Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware
I hear often from writers worried that their work will be stolen. Especially among new writers, it's a major fear. However, theft in the book and short fiction world is extremely rare. (Really. Reputable agents and editors will not risk their reputations by stealing, and disreputable ones aren't interested in your work at all, only in your money). Despite the hundreds of questions I've gotten about theft, I can count the actual incidents on one hand.
Which is why, when plagiarism does occur, it's especially noteworthy.
Over the past couple of weeks, I've been getting complaints about "Iron" David Boyer (he also goes by numerous aliases--see below), publisher/editor of, among others, New Voices in Horror Magazine, NVH Books, and Darkened Doorways Magazine. Iron Dave has reportedly been soliciting submissions, and then publishing others' books and stories under one of his several names. He has also allegedly used cover art without the artists' permission, published stories under authors' own names without their permission, refused to pay royalties due, refused to provide promised contributor's copies, and failed to provide books to people (including authors) who ordered them. One writer, Ferrell Moore, is planning to take legal action.
Thanks to the blogosphere, word of Iron Dave's exploits has spread. His online footprint is considerably smaller than it was a couple of weeks ago--infringing material has been taken down, and many of his websites have been de-activated (though he still seems to have a substantial presence on MySpace). Even so, he's still out there soliciting submissions...so be careful.
- David Boyer
- Iron Dave Boyer
- Dan Boyer
- Doc Boyer
- David Byron
- Iron Dave Byron
- Dan Byron
- Doc Burton
- David Brookes
- Leo Wolfe
- Jack Burnett
- New Voices in Horror (ezine)
- New Voices in Films (ezine--formerly New Voices in Fiction)
- NVH Books (book publisher. Known anthology titles: Darc Karnivale, Deadly Dolls [as David Byron, also as Jack Burnett], Fright Flashes)
- Fiction Prodigies and Legends (ezine)
- Darkened Doorways Magazine (ezine and publisher--currently soliciting submissions for an anthology called Sweet Jayne)
- Horror Prodigies and Legends (book, published by--wait for it--Whitmore Publishing, one of Writer Beware's Thumbs Down Publishers. Horror writers might want to check the table of contents.)
- He's also involved in film. Kind of.
- Warning from Aphelion
- Discussion and warnings at Shocklines
- Dave Boyer/Iron Dave/Dan Byron/Dave Byron-A Warning
- Beware David Byron and NVH
- He Can't Write So He Stole My Story
- The Sincerest Form of Flattery?
- A Comic Strip About Pirates
- A Plagiarist, a Thief, and Definitely NOT a Gentleman
- Electrocute This Clown
- Learning Hard Lessons
- A list of cover art allegedly used by Boyer without permission.
Some Commonsense Suggestions About Plagiarism
- Despite this blog post, don't fear it unduly. If you're a book or story writer, it truly is very rare.
- Thoroughly research publishers, magazines, etc. before you submit. Avoid startup publishers/magazines until they've put out a few books or issues and have demonstrated some stability (this also gives time for complaints, if any, to surface). Stay away from obviously amateur ventures, especially if you've never heard of the publishers or editors.
- Do occasional websearches on your book or story titles, character names if they're distinctive, sample sentences, and the like. Google Alerts can be very handy here. Plagiarists are not usually very smart (or they wouldn't plagiarize)--for instance, Boyer didn't bother to change the titles of some of the stories he stole.
- If you post your work online, embed your name and a link in the post. If the plagiarist is simply re-posting, he or she may be too stupid to strip this out. I've found a number of improperly reproduced posts from this blog that way.
- If you do find that your work has been stolen, and if it has been published online, try directly approaching the plagiarist, or, if that's not possible, whoever owns the venue where your work was posted. Plagiarists don't expect to get caught; just the fact that you sussed them out may be enough to scare them into taking the work down. And if they have any vestige of professionalism, publishers, magazines, and websites understand that their reputation suffers if it's proven that they've published stolen work.
- If the plagiarist refuses to back down, or the venue isn't helpful, a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown notice sent to the hosting ISP may do the trick. DMCA notices must follow a very specific form (there are instructions here), and need to be sent to the proper recipient (you can usually find that information in an ISP's Terms and Conditions or Copyright Policy. Or Google "ISP's name" + abuse).
- Writers whose work has been stolen can pursue legal action for copyright infringement (note to US writers: you must previously have registered your copyright to be able to do this), especially where the infringed work hasn't been placed online and the DMCA remedy isn't possible. However, the costs can be prohibitive, so this is not an option to be undertaken lightly.
- Last but not least: contact Writer Beware! If someone has ripped you off, we want to know.