We all know that social media relies and thrives on sharing information. That information includes the written word, photos, videos and other media. There is, however, a vast difference between sharing something and altering an author‘s work and claiming it as yours.
Plagiarism is defined as “Using the language of an author without authorization and representation of the author’s work as their own.” It came to my attention, via social media, that something I had written twelve years ago was presented as someone else’s work.
There are many components of this infringement that I find disheartening. The first is that I just became aware of it, twelve years too late to fix it. So this man has had a long run, half a career’s worth of falsely claiming something I wrote as his.
Theft in the fire service is a taboo that breaks public trust and gives us all a collective black eye; however, this theft was perpetrated by a high ranking officer, not by a young misguided firefighter.
Why did he modify and take my name from the piece and then claim authorship? I don’t know,maybe because it’s easier than coming up with your own ideas. I discovered the theft in an online discussion group. The firefighter that posted the piece had no idea that this Chief had pulled a fast one on him and their department.
Imagine plagiarizing someone else’s work and then distributing it to your department. The gall, and he got away with it, too!
The person who brought this to my attention did so harmlessly, he was a victim, too. He saw the piece as inspirational and kept it around for twelve years. It helped him form a deep respect for a man who thought stealing my words was no big deal.
You have only your reputation on this job, protect it well and stand up to those who would damage it.
I didn’t include the names of the principles, because that would limit the scope of this to them. This is about all of us who create work and those that read it. Intellectual property is real that’s why it’s protected.
Flattery is when you include the author‘s name. Theft is when you claim someone else’s work as yours, twelve years and counting for him.