Comments: 22
Here's what I don't understand though, and this is why I don't think it was accidental. He didn't use it in the book, and people attributed it to him, and he didn't bother to look before he printed it on the poster. Not only did he do all you said, he's also selling an original poster by the girl who he actually quoted, which is all good and well.

However, what he didn't do was take the proper precaution and a lot of people are upset because the girl was abused online, told she didn't make up that quote, etc. Look, all I'm saying is that he found out that he didn't write the line by downloading his book and looking up the line, right? So why the bloody hell didn't he do that before he used it on the poster?

I understand why he thought he wrote it, and I understand that it could happen to other people, but if they're told they write a line, and they have a good way of checking, why wouldn't they before they sold it on posters or whatever? I mean, I believe you would.

And by the way, I remember reading a forward to a book that spoke about this as well. No, you and John Green aren't the only ones, but using a line while groggy isn't quite the same in my opinion, even when in a manuscript. He was told he came up with it, and so confident that he did, that he didn't bother to even check. WTF?
Lornographic Material 8 years ago
I can dig that, Grim. I understand, truly I do, but that's not the point of this post. There are loads of people saying that accidental plagiarism doesn't happen. At all. Period. That everybody who has ever used someone else's quote as their own did so knowingly.
Ah. I get you.

But there's a difference between the two issues. One is carelessness and the other is just being silly-groggy-tired. The other author I talked about? Did the same thing for the same, or similar-ish reasons. But at one point, she realized, 'oh, I did that.' I just don't see this being comparable at all to John Green's case. This isn't you, or her, if not for chance. He /had/ a chance, and responsibility, to look at the book and he didn't. It's more like if you thought you wrote it but couldn't remember, and didn't bother to check if you or Newman wrote it.

Not to mention, both publishing and selling something usually go through legal issues, and John Green certainly has a lawyer for his business. Why in the pits of Kaon did his lawyer not advise him to double check?

" At no point in the process of making products with that quote did Green or anyone else stop to check he’d actually written it because the privilege was so blinding."


Also from the same source:

"However, we keep seeing this strange lack of responsibility from Green when he screws up, as he seems to do with increasing frequency these days. He may apologise but these incidents, be it his patronising of readers with critical opinions of Twilight or condescendingly explaining to fans of the Divergent series how wrong they were to be upset with the final book, feel indicative of a wider problem within Green’s world, publishing and society in general."

That is, you actually try not to steal other people's work and if someone told you that you should market this quote that they /thought/ you wrote but didn't remember writing? Wouldn't you double check.

And yes, I'm aware that accidental plagiarism does sometimes occur. But there are checks and balances in place to keep that from happening, at least most of the time. Sometimes it's as simple as a friend reminding you that someone else wrote that line. Sometimes it's an editor telling you, hey, this sounds familiar. (And I bet you wouldn't blow them off, either.) The problem isn't that he accidentally plagiarized to me. The problem was that he was arrogant enough not to check. I think putting you, or a lot of the authors on the same page as him discredits you all; he was predatory about how he went about using that quote, and as bibliodaze points out, he didn't do all that much (the bare minimum that I would expect, as well) when caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

Or let me put it this way. Imagine a place where everyone assumed they had written something even if they didn't know for sure, and decided they had a right to make money off it. (What Green did.) Wouldn't there be a lot more accidental plagiarism?

Sorry this turned into an essay, but it upsets me that you think of yourself like Green. (You're way better, in my opinion, just as a general human being.) I lost any last tatter of respect I had for him, and ugh.
Lornographic Material 8 years ago
Once again, Grim, this wasn't really about Green. It was about people talking about Green, and while they are talking about Green they've mentioned how utterly improbable it is for an author to not realize they've used someone else's words. That's it.
Ah, then that's fair. I'm just having a hard time separating the two. I'll say no more about it here.
8 years ago
Did those people decide George Harrison intentionally copied the tune from He's So Fine by the Shirrells to write My Sweet Lord? Someone says a phrase or sings a tune and it goes into the subconscious to be spewed out at random.
I believe the court ruled in 1976 that he had "subconsciously copied" He's So Fine. He still lost.
I read about that lawsuit on Wikipedia. I think even he went, oh, after a group preformed My Sweet Lord - the Chiffons? - and after another artist recorded He's So Fine using guitar riffs from My Sweet Lord. Actually, he agreed that he had, and was willing to settle with them (buy the failing company, give them a large percentage of his sales to keep the copyright to the song in the end), so even Harrison agreed that there was subconscious plagiarism in the end.

And the guy representing him was one of the reasons that suit went on so long; three of the ex-Beatles parted ways with him, and not amicably, and he pretty much retaliated by giving the company suing Harrison information on how much the song was making, etc.
Lornographic Material 8 years ago
Or you can look at the recent case between Tom Petty and Sam Smith.
My favorite one of those cases was when Fantasy Records sued John Fogarty for plagiarizing himself.
Lornographic Material 8 years ago
I'd forgotten about that lol
8 years ago
Yes, that's correct Susanna. That's why it makes the point.
Happy to see different opinions about this matter. I feel like most people are simply letting their low opinions of John Green flow now that they have excuses to do so. Weird.
Lornographic Material 8 years ago
That's what I'm here for. The other side of the story. And while this isn't my story, I thought I'd show a flashlight and say, "Unfortunately, this does happen."
Lornographic Material 8 years ago
Thanks, Hunger.
Read Deep, Read Wide 8 years ago
I don't know about the John Green case you cite, but you have an excellent point in general. In so many creative areas before the connecting of the world through instant communication, many documented cases exist of two people spontaneously coming up with the same ideas or words. Back when the original plagiarism laws were designed, the number of books, magazines, paintings, cartoons, etc. was dramatically smaller. People didn't have the exposure to such a wide array of artists so plagiarism was more obvious and easily proven.

It could be said that Shakespeare stole from Greek playrights (Euryipedes?). Now with the internet and electronic media and the options expanding logarithmically, there is no way to keep up with all the writers in your chosen genre, let alone the entire catalog.

The line quoted as being stolen is eight words. I believe the law says that anything over 4 words is plagiarism (that may be only for academics). Seriously? I know that courts often look at the overall story and tone and how similar the two pieces are.

I have two writer acquaintances who shared a WIP with me that were substantially the same story. Some of the story similarities in details were spooky. These women live in different countries and have never met or heard of each other. When I mentioned this to each of them, they were horrified. Each had other friends who could attest theirs were original works.

I'm not saying anything in particular about the John Green case and I know definite cases of intentional plagiarism. I want to point out that as the number of writers increases, the potential for unintentional plagiarism multiplies.

I doubt it will happen to me, but if it does, I hope I can keep an open mind to the possibility it was unintentional.
Lornographic Material 8 years ago
Well said. Thanks for adding to the conversation.

I've never considered having to deal with plagiarism happening to me. I've always been more concerned with making sure I don't do it on accident. I honestly have no idea how I would react, but, for a split second, I think I would be brimming with pride knowing that I wrote something good enough someone felt the need to steal it. And then, I assume, anger would consume me. :)
Read Deep, Read Wide 8 years ago
Absolutely! I think I'd do the same thing.
bean60 8 years ago
I have a quote that I use a lot, not in a book, but in general life. How do I go about checking to see whether I accidentally plagiarized it? If so, I'll quit using it.
Lornographic Material 8 years ago
Sorry, Bean, I didn't see this until Read Deep, Read Wide commented. Anyway...

What they said is true. I have nothing else to add. :)
Read Deep, Read Wide 8 years ago
Bean60: I would start with Google. Although, if you don't put it in a published source without attribution, it doesn't matter much. No action can be taken legally by using a statement without slander. Profit is usually the point, although some egos require the "fame" of coming up with something. I have used phrases I came up with on the spur of the moment that later saw in the media, but who cares? Again, it's not improbable to come up with the same or similar phrases when we are all looking for new memes and catchy, succinct phrases.