Photo Credit: Alison Tedford (because I don’t steal other people’s art)
“You took the words right out of my mouth” is normally a pleasantry between people so familiar that they finish each other’s sentences effortlessly. That familiarity can be comforting and means that all the times you spoke before, you were heard. In the writing world, there is a darker side, and we call it plagiarism.
I’ve seen my work appear on other websites, uncredited. These were my thoughts, claimed and used for page views by someone who did not take the time to compose them. They did not agonize over sentence structure. They did not mull over how best to present their deepest thoughts and most earnest feelings. That is my process, I did those things. I feel a bit like the Little Red Hen, going to the trouble of baking bread now everybody wants some. Where were you when I was sourcing images that adequately conveyed my feelings on a subject? Where were you when I was up till three am writing it all down so someone else doesn’t have to feel alone? That’s why I write and it’s disgusting to claim someone else’s experience as your own.
They weren’t there. They just copied and pasted and saved themselves the trouble of having endured what I have. It’s like in Princess Bride when Prince Humperdinck says “Skip to the end!”I didn’t get the opportunity to skip through the messy bits that gave me the insight to write the things I do. I had to live through it. For me, plagiarism is minimizing. It invalidates where I have been and the process it takes to get here and now and claiming those lessons as their own. No. Just no. When I publish, I share with readers the things that I have learned. That does not give license for my words, used to describe intimate parts of my soul, to be appropriated for someone else’s financial benefit. It’s like ripping out the pages of someone’s diary and using it to decorate your business.
When you steal art from a gallery, an alarm goes off, but usually what is stolen has been insured. I have yet to find a policy that protects the pieces of my soul from being lifted. I can’t affix a dye pack to my feelings. It’s not just an emotional offence, but also a financial transgression. In the blogging world, page views are what makes a publication attractive for sponsored campaigns and advertisers.
When you take work without credit, you remove the ability for the reader to find similar work I’ve authored. You have taken away page views that could have made me some money. You’ve taken food from my kid’s mouth. That’s what happens when you rip off a mommy blogger. You’re stealing from a small business and more offensively, reselling my own content on the front lawn.
Plagiarism hurts. It hurts bloggers. It damages reputations. The next time someone wants to take the words right out of my mouth — DON’T. We aren’t that familiar if you don’t know how gross that is.
This post originally appeared on Sparkly Shoes and Sweat Drops.