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Tianya blogger hunts down reprint payments from newspapers

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In earlier Danwei posts on the increasing use of the Internet as a source for print media, we've emphasized unregistered publications like women in prison, and Scandals Exposed that are on the margin, as well as new publications like Blog magazine and Net News Weekly that are closely connected to the world of forums and blogs. But traditional mainstream media draws from online sources as well: some major newspaper supplements run "this week in blogs" columns, and others use online commentary to beef up their op-ed sections without revealing their non-print pedigree.

Many publications promise to pay for content that they republish, but this requires that authors are aware that their work is being used. And even if they find out, will they ever get their hands on that cash? Tianya blogger Guerlangwa recently encountered that situation:

Is plagiarism justified?

by Guerlangwa / Icegrass Bay

Recently I came across something depressing.

I randomly did a web search for an old post, and found out that my piece "On the n ifs of love" had been published in three newspapers. The problem was that I had never submitted anything to those newspapers. Apart from posting it on my blog for my own amusement, it ran on Tianya's "Feeling" board, and those were both on 14 October.

But as I looked through things I found to my surprise that on 18 October, it had been lifted and published in the Extraordinary Words section of New Express. On 21 October, it was again lifted and published in the Happy Weekend section of Sanqin Metropolis Daily. On 12 November, the piece was pirated on page 31 of Heilongjiang's Life Daily.

I rarely read newspapers. And apart from New Express, those papers aren't even readily found in Guangdong. If it weren't for the development of the Internet, I expect that I wouldn't have found out. But having seen them, I wanted to ask questions to clear things up.

So I sent email to the editors of those three papers, asking what was up. Two days went by with no response. I originally thought to myself, forget about it, but then I thought, why not make a phone call and see if something interesting happens.

So I called up to ask.

First I gave New Express a phone call. It was a man who answered and said, "Go ask around, was it one of your friends who submitted it?" I said, "Nope." He said I should call the number xxxx. So I called all day but no one answered.

Then I called Sanqin Metropolis Daily and reached the head of the editorial department. The head said to look up xxxx at the supplement, and gave me a new phone number. I called it. A woman answered and said, "What day did it come out?" I answered, "21 October." She then asked, "Who was the editor in charge?" I said, "I found it online, so I don't know who the editor was." She then gave me another phone number. I called, and the result was like before: no answer.

Finally, I gave a call to Life Daily. A man answered and asked me: "What day?" I said, "Page 31, 12 November." He said, "You're sure?" I said, "100% sure." He told me, "Sunday's paper. You should give a call to the Sunday editor." And he gave me a number. I made another call, and the result was still the same: no one there to answer.

That the editorial departments of the three papers would chance upon the same way of dealing with things amused me to no end.

So I asked a friend of mine who had published a book: with this sort of thing, what would happen if I were plagiarized? His reply was to the point: "This sort of situation is quite common. There's nothing you can do:))) Turn a blind eye to it, kid."

My God, when did the world get into this state?


In a follow-up comment, the author reports that eventually there was a response from one paper:

I made tons of calls, and I finally found someone, a guy at New Express who shared my name, and that guy told me that someone online had recommended the piece, so they published it. They could pay me in two months.

I don't know whether it's that the editors don't have any good pieces, or if it's that Internet writing is cheaper (pay if you're found out, but if you're not then go with it)?

I hope that I'm just second-guessing their harmless motives.

At least he acknowledged it. That's a good start.

line edited 2008.10

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There are currently 1 Comments for Tianya blogger hunts down reprint payments from newspapers.

Comments on Tianya blogger hunts down reprint payments from newspapers

... a guy at New Express who shared my name told me ...
should be
... a guy at New Express who shared my FAMILY name told me ...
hehehe ... I'm a translator. I wonder if you can give me C-E comparable texts when you translate them

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