Mmegi Blogs :: My war against the thieves
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Last Updated
Thursday 22 February 2018, 18:45 pm.
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My war against the thieves

In the past few months Iíve had three instances where people around the world (two in USA and one in Nigeria) on the internet, used my writing without my permission. They, mostly, credited me, but they took my writing (two short stories and a blog post) and put it on their website so that their website would have content.
By Lauri Kubuitsile Fri 29 Sep 2017, 10:34 am (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: My war against the thieves








Despite what some people believe, things on the internet are not free for the taking. Someone told me about a website in Botswana that had a section for news. This person asked the website owner who would be going out collecting news and writing the articles. The website owner said that they would just go to websites like Mmegi’s and copy the article and paste it on their website. The person owning the website said that that was how people did things on the internet. But that person was lying. Taking someone else’s writing is theft.

We all know that as soon as we write something down it’s copyrighted to us. We do not have to put a warning that we own the copyright — if you wrote it down, you own the copyright. Full. Stop. Immediately. No warning, no registration anywhere required. And that copyright is worldwide thanks to the Berne Convention.  But what I’ve realised there are grey areas in this copyright world. In one of the instances with my work, the person was attempting to make a list of writers from every country in the world, to give the chosen writers ‘exposure’ (how much do I hate this word, let me count the ways…).  They put a complete short story of mine on their website.  I told them I didn’t like that. The guy told me I was an idiot because he was trying to get my name out for me.  I said I’m cool with my name being exactly where it is and he should take me off of his list and remove my short story.  He responded with one more email telling me he would never try to assist me again. (Did I ask you to, Mister?).

The next instance was again a bit straight forward.  A person took my entire short story and put it on their website. They had an entire website dedicated to stolen work.  There was an email address, so I sent them an invoice with my bank details. They never wrote back (boo-hoo!) but they

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removed my story.

The last instance was a bit trickier. This time they took excerpts from a blog post (500 out of the 1,300 words that I wrote). The entire article on their website save for a one paragraph introduction, were my words. They said it was written by me at my blog and there were links that took their readers back to my blog. At the bottom, though, was an author’s photo (not me) and a bio (not mine). I complained. The owner said he was pushing readers to my blog, but he actually wasn’t since the parts he thought were interesting to his readers he copied and pasted onto his website. Honestly, I wasn’t sure suddenly if my outrage was correct. Maybe this guy was right. But I did feel as if I wrote an article for his website for free (which I did) and someone else was being given the credit (which they were).

There is something called fair use. This is when you copy a small section from a piece of copyrighted text so as to discuss it. I have done this on my blog in posts around a certain issue. I usually link the entire paragraph back to the online original post. You can also use a paragraph from a printed book in a review, for example, but readers must know that it is from that book. Also you should be using that copyrighted material to create something new, for example a paragraph from a novel used in a book review. I think part of my problem with the last instance in which my work was used without permission was that the new article was not new, it was my writing, just getting rid of what the ‘author’ didn’t want for his purposes. I do think the website owner went beyond the fair use clause.

As all writers know it is so difficult to make a living as a writer, and this is made worse by people who steal our work. So people who do it —stop it!

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