It’s not an excuse

Plagiarism is stealing.

That is a fact. It doesn’t matter how you want to spin it, how you try to justify it to yourself or how you try to convince other people, it’s still stealing. And not stealing, it’s stealing from kin.

A couple of months ago self-published author, Shey Stahl was accused of plagiarism when passages from a Twilight fanfic appeared in one of her books For The Summer. Stahl denied the claims, but in September 2013 she pulled all of her books from Amazon.

In the following weeks other writes and readers came forward with more examples of plagiarism in Stahl’s books. You can see most of the examples here:

In the aftermath Stahl pulled her Twitter account, her blog and her website. Her name disappeared from her agent’s website, and her editor and cover designer severed tied with her. Stahl then actually had the cheek to write:

Everything I had worked for was gone in a couple of hours.

Everything she had worked for? Doesn’t she mean everything those authors she stole from had worked for? Why on earth would anyone seriously think that deserved the fruit of someone else’s labour?

And then, all sort of went quiet after that for a while, until a few days ago when Stahl posted a rather long winded letter on her own website here. The letter shows that Stahl clearly still doesn’t understand that what she did was wrong, whining about how it wasn’t really plagiarism because

Nothing is 100% original. How could anything we write be 100% original, given that we share similar experiences as human beings and use common language so that we can communicate out emotions and ideas?

As writer she appears to lack a basic understanding of the difference between original ideas and original writing. The pattern of words and sentences are unique to each writer, each story. It’s like music, each word of line put in a certain place can change everything. It’s those patterns that are original. They were created by that writer, to copy them, word for word, is stealing.

Personally I’m a little tired of hearing this ‘nothing is original’ excuse trotted out by thieves when they get caught. It’s not acceptable. It’s never been acceptable. Think back to primary school – what happened if you got caught copying someone else’s test? You got punished, right? Why would you think that it suddenly becomes acceptable when you become an adult?

It’s not.

Sadly, many authors refuse to even acknowledge what they did wrong and instead try to play the victim. It’s sickening.

I doubt we’ve heard the last of this particular author though.




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