Note: I am interested in hearing other stories involving the personal impact of plagiarism and how such incidents were resolved (if at all). If you have such a story and would like to share it, use the Contact Form to let me know.
April 21, 2002 started out just like any other day. It was a Sunday of my last semester in college and I was passing the evening hours engaging in a lengthy AIM chat session with readers of my site. The conversations were going well the topics in such chats usually included things like politics, religion, poetry and whatever was current in the world.
It was a great way to wind down a weekend.
However, as the first hour of my chat began to come to a close, an IM from a long-term reader flashed up on my screen. It said, quite plainly, “Do you run another site?”
My first reaction was pure confusion. I’d never been asked that question before and, at the time, I only ran Raven’s Rants (the Ask Raven site would come a year and a half later). I wasn’t even active at any forums or sites that could be mistaken for mine. It seemed to be completely out of the blue.
I told him “No” and pressed for more information. After a seemingly long delay he wrote back.
“Because I saw all of your work on another site.”
My eyes narrowed at the screen, the full impact of what he said hadn’t sunk in, the words slid right past my eyes. I asked him calmly if he could send me the link and waited patiently while he dug through his history for it, ignoring my other conversations to focus on the one before me.
Eventually, the link made it’s way through cyberspace and to my computer. I followed it and was transported to a near-duplicate of Raven’s Rants. The layout was the same, minus a few modifications, but most shockingly of all was my intro being displayed, word for word, on the home page with the name “Crimson” pasted underneath it.
My jaw hit the floor, I called Crystal over to look at what I was seeing and, hunched over my shoulder, she watched in awe as my finger began to click around the site frantically. I went straight for the poetry section and, after landing in “Volume One”, found every poem on my site. Nothing less, nothing more.
The entire site was a mirror of Raven’s Rants, simply placed underneath a different name.
I flew into a dizzying rage. I hastily told everyone online that I had to take care of an “emergency” and proceeded to go berserk. For the next twenty minutes I stormed around the house, shouting at the top of my lungs and breaking down into sudden fits of crying hysterics.
Crystal was terrified of me. I could see the look in her eyes and I hope I never see that look again. Though she knew I would never raise a hand to her, she could tell that there was no comforting me right then. She hid herself away, realizing that I needed to be alone.
But with nothing to absorb my anger, I was forced to simmer in it. All that I could think about was the years of work I had put into that site and the pain of having it ripped off in just a few minutes. It wasn’t like having an object stolen from me, but like having a piece of me cut away. Raven’s Rants was, and still is, a huge part of my identity, having it stolen seemed to rob me of years of my life and make all of my effort and progress for nothing. It was as if he had simply erased a large piece of my life.
It was too much to bear. I fantasized about getting my hands on this “Crimson” and ripping him limb from limb. I never knew I was capable of such anger and have never felt it since. It was as if I were constantly exploding, piecing myself together just long enough to blow up again.There was simply no way to control my anger, the pressure was just too much.
Eventually, it was my body, not my anger, that gave way first. The sheer intensity of it all began to take a toll on me. Out of breath and on the verge of passing out, I threw myself down on the bed and began to cry softly to myself. Crystal, sensing that the storm was passing, came out, put her arm around me and started whispering into my ear.
I couldn’t hear what she was saying, my mind was still boiling over, but her voice was soothing and, thanks to her, rational thought began to slowly creep back into my head.
“What are you going to do about it?” Crystal said as I wiped the tears from my eyes.
“I don’t know,” I said, “But I have to do something.”
(To be Continued…)[tags]Plagiarism, Copyright Infringement, Copyright, Content Theft[/tags]