I have arrived: Somebody copied copy I was paid to write and pasted them into their own website. So, hooray, I’m stealable!
It’s interesting to think about the value this guy placed on my words. They’re good enough to use to communicate ideas and attract others to his work, but not good enough to pay for. Because his field is tangentially related to the field I wrote about, he was able to use some of the lines verbatim.
Out of curiosity and to prepare for writing him a friendly, educational note, I created a side-by-side text comparison. I highlighted identical sentences and phrases in red and slight paraphrases in blue. It’s easy to see where he stole an idea, but sometimes the idea was simply a bullet list, introduced by a particularly clever line of mine, verbatim.
Of course, no writer is completely original. Depending on how deeply you want to research, you may find that Oscar Wilde, T.S. Eliot or Pablo Picasso made a witty remark about good vs. great and borrowing vs. stealing, the point being that there is nothing new under the sun.
Yet there is original work — that is, the time two people took to originate ideas and phrases meant to express something important that arose from the dialogue, the collaboration, the meeting of minds in time and space and sound and emotion.
Poor thief. He gets none of that joy of creation. Yes, the words look good — great, even! — though he has some bad habits concerning use of random quotation marks that definitely did NOT come from my work.
Had he only sprinkled some extra exclamation points, and added unnecessary bolding + italicizing + mathematical notations + unusual, internetty punctuation (::, anyone?), he would have moved it to a zone I might deny as having had anything to do with me. Like a failing English composition student, though, he didn’t even cover his tracks that well.
None of this is really my battle, though. The work I did is essentially “work made for hire,” in copyrighting (not copywriting) parlance: I was paid to do it and I did it and the work product, the words, belong to my client, someone who not only paid for but deserved my time and attention and ideas and sweat and hand cramping and attention to detail and metaphorical music and years of experience as a poet and writing teacher and ability to draw a distinction between long and meandering sentences and those which are technically run-ons.
What is my battle is the ongoing, rewarding, and occasionally treacherous work of persuading the world that what I can do is unique and meaningful, useful and pleasing, an experience of joy and pleasure and action and momentum. It’s all very well to miss out on creating your own voice to use to sell your own unique perspective on the world. It’s another thing entirely to miss out on the Pearl Klein Writing Experience.