a translator and back out again and posted them. She changed names, but kept the rest of the stuff intact. It made no sense at all to me, but she posted pages and pages of my entries, some the most boring ones of all. I had found it because I was searching for one of my own entries and found two instances of it online. I got a lawyer many of us journal-type-people are familair with to draft a nasty cease and desist letter. I sent a similar one to her web hosting company. She removed everything in one day, and sent a letter of apology.

Over the holidays I found a forum where someone was posting as me, and posted the Michael Jackson letter, asking people to come and check me out at my site. I wrote to the forum moderators, and to the poster him/herself. The forum thread was deleted, and the person was banned.

I’ve had people email me to say they’ve heard someone win a radio contest by reading one of my essays online as a story of her own. There’s nothing I can do about that. I’ve had students write to say they know another classmate turned in one of my stories as her own in English class. What the hell could I do about that? I hope she got an A. I’ve had people steal entire entries and paste them up as their own. I’ve never had to do it, but my agents and publishers are willing to get involved if someone doesn’t take stuff down. Luckily I never got to the point where poor Gwen did in 2000, where someone was stealing her entire identity and was going to go on the Roseanne show with it.

My advice: be annoying until they get shut down. Don’t spend a dime on lawyers. Get a gang and bully them off the Internet. Also: if the site has about two visitors a year, is it really worth your effort? I’ve seen my entries ganked on other sites, but other than that girl’s best friend thinking she’s more talented than she actually is, why would you put yourself through any sort of stress?

Feel free to add your advice here, or email Julia.