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There were numerous instances of Serruya taking several sentences verbatim from Milan's book, and the following is just one example of what she copied:
From The Duchess War - There was a reason they’d kept their conversations to inane niceties up until this point. There was no way to talk about anything else without bitterness. They had no common past to draw on, almost no shared acquaintances. His mother had spent more time visiting Sebastian’s mother—her husband’s sister—than she had lived in Robert’s household as a child.
And she’d chosen to do it. He might have forgiven her at one time. At one time, he would have forgiven her anything.
From Royal Love - There was a reason they’d kept their conversations to inane niceties up until this point. There was no way to talk about anything else without bitterness. They had no common past to draw on, almost no shared acquaintances. His mother had spent more time visiting her lovers and friends than she had stayed with him when, as a child, he came to spend the holidays in Lektenstaten. And she’d chosen to do it. He might have forgiven her at one time. At one time, he would have forgiven her anything.
If you'd like to see more examples you can find a list of them on Milan's BLOG.
Nora Roberts has a wonderful blog post that stems from this mess of plagiarism and Serrurya. Currently there are 85 books and 36 authors involved. On Twitter you can follow #CopyPasteCrisis if you really want to spend a lot of time reading about this. Me? I'd rather be writing.
Back when I was working primarily as a journalist, one thing was impressed upon me by editors and other nonfiction writers, and that was the respect shown to other writers by knowing how much one could cite from a book or article without crossing the line into plagiarism. Basically, we could use quotes from other sources as long as we gave them proper credit, and we only used a sentence or two. If we were paraphrasing from a source, we still had to name the publication and the writer.
For instance, if I wanted to take material directly from that story in the Guardian I mentioned earlier, I would cite it by: According to a story in The Guardian by Alison Flood, "Bestselling Brazilian romance novelist Cristiane Serruya has pulled one of her novels from sale after she was accused of plagiarizing some of the biggest authors in the genre."
We were taught to be ethical because being accused of plagiarism can destroy a writer's career and affect the credibility of the publication. A case in point is what happened to Jayson Blair who resigned from The New York Times in 2003 after it was discovered that he lifted material from other writers throughout his years at the Times. Both Blair and The Times took a big hit. The film "A Fragile Trust: Plagiarism Power and Jayson Blair" by Samantha Grant, premiered on PBS Independent Lens in 2014, and it lays out the whole story.
There are some great resources on the internet for learning how to use quotes, the difference between quoting and plagiarism, and how to paraphrase from a source. On Plagiraism.org one can find a number of informative articles covering many aspects for academic, as well as commercial, writing. Some interesting cases of notable people who were accused of plagiarism can be found in this article 5 Great People Who Plagiarized written by Jonathan Bailey at Plagiarism Today.
In another case of a career being ruined because of plagiarism, Johah Lehrer left The New Yorker in 2012 after admitting he made up quotes in some of his articles. That didn't make quite as big a splash as the Blair case, but it was enough to sideline his career for a while. More recently, questions of plagiarism have surfaced again as noted in this article in The Guardian by Steven Poole, talking about the 2016 release of Lehrer's latest book, Imagine. The book has since been pulled from bookstores.
We're reading and discussing Rebecca in a literature class I'm taking, and I found it coincidentally interesting that Daphne Du Maurier was once accused of plagiarism by a Brazilian author Carolina Nabuco. Nabuco claimed that Du Maurier took passages from The Successor when writing Rebecca. The allegations were never proven one way or another, although more allegations surface now and then when other cases of work being taken from Brazilian writers and musicians pop up. This 2002 article, Tiger in a Lifeboat, Panther in a Lifeboat - A Furor Over a Novel written in The New York Times by Larry Rohter, points out several instances of artistic property being stolen.
The main focus of the article is on author Yann Martel who won the Man Booker Prize that year for his novel Life of Pi, and the fact that he took the premise of his story from the book Max And the Cats by Moacyr Scliar, published in 1981. Toward the end of the article, Rohter mentions the controversy over the novel Rebecca and The Successor, "The Novels have identical plots and even some identical episodes."
Have you ever suspected your work was being plagiarized? What did you do? Would you like to check your work for possible plagiarism issues? You can do so with Grammarly, a site with monthly fees, or NoPlag that is free. Another site that is available is BibMe, which appears to be geared more toward academic writing than commercial writing, but could be helpful to freelance journalists. You can get a basic subscription to their services for free, which does include checking for plagiarism, and a premium subscription offers help with the actual writing, sentence structure, verb usage, etc. That could be helpful for students writing high school or college papers.
|Maryann Miller - novelist, editor and sometimes actress. She won her first writing award at age twelve with a short story in the Detroit News Scholastic Writing Awards Contest and continues to garner recognition for her short stories, books, and screenplays. You can find out more about Maryann, her books, and her editing services on her Website and her Amazon Author Page, read her Blog, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Her online workshop on self-editing, part of a series of online writing workshops from Short And Helpful, can be found HERE|