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7-2 Infringement and Plagiarizing

Dealing With Plagiarizing
(c) 2010 Mona Leeson Vanek

Many things have changed since litigation was initiated because of plagiarism issues in electronic databases, and writers still await settlement awards. Read the latest update on that Copyright Class Action lawsuit here: Publishers and writers now negotiate contracts that avoid plagiarism issues, but they still occur. Writers are encouraged to contact the perpetrator every time someone uses their work without authorization, whether in print or online.

In today's electronic marketplace, plagiarism and copyright infringement may be better understood, but they're still serious problems for ALL writers. When negotiating a magazine's contract, freelancers may prefer to strike everything beyond use in a single print edition. Negotiating for all they're worth, they wrestle with clauses covering audiotape, microfilm, microfiche, CD-ROM, and broad electronic rights like database. They'll try for time limits, and excise one vicious clause that boils down to 'rights of the purchaser to secure copyright as proprietor', or in other words, giving their copyright over to the publisher.

However, even with successful negotiating, freelancers too often end up finding themselves inadequately protected.

Say you don't write for on-line publication; that doesn't necessarily mean that your words aren't going to be on-line. Freelancers say one problem is that print publishers don't always own the rights they've sublicensed, but realistically nearly every publisher obtains at least non-exclusive electronics rights for some period of time; whether the author limits archiving or allows archiving their writing ad infinum.

Expect to find that copyright infringement spans all countries and many continents, but laws differ. For example, Canadian law allows copyright cases to be heard in small claims courts. Copyright infringement in the United States is decided in federal courts, although suits charging breach of contract may be heard in small claims or other state courts.

Plagiarism by an individual, in some cases such as in educational use, has a slightly different connotation from the use of your works without permission by a concern or company. The need to consult an attorney who specializes in intellectual rights cannot be over-emphasized.

At home, or at the library, you can use the capabilities of spider searches on the World Wide Web, to routinely track down plagiarizers and infringers. If a publisher has exceeded the terms of its license the writer's contract is breached, and the writer may also still charge others in the chain of plagiarizing with copyright infringement. A publisher's indemnification doesn't let the others off the hook. Each time a violation is found, writers need to take aggressive action.

Immediately ask Internet Service Providers (ISP) to remove the offending Web sites alleged to have illegally post your copyrighted works. Be prepared to prove you are owner of the copyright. The subject of on-line copyright infringement is complex and serious.

Five organizations in the writer's favor are, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Inc.(ASJA),, The Authors Guild,, The Authors Registry,, the Text and Academic Authors Association,, and the National Writers Union, (NWU),

Send information and scuttlebutt to American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA): Contracts Committee, ASJA, 1501 Broadway, New York, NY 10036. ph: 212-997-0947. Visit their searchable archive of ASJA Contracts Watch at Contact info is on the web page. Read the other valuable information and tips on freelance contracts, electronic rights and copyright. Subscribe to get e-mail announcements.

Study posts at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, search 'writer beware',

Only vigilance will protect you from copyright infringement. Don't let plagiarists and copyright infringers steal your material!! Be concerned. Stand up for the rights of ALL writers!!

Chapter 14 - Tending to Business:

Next: 7-3, What About Taxes :

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