blackraptor Policy on Plagiarism

What constitutes plagiarism:

The occasional brain fart where something you read, or heard in a movie or TV show years ago, seeps out of your subconscious disguised as an original thought, is not, for the purposes of this website, plagiarism. This happens to the best of us and should not be cause for the virtual public flaying of the offender. However, blackraptor does consider the following to be plagiarism:
  1. The intentional incorporation of large chunks (i.e. sentences or paragraphs) of text from the work of other writers into your own story, so that it is not distinguishable from your writing.
  2. Using someone else's story without their knowledge or permission, changing character and place names, and tweaking the text so it works in a different fandom. (Note the phrase knowledge or permission. If you know another author is doing this with a story you wrote, and you choose to wait until the story is posted so that you may humiliate her publicly, you will likely be viewed as possessing a character flaw equal to that of the plagiarist.)
  3. "Fic poaching," or altering another author's story so that the text is not word-for-word, yet it is still essentially the same story. While this is more difficult to prove, the benefit of the doubt will more than likely go to the writer of the first story.

Don't be tempted. Someone, somewhere, will eventually notice what you did, and will in all likelihood not keep it to themselves.

What is not plagiarism:

Plot elements, characterizations, names, titles and "universes" are not the exclusive property of any author with regard to fanfiction. Anyone can use them, and it's not plagiarism, even if you were the first one to think of it, and even if you have expressed your wishes that no one else incorporate these ideas into their stories. An author who uses elements (settings, dialog, etc) from a story you wrote and credits you for it, is not guilty of plagiarism, even if she did not ask permission. Authors may claim rights to original characters, but, even that is a moot point, since you have already 'stolen' someone else's characters by virtue of writing fan fic. Writing a story with similar plot elements to another work of fiction may reflect either a lack of originality, or some cosmic consciousness, but, it's not plagiarism. If two authors create a similar story, and both agree that there is no possible way the other author could have deliberately used their ideas (and things like this occasionally do happen outside the Twilight Zone), the question of plagiarism is not an issue.

Allow us to elucidate:

1: You read a Magnificent Seven story that you like, a lot. It has a wonderful plot, and great character interaction, and the writing is excellent. You think to yourself, "You know, that would make a really good Stargate Atlantis fic." So, you turn Mary Travis into a Wraith Queen, change Chris Larabee to John Sheppard, Vin Tanner to Ronon and Ezra to Rodney McKay, swap the six-guns for P-90s and the horses for puddle jumpers, tweak the text here and there so that Four Corners becomes the Pegasus Galaxy, and voila! you have written your very own totally awesome SGA story! - WRONG! You have copied someone else's work, and have put forth very little of your own creative effort. Roughly 2 seconds after you post it in an SGA forum, someone will recognize it, and will gleefully point out the error of your ways on no less than 2,000 SGA and M7 lists, blogs and chatrooms.

2: You spend many hours working on an epic fan fiction that has Ezra fighting for his life as a result of some dire circumstance. You are sure that your plot is the most creative idea to ever occur to a Magnificent Seven fan fic writer, but then discover, to your horror, that not one, but three or four other M7 writers have put Ezra (or one of the others) in a similar circumstance. Are any of you guilty of plagiarism? Absolutely not. Each fandom has certain recurring themes which its fic writers love to explore, and which readers never seem to tire of reading, and chances are, by the time a fandom is as old as Magnificent Seven is, almost all of them have already been done at least once. Each new writer breathes new life into these ideas, so the fact that it's been done should not stop anyone from trying their own version, but also should not be cause for Writer A to point an accusing finger at Writer X and proclaim that that surely Writer X must have stolen her idea.

3: Most writers will gladly thank their fellow fans for helping them develop a story. However, offering up plot ideas, suggesting scenes, helping to name characters and places, etc. does not entitle you to co-author credit. It is the writer who did all the work bringing your ideas to life, and the credit is entirely hers. A writer who uses ideas that another fan willingly provided is not guilty of plagiarism.

The harsh reality:

Absolutely nothing in a work of fan fiction can be "copyrighted." You have already infringed on the copyright of those who own the characters you are using. It's  an uncomfortable truth that the majority of us who write fan fic would not be writing at all if we did not have the characters, with the attendant personalities that we love so much, already created for us. While plagiarism of fanfic is abhorrent to many of us, there is absolutely nothing illegal about it.

What happens if you are caught plagiarizing:

The owners of the blackraptor site will never, ever, become involved in author disputes invloving plagiarism. Mere suspicion that a fic is plagiarised, no matter how well-grounded, will not constitute cause to have it removed from this website. However, if convincing evidence of plagiarism is provided, the particular story involved, and only that story, will be deleted from the archive. It is the responsibility of the party making the accusation of plagiarism to offer proof supporting their claim. We will not investigate any stories for plagiarized content, nor will we keep track of original characters, plot elements, dialogue or any other component of the fanfiction submitted to us. However, if we are convinced that a story contains plagiarized material, in whole or in part, we will remove it immediately. The offending author will not receive any notice or warning that the story has been removed, and there will be no public announcement calling attention to situation. The story will simply disappear.