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Saturday, February 08, 2014

Rip off

A while back,  someone stole one of my books and claimed it as their own. They took the whole thing and didn't change a word. They simply put their name on my book and published it. I didn't have a lot of trouble proving plagiarism and that other, stolen version was gone within days.

But now someone I know is having a less clear experience. Perhaps the person who took from her made enough changes that my friend won't be able to make the formal charge of plagiarism?  For someone to be formally labeled a plagiarist, they have to steal your very words. Not just your ideas.

That particular formal charge going to take some work. Someone else will have to do a line-by-line. I'm not going to make comparisons. I have Roberts's books. I haven't bought the possibly-plagiarizing copy and I'm not likely to. I've seen enough to know I don't want to give her money.

But .let's just take a quick look:

Wendy Roberts has a Ghost Dusters series, and her first book came out in 2007. They're mysteries and the main character is crime scene cleaner. She can see and hear ghosts, has an employee who's an ex-cop. Her brother is dead. She helps ghosts by solving their murders.

JB Lynn now has a Spring Cleaning series. Her first book came out a couple of months ago. They're mysteries and the main character is a crime scene cleaner.  She can see and hear ghosts, has a employee who's an ex-cop. Her brother is dead. She helps ghosts by solving their murders.

Okay, there are plenty of differences. Roberts's book is in third person. Lynn's is in first.

But......
Use that free glimpse to take a look at the very first scene of Robert's book (the one published in 2007). It opens with the heroine cleaning up a death scene and the dead guy's ghost is whining at her. She cleans the scene, helps the ghost move along, then goes to a birthday party.

And how about Lynn's book? The one out at the end of 2013?  The book opens with the woman cleaning up death scene. Dead guy's ghost is whining at her. She cleans the scene, doesn't help the ghost, but. . . then she goes to a birthday party.  

There's a line in Lynn's book in the first chapter. "at heart, I'm a pretty lazy person.."
Uh...

edited to add: Wendy Roberts posted this on FB:  
I appreciate all the discussion and support. I've sent an email to my editor and agent and will let them decide if anything should be done. I'd like to believe that it was all coincidental but that may be my inner pollyanna lol! The email from a fan pointed out these similarities: “her heroine does crime scene clean up and she hires an ex cop to work with her. She has a dead brother. She talks to ghosts and tells them in order to help them ‘move on’ she needs to know what unfinished business they have. She cleans a meth house, a hoarder house and drives a van. She gets all 4 of her tires flattened. She gets grossed out when a ghost runs through her body. She describes a lot of how hard it is to clean a shotgun suicide in a small bathroom” How may similarities constitute blatant plagiarism? I have no idea and I have a feeling that nothing will come of this. I'm just glad the 5 books in my series all came out long before her new book.

UPDATE 2/11--the new and kindle versions of Lynn's book is gone from Amazon. It's now only available from third party sellers. And there's no trace of it at Barnes and Noble. So I guess someone else thought it was suspect. 

14 comments:

  1. Okay, now someone's done some comparison (not me) and found dialogue lines that were very close, with only a few words and characters' names changed. I do NOT understand why someone --especially someone who's obviously got skills--would do this. I wish a rip-off-writer would explain it to us. Using her own words, of course.

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  3. Sorry, I had typos in the original comment, but then I asked my question on Twitter :)

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  4. Disturbing, to say the least.

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  5. Yes, the entire thing has left me feeling confused and hurt :(

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  6. This leaves me with a bad case of heartburn and a sense of disgust. I think the plagiarism is pretty blatant. Frankly... :(

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  7. There are enough stories floating through the ether and in one's brain to guarantee a new twist on a common theme for anybody. To steal someone else's words, the plot steps...aaargh! If this is the best this other person can do, she'd best find another job...like screwing bottle caps on deodorant bottles. (I knew someone who did that one summer...drove her insane.)

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  8. Lynn's book is no longer at amazon or BN.

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  9. I love it when the good guys win. Now I'm wondering if this thief's other books have been examined. We should get the Smart Bitches on the case--their readers have some serious google-fu and they use it for the power of good. No matter what happens now, though, YAY FOR WENDY!

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  10. So sorry this has happened to you and now your friend. I was plagiarized by Shey Stahl last year (google her name, there's plenty of detail about it online at this point). It leaves you feeling so furious, frustrated and violated. It's a growing problem, and I wish there was a good solution.

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  11. This is a tough business and since I'm usually working in my PJ's and typing with a cup of coffee in one hand, I don't usually feel prepared to battle. Hugs and high fives to all those fighting the good fight to protect their work and the words of others.

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  12. I'm happy to see the offending books have been taken down. It must have been shocking to discover this.

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  13. Wow. Glad this was discovered and taken care of (at least to the point where the book is down). I had never heard of your books, but I came across the Lynn book and then discovered your books. Before I bought either, I came across this story. Kudos to readers for pointing things out and allowing it to be investigated.

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  14. Whoops--to be clear, when I said "your" I meant Wendy's books. Not Kate's book!

    I appreciate the post--I had wondered what was going on when I read the reviews of Lynn's book.

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