As most of you know, everyone involved with NRP is very anti-DRM. We feel that it is an insult to our readers because all DRM says is that a publisher or an author doesn’t trust the reader. We also feel that you, the reader, should be able to read the e-book you just purchased on any e-reader you own. Finally, we feel that adding DRM to an e-book is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. It simply eggs on folks to try to break it and then, once they have, to offer it for free to others who haven’t paid for the book.
So, do we like piracy? No. If we find out that a site is offering our titles without permission, we will go after them. After all, we’re here to make money for our authors. However, we also know that a little bit of piracy is inevitable and, frankly, it is promotion. The vast majority of people who read e-books are honest. If they read an unauthorized version of one of our titles, they’ll go out and find the legitimate title and buy it or they’ll buy more titles by that author. So it’s a win situation for us and for our authors.
What is worse, in my opinion, is what happened over on fanfiction.net recently (and this isn’t the first time something like this has happened, nor will it be the last). Basically, Cynthia Eden was notified by a number of fans that her book, Deadly Heat, had shown up on the site in the guise of fanfic. Oh the names had been changed — to Edward and Bella — but that was basically all. The so-called author of this piece of Twilight fanfic also changed the POV from third to first AND — and this is where I can understand Ms. Eden getting a bit hot under the collar — acknowledged that the names of Edward and Bella belong to Meyer and the Twilight franchise but that she meant not copyright infringement. Note that she said nothing about the book she plagiarized.
Plagiarism is the bane — and greatest fear — of most authors. We work long and hard to write a novel. It’s so much more than just sitting down at the computer and writing. In a lot of ways, it’s like giving birth. To then find that someone has taken it, filed off a few of the identifiers and claimed it as their own is enough to send us screaming into the night. It doesn’t matter that this was posted on a fanfic site. You’d be surprised how many people — people who buy books — read these sites. Can you imagine how they’d react if they paid for the novel that had been plagiarized — after they’d read the so-called piece of fanfic?
All it takes is one reader saying in the right forum that author A stole a plot from a fanfic site and claimed it as her own. The damage is done because someone else is bound to pick up the thread and spread it. Even thought the author is the one who had her plot ripped off by the fanfic poster, it is the author who will have to defend her work against the cries of plagiarism. After all, how many times do we compare the date of fanfic post to the publication date of a book or short story?
According to Ms. Eden, the fanfic poster has taken down the plagiarized piece, noting that it was an “experiment”. Sorry, I buy that explanation no more than Ms. Eden appears to. I’d like to give the fanfic poster the benefit of the doubt, but the fact that she made the disclaimer about Twilight and yet remained silent about the true basis of the work speaks volumes. At least to me.
Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against fanfic. I’ve been known to write it, as have a number of authors. It is a wonderful way to hone our craft and have fun doing it. But the key here is that you have to “write” it. That means coming up with the idea, the plot, following canon — or having a darned good reason for breaking it — and putting your own spin onto it. It’s not just changing the names and POV of someone else’s work.
Whether the plagiarized work is offered for sale or simply put up for free on fanfic sites, it is still plagiarism. Worse, it’s stealing. The poster has stolen another person’s hard work and is stealing their credit. Instead of taking the time to go through and file off the literary serial numbers, spend that time and effort to write your own story. It’s a lot more fun.