Plagiarism and Wattpad

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There have been some issues in the context of safety of my work and others on Wattpad. From a few Wattpad friends on Facebook, it’s come to my attention that there has been a site (or multiple sites) for the past year that have allowed internet users the ability to download stories onto their own computer — pdf, word doc, epub — whatever the format. This means anyone can download anyone’s stories — yours, mine, any Wattpadder’s — slap their own names on it, and upload it as their own content. Change a few character and place names, and they can publish it and get money — and you’ll likely never know as it’ll be harder for you to find it on random Googling. The aforementioned site has been going on for a year and allegedly Wattpad has done nothing to get it taken down.

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There are likely other sites and downloads as we speak. You may have noticed several ambassadors and Wattpad-owned accounts sending out messages regarding what Wattpad is doing to ensure our stories are safe. This is likely what the messages are about.

From Wattpad:

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I’m no techie, but I’m a doctor and I know over-simplified language that are open to interpretation when I see it. This is too vague for any comfort. I also leverage available technology, policy, and legal solutions to bring you this news. I take screenshots and post it on a blog. Woopie-doo.

Godhand has a book with further details. You can find it in her “REMOVED” book . There are other Wattpadders who have expressed similar concerns and have taken similar action, like my good friends JessicaBFry and EliseNoble. Jess has also kindly posted on her account details regarding plagiarism and how one can protect one’s work from it. Wattpad has yet to address this plagiarising site specifically.

What it means for me is I do not wish any of my work to end up being stolen, especially as I have no current intentions to make money from my work. I want my work to be free. I want my work to be accessible on my terms. I want your feedback and support. I do not want other people to get paid for my hard work.

What it means for you is that my works will no longer be up in their entirety on Wattpad. Rest assured; I will continue to post stories on here for the foreseeable future, but works will not be available in their entirety on Wattpad — they will, however, be available fully on the Radish app, and will remain free/on freemium (which means the work becomes free after 1 week there). This helps reduce the risk of people downloading my full stories and monetising my hard work and tears until this issue is sorted, if ever.

I’m not the first Wattpadder to do this, nor will I be the last. Am I overreacting? Whining too much? Ungrateful? Perhaps, but it’s not changing the fact that my and countless others’ works can be plagiarised. Until this issue is sorted, this will be how I will continue to provide my stories for free… as this is just one step short of taking down all of my works as others have already done or are already doing.

Thank you for your understanding. Have you any experiences regarding this? What are your thoughts?

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6 thoughts on “Plagiarism and Wattpad

  1. If this Vietnamese site is the one I’m thinking of, the explanation that they give is more complicated than what I thought they were doing…

    Trying to make books unpirateable is only slightly less futile than trying to make politicians keep their campaign promises. No matter how many layers of protection you wrap the text in, they all have to be stripped away for the user to be able to read it. At that point, they can retype it, or take photos of the screen and run them through an OCR program. All you can hope to do is to slow them down enough that piracy on a commercial scale becomes too labour-intensive (and hope you didn’t make it so inconvenient for legitimate users that they go elsewhere).

    I wonder if pirates pick Wattpad because it’s the biggest site that offers free stories, and so provides the biggest return on time spent cracking its protection. In other words, maybe the reason nobody’s copied your stories from Radish isn’t that Radish’s protection is any better than Wattpad’s, but that Radish is too small for pirates to want to bother with.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, my friend. I agree, there’s very little we can do to fully protect our work even if we bust out the full legal spiel, and putting up parts of it instead of whole on Wattpad is probably my happy medium currently and doing what little I can do. Regarding Radish, I’m told as it’s an app, taking files from there is different and a bit tougher than something like Wattpad where there is a desktop version, so whilst it’s not 100% either, it’s (currently, relatively) safer than Wattpad. The crux being I have a much smaller reader base on Radish — but then that might also make taking my work less appealing?? Seeing as WP isn’t letting us know much of what’s happening, I’d like to do my little bit to protect my work, until something better comes along.

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      • If you can’t read stories on Radish through a web browser, only through an app on a phone or tablet, then in principle it could be much harder to copy them than stories on Wattpad.

        But I think it really only deters the casual pirate (the kid who wants to write a story but has no imagination or work ethic). Someone who who wants to sell your story under their (pen) name probably isn’t going to baulk at the thought of having to retype the whole thing, since they have to make changes anyway to hide its origin. Someone who wants a whole site’s worth of stories to build their own site to make money off ads and malware can pay a programmer to crack the protection, and then *probably* if it’s broken for one story, it’s broken for all stories. That is, they pay the programmer to break the protection once and can then use his program to pirate as many stories as they like – at least until Radish notices and changes the protection. The question then is whether Radish has enough stories to make that time and expense worthwhile – and whether the users of the pirate site care enough about literary quality to prefer stories stolen from Radish over stories stolen from elsewhere.

        On the other hand, speaking as a reader, I wouldn’t read stories on a site that I couldn’t access through a web browser – not because I want to steal them, but because I like having the option of reading on a big screen, and because a browser gives me more control over the experience. (Author writes in pink on blue? I can view it as black on white. Author inserted a seizure-inducing GIF after every paragraph? I can pause it, or choose not to see it. Website fills 3/4 of the screen with intrusive ads? I can block them. Though to be honest, if it was that annoying or inconvenient by default, I’d probably skip the story or not use the site at all.)

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  2. This morning I had to tell my publisher to send a DMCA takedown notice regarding my published work. That site was also pirating my charity anthology work, ferchrissakes. So basically that site let people save, I dunno, $10, and not give it to the Alzheimer’s Association.

    Sad and disturbing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Cover Reveal for NaNoWriMo2017 and the Next Project | Katrin Hollister: The Frog Blog

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