Now I’m not talking about murder here (although I’m sure some artists would say they would rather you murdered them than claimed their work for your own), but when it comes to crimes you can commit with a person’s piece of work—a novel, album, painting, whatever—then plagiarism is the absolute worst, most disrespectful, horrible thing you can do.
Let’s say someone wants to read my book, Spawn, and they decide that they don’t want to pay the $0.99 to get it. Maybe they don’t have the money to spare, maybe they just don’t want to pay for something so short. Whatever their reason, they download an illegal copy of it. I might be a bit upset by this, but I’m not going to raise a fuss. Why? Because if that person ends up really liking my book, they’ll do other things that will help me: tell their friends about it, write a review, lend it to someone. That gets me a larger audience in the long-run and will ultimately benefit me. So, I’m not going to be terribly upset.
But let’s say you steal it, buy it legally, somehow or another acquire my story. You think to yourself, “You know what? I really like this.” Awesome! But then you decide to retype it, change some names, maybe edit a few scenes more to your liking, and then republish it with your name on a fancy new character.
Oh FUCK no.
I get no benefit from that. I get to see people praise or hate your story, knowing that it should be directed at me. I know that the most work you did was spend a couple hours retyping the story, setting, and characters that I’ve already spent weeks developing. Plagiarism becomes an insult against my work, because you are erasing my experiences, all my late-night scribblings and hours-long revision sessions. You become a fraud, an imposter, a liar, and a thief, all balled up into one mass of flesh.
All of a sudden, you’re not a fan. You’re a point of contention and hatred for the artist you supposedly love.
So steal my work. Go ahead, I understand. But don’t ever try to claim my work as your own, because Hell hath no fury like a writer scorned.