A blog I follow, The Ryan Lanz, had a recent post on plagiarism.
Then I read this story about Amazon banning self publishing authors for questionable conduct.
Neither issue impacts me at the moment, and yet now I’m hesitant to dive into self publishing, especially on Amazon. As if it’s not scary enough to put oneself out there by self publishing a novel, now you can be falsely accused of plagiarism? With limited recourse? And potentially being prohibited from selling in the largest online marketplace? Though I’m likely years from attempting to publish a novel, I dream of self publishing a collection of short stories. Ideally, this would include reprints of my stories that appeared in literary magazines, along with maybe a new tale or two to lure in my vast audience. Remember this is a dream. But could I be accused of plagiarizing myself?
As an aside, the most interesting copyright case I remember involved George Harrison being sued, and losing, for plagiarizing “He’s So Fine” when writing “My Sweet Lord.” The court’s decision made obvious the judge was a fan and really didn’t want to rule against Harrison. How else did the judge come up with “subconscious plagiarism”? Unfortunately, the facts were not in Harrison’s favor.
And what’s with gaming the system to increase your ranking on Amazon? I enjoy money as much as the next person, but I can’t see myself trying techno-tricks to beat Amazon at its own game. Maybe I just don’t have the bandwidth to attempt to learn such tricks, but more likely I just don’t care. Maybe I’d feel differently if writing was my career. Maybe when you’re desperate, this seems like an easy solution to help. Isn’t that the rationale/cause of a lot of crime?
Maybe I’m looking at this all wrong. Maybe there is a story or two to be had from these events. I’m always on the look out for those.
Let me know in the comments if you’ve had issues with plagiarism or the machine that is Amazon in general. Are there other traps out there to be weary of?
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