Update on Writing, Spirits, and Other Matters

Lately I’ve been hearing about all sorts of blatant plagiarism, where “authors” steal another writer’s published book, adding sex scenes or scrambling a few words and passing it off as their own. In one case, a plagiarist stole the exact cover of the book. In this brave new world of publishing where anything goes, it’s harder than ever to keep control of one’s own work. Once it’s in the public eye, the book is available to anyone with a few cents for an ebook download. Chances are, the plagiarized book would be lost in the millions of books now available, and even if the crime was discovered, most self-published authors don’t have the money to fight such infringements, and even if they did, it’s one person’s word against the other. Many self published authors don’t even bother to register their books with the copyright office in their country because once a book is written, it’s automatically covered under copyright laws. But courts are a different matter. They need the official copyright to proceed with trials and repercussions.

bookI’ve never quite known what to do about publishing my work. For now, I have a publisher, but when I get back to writing Ms. Cicy’s Nightmare, a murder mystery based on my dance class, I will continue publishing it on my blog, the way I started. (I am a bit embarrassed that the book is in hiatus after a single chapter, but in my defense, as soon as I cleared the month of July to write, life filled the void with all sorts of traumas and family dramas, which I am only now recovering from.) But when the book is finished? I might or might not get an official copyright. I am not litigious, so chances are I wouldn’t take any copyright infringement to court. Besides, I could easily prove the book is mine since the names of my characters will reflect their real-life personas. At least, that’s the plan. Besides, I don’t much like government intervention of any kind, even if it’s in my best interests.

The ordeals of the last month, including my father’s hospitalization, my brother’s, increased insanity and my trip to return him to Colorado have pretty much numbed my creativity. Since so many of the would-be perpetrators are on hiatus’s of their own — weddings, vacations, illnesses — I don’t have much impetus to write, but soon . . .

As for other updates:

My sister and I drank spirits to the spirits again tonight, if only to bolster our own spirits.

And lastly, I just got an email from Squidoo saying they been purchased by HubPages and that some of my content will be transferred to the HubPages site. Do you have any experience with HubPages? I’m trying to decide if I should just delete my Squidoo account and forget the whole thing or let them transfer my content.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

I am a Victim of Content Scraping

I’d never even heard of content scraping until yesterday when I found my article Why I Write About My Grief posted on two other blogs. The other blogs did not quote the article, nor did they reblog it. (When an article is reblogged, only the first paragraph or so shows up on another blog, with a link back to the original blog.) They stole the entire thing. One of the blogs was hosted by WordPress, so WordPress suspended the blog for violation of services. The other blog was not hosted by WordPress (it’s a self-hosted blog powered by WordPress, which is a completely different matter) so I have no recourse except legal means. Sometimes courts will take action against a “scraper,” but more often than not, if it is an automated theft by special programs rather than copy and paste by humans, there’s not much that can be done since the site will simply disappear and reappear under another name.

Apparently, search engines cannot distinguish between scraped content and original content, so the plagiarized content (let’s call it by it’s real name) shows up first in search results since it is the newer content, which makes the theft even more of a problem. If you are the victim of scrapers, there are some things you can do to fight back. First, take the steps outlined in this article from WordPress Support: Content Theft – What to Do. Second, you can follow the suggestions in this article: Content Scrapers – How to Find Out Who is Stealing Your Content & What to Do About It. Third, ignore the situation but take steps to make sure you get the credit.

If you decide on the third option, the easiest way to get at least partial credit for future plagiarized material is to use a link to your own site in your content, such as the link to my grief in article in the first sentence of this blog. Even better, add a promo to the bottom of the blog so that no matter where the article appears, information about you as the author will go along with it. That’s what I decided to do: add a promo to the bottom of my blogs. Regular readers will forgive the intrusion (I hope), new readers will learn a bit about me, and any bot that steals my content will also spread the word about me and my books.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the conspiracy novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” All Bertram’s books are available both in print and in ebook format. You can get them online at Second Wind Publishing, Amazon, B&N and Smashwords. At Smashwords, the books are available in all ebook formats including palm reading devices, and you can download the first 20-30% free. Print books can also be ordered from your favorite bookstore.

Plagiarism?

I had a bit of a scare this morning. I checked my blog as usual found a comment on my “Origin of the Grim Reaper” bloggery from someone named Robert Weniger, who said: You Plagiarist. I posted the exact words and you copy/pasted it from my website.

Um . . . What??

I love WordPress and all the statistics and information one gets! Besides email addresses from commenters, wordpress notes the IP address. I searched for Weniger’s address on the “What is My IP Address” site, and discovered the comment had been sent from a proxy server. According to the IP address site, A proxy server is a computer that offers a computer network service to allow clients to make indirect network connections to other network services. A client connects to the proxy server, then requests a connection, file, or other resource available on a different server. The proxy provides the resource either by connecting to the specified server or by serving it from a cache. In some cases, the proxy may alter the client’s request or the server’s response for various purposes.

Apparently, the comment was some sort of spam. What’s interesting is that most of  that particular bloggery was plagiarized, though if one credits the writer, it’s not truly plagiarism. It’s called research.  So, if you’re interested in my citation of William Bramley’s grim reaper information, be sure to check out The Origin of the Grim Reaper.

I also had a delightful surprise this morning. At today’s Daughter Am I blog tour stop, Zhadi’s Den, they are talking about my books! Wow, if anything will make someone feel like a real writer, it’s e-vesdropping on a people discussing one’s works. (Nope, that’s not a typo. I just thought it looked better than e-eavesdropping.) So, please meet me at Zhadi’s Den to talk about consistency in writing or my books, whichever you prefer.

DAIClick here to buy Daughter Am I from Second Wind Publishing, LLC. 

Click here to buy Daughter Am I from Amazon.

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To Trust or Not to Trust?

I recently helped run a short story contest for Second Wind Publishing, LLC — the first contest that was sponsored solely by the company — and it went smoothly. Until last week. That’s when we found out one of the finalists had copied a story from another writer who had posted it on the Internet. Whoooo. So not the thing to do!

Deborah J Ledford, a friend and fellow author keeps warning me about posting my writing on the Internet since such episodes are not uncommon, but I still persist in posting just about everything I write except for my novels. And even then, I post the first chapters on various sites. It might be prudent to be careful of what I post, but I have only one way of selling my books — getting known. And the only way I have of getting known is to write articles, bloggeries, mini fiction (100 word stories), whatever my brain can conjure up in the hopes of attracting some attention.

The way I figure it, a person can decide to trust everyone and post at will or distrust everyone and never post. So far, it’s been worth the risk. One of my blog posts was copied once, but I notified Google, and they made the people remove it. More importantly, I have made many friends because of my posts. I’d hate to have to worry about posting what I write — what new friends might I end up not meeting if I curtailed my writing? Still, it’s something to be aware of.

See also:
Plagiarism by Mike Simpson, Second Wind publisher

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