From the Editors' Desk
Sometimes, you come looking for trouble, and sometimes, trouble comes looking for you.Love,
So let's just bring that old tired horse out in the open: We're talkin' 'bout plagiarism.
This 'zine exists, in large part, because a community of people, like the Merry Men, have decided to gather together and share stories about characters who were created by someone else. Those who might legally care have not protested, and so, we go on for the sake of the community. Virtual communities are, after all, a large part of the Internet.
But there's a darker side to the 'Net as well. Simply put, the Internet itself is a hotbed of thievery. Although many on the 'Net are generously communal, from shareware to freeware to "just link back to me if you use my images" notices, for the most part, the Internet is one big open source code. Take what clippings you want from the root, leave some for people behind you, and grow your own Sherwood Forest.
So within this context, of what use is plagiarism, really? You probably took that idea from somewhere else, so why can't I make use of it, without asking permission, without even referencing back to you?
The thing is, it does matter. And if you're sitting here reading this and thinking "bollocks!" - let us tell you, it does. It matters that a lazy, sometimes even malicious mind has, rather than invent something new, taken something old and called it original. It matters to the person who originally had that idea. And it matters to the community as a whole, which cannot grow if it lives in fear that any original thoughts will ultimately be subsumed into some great whole.
By writing this particular editor's note, we're hoping to protect the rest of the community by noting a few recent instances that raised our eyebrows. In the first, we were notified by a longtime apocrypha reader and writer that we had a "plagiarist lurking among your readership. After a heads-up by a fan, I found my story ... posted at http://www.fanfiction.net/ under the name of 'Kitty.' I have no idea what name she uses on the boards.... What I couldn't believe was that she had the balls to print everything word for word...it was all there but my by-line.... I e-mailed the owners of the site and, after verifying my claim, they have 'black listed' her and pulled all of her stories. She posted the story in June and since you published it in April, I figure she probably stole it from apocrypha. There is the outside chance she got it directly from my web site, but I think yours is far more accessible to the public. Thought you'd want to know."
Fortunately, the writer took care of business on her own, and that issue is concluded. But vigilance is always required. It is appalling that someone would take a story they did not write and deliberately post it somewhere as his or her own; we confess we cannot understand what mindset - other than perhaps a child's - could justify doing such a thing. That is one of the reasons we posted our plagiarism rules in our Guidelines page a while back; so that we may have recourse later on if such an issue comes up.
But late last year we were presented with another issue altogether, and confess that we have not figured out a legitimate way to deal with it. A frequent reader to the 'zine wrote us: "I was very curious about all this Jack & Claire fanfiction, but on my second story I noted a bit of plagiarism. At least it had the same two paragraphs of Jack recalling what happened." From there, the writer of the letter quoted two paragraphs from two published apocrypha stories, by two authors -- and within just the six lines of text, there were two sentences exactly the same, and they ended precisely the same way.
Shocking? Maybe. However, the scene was culled directly from am oft-cited episode of Law & Order, and in trying to sum up several events in a row, it is not hard to guess that the writers - both talented, both some of our favorites - might have said some of the same things. But whole sentences? In the end, we asked our letter writer if he or she wanted to file an official complaint, as listed in our Guidelines, and he or she declined. As the writer of the letter noted: "Since I don't know who wrote which very similar paragraph first, I have no basis of who copied off of who. The previous email was merely meant to indicate that there seemed to be a similarity between the two excerpts, which could lead to the suspicions of plagiarism."
We had to admit: We were stymied. What we would like to know is this: What, as readers, do you think should be done? If you were the author and someone else came up with a similar paragraph, would you want to know? Would you assume you had been stolen from, or perhaps allow that two ideas cut from the same episode could be the same? We really want to hear from readers on this topic, so please, send us your thoughts.
So, in closing, here's what we want to say about plagiarism: Any community or individual who permits plagiarism within its midst hastens its ultimate demise. There needs to be a line drawn somewhere. We're drawing it. We at apocrypha are committed to taking appropriate action against plagiarism within our community. That's why we have a policy on plagiarism in our Guidelines and that's why we will continue to alert you to any instances of plagiarism that arise.
Here are a few links you may want to check out if you're concerned about plagiarism (we'll put them up at the Guidelines site, too). Most are for non-fiction writing, but the concepts are still the same.Scientific Plagiarism (still valid for most forms of writing)And now, on to the issue at hand. More great, truly original fiction has emerged from our Sherwood Forest of fanfic, and it's all quite remarkable. Inside, you'll find not only fresh regular fic, but fresh challenges -- and what we got for our Valentine's Day Issue (which didn't happen). As usual, although all of the stories are great, your editors had some favorites. Kitt liked "Reflections Of The Fallen," which she says is "darker than the background on this page, but utterly believable. Short, succinct, powerful. Azure is two for two with excellent storytelling." Kor decided on "The Secret History," saying "I'd love to see more of this post-Exile Logan."
Does Plagiarism Matter?
The Writing Center Defines Plagiarism
Avoiding Plagiarism (Ohio University)
Defining Plagiarism (Wake Forest University)
So there you are. After suffering through an all-too-serious Editor's note, now it's time for a breath of spring in the rest of the issue. Enjoy, and as always, keep submitting! Without you and your contributions, how could any of us keep on bringing you the "stolen" moments you current enjoy on a semi-regular basis here at apocrypha? So keep the submissions coming! Give us feedback, ask questions, send money and philosophies about life. We love hearing from you -- we're at: apocrypha.
To The Editor
We get letters, we get letters, lots and lots of letters...
Date: 12/21/00 2:02:57 AM Eastern Standard Time
Hi, it's chuck rapoport, subject
of the story.
I liked it. Never seen it before. BTW, there's a mistake in one of the later paragraphs dealing with Blood Libel where you
make it appear that the Jewish teacher was sent anti-semetic slurs from other "teachers" and not students.
Ed. Note: We regret the error,
and it has since been corrected. I.C. Rapoport wrote for L&O
for several years, and left in 1999. He can now be found here,
where several examples of his photography can be seen.
Subj: 10 stages of fandom
Date: 12/20/00 7:55:06 PM Eastern Standard Time
I am at stage seven--I write some
fanfiction on my own in my journal, and I would like to start a website
to put it on, but I haven't got the
courage (or the time!) to put a site together or submit it to Apocrypha.
By the way--I thoroughly enjoy reading
each edition of the fanzine! I usually have to break it up into several
sittings at the computer, but
that means that I only get to savor each issue longer. Hopefully, I will gather up enough courage to submit something in the near future.
Keep up the great work!
Subj: Season's greetings!
Date: 12/23/00 6:16:43 PM Eastern Standard Time
I enjoyed every story in "The Torrents
of Fanfic," and "Stand Up Guy" was one of the best. In the hands of an
inferior author a short story using so many characters could have been
confusing. Every reader should enjoy this fresh 'take' on "Aftershock."
Date: 12/28/00 9:27:18 PM Eastern Standard Time
Wow! That was a completely awesome story! I loved the others with Velasquez, and this one is the best. Can't wait to see more.
Juana Maria Castelo
Subj: War and Disorder
Date: 12/30/00 8:26:31 PM Eastern Standard Time
I think that this is an extremely well written article. Probably a bit too deep for the general masses. Would probably make an excellent movie. It showed war for what it really is , a mindless, intensely violent, massively obscene, collective clusterfuck. It doesn't glamorize the actual obscenity. Thank you for posting this.
Date: 1/2/01 5:00:06 AM Eastern Standard Time
Great report of being on the set as an extra. In my mind's eye I was there right along side. I don't know if I could have resisted asking questions of the crew though. My fascination would have been bubbling over.
I wonder how many of the extras
are there because they are fans? At less than $50 for 12 hour's work, I
would imagine that most are there for the fun of it.
Subj: You Don't Know Jack
(and some random ramblings on it from a stranger)
Date: 1/20/2001 4:20:30 AM Eastern Standard Time
I just read your story "You Don't Know Jack"; I just wanted to drop you a line and say that I thought it was excellent! You know, I've only been a Law and Order fan since late this summer, but since I'm taking a year off from college I can watch all the reruns on A&E (and I've been taking full advantage of this). I had no idea until just yesterday that there was such a loyal L&O fandom out there!! I have experience with rabid fandoms (being a Trekker and a Sherlockian, both of which groups are comprised of incredibly freakish fans), so I have a bit of experience with the whole fandom thing, and fanfic too. I just had no idea that L&O inspired the same behavior! It seems so mainstream, I never dreamed there were people out there going, "Well, what happened after that episode where Jack seemed to be so solicitous of Claire, and even offered to walk her to her car (weird)" and then went and wrote what they thought. I just happened to look up Law and Order online (mostly because I had just seen Aftershock, and I was wondering if there was an episode between it and the first Jamie Ross episode); and there was a site that said it had Fanfic!!
Subj: War and Disorder
Date: 1/22/2001 1:14:57 PM Eastern Standard Time
I would like to know if it is possible to view the news footage of the Mash 4077 if there is any way to find this I would be grateful for any help in locating the film.
Joseph N. Garvey
P.S.-thoroughly enjoyed War and Disorder.
If anyone knows what it is this
kind gentleman is looking for, let us know and we'll be happy to pass on
Subj: War and Disorder
Date: 1/25/2001 1:13:21 PM Eastern Standard Time
I don't know how I surfed into this site....must be some more mindless left brain activity that takes over when I really should be doing something else...
However....this narrative quickly propelled me into a Korea that I've never been to and provided me with a sensory appreciation for the M.A.S.H. experience that I suppose I have come to miss. Since I grew up with all those characters on TV, reading about them was like visiting long lost friends who kept on trudging the road to happy destiny while I was seemingly mired in my own mundaneness. Thanks for providing some total recall of my earlier childhood.......
Date: 1/26/2001 1:15:19 AM Eastern Standard Time
I just got done reading you "You don't know Jack." It is a bit strange, but I like it. I'd to have Claire back, she made the law side of the show much better. I am writing a story. But it is not done, I think I get it done and then I find something else to put into it.
Keep writing I will keep reading
Date: 1/27/2001 6:51:14 PM Eastern Standard Time
Just finished reading Daylight. Enjoyed it!
Subj: Kuntsler Interview
Date: 2/1/2001 1:45:36 PM Eastern Standard Time
Thanks for the lovely interview
& posting the link to the NG. Mr Kunstler lived near me,
on Gay St., in Greenwich Village. Seeing him
again in White Rabbit was a treat.
Subj: The Dance
Date: 2/7/2001 1:38:47 PM Eastern Standard Time
Oh.....Wow!..... prrrrrrrrrrr ;o)
Subj: My Detective Mike
Date: 3/3/2001 9:58:22 AM Eastern Standard Time
Wow! This story brought tears to my eyes. I was not sure who was speaking at first, but this story was pulled together very nicely. My two favorite parts were the one that told of Max dying, and the very end, where she wondered what a seven-year old could have accomplished. Good work.
Subj: Next Edition
Date: 3/6/2001 4:01:00 AM Eastern Standard Time
I enjoy visiting your site, especially the fan fiction story's. Someday I would like to see a fan fiction story challenge where the authors would write a crossover story between 'Law and Order,' and one of my favorite shows, Highlander.
Ed. Note: Aha! Writers, get scribbling!
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apocrypha welcomes letters from readers. Letters should include the writer's name. Those selected for inclusion may be shortened for clarity and content, and unless otherwise requested, will not include email addresses. Send letters to us here at email@example.com. Only letters clearly marked "not for editor's page" will be excluded from consideration. For those really into legalese, here's more.