Christopher G. Moore
Copying other people’s books or How to make an easy Half a Million
For many years it seems most people understand that when one writer copies another writers work that is called plagiarism. Nowadays all kinds of wrongful conduct gets a spin. You can spin so far that even plagiarism no longer has any meaning.
A 19-year old Harvard author named Kaavya Viswanathan wrote a book titled ''How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life" in her spare time. Little Brown gave her a two-book, $500,000 deal. She was 17 at the time. It seems no one wants to call this theft by its rightful name. Then someone noticed that Kaavya Viswanathan had lifted about 24 passages from Megan McCafferty’s books, Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings
The author says she wasn’t conscious of copying.
People are asking some very silly questions.
Should this end her career as a writer? Should she be kicked out of Harvard? Did she intend to copy 24 passages from another author’s books?
Then there are the lame apologies from the book packager Lizzie Skurnick who lurked in the background of the deal, and who said in an interview:
"There are just reams and reams of stuff that's written... It's unavoidable that certain phrases will be recycled or said in a certain way... Often what you'll find is that, it's not that anyone is copying, it's just that [these phrases] are the first things a mediocre writer would reach for."
The book packager is also co-copyright holder of ''How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life" just in case you want to know that in the book industry some books, like sausages get made in a messy way.
And at Galley Cat and elsewhere on literary blogs, there are other reports from those rushing to the defense of the author, saying she is of a tender age. Teenagers are expected to take and forget that they’ve taken something that doesn’t belong to them. And teenagers haven’t yet found their voice.
Yeah, tell that to a black 17 year old in New York or LA who is caught with 24 items in his bag that he didn’t pay for by the security guard. Let him say he wasn’t conscious of what he was doing and he hadn’t yet found his voice. Tell that to the cop who arrest this 17 year old and hauls him off to jail. Tell it to the judge. Then tell it to the prison warden. He will get the full Monty for his taking. This case shows that America’s double standard legal system is alive and well. If you are a student at Harvard and get caught stealing, then you are given a free pass because you are still kid and not responsible for your actions. If you live in a project and are a high school drop out, expect to go to jail.