Warning about sharing work

(32 Posts)
Punkatheart Fri 15-Jun-12 08:13:48

There is a terrible plagiarism story erupting, which will eventually appear in The Times and Writers' News. It has been sparked by a writer called Alex Keegan, who runs a site called Bootcamp (some may know him or have worked with him). He is a tough cookie - so he was horrified to find that someone had ripped off one of his long-ago published stories and was now selling it on Kindle. Stranger still, this person was an OU CREATIVE WRITING TUTOR, a person with a string of academic letters after her name. Further investigation found at least 13 pieces of work being offered on Kindle in her name that had been blatantly ripped off from other writers - including DYLAN THOMAS!

Much of the work from Amazon is now being taken down as she clearly tries to remove evidence. However, the OU have been informed and other writers have been up in arms. Some of the plagiarised work is fiction but there are also academic pieces there too.

The whole thing is clearly very strange and I am sure that a bigger story will emerge - there is more to this than fraud. If you wish to follow the tale, check out Alex's Twitter feed. If you are with OU on their writing course - please guard your work and always, always, be cautious about sharing work, particularly on the Internet. Sadly, plagiarism is rife and as writers we all know how much work is involved in our work.

If anyone has had experience of this woman, please PM me. I am not going to name her here but Alex has quite boldly done so. She really picked the wrong person to plagiarise - he is shouting it loudly! As so he should - it is so odd that the cliche 'stranger than fiction' really applies!

PetiteRaleuse Fri 22-Jun-12 14:30:38

There was a similar issue a few months ago - one of the victims blogged about it: lizfielding.blogspot.fr/2012/02/copyright-theft.html

I don't understand why people would do something like that. Apart from the whole ethical issue of stealing surely they must know they will get caught out?

Punkatheart Fri 22-Jun-12 12:55:12

No worries, Tau. If you tick the 'Convert links automatically' it will link it properly on any post.

I have a soft heart - so I am worried if this lady does indeed have issues. She must feel hunted and haunted right now. I have heard that people like her in person - so clearly there is an issue. Who knows? Maybe desperation for money, or adulation or just the pressure of life. I hope that it sorts itself out.

It keeps happening though - plagiarism in all spheres of the arts. Some more radical people call it sampling and say it is legitimate. But as a writer who works hard to dig out those original thoughts, characters and metaphors - it is frustrating. Writing is not easy. It is the best job in the world, but it takes talent and sweat. Intellectual theft is not a good thing and sadly, it makes some young writers reluctant to share their work - so they will never improve.

Tau Fri 22-Jun-12 08:51:52

Ah, sorry Punkatheart, I didn't see your post. I could only load this topic from an old link.. dunno why.

Freaky case!

Tau Fri 22-Jun-12 08:50:41

Article in the Telegraph about this:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/universityeducation/9347317/Open-University-lecturer-under-investigation-after-publishing-a-Dylan-Thomas-story-under-her-own-name.html

Punkatheart Fri 22-Jun-12 07:43:04
Punkatheart Fri 22-Jun-12 07:42:50

The story:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/universityeducation/9347317/Open-University-lecturer-under-investigation-after-publishing-a-Dylan-Thomas-story-under-her-own-name.html

Abra1d Sun 17-Jun-12 13:08:29

The trouble is that you cannot be published and not show your work to people, hopefully tens of thousands of them!

Yes, I hope the backlash to this will not be too destructive. I can't help wondering if mental illness played a role in causing someone to do these things?

Cwm Sat 16-Jun-12 21:57:32

It's awful to contemplate either way, isn't it? I hope the truth comes out quickly. It must be very frustrating for those whose work has been stolen, I would be livid. If I ever write anything half decent I will be careful who I show it to!

Punkatheart Sat 16-Jun-12 21:47:26

Me too, Cwm. I take no pleasure in watching it unfold, if it is indeed someone with mental health issues. However, if it has been done cynically....

Cwm Sat 16-Jun-12 21:42:12

I don't think it could be possible for it to be someone else - how would you not notice? I do feel uneasy about this though, I hope things don't go too far, I can't help but feel worried for this person and how they might be feeling, regardless of what they may or may not have done.

Punkatheart Sat 16-Jun-12 16:52:06

It was my thought that someone had scammed an academic or that it was even a team of people - but there is too much of her out there for this to be possible. This is not a quiet case of plagiarism....the woman is making huge claims, has (had - now removed) a Facebook page and her name and address as a piano teacher/actress/speaker of many languages. But if it did turn out there someone has masqueraded as a real academic...well how deeply unsettling would that be for the real deal!

Abra1d Sat 16-Jun-12 16:35:55

Well, good for him. Even if it's not the person accused who'd been doing this, something very strange has been going on and it needs sorting.

Punkatheart Sat 16-Jun-12 16:33:20

...but not before they have been downloaded by some of us. Yes, he has a very loud voice, Alex!

Abra1d Sat 16-Jun-12 15:46:36

The plagiarised works seem to be vanishing from the internet, so he's certainly got things going very effectively!

TheCunningStunt Sat 16-Jun-12 15:19:22

This sis shocking. I have down two creative writing course with the OU.

Abra1d Sat 16-Jun-12 15:13:22

What a very strange case indeed!

Although the internet can be your friend where copyright is concerned. I regularly email my WIP to myself or store it on Dropbox. Every time, a date and name is electronically attached to my work, meaning that if I ever had to, I could prove that something was mine.

Tau Sat 16-Jun-12 15:05:40

Of course there is the possibility that the poor woman is being set up - that is just as likely as that the plagiarism story is true. I find it hard to believe that a tutor/author would risk her entire career in this way...

Tau Sat 16-Jun-12 14:44:13

Wow... shocking! I just finished my OU CW course - the A215 one.. fortunately this woman was not my tutor.

Punkatheart, I agree with you; there has to be more to this.....

Cwm Sat 16-Jun-12 11:45:49

unbelievable! I wonder if her academic qualifications will be investigated, although I have been led to believe that it's very difficult to get away with plagiarism in a university - they have some pretty efficient software for checking, or so I'm told.

Punk - I have kept in touch with other students on my course, we had good intentions to keep critiquing each others work, but many are no longer writing, and I admit I struggle to keep going without any fixed deadlines in place. I will have a think about the bootcamp.

Punkatheart Sat 16-Jun-12 11:03:45

Here is the brazen ripoff of Dylan Thomas, available at Barnes and Noble:

www.barnesandnoble.com/w/holiday-memory-joanne-benford/1110621674?ean=2940033163700#product-commentaries-1

Read it and gawp, because this is classic (and famous) Thomas:

I remember the smell of sea and seaweed, wet flesh, wet hair, wet bathing suits, the warm smell as of a rabbit home field after rain, the smell of pop and splashed sunshades and toffee, the stable and straw smell of hot, tossed, tumbled, dug and trodden sand, the swill and gaslamp smell of Saturday night, though the sun shone strong, from the bellying beer tents, the smell of the vinegar on shelled cockles, winkle smell, shrimp smell, the dripping oily backstreet winter smell of chips in newspaper. The smell of ships from the sun dazed docks round the corner of the sand hills, the smell of the known and paddled in sea moving, full of herrings and the drowned, out and away and beyond and further still towards the antipodes where they hung their koala bears, and strange places where people go mad, but are never talked about.

A beautiful short story, taken from the first of Joanne Benford’s ‘Ring of Elements’ series, ‘Down By The Water’.

This is the first in a series of four books, together comprising the ‘Ring of Elements’ set, and is composed of lyrical stories, poems and artwork, linked by the sea, the river and those that inhabit them.

Praise for ‘Down By The Water’.

‘A fantastic read, crammed full of beautiful language, similar to Dylan Thomas, perhaps, or GM Hopkins. Also beautiful illustrations by the author herself.’ amazon.co.uk
‘An avant-garde novel, comprising story chapters interspersed with some poems. These poems form the inner monologues of the main characters, including the heroine, drowned by her lover, and haunting his descendants.’ amazon.co.uk

ISBN 1 900701 111 / 978 1 900701 112

Joanne Benford is a popular UK author of fiction, poetry and non-fiction.
She started writing professionally aged 20, and now regularly writes for several magazines, including The Idler, Towards 2012, Cracked Mirror, Diva, Talking Stick and The Edge. Joanne also regularly writes features and articles for magazines such as Woman’s Own, People’s Friend and Best, where her short stories can also be found. Her first book, Down By The Water, was shortlisted for the Raymond Williams Publishing Prize.
She graduated from Lancaster University with a BA Hons and Masters degree in Literary Studies and completed her PhD thesis at Sunderland University. Areas of research concentrate mainly on feminism, media and popular culture and include articles on many films, television programmes and cultural theories. She is currently completing her seventh novel, and is Creative Writing lecturer for the Open University.

PUBLICATIONS

Non-Fiction

Sing of the City Electric
ISBN 978 1 900701 167

Through The Screen Wildly: The Aesthetic of the Sublime Wilderness - Towards a Postmodern Wildzone
ISBN 978- 1-900701-20-4

Living Doll:The Seduction of the Cyborg
ISBN 978-1-9007-0121-1

Postmodern Aesthetics and Poetics
ISBN 978-1-900701-23-5

Postmodern Feminist Fantasy
ISBN 978-1-900701-22-8

The Organised Writer’s Yearbook
ISBN 978 1 900701 242

A Little Book of Focus
ISBN 978 1 900701 25 9

Powerful Ways to Sharpen Your Memory
ISBN 978 1 900701 26 6

Poetry
The Music of the Spheres
ISBN 1 900701 09X / 978 1 900701 099

Loving One
ISBN 1 900701 154 / 978 1 900701 150

Fiction

Café Ultima
ISBN 1 900701 170 / 978 1 900701 174

Silence and Tears
ISBN 1 900701 197 / 978 1 900701 198

The Ring of Elements Set

Down By The Water
ISBN 1 900701 111 / 978 1 900701 112

Coming Up For Air
ISBN 1 900701 12X / 978 1 900701 129

Fanning the Flames
ISBN 1 900701 138 / 978 1 900701 136

Scorched Earth
ISBN 1 900701 146 / 978 1 900701 143
Read More
Product Details
BN ID: 2940033163700
Publisher: Joanne Benford, via Smashwords
Publication date: 3/19/2012
Sold by: SMASHWORDS - EBKS
Format: eBook
File size: 929 KB

Punkatheart Fri 15-Jun-12 22:06:39

You already have a good attitude - which will take you far!

Vanessa is a huge inspiration and a lovely lady too.

There seems to be more and more plagiarism of hers that is emerging - so it can only get worse.

Have you got a good local writers' group? Sometimes that can help.

Cwm Fri 15-Jun-12 19:13:07

Thanks punk. I've done courses, and I miss the critiques and support of other writers, but I don't want or need another course, just something to motivate me and somewhere to get honest feedback. I'm not sensitive and there's no point in feedback if it's not honest!

I am a fan of Vanessa Gebbie smile

Will be interesting to see how this thing with the tutor pans out.

Punkatheart Fri 15-Jun-12 18:30:29

I don't know Alex from Bootcamp..I have never been in it. I believe you have to pay to join but I know from friends that it is very tough. A lot of people do not like Alex......he will not tolerate weakness or bad writing. So please don't join if you are tender and sensitive! One friend of mine 'graduated' from it and went on to have a lot of success - Vanessa Gebbie.

If you have never joined a writing group and/or you are new to writing - then there are gentler places. But if you have the bit between your teeth and you are prepared to work, work, work...then I have heard that it is a good place.

Cwm Fri 15-Jun-12 16:54:32

Very strange...Punk tell me more about the bootcamp - have you taken part and if so how was it? Do they allow anyone to join, and is it for a fixed term or can you choose? Thanks! smile

Punkatheart Fri 15-Jun-12 15:30:56

I am quite convinced that she must be. Her blurb paints her as true renaissance woman: writer, artist, musician, amateur boxer, member of Mensa. But her most-loved film as Billy Liar. She has perhaps created an illusion of the life she wanted, the person she wanted to be and maybe too - she believes it to be real. I do have compassion for her if she is truly ill but unfortunately the writers who have been ripped off, most definitely do not. How on earth can she get away for so long with not simply plagiarising other writers - but very FAMOUS writers? It is also worrying that she may have plagiarised her students. Lots of questions. Strange.

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