Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

The Debate Continues
January 11, 2008, 4:23 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The story is in the AP and therefore in USA Today, the New York Times, and various local newspapers from Oklahoma City, OK, to Morris County, NJ.

Hi there, newspaper readers. Hayadoin?

My point is, this isn’t a blog story anymore, and it’s not just a concern for the romance community, either. It’s a national story about what is and what isn’t plagiarism. Candy, myself, Jane at Dear Author, Nora Roberts and other readers say it is. Signet Publishing and Cassie Edwards say it is not.

Some of the comments I’ve seen on our site and in my inbox sent to me personally ask in irate tones how dare we, why didn’t we pursue it privately, and how can we BE so MEAN!?

Accusations as to Candy’s and my morality notwithstanding, this isn’t really about Cassie Edwards so much as it is a debate of ethics. The entries we’ve posted as to the passages that match her novels speak for themselves. This became about plagiarism and the ethical debate surrounding fair use the minute Signet said she’d “done nothing wrong.” I personally, as a reader, consumer, and writer, think there is something very wrong when sections of dialogue in a fictional novel match a previously published source identically and without attribution, particularly when the novel in question is published by a bestselling, nationally recognized author and thus she and her publisher presumably profit from the contents therein.

In my opinion, the debate here isn’t about reputation and HOW we should handle information on this site. The question for me at this point is HOW the romance writing community, including writers, readers and publishers, responds to plagiarism, and so far, I’m deeply amazed and cheering on the readers who say, “That is NOT right and I’m writing to Signet, and Penguin/Putnam to say so.”

As a wise friend of mine, RB, just said: “In the modern age, everyone’s a writer.” All our blogs and journals and published and digitally published works all constitute writing. A good writer cites their sources, acknowledges them, and in my opinion does not drop identical passages without attribution to the original writer.

Moreover, for every hate email I have in my inbox, I have readers who grabbed an Edwards novel and did their own research by not only searching online but taking a trek to the library to consult additional sources.

(Want to move on to other Smart Bitch topics? I’ve got a Friday video today that will make you snort liquid up your nose. I recommend you put down the beverage before you watch it. It’s like whoa, merde, and mon dieu.)


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