Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Writers Against Plagiarism: A Call to Action

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

It's been a year since I first blogged about serial plagiarist "Iron" Dave Boyer (among many other names), whose prolific pilfering of other writers' words has become something of an Internet legend, especially in the horror community, where he concentrates his efforts.

The fact that Boyer's multiple misappropriations have been extensively exposed by intrepid researchers and bloggers, and discussed on popular message boards, doesn't seem to have fazed him in the slightest. He is still at it, swiping stories from writers both known and unknown, and selling them to unwitting consumers as his own original work. Lately, he has branched out into snitching song lyrics--something that, unlike merely filching fiction, can get you into real trouble with the corporate overlords. (See B.Thoughtful's blog for an encyclopedic expose of Boyer's prose pirating, as well as a list of his many aliases.)

Now, thanks to activism by Ferrell Rick Moore, one of Boyer's first victims, the Attorney General in Boyer's home state of Indiana is investigating whether to pursue Boyer on consumer fraud charges.

Here's where we can help. From Rick's blog (the bolding is mine):
In the past, the only recourse a writer had was to file an expensive, time consuming and ultimately unproductive lawsuit against creeps like Boyer who then claim they're bankrupt. Help me change that. Tell the Attorney General's office for the State of Indiana how important it is for this plagiarist publisher to be subject to the same penalties as any other crooked business. We want him pursued under Consumer Fraud regulations at their cost, not ours. He's defrauding consumers by selling them our stuff with his name on it.

Here's where to send your respectful but firm letters and or emails of support, and be sure to include the File Number File No. 10-CP-62157:

Tom Irons
Consumer Protection Division
Office of the Indiana Attorney General
302 W. Washington St., 5th Floor
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Tom.Irons@atg.in.gov
Please add your voice to this campaign. A letter of support has already been sent by the Horror Writers Association. Mine went off this morning.

Please feel free to share this post, or put the call out on your own blog. There's also a Facebook page where you can express support and check for updates. Thank you!

(As a matter of interest, Indiana is one of the few states that has actually prosecuted literary scammers--vanity publisher New Century Publishing in 2010, and self-publishing service/marketing company Airleaf in 2008.)

20 comments:

A. C. Crispin said...

Great post, Victoria! My own letter will be going out to the authorities, you may be sure, on my Writer Beware letterhead.

Thank you for alerting people, let's hope this info will really spread and the authorities will be DELUGED with demands for justice!

-Ann C. Crispin
Chair, Writer Beware

Ari said...

Thanks for the heads-up, Victoria. My letter will be going out today.

Star said...

Amazing! What a creep. Thank you for highlighting this. How do we find out if we have been plagarised?

Heather Hawke said...

Done! Thank you for all your good work.

Daria Black said...

If he is stealing song lyrics and not crediting them to the singer, then reporting him to the record label is also a good idea. They have the money and the lawyers to give him the spanking he deserves. I think they will continue to pursue him even if he takes the offending lyrics out of his books. Not sure about the legalese but I think it is something to do with recovering licensing fees for works sold.

Victoria Strauss said...

Star--check B.Thoughtful's blog (the link is in the post). There's a list of plagiarized writers there. You can also pick a distinctive phrase from whatever piece of writing you fear has been plagiarized, and do a websearch on it to see if anything turns up.

Boyer aside, it's important to remember that plagiarism really is extremely rare in the fiction world, and, where it occurs, almost always involved published work. One of the things that makes the Boyer story so notable is that what he's doing is so unusual.

Rick said...

Hello Victoria! Thank you so much for bringing this to everyone's attention. It really helps because you are so well respected.

And the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981/AFL-CIO (www.nwu.org) is supporting us all in the effort to allow writers to file Consumer Fraud with the state Attorney General when a publisher is selling stolen work.

The Indiana Attorney General will be getting a letter from them soon.

Rick said...

By the way, does anyone know who I could get hold of at the SWFA to ask if they would support this effort by sending a letter, too, and notifying their members? They seem to work hard to take care of their members and I thought they could be a big help.

scifi13 said...

Coincidentally, my last (very rare, I am not an avid blogger) post was about plagiarism, but I wasn't talking about anything on the scale of "Iron" Dave.

The man is a true criminal. Most other cases of plagiarism I have read about are one-offs or possibly accidental, where the culprit is embarrassed by the accusation. The fact that he seems unfazed and is a repeat offender makes him a different kettle of fish.

I would like to think that because he is selling the stories/lyrics he steals would mean that he can be dealt with by the law in an appropriate manner. We can only hope that he has now bitten of more than he can chew with nabbing song lyrics (and because of the work of yourselves at Writer Beware and Ferrel Rick Moore's activism).

I shall send an e-mail.

G said...

Excellent post. I know that Rick has writing some truly scathing posts about this person and I'm glad to see that things are starting to fall into place.

Boyer is truly a despicable individual and with this latest crime, I have the RIAA trains its heavy weaponry on him.

cussedness said...

I run a very small micropress. I was an interested bystander until I discovered that one of Boyer's victims was one of my authors. Boyer's reaction to my request that he remove the plagiarized materials was to send me a series of sexually explicit insults through email.

BuffySquirrel said...

Iron Dave v Iron Tom?

Paul Anthony Shortt said...

This is such an important post. I'm not sure if my voice will add to much, not living in the US, but I can definitely help spread the word about this thief.

BuffySquirrel said...

On an irrelevant note, I just got an email from authonomy saying they're launching a digital imprint that'll publish one book a month off the site.

Hmm.

Scooter Carlyle said...

I just sent off my letter. Thanks for the information.

LOLITA said...

I am not surprised, I was robbed so many times, there are books with my ideas and entire concepts, strange style etc. in them from fellow bloggers whom I supported on their request and readers as well. I am bloggin for 6 years, in the past mostly in Macedonian, found my pieces and even facebook statuses quoted all over internet with no link to my page, authors name, or slightest indication that they are quoted. I'm not published yet as I didn't feel that my amateur work is yet at that stage, and since not having enough time to write I didn't research more just stumbled upon things by accident, but I am wondering if in the future I publish the book I'm working on, would it be possible that these individuals with hidden identities come out and try extortion on me for the work they stole from me over the years published on my blogs?

Victoria Strauss said...

Astonishingly, it appears that Boyer has plagiarized George R.R. Martin. The indefatigable B.Thoughtful lays out the evidence.

Kae said...

Thank you!
I will pass on the information.

Rusty said...

There are some people you simply shouldn't plagiarize. George R.R. Martin is one of them. So is Dean Koontz.

I'll link here, and maybe blockquote a paragraph, but that's all I'll do.

Cassandra Stryffe said...

Just sent off a politely scathing letter to Tom Irons. I really don't hold out much hope that anything will actually be done though.