A post by a member of a story forum I frequent had me pondering this question: Which would be worse to you as a writer, being plagiarized but having your work read all over the internet, or having it sit inside your computer never to be read by anyone?
Personally, I would rather have my work sit inside my computer and never see the light of day before I would ever want someone to post it and take credit for my hard work. I don’t care how many people read it, what kind of rave reviews it got, or even if it meant passing up a great book deal, I would absolutely not want my work plagiarized.
The poster had said he would rather have his work read, even if it meant being plagiarized, because it would be known by so many people and would make it easier to become a bestseller of some sort. And if, in the event it was made into a bestseller of some sort, it would be easy enough to find the original author. I completely disagree with this. There are no telling how many bestselling books have been written, how many blockbuster movies, and how many number one songs have been blatantly ripped off and the original author was never the wiser.
Ponder this, if you would, for a moment. Someone repeatedly posts your work all over the internet, taking credit for your hard work, blood, sweat, tears, and imagination. It gets read by millions. You don’t say anything. Then one day you realize your story was made into a bestselling novel. Unless you filed copyrights on your work, you are going to be hard put to prove that you actually wrote the original one, especially if you never bothered to confront the original plagiarizer. And IF it did become a bestseller, who do you think the publisher is going to contact, the person claiming the work as their own, or the one who actually wrote it…the one who hasn’t bothered to say, “Hey! I wrote that! That’s mine! You plagiarized!” And if you wait until everyone knows the work in question, then the fans of the one claiming the work as his/her own is going to say that you are merely trying to hitch a free ride on someone else’s hard work.
Personally, in my honest opinion, anyone who would be okay with having their work plagiarized is not a true writer at heart. It takes a LOT of hard work to create a literary work. Some writers get so attached to their characters, like they have almost become real, tangible people. The thought of anyone going through that much trouble, thought, and hard work and not be totally infuriated by the thought of having that work stolen makes absolutely no sense to me. If you don’t care about what you have created, then what was the point? Why did you bother to commit it to paper if you are just going to hand it over to thieves with a smile? Writers may write to be read, but NOT if it means that someone else will get the credit.
So fellow writers, which would you prefer, and why?