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All week, I've been watching the news unfold about the Cassie Edwards plagiarism scandal. For those of you who haven't heard of it, you can get the details by going HERE and HERE. Long story short, she's an author who was first accused of copying passages from various research texts, and pasting them slightly paraphrased but uncredited into her novels. Then most recently, it seems she may have copied whole passages from a 1930 Pulitzer-winning novel into one of her books.
 
My reaction, as a reader and a writer, is to be both sad and angry. I'm sad for Mrs. Edward's fans, who must be feeling pretty disillusioned, and for her friends/family, who must be having a hard time as well.
 
As a writer, however, I'm angry. Our words belong to us, good or bad, so for them to be hijacked and sold by another author is just wrong. Furthermore, this hasn't only damaged Mrs. Edward's career. There was talk from readers about boycotting all Signet/Penguin authors in protest over the publishers admittedly lame initial response to the plagiarism accusations, when they called Mrs. Edwards novels "researched." Signet/Penguin has since amended their position to state that the Edwards situation "deserves further review", but who knows how much damage has already been done to other Signet/Penguin authors? (Note: I'm not a Signet/Penguin author, so this doesn't affect me, but it upsets me just the same).
 
I know in the fan-fiction world, parts and passages are sometimes copied from books. That's not what I'm talking about here, though. Whether or not copying things from novels for the purpose of unsold entertainment is wrong is another issue. This is the case of a multi-published author taking other people's printed words and selling them under her own name. There doesn't seem to be any wiggle room on whether that's right or wrong, in my opinion.
 
I'm curious about your opinions: Is plagiarism by an author an unforgivable crime? Would you ever buy a book from an author proved to be a plagiarist? Why or why not?
 

Comments

java_fiend
Jan. 14th, 2008 06:20 am (UTC)
Is plagiarism by an author an unforgivable crime?

In a word... yes.

Would you ever buy a book from an author proved to be a plagiarist?

In a word... no.

Plagiarism is one of the lowest things a writer can do. Plagiarists are scum of the earth. To steal somebody else's work, their labor, their heart and soul is just unforgivable. They are stealing somebody else's blood, sweat and tears and that is just wrong on so many levels. If you can't make it on your own merits, using your own words, by pouring your own heart and soul out on a page, you don't deserve to make it. Stealing somebody else's is just unacceptable. I personally hope that if the allegations are true, that her career is forever damaged beyond all repair. If it's true, she's scum.