Tryst with a plagiarist

Tryst with a plagiarist

A Story by Christopher Withers

I felt obliged to create this article detailing a recent confrontation with plagiarism and actions I felt compelled to take to protect my writing and myself.

During the 2006-2010 period I was fairly active on a couple of poetry sites - the starlightcafe and poemhunter. Since then, I've posted very little poetry and my interests have pushed me in other directions. 

Just over a week ago, I received an email from poemhunter stating a user had sent me a message. I tend to ignore these, as they are usually spam, but something piqued my interest so I logged in to read it.

The message was from a user who kindly informed me that someone had started to post my poetry to hellopoetry and writerscafe, claiming the work as their own. I immediately followed the links and was met with a mixture of shock, anxiety and anger . Someone called Chris G. Vaillancourt had indeed stolen two pieces of my work. Someone had commented on one of the poems that it was stolen with a link to my original. I have no idea how they discovered this, but I presume they had suspicions about him, and so were checking any new work he posted. I am eternally grateful for the people who took their time to do this and track me down.

What made this betrayal worse, was that he had received extremely positive, glowing, excellent feedback on my poems. It's hard to describe how such theft hits you, I was surprised by the depth of my feelings. Here was a published poet with seemingly established circles of friends and reviewers, and I was someone who hadn't posted much since 2010 and my work was fairly obscure. 

I could barely focus at work that day, and spent a large part of my time trying to find ways of informing the admins of the sites in question about the plagiarised poems. I freelance, so my actions only effected my own pocket. 

I first created accounts on hellopoetry and writerscafe and immediately left comments on the poems in question, asking Chris to take down my poems and informing him that I'd reported him.

An admin at hellopoetry replied almost instantly and took the poems in question down. I'm unsure if Chris himself deleted the poems, or it they were removed by an admin at writerscafe, but I never received a response. Chris pretty much instantly deleted my comments and blocked me from viewing his writing. I was then messaged by a user (I think they might have been a moderator) who accused me of causing trouble.

Proof of the two poems he stole from me can be seen here:

Chris posted this in August



and here is my original from 2009:

http://www.thestarlitecafe.com/poems/105/poem_91104317.html


The second poem of mine he plagiarized was called 'Death is cold', which he renamed to 'Death Is Just Cold' and posted in July:




My original, which I posted in 2009 can be seen here:


What made this one worse is that I wrote this poem after the death of a beloved family pet, and here I find someone stealing it and claiming ownership of it.

I was stumped as what to do now, from viewing Chris's profile whilst logged out, he seemed popular and had an extensive network of friends. Also, being contacted by one user already accusing me of trouble making, I was worried about getting banned from writerscafe before spreading knowledge of his deeds.

I'm fairly web savvy, so I decided to start a blog listing examples of Chris's plagiarism with irrefutable proof, in the hope that if people wouldn't believe my word, they could at least look at the evidence for themselves.

I started to look through Chris's earlier work, utilising a number of search engines to see if it had ever appeared elsewhere. What I discovered was pretty shocking. In the first 5 pages of his poetry collection, I found over 10 other plagiarised poems. I got a friend to post evidence of plagiarisation on two of these poems, but he instantly deleted the comments, then shortly deleted the poems, before blocking my friends account.

He seemed to discover my blog and started to delete all the poems I flagged up, I guess the weight of deleted poems became too much, as today he has closed his account. I presume this is an attempt to stop my looking into other poems in his collection, of which I'd barely scratched the surface.

The poems he plagiarized seemed to exist on obscure sites, and their authors had been inactive for many years - so I presume which is why he felt confident in getting away with his actions.

I'll next list other poems which I found had been copied:

Cold wall of real

Chris posted this poem in 2014, claiming he’d first published it in 2005:

http://www.writerscafe.org/writing/sanctus/1386388/

But the exact same poem can be found here, published a year earlier:

http://sinatrainred.blogspot.de/2004/08/cold-wall-of-real.html


Parasite

Chris posted this poem in 2014, claiming he published it in a book in 2010:

http://www.writerscafe.org/writing/sanctus/1389888/

cached: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:ZGytV2-Da3EJ:www.writerscafe.org/writing/sanctus/1389888/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk

Here is the original poem, posted by JadedxEvil in 2008

http://allpoetry.com/poem/4214425-Parasite-by-JadedxEvil

If this plagiarised work was indeed printed, this makes his actions even worse.

Coffee shop

Chris posted this poem in 2014:

http://www.writerscafe.org/writing/sanctus/1396343/

Cached: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Zl1ye77qN0gJ:www.writerscafe.org/writing/sanctus/1396343/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk

but it was originally posted by Frederic Kolman in 2009 Titled “Marvelous at the Coffee Shop” here:

http://www.writingroom.com/viewwriting/frederic/Marvelous-at-the-Coffee-Shop

Thinking In Nostalgic Fashion

Chris posted this poem in 2014:

http://www.writerscafe.org/writing/sanctus/1373144/

Cached: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:uoizTQmM6hgJ:www.writerscafe.org/writing/sanctus/1373144/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk

A lot of the prose was taken from this poem posted in 2007:

http://forums.plentyoffish.com/3898337datingPostpage25.aspx by LyricalMuse (near the bottom of the page)


Many more examples can be found here:
http://timdanes.tumblr.com/

I'm hoping the weight of evidence presented will allow other people to see exactly what Chris did, and will hopefully save other poets from the same fate.

© 2014 Christopher Withers


My Review

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Featured Review

I can tell you this is a sad tale. However it is also a cautionary one as we all know what it is to work so hard and get so little other than our fellows praise. But to take that from someone and claim it as your own is not in line with decent conduct. It is rude at best and theft at worst'.I cannot approve of this behavior but I can chose my friends and for who and what I will bleed.I am sorry this happened to you. We are all failed characters as are all men and women but we are supposed to be friends here.

Posted 5 Years Ago


14 of 14 people found this review constructive.

Arrinae

5 Years Ago

Mr. Morgan, thank you for the R&R
LL

5 Years Ago

I agree with you Tate.
Tate Morgan

5 Years Ago

thank you levi



Reviews

I think this is the fellow that came right out and told me, a few years back, that he would and could take anything I wrote and use it as his own. That I couldn't do anything about it. I blocked him. So sorry you had this experience.

Posted 2 Years Ago


a reminder of what happens when good people allow bad things happen to others.. a world of hurt and pain is inflicted... fortunately because of your post this did not take root and continue here Christopher.. though there has been some things again lately..

when I first read this Christopher, I didn't comment because so many already had and did so with the anger as well as much better statements than I could have made... I was wrong by not commenting then... apologies...

after re-reading your post as well as the many comments, it has struck me even more this saying, "silence equals complicity", and being complicit with plagiarism and a (or the many faces it has assumed) plagiarist allows them the space they need to keep doing what they are doing... people like Villiancourt should be both exposed as well as ousted from every poetry site, where ever they are found...

and with all the hurt and pain this person has caused in his many false fronts, perhaps ousted from civil society as well since there is nothing human or civil about him...

please accept my very late comment and know that I will be silent no longer... as well as add my voice of thank you for your bold stand in this post...

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 2 people found this review constructive.


there will always be thieves and scoundrels in every strata of society bar none. If anyone plagiarized my poetry (which is not likely to happen) I would be mostly outraged in that the thievery would be intellectual property and the most private and precious possession one can own. To put a positive shine to it (if possible) is that it's a backhanded compliment. Most poets aren't good enough to be worth the trouble. Small solace I know!

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

it has come to my attention that he is dying of cancer,he is still on hello poetry

Posted 4 Years Ago


Thank you for sharing this eye-opening experience, well-documented & understandably tinged with frustration & shock. I'm sorry this happened to you. I hope you can shake it off & not spend all your energy sleuthing . . . even tho it's a risky business, your energies are much more joyfully spent creating, instead of policing. I believe bad people will get their come-uppance.

Posted 4 Years Ago


Wow, so wrong of him. It is awful what some people will do. I have had this happen to me before on another site. It gives you a horrible and angry feeling to see your work ripped out of your hands like that.

Posted 5 Years Ago


I can understand you being upset, the Internet it seems brings us into contact with the saddest of specimens of the human race which we normally would not meet. It is like bringing these sad cases into our living rooms. In a way it is a compliment to your skills that he has stolen your work. He can now take up another name and steal other peoples work.
If we have used a pseudonym on other poetry boards and used a different name on here I suppose we could be accused of the same, its just I have published my work in a small booklet and dated and I can prove that. I think the standard way was to post poems on a newspaper or post to a friend keeping the original envelope unopened.
I hope this incident has not depleted your emotional energy so that you stop posting work.

p.s. After thought, I have now decided to tick the box to choose not to allow non-members to read my work, thanks for bringing this to our attention.

Posted 5 Years Ago


Thank You for all the work it took to share this.
It has helped me verify which Chris.
I am so sad , but thankful to know.

Posted 5 Years Ago


As a songwriter, I deal with copyrights all the time. They are extremely important! We tend to overlook this as we write, and get excited about posting our material for the world to see. This is truly a disgusting act, and I hope you get it all sorted! Best of luck!

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Wow, makes me wonder about my stuff too. But I have never been to hellopeotry.com. This isn't right, how can someone do that.

Posted 5 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on September 18, 2014
Last Updated on September 19, 2014
Tags: plagiarist, plagirisation

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Christopher Withers
Christopher Withers

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I recently discovered a user on this site had been posting my poems as his own. To combat this, I've decided to post my poetry here, hopefully stopping this from happening again. The poet in questi.. more..

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