Friday, November 5, 2010

Being a Bully? - No. Having Bullied Someone? - Yes.

by Saoirse O'Mara

Ok ... I admit I have been kind of bullying someone this morning. She had asked for it, really. But I better start at the beginning.

I have worked on a non-fiction book project together with two other authors. I would have been responsible towards our small publisher (a friend of mine) and would edit the manuscript. So far, so good. The project was already on the finish line. I had planned for this book to be published at the end of November or the beginning of December.

This morning, I continued with the second edit of one of the texts. Some facts seemed strange to me so I asked Google to verify the information. You won't imagine what I found out! I stumbled upon a site which read exactly as the text I had just read ... and when I say I stumbled upon it, it was pure luck!

After checking and re-checking it, it was clear: the author had simply copied the text from the website, including even the mistakes, and posted it into her own text. Without naming a source, without even telling me that part of the text might not be her own. She simply stole the text!

So when I found out, I sent her an email. A very angry email. Yes, a bully email. But honestly, a little bit (ok, a lot) of angry writing (I would have shouted at her had she been around) is NOTHING compared to what she had done.

Let's think this story to an end. If I hadn't noticed the copyright infringement by chance, it would have been published that way. Sooner or later, the wesite owner would have found out about it. In the best possible scenario, we might just have got a huge invoice for using the texts. In the worst case scenario, he would have sued us - and won! So we wouldn't have had to pay a huge sum but our reputation would have been crap too. Imagine, that woman risked all this even though she should have known better. After all, she's a grown up woman with quite some education and claiming to be an author as well, so you should guess she knows the concept of copyrights.

And bet what? I regret not having sent her an invoice along with that angry email for all the hours I spent editing "her" text for nothing!

So yes, I guess I have been bullying her this morning. Tell you what, I don't regret it a bit. She asked for it deceiving me like that. But I'm proud that I didn't bully someone else who wasn't responsible for my explosive mood because that's what real bullies do: They bully someone innocent because someone else got on their nerves.

And that's the important difference: I bullied someone but I am no bully. (Or at least I try not to snap at someone who didn't ask for it ... lucky I have been alone this morning ...)

A last thing: Yes, I can bully someone verbally when they ask for it, but I would never turn violent unless being attacked first ...

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