From Dear Author:
I had put the news piece to bed when my inbox blew up with links to a Goodreads review of Shey Stahl’s For the Summer. In the DNF review (rated one star), the reader details eight instances of similarities including exact verbiage and scene blocking to a highly beloved Twilight fan fiction called Dusty written by Sarah and Mary Elizabeth.
. . . .
As for Stahl, she vehemently denies any plagiarism and her fans are out in full force. (The fan fiction authors have stated that they have been blocked by Stahl and that she has messaged them and claimed she never read their fiction and that her work is her own) Fans of Stahl accused the Goodreads reader of trying to ruin Stahl’s career and have demanded “Legal Proof”. On her facebook page, people are suggesting that the real way to handle this sort of thing is to take it to a court of law.
. . . .
In this instance with Stahl maintaining her innocence, it is possible it won’t be taken down until legal action does occur. For the fan fiction authors, given that their work is not registered with the US Copyright office, they’d only be entitled to whatever the text has earned so far. If they had registered the copyright, they would be entitled to treble damages.
It’s probably time for Amazon to contract with TurnItIn and require all self pub manuscripts be run through a plagiarism checker. As for Stahl, I don’t doubt the fan fiction group is combing through her every work now. I feel for her fans. I saw one blogger post a facebook update which pretty much indicated she was devastated.
Link to the rest at Dear Author and thanks to Randall for the tip.
To be clear, PG hasn’t reviewed any of the works involved and, consequently, has no opinion concerning the plagiarism claims that have been made.
A couple of points, however:
1. In an internet age, you’re a dope if you plagiarize. It is simply too easy for plagiarism to be detected with electronic works. And social media will spread plagiarism claims like wildfire.
“For the Summer” no longer shows up on Amazon. PG doesn’t know whether Amazon has taken it down or Ms. Stahl has done so. Amazon does have the ability under its KDP Terms & Conditions to remove all books by an author from sale. Other online bookstores can do the same thing.
2. With regard to the Dear Author recommendation that Amazon run all self pub manuscripts through Turnitin, here’s a question – Do commercial publishers run their publications through Turnitin or otherwise routinely perform any checks for plagiarism prior to publication? Commercial publishers have published plagiarized works. See Kaavya Viswanathan for just one example.
It would be difficult for a successful claim for copyright infringement and damages arising from a plagiarized work to be made against Amazon for listing an indie book for sale since Amazon isn’t the publisher and would undoubtedly assert the Digital Millennium Copyright Act as a defense. That would not be the case with a traditional publisher who published a plagiarized work.
In either case, however, both Amazon and the publisher of a plagiarized work would, in turn, be suing the author for any damages or attorneys fees they incurred. Another good reason not to plagiarize.
For more on plagiarism detection tools, go to Plagiarism Today