DA: The Many Faces of Plagiarism

Jane has posted a most excellent profile series of the authors of the source material we found. I’m partial to the profile of Longfellow, and the final stanza of Song of Hiawatha:

But my guests I leave behind me
Listen to their words of wisdom,
Listen to the truth they tell you.

Well played, Jane.


General Bitching...

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  1. 1
    AgTigress says:

    That compilation of brief biographies is superb.  That is a group of people, many now dead, all of whom worked hard and in many cases, suffered, in order to record and honour the traditions of native American peoples.

    If Edwards had even mentioned them, rather than merely exploiting them, the picture would be very different.  And let me say it again:  a non-fiction writer works just as hard over his or her prose as a storyteller does.  Our work does not write itself, and we are just as angry as anyone else when our words are stolen.

    I love the suggestion in one comment that an anthology be produced of work by Those Ripped Off By CE.

  2. 2
    closetcrafter says:

    Lovely.  Well deserved recognition.

  3. 3
    Nora Roberts says:

    ~And let me say it again:  a non-fiction writer works just as hard over his or her prose as a storyteller does.~

    Just because it deserves repeating.

    Wonderful article at DA—and hopefully one that will bring it home for those saying who does it hurt.

  4. 4
    Karla says:

    Who knows what went through CE’s head when she decided not to credit these authors. Maybe “Well, they’re dead and I’m REALLY doing them a service! I am!”

    Many of those people were writing in an era when the brutal savage stereotype was thriving in dime novels and on silent movie screens. These people tried to counter that, against some entrenched negative notions by the populace at large about the subject.

    To have Edwards just outright steal their work, and put it into badly-written novels that are on the other end of the stereotype spectrum—it’s just sad and insulting.

    Secure word: piece18. Oh yeah, I hope CE’s reputation gets shredded into way more pieces than that.

  5. 5
    Sandy D. says:

    Jane’s post is so *satisfying*. That is what bothered me the most, that the lives and stories and work of the original authors was forgotten, while CE took credit for their words.

    And though Tolme jokes about his prose being clunky filler in “Shadow Bear” – I wonder if a fair number of CE readers didn’t think that the information on ferrets was one of the more interesting and better-written parts of the book.

    Hey, I was interested in the whole land bridge thing.

  6. 6
    Suisan says:

    Well, here’s hoping that it causes someone to reread “Song of Hiawatha” and a few other epic poems one day soon. Hiawatha’s sure been beaten up with the parody stick, but it is a beautiful piece of language and description.

    (And then there’s Lewis Carrolls’ “Hiawatha’s Photographing” which I have so far been unable to read out loud without stopping for giggles.)

    I do think an anthology would be lovely.

  7. 7
    CherylPangolin says:

    I think part of a fitting punishment for CE should be for her to research and write short biographies (without plagiarizing!) of all the people whose words she stole.  Maybe it will help her “get” it.

  8. 8
    JaimeK says:

    Karla said: “Oh yeah, I hope CE’s reputation gets shredded into way more pieces than that.”

    To that I say Karma is a bitch, Cassie will have to deal with this in a whole different way than any of us can imagine, but truthfully wishing her ill will just isn’t the point I don’t think.

    Nora – thanks for mentioning again that non-fiction is just as much work as fiction – totally true – it is all work.

    Donations for any worthy cause is always cool. Peace.

  9. 9

    That post, I think, is illustrative of the possible good that can come of this.  Using this scandal to draw attention to past writers who deserve it much more than CE.  And the ferrets :)

  10. 10
    L.C. McCabe says:

    I wanted to let you know that I am amazed and impressed by the work done in the Cassie Edwards’ case. As a courtesy I thought you would like to know that I put a link on my blog about it here:

    Keep up the good work!


  11. 11
    HowlingVoyager says:

    Following the various threads of this discussion, I’ve set myself up to respond or add my opinion several times, only to find that someone, who can type a LOT faster than I can, has already said it, and probably far better, too. I chose this particular thread simply because, in the literary presence of these authors whose works were stolen from, it seemed more than a good place to start and add my voice.

    My shock, horror, and sheer outrage at what Cassie Edwards has done has kept me riveted to not only this blog, but several others. And as each incident of theft is documented – yes, Theft! I dare use the word for those who would disagree with the definition, though I still can’t understand why – that outrage only grows. I hadn’t thought it could, that a certain equilibrium would have been reached, but it hasn’t. And, today I finally realized why.

    It offends me. On the deepest, most civilized level of my being, this blatant thievery offends me. It’s sick, it’s despicable, it is wrong on so many levels. In copyright or out of copyright, fair use or whatever you want to call it, it doesn’t matter. Legal or not – and for those who would argue that point, since when is our moral compass dictated by pieces of paper and the moral ambiguity of a lawyer? – what Cassie Edwards did was wrong. There are no more arguments to be made.

    That said, one question I’ve noticed coming up in various threads is punishment. What’s to be done about it? How? For those works stolen from that are still in copyright, it’s up to the authors and owners.  More power to them and I hope they stand up for their rights, vigorously and loudly. For those works that were out of copyright, and public domain, it already has been pointed out that there’s not much that can be done, that Edwards can laugh her way to the bank and, eventually, shrug this whole thing off and go her merry way. It’s been documented that other authors have, without a smudge on their reputations or their bank accounts.

    Maybe, maybe not. It may be a small thing, but it’s already being done, all over the country. The internet may be the power of the news world now, but word of mouth, that ability for simple human interaction to ‘pass it on’ is still alive and well in the real world. And when it comes to books, it is still word of mouth, one person to another in a simple exchange of, “This was good! Read it!” that has the real power.

    I’ve worked for a very large, very prominent bookstore chain for nearly 20 years, and believe me, this ugly incident has not gone unremarked. From disbelief, to outrage, to simple comic exclamations of, “What the…?” for each and every documented lift, it’s all there. Step into one of our break rooms and the discussions are fast and furious. Join us if you dare, we can be vociferous bunch. For those of us who are ‘lifers’, been in the business and will be in the business for some time to come, trust me, it will be passed on. Each newbie, each part-timer that crosses our paths will be told.

    Are you a customer? Need a suggestion for a book? A romance? We all have our favorites. I myself am a voracious reader. From Tacitus to Nora Roberts, I’ll read it – though I will candidly admit that Nora Roberts is a LOT more fun than Tacitus. I can’t not read. It’s an addiction. Romance, science fiction, mysteries, biographies, histories, you name it and I’ve read it. To paraphrase Andrew Zimmern, “If it looks good, READ IT!” Then make your judgment.

    And if you ask me, and many others I work with who have the same problem, for a suggestion, we’re more than happy to tell you a story about our favorite author, or one we’ve just discovered. Certain authors will not, and never will be again, personally recommended. It’s been said that there’s power in the written word, but there’s a great deal more in the spoken word. We tell stories, and those stories will only grow with the telling. Janet Dailey may have slipped out of the general public’s knowledge as a thief, but not ours. Not the lifers.

    And neither will Cassie Edwards. We may have to put their books on the shelf, but we don’t have to take them off. Not when we have a choice.

    Like I said, it may not be much, but it’s a start.

    For the record, long ago I did once try to read one of Cassie Edwards’ books. Simply stated and without getting into that long, unending argument about who can write and who can’t, I didn’t like it. Can’t even remember the title, but I didn’t even finish the first chapter. It looked interesting, if not ‘good’, and I tried it.

    ‘Nuff said.

  12. 12
    SonomaLass says:

    I got all teary-eyed reading Jane’s post about the source authors.  What a great list, and a fine way of bringing something positive out of this mess.  Most of my emotional responses to the CE stuff have been very negative—as a teacher, I unfortunately spend a lot of time dealing with issues of plagiarism, and none of them are pleasant experiences.  Jane’s post was the first thing I’ve read in this mess that really uplifted me.

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