As a select few of you already know, on the 5th of October, a bloodclaim regular got in touch to tell me about a potential case of plagiarism. Someone had written a first chapter that was worryingly similar, in parts, to the Spander classic, Twilight Time, by Shadow. I took a quick look, sighed, and then took a much, much longer one. The evidence, IMO, was overwhelming.
Read the full body of evidence here at stop_plagiarism, or just take a look at the most damning paragraph below:
Twilight Time (Chapter 1)
Now, before you get too muzzy, toddle over to the loo and take a piss, all right?"
"Huh?" Xander wasn't too fuzzy to gape at Spike's words.
"Want to make sure there's no blood in your urine, Pet," Spike said patiently. "All that bruising over your kidneys, might be a problem. Go on now."
It took Xander a few minutes to relax enough to urinate, and when he did he let out a hollow groan. There was indeed a trace of blood in his urine, but Spike, who over a century or so had become pretty damned familiar with human physiology, could tell it wasn't serious.
"Well, I'm sure it don't feel any too good, but you'll heal up on your own," Spike said with satisfaction. "Here, you can put these on now." He helped Xander step into a pair of black silk boxers and carefully pulled them up.
Mending Souls (cap 1x6)
Spike moved away from Xander, “first, though, piss.”
Xander stared at Spike a moment and blinked, why did the idea of Spike striping his ass make him shiver? But wait, what did Spike say again, “What-huh?”
“I said piss, all that bruising around your kidneys might be a problem.” Spike ordered as he stood by.
“Joy, just what I need, the evil undead watching me piss. I can cross that off my “never want to do again” list.” Xander, however, complied and stood over the toilet. He let out a hollow groan as the stream started and there was, in fact, a trace of blood in his urine.
“Right, you should be fine. Not much there, it should heal up on its own. Now, toddle off to bed.”
Even after the matter had been placed in the hands of stop_plagiarism, spikes_kogagirl continued to email me with various accusations of malicious conduct. When one of the emails included what I perceived to be a threat (whether rightly or wrongly) of troublemaking: "i will make sure that everyone knows about how i was treated", I took action, informing the comm of events while being careful not to name names (though the author did go ahead and out herself to her own journal - as a victim, of course - before either locking or deleting the posts).
It took almost a week for the case to get its own mod, and then the post went live and the mod got to work. And then we waited.
Partway through last week, almost 5 weeks after the whole mess kicked off, spikes_kogagirl commented on one of the supportive comments I'd received on my stop_plagiarism post (but not replied to, so as not to fan any flames), and left a familiar 'You don't know the whole story!' tale.
It didn't even occur to me at the time that maybe she'd just had a preview of the verdict, but, the next day, she created a new Spander comm, and then shortly afterwards, the mod at stop_plagiarism froze the comments on my post there to prevent any incipient wank before saying she'd have the verdict post up very shortly. (Shortly turned out to be almost 2 weeks, btw, and actually came in on Saturday night when, as you know, I wasn't there to see it. *headdesk*)
This new Spander comm has a very special plagiarism policy. From what I can understand, it seems to be saying that you're allowed to plagiarise once, so long as it's not too obvious and you change the bits she tells you to if she catches you. But if it's a simple copy and paste job, or you do it again, then she's telling stop_plagiarism! *blinks*
Personally, I'm more amused and bemused than worried that she's going to steal all the Spander fen out from under me and bloodclaim. I have no intention of either penalising anyone who joins that comm, or checking up on whether or not they remain with bloodclaim. This is hardly the first Spander comm that's been created since bloodclaim became popular and we've survived. Hell, it's not even the first one to be created after someone left bloodclaim in a snit over some heinous crime I've committed as mod. You all know how terribly vicious and cruel I can be. :P
Anyway, the verdict finally went up on Saturday, while I was away from lj and the internet. (And isn't that just typical?) The post is currently locked to s_p members, but I am reproducing the opening and closing paragraphs of the mod, archylou below:
A number of things were taken into consideration when looking at this case, the most prominent issue was that of ‘fanon’. Where plotlines have been taken by the fandom and made in to fanfiction canon, this does mean that there can be similarities in many stories over. However, in reviewing both stories I found there were a number of similarities in the stories that cannot be put down to simply random chance, there are whole paragraphs and conversations, slightly reworked and reworded, specific phrases and sentences from the original story appearing in the new story.
The main issues:
• The phrase “Undead's not bad, but dead's no fun at all” is from Twilight Time and when I searched this phrase it returned only 1 match, this story. While the phrase “Undead is alright, but dead is no fun at all” brings back a match of 0. This is not a common phrase and points to rewording of an original story.
• The telephone conversation between Angel and Spike, both in language and how it is written.
• A specific mention within both stories Xander’s telling Spike of getting to first base without a date
• The mention of chicken soup tasting good because Spike made it and the use of the words “slurp, then talk” and “crunch, then slurp”
The use of a certain plot for a fanfiction story is not the issue, the plot in these two stories can be seen in a number of Spike/Xander stories, it was the issue of similarities in sentences, structure and some of the same lines being used in a new story that can be found in an older story that was the only concern. I have communicated with all parties involved, I understand the new story was removed immediately after they were made aware of the concerns, with spikes_kogagirl offering to rewrite the story.
However, as outlined above spikes_kogagirl may not have intended to plagiarise the story but in this case spikes_kogagirl will be added to the known list of plagiarists.
In other words: Guilty as charged. (I'll leave it to each of you to decide whether or not you believe that that level of similarity can be completely unintentional.)
This whole mess has left me more sure than ever that I made the right decision when I set policy at bloodclaim. I know there are a lot of people out there who don't want to have to deal with emotional blackmail, accusations of deliberate cruelty, malicious 'prosecution' and harassment, etc. And I know there are a lot of people who, very simply, cannot cope with that kind of pressure, or even the possibility of the same.
I know I can take the shit, even when it does leave me shaky and pinging friends on YIM in need of reassurance and petting. *hugs everyone who provided support*
Despite what certain people may think, stop_plagiarism is not my automatic first stop as a mod/intermediary. I have, on more than one occasion, approached an author of a fic which had one or more small points of troubling similarity. Each time, I have been able to rectify the situation amicably and, on one occasion, make the author aware that what she was intending to do did, in fact, amount to plagiarism, whether or not she 'changed most of the words'.
stop_plagiarism is where I go as a mod if there is too much evidence for me to ever believe it was unintentional, coincidental, or a 'mistake'. When I know in my heart that nothing the author is going to say will convince me that they haven't stolen someone else's words, then I will go to stop_plagiarism with screencaps and saved html and a list of every similarity I can find, and I will let them decide.
I will never allow someone to delete or edit or otherwise hide a true piece of plagiarism and walk away without being called to account. Not only does that let them off the hook, it turns me into an accomplice. You do the crime, you do the time, even if the 'time' is nothing more than having your name added to a list on stop_plagiarism's profile page and having your plagiarism documented for everyone to see.
I am, frankly, boggled that anyone could believe they'd get away with butchering parts of a classic like Twilight Time at all, let alone for another Spander fic. Cross-fandom plagiarists are being caught all the damn time, so this is just... *boggles some more*
Anyhoo, I think that's got you all caught up with the state of me. What have you all been upto? What have I missed? Did any new fandoms pop into being while I was away and if so, who do you think my OTP is going to be? ♥ ♥ ♥
(FYI, I will be making a similar post over at bloodclaim about this. I'm hoping it won't turn wanky. *crosses toes*)
ETA: Bloodclaim post link.
ETA2: ETA: The stop_plagiarism post has been unlocked, edited and ETA'd