1. darkbeetlebot
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    darkbeetlebot Member

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    do people on this site steal work?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by darkbeetlebot, Jan 1, 2012.

    ever since I've heard of it, I have been afraid of copyright. especially when it comes to my own work, I feel like the person I tell it to will steal it and take credit. my question is, are people on this site pron to stealing work, or can I let off info about my stories and characters without fear?
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just so you know, walking up to a group of people and asking them, "Hey, before I get to know you, can you tell me if you're all a bunch of nasty thieving criminals?" is not the _most_ productive strategy. :)

    The vast, vast majority of the people here are decent ethical people who would not steal your ideas. Nevertheless, if you consider your ideas to be a flat-out _secret_, you shouldn't publish them here, because it's not hard to join this site. Pretty much nothing on the Web should be considered a secret.

    Also, you should know that your story ideas and character ideas - your ideas in general - are not copyrightable. Only your actual written words are copyrightable. Now, the same sense of ethics that would no doubt keep the vast majority of people here from stealing your words, would also keep them from stealing your ideas. But all the same, ideas, short of patentable ideas (and I can't think of any way to patent fiction), have no legal protection whatsoever.

    So if you have a story idea that you're convinced will be the next best-seller, don't communicate that idea _anywhere_ that's as public as a web site. If you want to, for example, join in the Review Room, write something else, something that's a lower priority, and get feedback on your writing that way.

    Edited to add: All of this ignores the usual very good advice, that _ideas_ aren't worth all that much; what has value is execution, the way that you've written up that idea. But I think that most people nevertheless have a sneaking worry that perhaps their idea is really fabulous and therefore a corresponding worry that they'll lose their ownership of that idea.

    ChickenFreak
     
  3. Metus
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    Metus Senior Member

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    Most people wouldn't steal your ideas. Unfortunately, it only takes one to screw things up for you. Whenever I post excerpts or plot ideas for a story, I try to keep it vague enough so that if someone ripped off my idea and published it before me, the stories would be different enough so that I wouldn't get sued for plagiarization.
     
  4. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    Probably not, but why take the risk?
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no two people would write the same story from the same 'idea'/premise... so even if your idea is used by someone else, what they turn out as a story/novel would be completely different from yours...

    that said, it's common enough for two [or more] writers to come up with the same basic idea/concept for a story, since everything's been done over and over again anyway, ever since humans started telling stories... just look at all the movies that have come out at nearly the same time, with nearly identical plots... same goes for published books... there's nothing new under the sun, so just make sure you're telling the same old stories with some fresh new twist and stop worrying about what the other guy/gal is doing...
     
  6. SeverinR
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    SeverinR Contributing Member

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    I believe the comparison here would be walking up to a group of people and asking do people in this neighborhood steal, rather then asking if the group steals. Just alittle different.

    Mamma; My personal opinion is industrial spies keep all the studios knowing what someone else is doing, so they try something similar.

    Most recent example; Friends with benefits and no strings attached. Similar ideas, but different stories, and they came out in the same season.
     
  7. hoggyboy
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    hoggyboy Senior Member

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    in regards to your thread: yes i do.





    but srsly tho, i dont think anyone does, hence why you dont post an entire novel on the forum!
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    while that may be true to some extent, severin, what i said is also true and has been, ever since humans started making up stories...
     
  9. BurningPassion
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    BurningPassion New Member

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    ....
     
  10. BurningPassion
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    BurningPassion New Member

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    I think it would be prudent if you controlled what you share on internet in general. Be aware of Plagiarism.
     
  11. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    You don't want to share any of your own writing on this site, anyway, for one primary reason found in the site rules:



    What you are agreeing to, when you post work for critique here, is that you no longer control your own work and that the control over it rests within the sole discretion of the site admins (in other words, if you want to delete it, you can't - at least under the site rules that you're agreeing to). Bad idea, in my view.
     
  12. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's not quite my understanding of the rules. I read it to mean simply that the owners have the right to delete material at their discretion, and that others within the thread can quote what's been posted for purposes of the critique. Other than that, I see no attempt to take control from the author. ??

    To the OP - ideas are a dime a dozen. It's what you do with them that counts (both for copyright and otherwise).
     
  13. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    No, that's not right. The rules themselves state that the admins have the sole discretion to retain or delete work once you share it here, and furthermore I asked that question specifically of the mods shortly after I first came here, and they confirmed that it was, in fact, the case. The idea being that the writing workshop is somehow harmed if an author puts something up for critique and then takes it down.

    So unless there has been a recent change in how the rule is interpreted (in which case it should be rewritten), it means exactly what it says. My view is that you should not be giving up control over your writing unless you are being paid for it. So I don't post anything for critique here.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Absolutely untrue. What you are agreeing to is that after you post it, you don't have the right to change your mind and remove it. That is no different than submitting a piece of writing to a magazine except that acceptance in the forum is immediate. You own the piece of writing. You do not own the thread you placed it in.

    Writing is submitted for comment in the Writing Workshop. The threads in which you posted your writing is not solely yours. Everyone who has taken a crack at critiquing your writing also has a stake in the thread.

    You retain all the rights you normally have with a piece of your writing. But once you (willingly!) contribute a copy to this publication (the site), you cannot unilaterally reneg on that decision.

    Please stop misrepresenting the meaning of this rule. It merely makes explicit the right that any forum/site implicitly possesses. It does not take away any of your rights under copyright or any other intellectual property laws.
     
  15. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    This is exactly what I said. One you post it, you have agreed that you no longer have the right to remove it. By the rule, it can be removed or retained at the discretion of the site administrators.

    Not sure what you are disagreeing with. If you can't remove it, then you've given over control of it.
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You have control over your work. You do not have full control over the medium you are choosing to publish* it on.

    If you think you can post anywhere on the Internet and retain full control of that copy, you are living a delusion. Some sites may allow you to delete it (and thereby removing, or at least invalidating, responses by OTHER members), but once somethinhg is posted, it is potentially eternal. Archives and search engines, as well as individual browsers, can and do retain copies.

    You have a say in what is done with the copies made, under copyright law, but it is limited. You cannot order people to destroy printouts ar saved copies, but you can act against them if they republish it.

    What we are doing, that other sites do not, is telling you right up front that you are making a choice with consequences. The \difference is that the other sites never bother to tell you.

    This site is not taking away anything from you.
     
  17. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    Cogito, Steerpike, I think you are arguing the same point from different directions. Steerpike's advice was 'don't post work on this forum if you are worried about copyright because you cannot control what happens to it' - this is correct.

    Cogito, you are trying to defend the site's rule about not letting members delete posts, which is absolutely your right, but you're basically saying the same thing - you can't remove work once you've posted, which carries an inherent copyright risk. It doesn't make this site different to anywhere else on the web, but I don't think that's what Steerpike was trying to say.

    The point is you can't post your work anywhere on the web and be safe from copyright infringement. So if that's a concern for you, the advice is simple: DON'T.
     
  18. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Nope. He said:
    Clearly he believes this is an arbitrary restriction imposed by this site, and that removing the rule would change the reality.

    Posting your work anywhere without considering the consequences is a bad idea, and I object strenuously to Steerpike repeatedly bad-mouthing this site's explicit statement of the policy. His wording always delivers the false impression that it is this site that is limiting the copyright owner's control, when in fact it is bound to the author's choice in posting on the Internet.
     
  19. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    steerpike...
    i agree with cog that you need to recognize and include in your warnings the fact that it is NOT just THIS site that poses such a risk, but ANY and ALL writing sites on the internet where writings are posted for critique, since they all operate in much the same way [whether or not they admit it, as our admin does]...

    to not do so is badly misleading all who read your warning and thus harming the very site you've chosen to be a member of... your writing feedback and legal advice is usually good and i most often agree with you, as you know, but in this i can't...

    i hope you'll amend your warnings here to reflect the reality of posting work on the internet at large, instead of scaring people here with incomplete info and making it seem as if this site is any more risky than all of the others...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  20. Ziggy Stardust
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    Ziggy Stardust Active Member

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    I think that some people are far too paranoid about having their "idea's stolen".

    It's hard enough to even get anyone to read your work in the first place without being paranoid about people "stealing your ideas" and so not showing it to anyone.

    There's always a chance that someone "might" steal your work, especially I suppose short stories. Just like there's always a chance that you "might" get hit by a car when crossing the street, or get struck by lightning, etc, etc.

    But if they do try and pass off the work as their own (which is simply a danger of being published or sharing any work anywhere) that is ILLEGAL and you can ask the site owners, or the publishers, or whoever, to take it down. I'm sure there's other stuff you can do as well, but I'm not a lawyer.

    Really the point of posting things up for critique is to improve as a writer. I wouldn't post up anything that I had serious expectations of getting published. I think some people have completely unrealistic views about the "value" of their idea, or snippet of work, etc.

    If you want to keep a particular piece of work off the net because you don't want to risk any complications trying to get it published later on, that is probably a good idea. But be realistic about it.

    I've heard about a sort of "copyright" protection some people do where they print off a hard copy of their work and send it through the post (express post, or first class, or whatever) to get a date stamped on it. I don't know how effective this is in practical terms, but it might ease some paranoia.

    And as for the "site rules", uploading your work to this site is no different from uploading stuff to facebook, twitter, youtube, any blogging site, any forum, etc, etc.

    Getting exposure as a writer is a good thing. Don't be afraid to share your writing, just be sensible about it.
     
  21. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    This is certainly true, maia. But I've been on plenty of writing forums and critique sites where you can go in afterward and remove your work if you do desire. Sure, the work still exists somewhere - in backups files, or even in a cache on the web, or maybe someone has cut and pasted it. However, when someone logs in to the active version of that forums, it is not there any more. The fact that copies are inevitably let somewhere in the digital world is entirely different from saying you can't go back and remove your actual post containing your work. In my opinion, it is a bad idea for writers to agree to that sort of provisions. Others may disagree (and clearly do) :)
     
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  22. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, I think this is all true.

    It is one thing to have backups, or to acknowledge the risk of others cutting and pasting, etc. But to affirmatively give up your exercise control over your work in instances where you can actually control it (like going back and removing a posted story) is not a good thing for a writer to do. In my view.
     
  23. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    This thread is still going. To answer it once and for all: yes. Yes, people here do steal work. Frequently and with great mirth.
     

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