When Somesone Steals Your Work
You Have an Idea
Developing and Idea
You are a writer and excited because your first novel will be out soon. You have already started work on the second one. The excitement builds as your work progresses. You share it with your critique group. Taking their suggestions to heart you continue working.
You are in touch with your publisher giving up dates and preparing them for the next book. Knowing the books will come out almost the same time. Still you are on a writer's high.
While at critique group another writer offers up a story and you notice your phrasing in the piece. But you shrug it off. Could be an accident after all your work has been out there.
The next few meetings of the critique group the same thing happens. You jokingly say something to the other writer and the comment you get is, "You don't know the half of it."
Now your suspicions of being plagiarized are starting to bother you. You stew about it and how to protect your work. Finally you email your publisher for guidance.
How to Protect Yourself
When your work-in-progress is done, mail a copy to yourself registered mail signed receipt. When it comes sign for it and take the envelope home and put it someplace safe. Do not open it. Should you end up in court you will present the unopened envelope to the judge. This is called a poor man's copyright.
Check with your local prosecutor. They may or may not want to pursue it. If they don't, your next step is the Federal court house. Yes, plagiarism is illegal. It is a federal offense. Intellectual property rights are a big issue. You want to do everything you can to protect yours.
If there is a good law school near you,you might want to approach them first. They can tell you what you need. They might even assign a student to you to follow your case and help you with any legal papers you need to file and the student gets a grade for it.
Ask other writers what to do. There is a possibility someone has already had this issue and could point you in the right direction.
Know what plagiarism is. By definition, plagiarism is: an act or instance of using or closely imitating the language and thoughts of another author without authorizatioin and the representation of that author's work as one's own, by not crediting the the original author. This defintion come from dictionary.com.
Finish your work-in-progress as quickly as you can. Get it in the hands of your publisher. Watch for the other writer to put out work. Hopefully with the help of your publisher you can get yours out first. Having your copyright in hand will help.
Withdraw fromt the critique group until your work-in-progress is done. As the plagiarism case begins you don't want to divide your group.
Even if your book is out first, watch to see what the other writer puts out. You want to have it in hand for comparison to your book. You want to be able to point out the similarities should it come to a court case.
For additional information on plagiarism and copyrights you can download a free resouce document at www.plagiarism.org/assets/downloads/complete_resources.doc For guidelines on what to do about plargiarism you can go to https://www.informs.org/.../Author.../Guidelines-for-Copyright-Plagiarism