You think you only stole my words, but you really stole my heart from the page: Plagiarism and intellectual property in the age of the internet.


She stole my words…” A surreal feeling swept over me as I scrolled through multiple posts that had once belonged to my heart, now captured by the automated blog signature of someone else. “She stole my words,” I repeated.

“Your words were stolen? Did she come in a car to steal them?” Audrey asked, coming up alongside me and carrying a tone of immense concern.

The task of explaining the concept of intellectual property and plagiarism to a four-year old is not exactly simple. You cannot use big, technical words like Copyright and Infringement to make the point sit solid in their mini minds. All you can say is this: Something was stolen. And that something means a great deal to me.

Nearly a month ago, with the help of a friend, a blog was discovered. The author of the blog had plagiarized, word for word, my blog posts on several occasions. No Credit. No Citation. No Mention. Nothing. And instantly the world could have believed that those words belonged to her.

We run a huge risk when we allow our words, thoughts, and ideas to scamper along the hallways of the World Wide Web. Very easily, a sentence can be copied. A paragraph can be mimicked. An entire idea can be kidnapped and held hostage in someone else’s corner of the internet.

And, anyone who has experienced this knows, it is no Flintstone Chewable to swallow when we have taken the time to pour a fine brew of heart, energy, and passion into every one of our sentiments. Only to see it wrongfully claimed by someone else.

It happens every single day, more so with an internet that adores blurring the lines of free content. I guess I am too naive to believe that when stripped from the technicality of the infringement, a lesson stays learned from the second grade: Don’t take something that does not belong to you.

I guess it is a strange form of flattery,” I said reluctantly to my mother as I clicked through other posts on my site, wondering if the world harbored other Hannah Katy Copy Cats.

No, it’s not Hannah,” she replied. “Don’t kid yourself. Just admit that it stings. She took what you love more than anything: your words.”

I would never think to “out” this person on my blog. Neither my blog or mouth is fit for harsh words that only create more problems. I do not know her intention or her reasoning behind becoming so hasty with the copy and paste buttons but I want her to know that I am not mad at her. It just stings. It comes as a slap in the face to me that she saw fit to let my words ruminate under her header.

Anyone who knows me, be it a best friend or a dedicated reader, knows that I allow my heart to sit on this page Every Single Day. Sometimes Contented. Sometimes Restless. I give my words in the only way that I know how: as a gift. To Lovers. Friends. Family. Strangers. And it is a gift that I do not want to be forced to reach an endpoint with. I do not do this for money, popularity or perks. I do this only because I feel called to extend my words to people who need them more than I. Some days I do need them, those days we share.

Please do not take my vulnerability and call it your own. Please do not take my talents and place your signature at the bottom.

Take My Words, Share Them, Build Off Of Them. Adore Them. But Don’t Call Them Yours. Please Don’t Categorize My Love Under Your Name.

A few days later, after a flurry of flustered conversations and infringement notifications, I found myself happy. Sitting Indian-style upon a Dora beach towel with a notepad on my hip.

You found your words! You found them!” Audrey came screaming up, breathless from building a sand castle. “You got your words back,” she squealed. Clapping Her Hands at the Sight of the Composition Notebook. “I was afraid they would stay stolen forever!”

I smiled up at her. “Yes, Audrey. I got my words back.” I continued to smile and then looked upward to thank God. For He knew, 1,000 words were stolen, so he granted me 10,000 more to play with.

Thoughts on plagiarism in the age of the internet? Any bloggers out there ever experience this?

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40 thoughts on “You think you only stole my words, but you really stole my heart from the page: Plagiarism and intellectual property in the age of the internet.

  1. You are a very talented writer. It has taken you many long years or writing and editing and rewriting to reach where you are today. Whoever would steal your words and call them their own is taking the easy way out. In all her wrong-doing, she cannot create new ones. That is your gift and your right.

    I hope and pray that those 10,000 words amount to something wonderful. I think that they will! Please let us know when you finish your book (which I assume you are are working on). I think we will all gladly pay for it:)

    1. Thank you so much. What a wonderful comment to receive this morning. It means a great deal to me and I am so humbled by your willingness to read my words in every post. Thank you, thank you, thank you! And thank you for reminding me that it is a gift that will be replenished over and over again, I needed to remember that.

  2. I can’t even imagine what a kick in the gut it must be to see someone blatantly passing something that is YOURS off as their own. Particularly when you are as gifted with words as you are, which I picked up simply from your lovely blog comment.

    I hope that it doesn’t put you off, but only makes you stronger – and it’s a wise woman who doesn’t stoop to public naming & shaming. Good for you, m’dear! x

    1. Thanks for the comment! It has not put me off, it just caused me to step back and realize that I need to be super blatant with all my Copy Rights.. But it will never stop the fingers from typing new material for the page.

  3. So sorry to hear that…. I’ve had the same thing happen with a few blog posts before (and I am not even half as good as a writer as you are – who would be so stupid to copy from me and not from you?? ;))… yes, it stings. It’s not right. I hope the person who did this to you reads this posts and has a conscience that will have her not do it again!

    1. You are crazy ha ha, I adore your blog and your writing.. But I bet you can relate on how much it really stinks (for lack of a better word) to see your writing on someone else’s page.

  4. Really sorry to hear that. Sometimes when I come across blogs that I really enjoy and think my readers will like, I provide a quick link on my blog but I always acknowledge the source and would never post the link without the author’s permission.

  5. It’s hard for me to understand why anyone would want to do something like this. But, honestly you are an amazing writer and I hope that this doesn’t discourage you from sharing your words with us!

  6. as i read i’m glad to see she couldn’t steal your spirit or way with words she could copy them but she can’t copy you you just keep on writing what’s in your heart “o she can’t take that away from you” (that’s an old song) love, your biggest fan

    1. Thank you for being my biggest fan, mom. And thank you for encouraging me to write this post. I miss you so much already but I carry you wherever I go. My heart has many more stories to tell, all thanks to a mother who raised me to tell them well.

  7. Hi,

    I read your wonderful guest posts on Emily Jane’s blog and I fell in love with your words. I then saw your post on 20sb and it broke my heart.

    I’m so sorry that your words were stolen. That’s absolutely terrible. I’m furious on your behalf- and it’s funny because I don’t really have a right to be.

    If anyone should be furious, it should be you. Instead, you’re forgiving and kind. I cannot begin to underscore how gracefully you’ve dealt with this. I hope this person is shamed by the hurt they’ve caused you, by how they’ve reached in and almost crushed something beautiful.

    I hope you leave them a note on their blog. Your kind, forgiving, graceful words. I hope it makes them realise how terribly they’ve behaved.

    Noone can take away your words. It is your gift and it cannot be crushed. You won’t let it.

    x

    1. Risha:

      One) I am extremely happy that you came across my blog. Welcome to my little corner of the internet, I hope you stay awhile ha ha. Two) The person does know, I took the necessary steps to have the posts removed from the site, so no worries when it comes to matters of technicalities. Three) Your comment lifted my spirits in so many ways. I contemplated the ways in which I could feel over this act of plagiarism but I decided that yes, it does sting to have your words come under the header of someone else but God has gifted me with so many words and stories that I know He will not stop the flow, even if someone decides to steal them.. If anything, he has given me much more to say. What a great blessing.

      Hope to hear from you again soon.

      Best,

      Hannah Katy

  8. Plagiarism, other than being an illegal act, actually brings hurt to the rightful owner. Sometimes I feel bad when i see my lines word-for-word as someone’s status or note. And other times i actually feel pity for them, if only they could realize their potential in thinking and write down their thoughts they could generate far more newer and better things.
    I hope that such people could realize their acts atleast after reading this post.
    All the same, these people won’t go a long way in their own lives. Moreover, Copying your words doesn’t make them Hannah, the person with whom we could connect, relate to, learn from and grow along, even when you go off your blog for sometime. πŸ™‚

  9. That honestly makes me angry… I hope that whoever copied your posts will not do it again. Because it’s stealing. And it really hurts the original writer — you.

  10. I cannot imagine someone thinking that it’s okay to do that. It just doesn’t even make sense. After reading this, I looked at my own words and wondered if someone out there stole them. And I actually found out someone did steal a letter I wrote my sister in high school. A letter that had a great deal of personal meaning, that is so very much mine because I have the oldest copy, scribbled and dated in a journal from years ago. Maybe people who don’t write the way you do, who don’t put their heart out there, don’t realize how much it hurts to have that ripped off. That’s the only way I can think maybe this girl didn’t think she was completely wrong. But I don’t even really agree with that logic myself.

    1. Yes, you are right. I can imagine the nerves and jitters of producing worth while material. I have felt the pressures myself. But I think that is when you are forced to look at two paths the moral path and the immoral path. And I don’t know that I will ever be able to see plagiarism as acceptable at any rate. I am sorry to hear you have had words stolen from you as well love.

  11. It’s so scary to think that our words, something we spend time actively crafting and putting our hearts into, can be so carelessly stolen. It’s awful. It’s why I don’t put any of my fiction writing on the Internet. I’m so sorry this happened to you, and I guess you’re right – it is kind of a form of flattery, but having had someone plagiarise many aspects of my real LIFE recently, I also believe it’s a form of a huge pain in the ass!! Deep breaths – what’s done is done, and it was done because you are a phenomenal writer. I’m so sorry it had to be done so hurtfully, but know that your words will always be your own, and whether coming from you, or some phoney thief, they are still out there in the world, making someone’s life that much better by reading them πŸ™‚

    1. Thank you for this Emily! I never even thought of it in that way… As long as my words are out there, then I am happy.. But I will always prefer that they come from me ha ha. Because we all know the aches and pains of producing posts that the world will want to read.

      Best,

      Hannah Katy

  12. Ugh!! I’m so sorry you have to deal with this! I don’t understand why people do this. I hope you contacted the blogger and the host of their blog and notified them because while it stings it also needs to be dealt with so they know this is NOT okay.

  13. That’s disappointing to hear. I know that on multiple occasions I have been inspired by other peoples’ blogs. I have been known to snag a line or two, but I try to ALWAYS mention who they are and link to their blog. I love your blog and your writing style. There are times where I am amazed at how well you can articulate what I am thinking. I would agree with others that say perhaps your words are reaching a new audience, a reader that really needed to hear them. It’s just disappointing that they aren’t hearing the words straight from you.

    I have to ask you, and other commenters, how did you discover the plagiarism? Was it by chance you happened upon the blog? Just wondering how that works.

    1. It seriously seemed like an act of God that I found the plagiarism… I very rarely find the time to go over old posts, but I was clicking through one day and stumbled upon one that I actually didn’t like much after I wrote it but I felt this wicked strong urge to read it over again… Which is strange in itself but something inside of me was telling me to read the post.. So I read it over and one quote really stuck out to me so I posted it as a Fbook status… nonchalantly.. Someone who is a friend ending up googling the quote to see if it was by me or someone else so they could cite it and my blog came up alongside someone else’s. She check out the blog and then sent me a message warning me.. I would have never found it had I not posted that quote as my status. So I am pretty thankful that it unraveled as such.

      Thank you for the great concern!

  14. Plagiarism is so awful, especially online because the action you can take is so limited. Know that an imitation you will never have your heart- and people who connect with her will be better off when they find out who really had those beautiful thoughts & words πŸ™‚

  15. I’m so glad to hear action was taken because this just hurts my heart to read. You are such an amazing, gifted writer and the fact that someone would steal your words, the ones you so carefully craft, makes me want to do bad things to them. πŸ˜‰ You are amazing and I am glad to see that it hasn’t stolen your spirit.

    (Also, your mom’s comment made me tear up a little. Hehe.)

    1. Ah really? I teared up with it as well… Makes me miss her so much. One thing about NYC- it can make you very lonely at times.. But that is why I am so thankful to have such support from every angle. Thank you for always being one of those supporters.

  16. I have very strong feelings about this. I believe the courts are very behind in intellectual property laws regarding the internet. But the fact of the matter is that people who do what has been done to you need to be called out, perhaps in a loving matter. I have seen very similar things within the blogging community and it is sadly almost becoming acceptable. Best of luck to you.

    1. Thank you! I am so thankful to have such support.. It is really a blessing, but I totally agree. Things need to be cracked down upon, because this is definitely not acceptable.

  17. i’m so sorry to hear about this!
    plagiarism is just so awful.
    i just don’t understand why someone wants to take credit for something they didn’t write, and basically pretend to be someone else.
    you are such a talented writer and don’t let this get you down!

  18. While I’ve never had someone steal my words or stolen someone elses, I know this has happened to a few other bloggers before. It’s so sad that people feel the need to steal someone elses work.

    You’re so freaking talented and your heart just pours out of every post that you write. Don’t ever stop writing and don’t ever stop being YOU.

    Because you’re all kinds of inspirational to me, lady!

    xoxo

  19. I can’t believe someone would do this!! It’s heinous. Isn’t the point of a blog to get your OWN feelings out, in your OWN voice?? Why does this girl even have a blog anyway? I feel sorry for her. She must have issues that she needs to solve by gaining attention. I think your words are beautiful and honest and stealing them is an outrage.

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