Wattpad and Plagiarism

So, it was brought to my attention by Brian G Ross that Wattpad has a problem with plagiarism.  Not that people are stealing works off of it, though I think that can happen.  It’s that a few people are taking full, published works and putting them on Wattpad.  Some of them do it exactly while others change the title and names.  I wandered a few forums and even found one case where a person posted Percy Jackson and Hunger Games in their entirety.  The person did it to have the luxury of reading it on her phone, but ignored the fact that it meant everyone could get these books for free.

One thing I could not find in my travels was anything being done about this.  Given that it’s for free books and it’s so simple to use, I don’t know if the rulers of Wattpad will do anything.  I did find some mentions of them having quick responses to plagiarism, but they don’t have anything to stop a person from doing it in the first place.  There is an ‘Advanced’ menu when you set up that asks you to list the level of rights that you have to the piece of work.  My three-year-old son could lie on that thing, so it’s not a level of security.

The thing here is that it isn’t an author signing on and posting their book that puts it in danger.  It’s simply having the book out there even in paper form because there could be a kid crazy enough to type it all up to put on there.  Personally, I hope Wattpad figures something out because it would be a great vehicle for aspiring authors to post book excerpts to entice readers.  I’m thinking of keeping Beginning of a Hero on there just to see what happens.  Mostly because the threat is that people will post your book onto Wattpad and take credit.  I’m wondering if already being on there may minimize the damage and not having the full book on there might help too.

I guess these people do it for attention or think they can get away with publishing a pre-made book before getting caught.  They always seem to be teenagers, which is an age group that is infamous for not thinking of consequences.  We’ve all been there.  One strange thing is that every incident seemed to have a teenage girl stealing the published works and posting them up.  That caught my attention because I remember more guys doing this kind of stuff in my school days.

So, I guess Wattpad has great potential and would be amazing if they could find a way to rights check the postings.  Even do what Wikipedia does and have routine checks of new entries to see if the title/author matches with any other ones.

 

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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24 Responses to Wattpad and Plagiarism

  1. tyroper says:

    yikes, should be called “bookster”, reminds me of the old Napster days.

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  2. Cass J says:

    In general, this isn’t good.
    Specifically, I’ve been on Wattpad twice. And both times, I deleted my account and left. It’s like a high school popularity contest on there most of the time! lol. Some of the stuff I found on there was good, but for the most part, it’s just a lot of explicit stories written by teenagers 😐

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    • Then I guess it isn’t worth my time.

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      • Cass J says:

        I know, and that’s sad! It should be worth our time but unless you’re a teen, I didn’t witness much exposure or people reading the writing. The copyright thing is HUGE and no, the selection of your rights means nothing. I wish I could say differently but up front, unless your story is full of hot guys, sex and hot girls…I’d pass. I go back occasionally to see if things change, lol.

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      • Well, I’ll have to start there with the third book of my series. 😉 There are people who have had great exposure with it, but you’re right that they seem to all be hot guys, hot girls, and/or sex. Vampires and romance. Gee. Wonder where that came from. 🙂
        The thing that sucks is due to the tense I use, it probably would be easier to draw in teens. Still, I already dropped out, so joining back in now would be foolish. At least I left telling them why I did and asked them to fix the plagiarism issue.

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  3. Wow…thank you so much for posting…a true cautionary tale for writers everywhere…

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    • Thanks. Now I have to decide if it’s smarter to keep my book excerpt on there or drop it.

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      • Difficult choice…have you used any of those services that provide copyright protection? I’m in two minds about whether to do so as I understand if you have copies of them between you and your editor (hard copy proof or email) then that gives copyright/proof of original authoriship to some degree, but then again part of me thinks it probaby cant hurt to use the services too. the question being whether that protects from this sort of dilemma…

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      • I send my works in for full copyrights before I show them to the world. I dropped it though because I don’t feel comfortable supporting something that, while useful, makes it easy for plagiarism. Just closed my account and told them I’d be back if they do something about that problem.

        On a plus side, Amazon is fixing my ‘out of print’ issue, but it will take 3-5 days for the site to acknowledge it.

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  4. This is very scary. Thanks for posting.

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  5. Papizilla says:

    I agree, sounds like a piracy haven.

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  6. C.N. Faust says:

    That is scary. At least now I know what website to keep tabs on …

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  7. sarahcradit says:

    That’s unfortunate, although it doesn’t surprise me I guess. I use youwriteon, which is similar I guess, but so far I’ve had good success with it.

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  8. greenembers says:

    I think you should keep it on there, I don’t see the harm in it. Seems more of an issue of other people posting the whole thing on there, which you’ll have to patrol and send off emails to the wattpad people to take down if it does happen.

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    • I actually took it down as more of a pride/moral thing. If Wattpad had something to prevent it and people were just getting around it then I’d be fine. The fact that Wattpad does nothing to stop it and has to wait for an author to complain is something I don’t like. I’ll go back if/when they make a better system. Probably not a smart move to take a stand like this, but it was mostly vampires and badly written romance on there anyway. I felt out of place.

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  9. There will always be bad people doing bad things. It is just a shame. But now that you investigated it, you know. Sorry 😦

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  10. Brian G Ross says:

    The thing is, I never would have found this out had I not Googled a couple of my story titles, and I only really started doing that when I discovered a few years ago that someone had translated a short piece of mine into Spanish and published it on a website, without my prior knowledge.

    I know you can copyright every story you write (and probably should) but I will admit, I have never done that, and I think most writers are the same.

    These sites (like Wattpad), as far as I can tell, are fairly simple to set up and generally frequented by teenagers who probably don’t care too much about plagiarism, or what it really means. Some of them probably think that anything previously published on the internet is fair game.

    I’m sorry you have felt the need to take down your work, Charles, but I saw your post and felt it was my duty to share my experience with you. Hopefully you find a better venue soon.

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    • I ran into a lot of authors whose work was taken and lost because they didn’t copyright. A few of them were at the point where they were so scared of plagiarism that they weren’t even submitting to agents and publishers. They just sat there with their work, unable to do anything with it. That’s why I started doing it with my books. I wanted to have some level of protection and freedom of mind.

      I really do appreciate you telling me your story. My novel is already up for sale as an Amazon eBook, so Wattpad was being looked at more as a marketing product for me. Still, I don’t feel comfortable on a site that has no defense against plagiarism. Especially when I read about published novels being put up there. If the people running site have nothing to stop a teenager from putting up the Hunger Games then that’s a bad sign. Even Wikipedia has a new entry review to make sure everything is kosher. Since I’m trying to promote the sites that work for me and help other authors, I need to make sure I support quality. Maybe I’ll go back if they fix things . . . or if my sales plummet to nothing for a while and I get insanely desperate.

      From what I saw on forums, it’s a lot of teenagers from other countries where copyrights either work differently or don’t exist. Then again, they could simply not know the concept of ownership. There is that disturbing belief that everything on the internet is fair game. It’s really bizarre that these kids think it’s okay to do this. As my friend asked when I mentioned this, what do they gain from it?

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  11. Pingback: Wattpad vs. Write On | InstaScribe

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