posted on 4-Feb-2003 3:54:39 PM by Kath7
Since another issue has arisen within the past day, we mods have decided that a reminder about what does and does not constitute plagiarism is needed.

Plagiarism is a crime and could get our board into serious legal trouble. It is also stupid and pointless. Why would someone want feedback for someone else's work? Switching Liz and Max's names in for other characters does not make a work original. If you love a book and want to share it with your Roswell buddies, then TELL THEM TO BUY THE BOOK!!!! THE END. You can tell them that you thought of Max and Liz or anyone in the Roswell universe when you read it, but you do NOT have the right to rewrite it substituting in Max and Liz's names. This is NOT a difficult concept.

Also, as a writer of fanfic, when I think about how much blood, sweat and literally tears I put into my stories, I feel betrayed when a story gets a lot of attention and it does not even belong to the writer in question. It is a falsehood and a betrayal of every user on this board for anyone to take another writer's work and claim it as their own, whether it is a published author or a fellow fanfic writer.

The Canadian Intermediate Dictionary (which I use with my seventh graders and thus should be at a level we all understand) defines plagiarism as: "the act of taking and using as one's own the idea, writing, invention, etc. of another; especially the taking and using of passages, plot, etc. from the work of another writer."

I am going to use the novel The Transall Saga by Gary Paulsen to give examples of what would be passage plagiarism, an example of idea plagiarism and how it could be adapted so that it WOULD not be plagiarism.

1)An example of direct passage plagiarism using the book The Transall Saga by Gary Paulsen:

"Thirteen year-old Mark Harrison sat on a white slab of shale studying a small army of ants that was carrying off the crumbs that had dropped from a granola bar he'd just eaten." (p.3)

Direct passage plagiarism:

"Sixteen year-old Liz Parker sat on a white slab of rock studying a small army of aliens that was carrying off the orbs she and her friends had uncovered."

This may seem stupid and something no one would do, but I assure you, this has happened. And trust me, telling everyone that it comes from the book in question does NOT make it okay. It is STILL plagiarism.

2)Idea plagiarism: This area is a little more grey and shady, but really isn't that difficult if you think about it.

In The Transall Saga Mark falls into a red beam of light and is transported to another dimension, which turns out to be an Earth of the future after a nuclear holocaust. Adapting this idea for Roswell, where Liz falls into the beam of light and finds a post-EOTW situation would be okay, as long as the take is different and nothing comes DIRECTLY from the book. Writing the exact same story, chapter by chapter, could be constituted as idea plagiarism.

Good examples of idea adapted fanfic on these boards:
Secrets in the Dark by Starlady (she has not read the book in question, as it was a challenge - she is simply using the book's premise as a jump-off point for a fic of her own, but still mentions the book in her disclaimer) or If I Fall by mockingbird39 which uses the premise of the movie of City of Angels but goes in a completely different direction.

Speaking of If I Fall, what about movies? They are the same as books. Using a basic premise is okay. Rewriting a movie scene by scene just substituting the characters from Roswell is NOT.

If you suspect someone's story of not coming within these guidelines, please bmail a mod immediately. If you are unsure about your own story, please bmail a mod and we will check it out. DO NOT TAKE A CHANCE. Go with your gut. If you are unsure, then you are PROBABLY right. It probably is plagiarism if you think it might be. Do not forget that we will ban immediately anyone proven to be a plagiarist. We will not have our entire board put into jeopardy because a few people do not understand that this is a crime. We do not care if you do not agree with it. It is ILLEGAL and, therefore, will NOT happen on this board.

In the end, think about how you would feel if someone stole YOUR hard work. And if you still don't get it, then there is something wrong with you. The end.


[ edited 2 time(s), last at 4-Feb-2003 11:53:11 PM ]
posted on 4-Feb-2003 11:52:38 PM by Kath7
Isis - Good question. The reason being that I was not reading the fic and only became aware that there might be an issue when another user brought it to my attention. There are over a thousand fics on this board. We can't monitor them all and depend on users to help us out. As I stated in my post above, plagarism is easy to identify and it is what it is. Accrediting doesn't make copying right. My father is a lawyer and I have asked him and he has confirmed this. Latahart has been extremely cooperative and deleted her thread as soon as someone noticed there was a violation.

I'm sorry if you can't understand why this is wrong, but you're going to have to accept that it's the way it is. If you want to pay the lawyers when we get sued, well, okay then.

Now, regarding quoting from Roswell the show: this question was raised and it was a good one. Here's the thing. Like Willowfan's article showed, technically we are all in violation of copyright by writing Roswell stories at all. As long as we don't make money off of it though, producers and owners of the property seem okay with it, because really, it only benefits them, perhaps by creating new fans.

The episodes of Roswell are really the "canon" - the accepted storyline. Using the events and, yes, even some quotes has been deemed okay. Now if you were to sit down and type out the script for "Monsters" and post it under your name, there would be a problem. But most of us know Roswell inside and out anyway. Quoting or referencing some event is okay because it is more for establishing a mood or a memory in our original work, then it is about stealing or copying.

Anyway, by not pursuing us by now (and there can be no doubt that the Roswell people are aware that fanfic exists - I and several others who post here have been in email communication with a former Roswell writer who said they were not allowed to read it so that THEY wouldn't be accused of stealing ideas! LOL) we have been given tacit permission. It has even been sold for charity at Roswell show sponsered events (not for writer's profit though - there IS a difference!) Now were someone to go off and try and SELL their fanfic for a profit, then there would likely be a problem. But, at this point, I don't think quoting or referencing Roswell episodes is a problem.

Why is using OTHER material a problem? Well, mainly because we have NOT been given tacit permission. The author or writer does not KNOW that someone is using it and has not given permission, tacit or otherwise.

Does this make sense? I am beginning to see why the plagairism issue is complicated for some people. Because it is, but it also isn't. When it doubt, don't use it. I think that's pretty easy. Or bmail a mod and ask as several have done already tonight (thanks to everyone who has!)


posted on 5-Feb-2003 1:13:29 AM by Kath7
It was word for word in many parts.

I guess we're going to have to agree to disagree on this point. I am not saying at all that latahart is not a good writer in her own right. From all I have heard, she is. The one has nothing to do with the other.

But, whatever, I'm done defending my (and my fellow mods) position on this. It is stated, the owners of the board agree with me, and that's all there is to it.
posted on 5-Feb-2003 1:41:53 AM by Kath7
Sorry Isis. I forgot to answer the last part of your post - re: being clearer. I thought my post at the beginning of this thread was pretty clear (I am not trying to be snarky...really! LOL) I'm wondering if you have any ideas about how it could be clearer? Something I left out?

posted on 5-Feb-2003 12:39:22 PM by Kath7
Hello again all! I am back, still ill, but less tired and ready to answer questions! LOL

Thanks to everyone who came in and gave their two cents - thanks in particular to Rosdeidre and Carol who DEFINATELY know what they are talking about.

LPorter - I certainly understand the confusion about what entails plagiarism and what doesn't. The flat-out copying and changing names is pretty obvious and I think scene by scene copying is too. I think mockingbird said it best though - if you have to keep referring to the work that inspired YOUR story, it is extremely likely that you are plaigerizing. The story should be a jumping off point, all the rest yours. After the first initial chapters, you shouldn't really be looking at the other story at all.

I am going to use my story Homecoming (which I am writing with the very talented IslandGirls) as an example. I have tried not to do this, as I don't want to seem like I'm saying "Well, I'm doing it right, why can't everyone else?" but since it is a situation like this (a movie in particular which seems to be the most confusing) I'm going to use it.

Now first off, you should know that IslandGirls has NOT seen the movie Sweet Home Alabama, from which Homecoming is inspired, and I have. In my mind, I am working with the basic framework of that movie: woman gets engaged but has to go home and divorce first husband before she can get married, there is a mystery surrounding what happened in that first marriage - were they just too young etc? The first couple do no get along at ALL at first and then fall back in love. That is our basic premise and any similiarity ends there. There are a couple of scenes that are reminiscent of the movie: Liz gets proposed to by the new guy in Tiffany's, she is a fashion designer, Max is mean to her when she first gets back to Roswell, she gets drunk in a bar and rips into Max...however the scenes play out totally differently - different dialogue, different motivations etc. Because, in the end, it is Max and Liz we are writing about here and their motivations would not be the same as the characters in the movie.

We are not referring to the movie at all. Christian hasn't seen it, I saw it six months ago and barely remember anything beyond how hot the guy who plays her first husband is. There are certain images that pop out that we are playing with (like Rosdeidre mentioned from Antarian Sky - the image of a man in a mask would be the one that inspired her...) but the story is our own. The basic premise may be a little unique, but, in the end, anyone could have come up with it. It's the playing out of that premise that means the difference between plaigarism or not. And, yet, in spite of that we credited SWA for the original premise.

Does this make sense?

In the end, the safest route is to either ask a mod or go with your gut. As I stated in my original post - if you think it might be plaigarism, it probably is.

As for rules, Caliana, trust me, we've thought of it. The problem is, no one ever reads them. Truly. Some of the questions on here seem to indicate that some posting here didn't even read my original post (at least in detail). As someone else mentioned, at this point, we think it safer to go case by case. And as CEO Shaft mentioned on the Discussion board - an investigation of plagairism does not mean that the writer is necessarily guilty. Trust me on that. We looked into latahart's story very carefully. In the end, there was no discussion. It was a clear-cut case.

So a couple of clear rules maybe:

1) If you think it might be plaigarism, it probably is. This goes for readers too. It was a helpful reader that brought this recent case to our attention. PLEASE HELP US BY REPORTING ANY SUSPICIOUS STORIES - whether because the writer has suddenly improved or changed their style ten-fold, or because the story sounds familiar.

2)If you are uncertain, ask. We will let you know if we think it is a problem or not.

3)Do not ever copy directly from a source, just changing names and a few words here or there. You should not be constantly referring back to your source either. Start with the premise and then head off in your own direction.

Did I forget anything?
posted on 5-Feb-2003 12:54:19 PM by Kath7
And as I stated above, most of the people who make the errors don't read the rules even when they are posted. Trust me. This idea is not a new one. I explained why we haven't posted them above.

I would just like to state for the record that I firmly believe that latahart made a mistake. She has been gracious in rectifying it and gracious in being willing to take the consequences. I hope her much luck in her continued writing endeavours.
posted on 5-Feb-2003 1:30:24 PM by Kath7
Sansu - that is a great idea. I'll discuss it with the other mods, as long as I can someday get into my yahoo mail. Sigh.

littleroswell - regarding your Star Wars story...It sounds a little too close to me. Rewriting all the scenes from the trilogy and just throwing in our Roswellians could be constituted as plaigarism. I think that if you are uncomfortable, you should maybe just let it go.

posted on 5-Feb-2003 1:34:16 PM by Kath7
Oh and LPorter regarding your story The Water's Edge, I don't think there is a problem there at all. It is your original story and you have every right to turn it into fanfic if you want to.

posted on 5-Feb-2003 11:36:03 PM by Kath7
Writing a story with Max and Liz on the Titanic would be totally legal. No one "owns" the Titanic story and so you could use that historical incident in any way you wanted to.

posted on 6-Feb-2003 11:29:44 AM by Kath7
My guess on copyrighted pictures is that fanartists are getting the same "tacit" approval as the fanfic writers are. The people who own the rights to Roswell certainly know they exist. In our fanfic auction, sponsered by Garrett Lerner for his son's foundation, we included fanart posters. The producers etc. certainly knew we were using those copyrighted images, but since it was for charity, they didn't make stink. There was an EdR website that did make a stink about it around a year and a half ago, but Em herself stepped in a put a stop to that (as far as I recall). In the end, as long as you're not making a profit from fanart, it seems okay, because in the long run it benefits the company that owns the rights that fans care so much.

Most websites using images put a disclaimer though.

Of course, I may be totally wrong. Wouldn't be the first time. LOL


P.S. It's not about being puritanical. It's about trying to follow the law, if at all possible. In the end, we're all breaking it technically by writing fanfic at all. But directly stealing someone else's ideas or very words is a lot different from borrowing established characters.
posted on 7-Feb-2003 9:22:34 AM by Kath7
JBehrsGurl originally wrote:
So all I'm gonna say is quit the Plagiarism and please pay attention to the rules. Follow the rules, respect the mods, and if you can or in anyway you can help... Donate to RF cuz the funds are low again peeps. If Liz can get along with Tess than we all can get along with each other...

C'mon peeps, don't be a season two Max and a season three Maria...

Okay, this cracked me up. Thanks Elena! You made my day and also made a very pointed reminder. You rock!