Smart Podcast, Trashy Books Podcast

345. Readers Fighting Plagiarism: An Interview with Kristy Caffeinated Fae and Claire Ryan

Today I’m talking with Kristy, known on Twitter as CaffeinatedFae, and Claire Ryan. Kristy is a former bookseller, and Claire is a fantasy writer and programmer, and together, they’ve been taking on the full account of Cristiane Serruya’s alleged plagiarism, which you might have seen being discussed online as #CopyPasteCris.

Kristy and other readers, including Jeanna Skinner, have been maintaining lists of the passages from other romance titles discovered inside of Serruya’s books, and that list is mammoth – over 80 books now. Claire has created a programming solution to comparing books to look for similar passages.

We talk about what they’ve done in response, and what they’ve learned – and how the research and accounting of how many books were involved has affected them, a little bit, too.

It’s almost always a reader who spots the similarities, and in this case, the superpowered programming solution is kinda mind blowing. Claire is excellent at scaling, too, so she’s creating an online tool to try to stop this kind of plagiarism from happening again.

Cheers to both of them.

ETA: Updates as of 26 April 2019! 

Nora Roberts has filed suit in Brazil against Cristiane Serruya.

And the authors affected by Serruya’s actions worked together to send Claire a sword that says, “Slayer of Plagiarism.” WOW!

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Here are the books we discuss in this podcast:

You can find Claire Ryan on Twitter @Aetherlev, and on her website, ClaireRyanAuthor.com. Her graphical visualization of the lifted passages can be seen on Twitter.

You can find Kristy at @CaffeinatedFae on Twitter, and on her website, CaffeinatedFae.com.

And! Claire’s plagiarism detection tool is online at Similar.works. 

Here are the links we discussed in this episode:

And if you’d like to read some of the coverage of the Nora Roberts/Janet Dailey plagiarism lawsuit from 1997, brace yourselves:


And yes! Live Show Ahoy!

Wanna see us record a podcast LIVE?

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Thursday May 16 at 3:30pm local time, at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, Amanda, Elyse and I will be recording a live show, and we hope you’ll join us if you can!

We’re going to play Cards Against Romance Tropes, there might be trivia, and we’ll definitely be silly about something. We’ll be in Imperial 5C – so come on down!

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This Episode's Music

Caravan Palace double album set of Caravan Palace and Panic Our music is provided each week by Sassy Outwater, whom you can find on Twitter @SassyOutwater.

This is from Caravan Palace, and the track is called “Beatophone.”

You can find their two album set with Caravan Palace and Panic on Amazon and iTunes. And you can learn more about Caravan Palace on Facebook, and on their website.

Transcript

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This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.

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  1. 1
    Pre-Successful Indie (now with less misquoting) says:

    I am so impressed with the detective work, organization and data-crunching that Kristy, Claire and the rest of Romancelandia have done. So impressed that despite how infuriating this topic is, it was still enjoyable and secondhand-empowering to listen to.

    I’m so glad someone is Doing Something so that next time, hopefully, the next plagiarist will get caught faster and/or — maybe!! — second-guess this awful decision before doing it.

    Tl;dr: Thanks, this was a great episode.

  2. 2
    Lake says:

    Thank you so much. Thus is such an important story. I hope it brings about changes in these types of books that are just theft of others’ words.

    And I hope this scandal brings more attention and readers to the authors whose work was stolen.

    I just went to caffeinatedfae’s website list of the authors whose work was plagiarized and bought whatever looked like definitely my style that I didn’t already own and downloaded samples of the
    rest of the books to find more to buy.

    And I bought the first two books in Claire Ryan’s trilogy, which looked awesome.

  3. 3

    A really great episode. Thank you for sharing what went on behind the scenes in unraveling this plagiarist. It really warmed my heart to see two people use their time and skills to help the authors whose books were stolen and profited from.

  4. 4
    Kareni says:

    Thanks for an informative interview.

  5. 5
    cammy6 says:

    I’m surprised Cassie Edwards’ plagiarism wasn’t mentioned during the podcast. I discovered SBTB just before that story broke.

  6. 6
    Anonymous says:

    I love stories about women supporting each other.

  7. 7
    mel burns says:

    Outstanding podcast!

  8. 8
    DiscoDollyDeb says:

    Excellent podcast (I listened while making chili—combining two of my favorite things, romance novels and cooking—and it was such a lovely morning, despite the heavy subject matter). The thing that infuriates me is how much time and labor (presumably uncompensated) was required in order to discover the scope of the plagiarism and the authors/books stolen from (and even now, I’m sure there are probably still some plagiarized passages that have gone undetected), while Amazon—one of the largest and most profitable companies on the planet—is basically [shrug emoji]. Perhaps I’m missing where the culpability is, but if Amazon has no pre-publication method for verifying that content is not plagiarized, what company would? It uncovering plagiarism basically a crowd-sourced labor of love? I wonder if Anazon would be so sanguine and unconcerned if Stephen King or James Patterson were being plagiarized.

  9. 9
    Dennis says:

    Loved this podcast although I found it very disturbing just how much plagiarism is out there involving romance. What a tremendous service your are doing in seeking out and identifying such practices. Romance doesn’t get the respect that it deserves and I can’t help but think that this level of theft – and that’s what it is – would be tolerated in, say, a non-fiction genre.

  10. 10
    Svetlana Li says:

    I’m not a published author, but long ago, I let Cristiane Serruya read a story I was working on. Can I have someone check and see if it was plagiarized? Or how can I get in touch with the person who can check and see if my story was plagiarized?

  11. 11
    Pre-Successful Indie (now with less misquoting) says:

    >>Perhaps I’m missing where the culpability is, but if Amazon has no pre-publication method for verifying that content is not plagiarized, what company would?>>

    One of the things that continues to bug me is that CopyPasteCris represents an abuse of the system that also allows me to do what I do. If self/indie-publishing exists, then the sheer volume of content makes pre-screening essentially impossible.

    And that means I can share my labor-of-love niche works that nobody’s going to traditionally publish in a million years… and… unfortunately, that also opens the door to all sorts of misuses like this. It bothers me. Part of me says I’d give up the ability to share what I do in order to restore the old order of gatekeeping… and another part of me is too furious at the abuses to even consider the question. At any rate, Amazon makes a cut off every sale, mine and CopyPaste’s — so the genie is not likely to go back into the bottle. I don’t know whether I’m okay with that.

    I don’t say all this to argue or to take it personally, just to reflect on why prescreening is not in the sellers’ financial interest. Even if the result absolutely sucks for authors.

  12. 12
    Suspicious says:

    I’ve been listening to the podcast on this issue, and read a few blog posts. I am an attorney and my sister is a romance novelist, so I feel like we’ve got a bit of a window into the production side of things. I can’t help but wonder if this person “Cris” is a real person. Has anyone actually met her in person? Has she ever attended a conference or been on a panel? Just thinking about how easy it would be to create a persona with a few token pictures on her website and a social media account, especially one who happens to “live in Brazil,” create these scam works (which…when translated into other languages, may not trigger the same infringements…) collect the money then be out of reach of the law (somewhat…). It would be interesting to confirm her credentials (law school, etc.)

    Just some thoughts I have been having since I started poking around into this. It just seems so convenient that she’s overseas.

  13. 13
    Smmoe1997 says:

    I listened to this podcast episode this morning, and even though topic infuriates me I found myself smiling as I listened to how Kristy and Clare worked to piece this together (along with the rest of romancelandia) and tried to come up with solutions. Clare – don’t discount or downplay what you have done. I work in data analytics with record sets if anywhere from a few hundred thousand records to billions of records, and while 20-40 books may not seem like a lot, the sheer volume of words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and chapters those books contain mean you are cranking through fairly huge datasets relatively quickly. And kudos to you for coming up with this process, I’m in awe of your abilities!

  14. 14
    Susanna says:

    I see Nora Roberts has now sued.

  15. 15
    Escapeologist says:

    https://mobile.twitter.com/aetherlev/status/1118148866765807616

    Claire Ryan received a SWORD engraved “Slayer of Plagiarism” y’all

  16. 16
    Katie says:

    A Brazilian judge blocked the sale of the books (physical, e-book. and audio) named in Nora’s suit:

    http://fallintothestory.com/breaking-news-2/

  17. 17
    Stefanie Magura says:

    That Plagiarism in the Publishing World article includes what is apparently meant to be a sattyrical editor’s note about how they were plagiarizing the article from others on the topic.

  18. 18
    Stefanie Magura says:

    Sorry my comment posted before it was done. I don’t know if they did as well as they intended with that bit of satire, but keeping that in mind might or might not be helpful. They even included numbers like you see with citations.

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