Friday, February 24, 2012

My Story Was Stolen!!

This is not the first time this has happened and , sadly, it will likely not be the last,but this afternoon I found one of my stories on a website without my permission.

I'm not sure how someone rationalises this type of behaviour. Writing takes time. It takes effort. For me it is my sole way of earning an income. When a story is published online, it is published and now is of less value financially. In most cases you can no longer submit it for competitions either. Also, a writer has the right to decide where and when they want their writing to appear online or anywhere else for that matter. I own the copyright to that story, no one else. Surprisingly at the bottom of his web page it says- "Images/Writing © their respective owners and creators" so apparently he seems to have some loose grasp of the concept of copyright.

I contacted the man and asked him why he had used my story on his website. I asked if perhaps I had given him permission but had forgotten. I have many published stories and this could happen but it is unlikely. His response:

"No, I do not recall also. May I have your permission? Thank you."

How arrogant is that? Here is a person who has stolen my words and posted them on his site to draw readers to his site, to bring himself personal gain and this is his response? No remorse at all.

When I told him that first he would need to pay for the eight months that he had my story on the site illegally his response was:

"I will remove your story from the website. I am sorry that I cannot have your permission. It is writing that I liked very much.
Take care."

Stealing is stealing. He might as well have broken into my house and stole my television. I suppose the law according to him is that you can steal something from someone as long as you like it very much. That certainly makes life much easier.

Here is the link to the story. The man's name is Stephen Laidlaw. He is apparently Canadian.
To my writing friends, you best check his site to see if he liked your story too.

PS: He has now taken my story down but if you want to check the site for your own content here is the website.


Val said...

my Hat Lauri!! how did you find out? thats so low.

Lauri said...

I was talking to a friend on Facebook who hates TV and I said how a show on TV inspired one of my favourite stories. Then I remembered it was online at the website for an African writing friend of mine. He had interviewed me and wanted to include a short story after the interview and I had given him that one which he used. When I googled the story and my name- boom- there it was.

Sue Guiney said...

Scary, because you never would have known if you hadn't gone looking. Jeez. But it's great that you stood up to him -- did you make sure it really did get removed? And what's also infuriating is the time you have to put into this stuff to sort it out. I can imagine you could have used that time more profitably, eh?

Lauri said...

Yes I'm annoyed about the waste of time,Sue, but more than that was this guy's attitude. It was as if he had been doing me a favour to have put my story there and I was not bright enough to realise it. What he doesn't understand is that I've had stories published all over the world- including in his country!

In any case a friend in South Africa has already made a complaint to the copyright association in Canada. Unfortunately, our copyright society has yet to register our work or else they could go after this guy on my behalf to get the royalties he owes me.

Tania Hershman said...

This is appalling, he probably thought that because he printed your name and linked to your blog, it would be okay. But it's NOT. Is there no legal remedy?

Kiru Taye said...

Lauri, that's terrible. And what an arrogant attitude too, he has! I'm furious on your behalf. I know how much effort goes into writing and no one else should benefit from it without your permission.

I've registered copyrights for all my published works as a precaution of things like this. I hope I never have to encounter a misuse of my work. I'll be livid too.

Vanessa Gebbie said...

I am sorry this happened. Looking at the site - it looks like the whole of the content is just lifts from artwork websites and some great online mags - like failbetter, for example. A quick contact with failbetter would set the owners on this little runt...

Lauri said...

Tania- I'm sure that there is but I don't have the money to persue it. He's taken my story down at least.

Kiru- there is no need to even register copyright because by virtue of you creating it the copyright is yours. Though, if you have a copyright/royalty collection agency it is good to register your work there. I've been told that if our copyright association (which is only just starting) had registered my work, and was collaborating with the Canadian copyright agency , the Canadians would go after him for me.

Vanessa- I hadn't realised the names were linked to where he got the story. This morning he sent me an email saying that everything on the internet is "free use" this annoyed me quite a bit. I see now that the problem is not only for individual artists but for all online journals. How fair is it for them to have to go through submissions, pay for artwork, edit, and then once it is up this slug steals it?

What I've done is sent emails to some of the artists and journals that he's taken from and made them aware. I'll let you know what happens.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lauri. I am glad to hear your story is now down. Thank you for your email. My pictures are still on his website. I will contact him also. What;s his email address again? Thanks. Dario Mitidieri

Lauri said...

Hi Dario, his email: Stephen Laidlaw

Please let any of your creative friends know too they might have some of their things on the site as well.

Anonymous said...

There is so much of this type of thing going on it is staggering. It's good you found out about it but what a palaver to get it sorted out. Some people really have no idea....

Anonymous said...

Wow. That is scary and one does feel violated... not sure how relevent it is that he's Canadian, though.

I actually stumbled upon your site because I was doing a search to see if my story showed up anywhere and I was looking for tips on how to search.

Well it looks like the guys' site is down...which is great news for all.