Saturday, October 12, 2013

Plagiarism: A Rant!

Eyes on your own paper!
I'm usually very easy going, but there are a few things that really tick me off--and this is one of them.

I got a call last weekend from Bro. Robert Johnson, the Managing Editor of the Midnight Freemasons--that's a contributor blog I founded, Robert manages, and about a dozen Masons contribute to.  Robert was surfing, and he found one of my more popular articles reposted on a blog.  That's fine.  No problem.  We want people to do that.  I have a very open sharing policy on my personal blog (this one) that's mirrored on the Midnight Freemasons.  It encourages people to share our work.  The policy is basically "feel free to use anything you find here, but be sure you give credit where credit is due, and provide links back to the original article."  But Robert thought I had best have a look at what he found.

So I checked it out.  Sure enough, it was my article word for word but with somebody else's by-line.  In other words, he swiped my piece and claimed it as his own.  I was ripped off.  It's not the first time somebody has stolen my material, but it makes me mad every time, and this one particularly so because it was a Mason, and he posted it to a Masonic blog.  Never mentioned the true author (me!) and there were no links back, and he didn't even cite The Midnight Freemasons as a source.  That's not very nice!

I get going through this blog, and suddenly realize he's been doing this for some time.  I found some of my best work on there with his name on it.  Now some were slightly changed or edited but they were obviously based closely to one of my pieces, and others he reposted blantently word for word and claimed.  I only found one of my pieces that had been reposted there that even mentioned my name at all.  Although it was word for word mine, he mentioned me not as the author of the piece, but as a "source." I'm sure the only reason he did that was because that particular blog post was very popular and wound up reposted a lot of places including a couple Masonic magazines--he was probably concerned somebody would see it, recognize it, and realize it wasn't actually his.

We're not going to change our sharing policy.  You are absolutley free to use what you find here or on the Midnight Freemasons with our blessing--just give us credit.  The Midnight Freemasons (myself included) work very hard to provide interesting and unique content for our blog, and we want people to read the things we write, because we believe they have value.  Repost them on your blog if you want.  Repost them on your Valley website or lodge website.  Reprint them in your newsletter--just give the author credit! 

Posting something as your own, or even changing a couple words here and there and claiming it as an original piece is wrong--especially for a true and upright Mason.  It's theft.  And I would have never believed in a million years that a Mason would do such a dishonest thing.  And in truth that fact bothers me more than the theft itself.  I've had stuff stolen before, but never before by a Brother.  It's very disappointing.

But Masons are very forgiving, and I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt, and a little time to fix this.  Perhaps it was completely unintentional--perhaps he is unfamiliar with the term "plagiarism."  I know this guy will see this--he quite obviously visits both here and on the Midnight Freemasons with great regularity since I'm obviously his ghost writer and didn't even know it.  I'm sure he's in the process right this minute of correcting this oversight by either labeling those pieces he "borrowed" with the names of the actual authors and links back to their sources, or he's taking them down completely.  And if there's anyone else he's "borrowing" from, this might be a good time to come clean on those as well.  Fix it, and I'll never speak of it again.

But I'd be getting this fixed fast.  When I get angry about stuff, I have a tendency to write very passionately about it with great specificity to a very large audience.

Thank you in advance for taking care of this.


Todd E. Creason is an author and novelist whose work includes the award-winning non-fiction historical series Famous American Freemasons and the novels One Last Shot (2011) and A Shot After Midnight (2012). He's currently working on the third novel Shot to Hell which will be released in Spring 2014.

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