Wednesday, May 11

To Plagiarize or Not to Plagiarize...

No, that isn't really a question, because there is only one answer. That would be a loud, resounding "no".  Sounds like a no brainer, huh?

Why is this even coming up? Well, recently, I started job hunting.. so far so good, right? Right. I don't mind getting "we're sorry, but..." letters; it goes with the territory. But when I got one of those for a part time waitressing gig, I was flabbergasted. I have ten plus years of experience, in every kind of restaurant from a Coney Island to four star fine dining. I should have *at least* gotten an interview. Then if I didn't get the job, no hard feelings; there's all sorts of reasons to not get a job, especially when fifty or more people are applying for the same gig.

So, along with continuing my hunt for a "regular" job, I started cruising around the Internet, looking for ways to use the things I love doing most (writing and art) to earn at least part of a living. I'm already trying to sell a novel and doing more art shows, but if I can make a few extra bucks blogging or whatever, why not?

In my quest, I have run up against two big problems. First, I know what my time is worth. I don't want to spend the time and energy necessary to craft a well written, edited five hundred to a thousand word article for a buck and some change--but other people do. Ok, whatever works for you. I just can't see putting in an eight hour day and getting paid ten bucks. Not an hour, that's for the whole day.  At that point, my time is better spent working on my own writing and art. (And yeah, I know if I sorted out what I really get paid an hour... but at least my own stuff is stuff I love. I can play the passion card with myself and feel ok about getting ten bucks a day!)

The other problem I'm running into is ethics, namely my own.

See, taking a an "article" that really is a snip from three other articles (I know, I searched for the original articles) and asking someone to rewrite it with no less than 90% original material sounds reasonable. The way I see it, the asker is just doing some of my research for me, especially if they make it clear they don't want any copied sentences, phrases, etc. Not even quotes. Pretty much that's how I wrote all my papers in college.

But the other "opportunity" that crossed my inbox sounded a whole lot hinkier. It basically read: "I love this book that somebody else wrote and would like to re-write, shorter, as an e-book that I can sell..." Nowhere was there a mention of the asker having obtained the author's permission for this little project. Like I said, those pesky ethics of mine just to in the way of taking the money on that one. If I had the title/author/publisher, I'd be writing a letter to them to let them know that some guy is trying to rip them off.

Speaking of rip-offs, check out this song by Tom Smith!  As if there weren't enough reasons not engage in plagiarism, who wants to have a song written about them for it!

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