Wednesday, July 17, 2013

the lowest thief of words there is

This is a short update to a previous post about plagiarizing reviews.

As I said at the end of that post, I will never ever forgive someone who steals another's words.  And if it's possible for one kind of theft to be worse than another, then I guess the theft of reviews is even lower than theft of a book or story or other original work.

Posting a stolen review on Goodreads or Amazon or your blog or anywhere else has absolutely no excuse.  None. 

There can sometimes be some justification for stealing bread or stealing money or stealing ... whatever, on the basis of need.  That, after all, is at the heart of so many classic stories, because there is an underlying injustice that creates the need that can only be satisfied through theft.

What is the underlying justification for stealing a review, for crying out loud?  There is no compensation involved to either party.  Is it ego, a need to be recognized and praised for one's contribution to the already enormous mountain of readers' responses to published works?  If so, then why steal?  Do you think you're not going to be found out?

Perhaps it is a genuine mental illness that requires professional treatment.  Perhaps.  Perhaps.  If so, then the person needs to find professional help -- or a friend or loved one needs to find it for her -- and get the problem taken care of.

Stealing a review is a conscious act.  It's not an accident, not when it happens a dozen times or more.  There is premeditation in the setting up of a user account, selecting the books to be "reviewed," and then choosing which reviews to actually steal.

How much more unforgivable can the theft be than when it is committed by a writer?  Does that writer not value her own words?  How would she feel if her words, her creation, her thoughts, her soul were stolen from her?

No doubt the account will be deleted from Goodreads,   If the reviews that have been stolen were also published elsewhere, on a blog or on another website, they will be identified and removed also.

When I wrote in another previous blog post that it's okay to write a review out of anger or revenge or spite, I meant it.  Sometimes there are authors whose behavior outside the pages of their books is so offensive that the reader just can't set it aside.  For me, one of those behaviors is stealing another person's words.  For me, that is simply not forgivable, and any author I learn has done it will be fair game for my revenge review.

DO NOT STEAL.  Period.

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