Thursday, December 17, 2015

I'll Respect Your Opinion If You Don't Steal Mine

Source Look! I cited the URL where I found this photo. Not hard at all.
What a nice birthday present I discovered today. On December 15 (my birthday) a series of "reviews" on the works of Harriet Rutland appeared on and and every single one of them says the same thing. Here is what the reviewer posted:

There is nothing more satisfying to a mystery novel addict like me than to chose a book fairly at random and from the first amazing sentence to the final paragraph be thoroughly entertained. I wanted to read a good old fashioned whodunit after indulging in too many suspense style crime stories. One with a gory murder or two, a weird murder method and enough clues to keep me guessing whodunit to the end. Never did I imagine that the book I chose would deliver on all counts, that it would surpass every expectation, every single one!

Does that sound familiar to anyone? It should. It's merely a cut and paste of the opening paragraph of my review for Knock, Murderer, Knock.  Just compare them. OK, there may be a few words deleted, and some others altered here and there like all bad plagiarists will do. But that will never change the fact that I wrote those opinions. Those are my thoughts. Clare, the "reviewer" from amazon, did not write them.

It's so brazen!  Cut and pasted not only to Knock, Murderer, Knock but to the other books Rutland wrote as well. The same paragraph with commentary written specifically for one book is applied to two others with no regard for the content of each book. Just slap the review on all items created by Harriet Rutland. This is not thinking or book reviewing, this is mindless consumerism. I bet Clare never read one of these books.

Santosh asked me last night on a different post if the Grinches are spoiling my holiday spirit. No, Santosh, not exactly. They're f----ing pissing me off! This is the third instance in the past month alone (!) of my work being lifted and passed off as someone else's. Only a few weeks ago I sent an email to a blogger who last year allegedly tried to get permission for a post I wrote on another Harriet -- Harriette Ashbrook -- but couldn't get my email. So she just cut and pasted my entire post on Ashbrook that appears on the Golden Age of Detective Fiction wiki (clearly with my byline and the date I wrote it) and blithely ignored the fundamental rule of citing where she found it.

I sorted everything out with that women and the post now includes full attribution with my name as author and the original source for the paragraph she cut and pasted onto her blog. She, like Clare, clearly changed a few words here and there like removing every reference that compared Spike Tracy (Ashbrook's private detective hero) to Philo Vance in an attempt to disguise the original source. She denied passing the work off as her own, but the fact that she altered the paragraph proves to me exactly the opposite of what she told me.

The internet is rife with this kind of indifference and laziness with regard to other people's work. It' s this kind of thievery that makes me want to just quit writing altogether and abandon this blog for good. The justifications and excuses you get for the laziness and outright thievery are astounding!

I've reported every post that Clare "wrote" about Harriet Rutland's books on both amazon sites. With luck each "review" will be deleted and I'm hoping she'll be banned from reviewing on either site. But, of course, people like this always find a way to resurface under another username.

UPDATE - Dec 29, 2015:  My relentless accusations and comments on the amazon pages for the Harriet Rutland book reviews paid off. All of Clare's "reviews" were deleted a few days ago.  Guilty conscience on her part or amazon's doing?  I don't really care as long as they're all gone.


  1. I'm warning you, John: if you quit and abandon us, I'll copy/paste everything you ever wrote on this blog and shamelessly pass your writing off as my own. You have been warned!

    On a slightly more serious note, your post triggered a memory and began to delve in the archives of several websites. I manage to drag up the particulars of a similar incident from the mid-2000s. A now sadly defunct website, The Mystery List, was liberally "quoted" in an CWA article without citing the source and the author of the piece was surprising.

    You can read an archive link of the original piece HERE and the CWA article HERE. And HERE is the post on the GAD group discussing the post. By the way, it's about the copied lines starting with "In spite of the pomposity..."

    I guess there's sort of a black market demand for well-phrased, informative nuggets about vintage mysteries, which is something to get pissed about, but we read and talk incessantly about detective stories because we love them. So why rage quit over these human-copying machines?

    1. Your first paragraph made me roar with laughter, TomCat! That's a good thing. Despite my melodramatic tone above I really only only *think* about quitting and I never follow through. This month I realized how much I really do love whipping up these posts on forgotten writers of crime and supernatural fiction...when I'm in a less angry frame of mind, that is.

      As they say in the world of politics: thanks for your support!

      P.S. Those links to the web archives don't work. But I'll try again on my home computer. I might be blocked here at work.

  2. So much crap out there mate - but on a much more pleasant note, if belatedly, happy birthday John :)

  3. I get all kinds of "ideas" from obscure cinema and repurpose them into my writing projects for clients. I don't consider this plagiarism since the end product is so removed from the original source to be unrecognizable. It's the rip and pivot method I once heard about. Take an idea and repurpose it. I know, I know, James Cameron was successfully sued by Harlan Ellison for The Terminator resembling a certain episode of The Outer Limits Ellison wrote. But really....

    1. That's a brave admission, Tim. But at least you didn't tell me you're cutting and pasting entire paragraphs that someone else has written into your work. I find "repurposed" material all the time on TV shows and movies. J. J. Abrams and his writers have been doing it for years on shows like Alias, Lost, the Star Trek reboots, etc. I can never really prove it but the coincidences of his TV show plots sharing plot elements in obscure pulp magazine stories I've read are too numerous to ignore.