Or: Thoughts on the Blogger’s rite of passage that is being plagiarised.
Now Mr Bell has been onto me to post more blog entries, to keep them more within the vein of ‘articles’ rather than ridiculous short stories for my own amusement. I can see his point, with each new chapter of the saga that is pulp novella ‘P.I. Johnny LaCrosse’ I draw befuddled looks from readers and the ‘hit’ rate of the blog slows to a crawl. The problem is I was bereft of inspiration, suffering a form of lowbrow level writers block I couldn’t find a single subject nor story that sparked my creative juices, such as they are, and inspire me to sit in front of the dim glow of the laptop monitor bashing away at keys which are far too small and closely spaced together for a fat handed tool such as myself to use comfortably. So with nothing sparking I thought it might be worth revisiting some successful posts of mine which verged into the journalistic to possibly get the ‘eureka’ moment I required. Seeing as how the single most successful blog entry thus far has been my write up on the rather obscure episode of late 1990s independent UK film making which was the ‘Legionnaires’ debacle and that I had just received another nice comment from someone else who had been “conned” at the time by the many ads in the sci-fi mags I thought dissecting this blog entry might give some idea as to how to proceed to write another hit!
‘Good idea’ Mr Bell said in a Facebook missive. ‘At the moment that blog entry is the first one to be displayed on the Google search list for the film so a lot of people see it and it ticks all the boxes of what you should be doing’… or words to that effect. He might have just pointed out I was at the top of the list and that it was an okay article. Anyway, now I had to check to see if this was indeed the case, I’ve no idea why but I liked the idea of being at the top of any list! Duly looking up ‘Legionnaires UK Sci-Fi film’ into the Google search engine did indeed return a list of old archived commentary and other stories about the film and yes! Mine for what it was worth in the real world was number one in that list. I quickly scrolled down the remainder of that admittedly pretty short list to see if anything new had cropped up or if even a riposte from someone involved in the project had been set up, you never know, and as I scrolled I was surprised to see my blog again listed … except that it wasn’t quite my blog… something was off, it was the oddly the same yet at the same time different. It was some mangled bizzaro world version of my work clearly based on my article given the glaring similarities and even the same use of examples and comparisons (The Dr Who one springs to mind) that I used to set the scene of the era of the story and flesh out the bones of the article but the most obvious admission of plagiarism had to be that the cheeky sod even used my article’s title as his witty signing off comment!
‘Good Lord!’ I thought ‘I’ve been ‘effing plagiarised! The ‘effing shameless shitehouse!’ Now fuelled with righteous anger, nay a rage, I did a little looking into this Plagiarist’s blog and his other posts and after a few minutes and despite what his blog header proclaimed in glowing quotes from established admirers and even magazines I could see why he’d have to resort to such blog piracy. Still angry I contacted Mr Bell who was still waffling away on Facebook to see what the next course of action should be ‘Post a comment’ he suggested so I did and this is it-
“Hi I like this article. In fact I like it so much I pretty much wrote most it on my blog back in early 2014. All you’ve done is some pretty obvious and weak rewording of my own work and research leaving out any chunks of it which tell how I came to the story and where I got my research from (which can be found in full at) http://tmotpo.coyoteproductions.co.uk/film-never/. You’ve even used/stolen my headline as your ending comment ‘A Film That Never Was’ so it’s pretty blatant. I appreciate you found it of interest but maybe lay off the mild plagiarism in the future or at least, as the ‘copyright usage’ on my blog asks, credit my article?”
This comment was followed by a barrage (well, three at the last count) similar posts all pointing out the obvious plagiarism and linking my article in the process. Now for anyone who has been to University or completed a course at FE College you will have had it drummed into you just how serious plagiarism actually is, attempting to pass off the work and research that others have worked hard to complete is the lowest a supposed writer of any sorts can get, it can get you kicked out of Uni/College and in some cases in the world of ‘proper’ journalism even land you in court for your efforts. Now of course I wasn’t going to take it that far! I mean court over a blog article I’d taken many weeks to bash out and was now mangled in some odd ‘patchwork’ cracked mirror image of what it really is? Pffft! Please, I’m not that daft but I was still concerned with everyone reading this shysters ‘article’ should know where he lifted it from (pretty much wholesale in parts).
The outcome of my and other posted comments on this plagiarist’s blog (I keep calling him that because that’s what he is, he has plagiarised my work and although other more earthy Anglo-Saxon words come to mind I think the more technical term for an ideas thief is fair comment enough) was that after not even half an hour of the last one being posted the offending article was swiftly removed leaving a 404 error, there was no attempt at by the plagiarist to credit my blog nor the original source material from which he derived his nor did I get an apology but by removing his article without even a whimper of protest or apology goes some way toward an admission of guilt in my book. I mean if you’re going to plagiarise someone’s blog article then it’s probably best not to pick a subject so obscure it only throws up a few hits in an online search as chances are the writer of the original WILL find out. A bit of a dumbass move frankly.
I thought it would be interesting for me to compare a few choice cuts which I’ve selected from my original work and the plagiarised knock off, indeed I started to draw up a comparison list to make my point and prove it wasn’t just me imagining it but there was too much to work with frankly so it might be easier if I simply post the offending article in full at the bottom of this page and let you do the comparisons and I think you’ll agree it’s not only clear to see but also a bit of an amateur hack job. I wouldn’t have minded so much if the guy had even used spellchecker before posting his attempt or even had managed to get some of the key facts, that I checked and double checked, correct on his but he even manages to mangle a few of those.
Now with a subject such as Legionnaires for which source material is pretty scrappy to say the least of course there will be some similarities at times with any article which mentions it. Many of the archived online sources I read repeated what the previous one had said and the original magazine articles I used were thin on facts or woefully inaccurate due to what they knew at the time of writing them. I used as much info as I could find even tracking people down who had been involved in this film project to get a fuller picture of what happened. Armed with the ‘facts’ and the opinions of others I then set about writing the story around them helping to give form to the bare bones and help make it a more interesting read than a simple list of facts and figures and angry ranting from investors. There’s an obvious and marked difference in quoting source material or using facts gleamed from such sources to create an original work with enough individuality of the author’s voice to show through and simply borrowing wholesale from someone else’s work simply jumbling things around a bit and substituting a few key words here and there for appearance’s sake. The latter it’s safe to say is bad practice and discourteous to other writers and bloggers no matter how big you think your own blog is and frankly is intellectual thievery. I’ve no wish to sound precious but it isn’t nice seeing a pale imitation or copy of something you’ve taken a while to write and got some decent feedback and kudos for in the process, I can only think they wanted to gleam some of those same readers for their blog in attempting to tackle the subject.
I’ve stopped short of ‘naming & shaming’ the plagiarist’s blog partly because I think that his removal of the work is good enough although I was tempted given that its good practice to name sources, to do so if I had used examples of his to illustrate the marked similarities between our work. What I can say is that anyone with half a mind to do so and only with the minimal of detective work need only do a google search along the lines of say, ‘Legionnaires British Sci-Fi film’ say for example, to be presented with a list of articles about said film… one of those (which might look familiar) now links to a 404 error. In fact upon looking again I see that he’s obviously attempted a hasty rewrite of the same blog post before giving up entirely so there are two links which go to a ‘404 error’ both from the same Blog.
Now that’s all pretty much said and done I think! Time to move onto the next blog article but I have to say in a way I’m pleased that he read my work and thought it worthy to nick in the first place and I suppose I’m oddly indebted to the plagiarist because at least he’s given me something to write about and that has pleased Mr Bell no end I can tell you!
So there you have it, the tale of a blog which never did the original work yet claimed authorship.
And as promised here is the offending article in full complete with spelling errors intact & beneath that a link to my original post-
“Back in the heady days of 1996, a selection of genre publications begain running adverts for a British sci-fi film named “Legionnaires”.
|“IN THE LAST YEARS OF THE 20TH CENTURY MANKIND DISCOVERED THE SECRET OF TRAVELING BEYOND THE FINAL FRONTIER. SOMETHING WAS WATCHING. SOMETHING UNSEEN. SOMETHING UNKNOWN. SOMETHING UNINVITED. NOW ONLY ONE THING STANDS BETWEEN A WORLD WITHOUT A FUTURE AND THE FUTURE OF THE WORLD : LEGIONNAIRES” –Trailer Blurb
It appeared that the basic idea for the project was that any backer could take part in the film. If you stumped up the £333 asked to get the movie off the groun, you could be a extra, or work on the crew. SFX produced a poster, and showed of some concept art and the like (which I have not been able to find), and wrote at least two articles, one of which mentioned Jason Connery in a leading role. The ads focus on having you be a part of a science fiction show that is uniquely British in its feel and become part of the process that brings such a picture to the screen. As the ad sums “Is the future of British sci-fi in your hands?”
But it never came to be. Whilst investors did stump up at least some of the cash, no movement on the film appeared. It’s recorded that approx £80,000 of the money raised simply vanished. Those who paid out were left with nothing, despite claims that everything was insured so that said investors would get their money back if anything went wrong…. Yet, Legionaires PLC Company had also made other claims, such as Jason Connery being attached. It quickly transpired that no “named” actors were attached to the project, and they were using false information to sell the film, to keep up investors and thus, a crew of extras and the like. It also appeare that the investors were being given some leeway over the script, which was rewritten many times over the next four years. The term “no comment” was given to anyone who looked too closely at the project, and there is a small story of a collection of extras being filmed against a green screen in a undermanned sound stage, which may have led to some trailers what were shown at conventions (incluing the quite famous Wolf 359 con). The films parent company would eventually be hounded of the map by angry investors, and the website “This Is Wiltshire” spoke aboust this until early 2000. “Due to massive demand the company set up to produce Elstree Studios’ first sci-fi film since Star Wars 20 years ago has extended its share offer. Legionnaires plc says it has been receiving 18,000 calls each month since December from people interested in buying shares to help fund the project due for release next spring.”. This film was meant to be released in late 1998, and instead of being the shot in the arm of UK Sci Fi (The Dr Who revial was still many years away), it became a truly negative experience for all involved. From what I can gather, in 2009/2010, people where still attempting to regain money rom the now utterly defunct Legionaires PLC Company. There we have it. The Tale of The Film That Never Was.”
Link to my original: http: