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Words of Wisdom for Writers:Plagiarism Everything can be Stolen Part 1

Everything can be stolen. 

For writers and other creative people it is a dark and evil thought, but almost everything we conceive, write, create or design, can be taken from us.

And, it’s not solely material things that are in danger, not only product thefts of: videos, books, and music. The most intangible gift of all; creative ideas and designs, especially those in the early stages of development, are the most vulnerable, and can be changed, claimed, taken or stolen. Our creative ideas and designs can be used and sold with no mention, credit, benefit or payment to the author.

Copyright laws are supposed to protect the author from the theft of their creative work. But the  protection for intellectual property depends on the situation. The author has to understand copyright laws and have the financial resources to pursue thieves and hold them accountable. And, if the theft takes place in the workplace, the author needs people in power to stand up for her. But standing for what is right is difficult; it requires heroes, and so usually the author who faces theft of her work, plagiarism in the workplace, is left to take her stand alone.

Like other crimes, intellectual property theft leaves at least one victim, and that is usually the author. For the author there is pain for the lost creation, and for lost time. The work in which the author invested his or her time, her heart and her energy is gone.

A dream didn’t come true.

When the creative idea or design was stolen, the author’s dream was stolen too. The dream of a bright future supported him through the difficulties of conception and the design of the product. The dream spurred him on to bring the product into being. The dream gave him hope and energy and lighted his way through the dark nights’ work that would benefit  him, his family, and others.

Do the thieves suffer any consequences?

If they aren’t taken to court, probably not. Do they ever regret what they’ve done? Only if they fail. It is unrealistic to expect feelings of regret from a thief. Thieves are not romantic, they are realists. They might be angry if they fail, and regret what they have lost, but they are simple beings. Guilt, or regret for what they have done is beyond their scope.

Thieves take what they can take.

To them it is foolish to do anything else. Thieves are predators. Like psychopaths, they have few scruples, and little empathy for others’ suffering. Thieves lie. They are manipulative and opportunistic. Thieves take what they can take.

For the author, who lacks that realism, what the thieves have left behind is destruction; a world turned upside down.  They mourn and they ponder: what is safe if my work, something  that I created, designed or built, can be taken without any consequences for the thief?

Everything can be taken.

The creators are left empty-handed. They face financial and personal loss. Like other victims of theft, their property was taken. But theft by plagiarism is different than the theft of other possessions. The creation stolen wasn’t a car, or a television set. Intellectual property is different because it is a product that began with the author’s idea. It began with a joyful burst of thought. From the beginning the thought was the author’s creation.

Most atheist creatives acknowledge that creativity has a special kind of magic. But believers have recognized creativity as God given. To God’s gift of creativity, the author adds his own talent,time and effort. The loss of intellectual property is not just a person’s loss of property, something that is part of that person has been stolen as well. It is their idea, and the solution that they found.   It is something that came from within their mind and their being.

What was created exists because the author exists and creates.  It is the heart of what a creative person is, and after their creation is stolen, they are left with  wreckage,  and with anger and fear.

Afterwards-The Cover-up

Usually, even if the theft fails there are consequences for the victim. If the attempted plagiarism happened in the workplace then the story hasn’t ended.

Even if the theft isn’t successful, the thieves might still control the workplace. If they do,  then they control the outcome of the story. The artist is left to survive as well as she can. She goes to work in the same company or in the same department as the thieves, and her fate may depend on their actions.

The thieves don’t feel guilty about what they have done, but they have jobs and reputations to protect. They know that the story can’t come to light. Their first compelling impulse is to get rid of the wronged employee so that the true story will never be told.

In that case, the author is the one who suffers the aftermath. The author suffers the destruction of job security, and of reputation. She suffers from bullying and retaliation from managers that continues long after the attempted theft. The unsuccessful thieves are protected by their titles and their credentials. The thieves may be protected by their company or by the government agency they work for; the author is protected by no one.

The long chain of destructive events that follow an attempted creative mugging, can affect the author’s life for  years to come. That unjust, and peculiar destruction happened to me when The Stop Form, a product that I conceived and designed, and which is featured  on  was targeted for intellectual property theft.

The Stop Form  wasn’t targeted by an unethical corporation, or by a con-man, who specialized in intellectual property theft. My design, which was created on my time, and in my own home, was  targeted by my manager, a Registrar at a Community College in Colorado, and by his supervisor, the Dean over the Registration department.

My managers had titles, positions of respect, and good credentials. Their employer and mine, was an accredited college. To the community they presented a facade of high standards and respectability. Despite their credentials, those Community College officials, my employers,tried to Plagiarize The Stop form.  Despite  their credentials, the thieves set out to take whatever they could take, and my employer, the Community College didn’t interfere; it protected them, and allowed me to be forced out of my job.


Next Post: Plagiarism: In The Beginning